Research Requirements and Practicum

Research Requirements

Research is a required component of M.S.W. level social work education and is a growing part of clinical social work practice. In Smith SSW’s program, students take two required research courses (one taken in each summer one and two), as well as one specialization level elective research elective. 

A 2 credit research practicum may be available as an alternative to the specialization level elective research elective. The research practicum involves work with a Smith College SSW faculty member on a project they develop and oversee. It is usually completed during the second internship  placement.  


Examples of prior student research practica have involved supporting professional knowledge about meaningful social justice conversations by:

  • joining a research team
  • learning about a larger scale research project using an RCT design
  • examining and critically evaluating relevant literature on this topic
  • evaluating the merits and limitations of standardized assessment measures for this topic
  • helping implement a specific standardized test 

Another practicum project, explored complex trauma among M.S.W. students in internships by:

  • helping to complete an IRB application
  • helping to develop
  • pilot test a survey instrument, all guided by
  • knowledge of the prior literature on this topic

Yet another project, examined the work experiences of drug and alcohol counselors in Massachusetts, including:

  • reviewing the literature on this topic
  • exploring and helping to code an existing qualitative data set
  • helping to develop a codebook to guide analysis of previously collected
  • helping to develop a presentation of the work for conferences

Note that each of these projects include multiple roles for the student learner and have clearly identified research learning objectives.