The following information is a general overview of Ph.D. dissertation. For more detailed information please visit the Ph.D. Handbook, Section 107 Dissertation.

SSW doctoral student

The dissertation is a required independent scholarly research project in which students must examine a topic relevant to clinical social work. By completing the dissertation, each fellow demonstrates the capacity to contribute to the development and dissemination of knowledge for the profession. The dissertation is the hallmark of all doctoral-level study and represents the achievement of a high level of professional performance as a practitioner/researcher.

Required Research Courses

The Ph.D. program supports fellows’ development and completion of the dissertation project with a series of required and elective research courses that provide the foundation of knowledge required both to assess prior research and to design and implement one’s own research. Our faculty teach core research methods, including advanced statistics, in depth.

Dissertation Seminar

We offer a dissertation seminar in Session V to support fellows in developing their dissertation proposal. Fellows who are well along in preparation of a proposal may take the dissertation seminar in Session III. SSW assigns a research adviser to each fellow to assist in identifying and refining an area of study for the dissertation.

Dissertation Committee

Fellows are responsible for identifying and recruiting a dissertation committee, to assist in the development of their dissertation proposal and in the completion, reporting and defense of the project. The program’s director must approve the committee, which must include a chair and at least two more members. At least two of the committee members must be part of the SSW resident faculty.

Past Dissertations

You may access dissertations that have been submitted for the fulfillment of the requirement of the Ph.D. in Social Work since 2009 through Smith ScholarWorks. You will also find a list of dissertation titles since 1979 on our Dissertation Titles page.

Institutional Review Board

The Smith College Institutional Review Board is responsible for oversight of projects involving human participants.

Dissertation Grant

Doctoral candidates may apply for the Roger Miller Dissertation Grant, which was established by the School’s Alumni Network as a tribute to, and in honor of, Professor Emeritus Roger Miller. The deadline to apply is in May.