Begin Your Application

All Applicants

A complete application includes: 

» Résumé 
» Official Transcripts 
» Three Letters of Reference 
» Personal Statement 
» Research Statement 
» Clinical Internship Plan 
» Case Summary 
» $60 Application Fee 
» Supplementary Information: Writing Sample and/or Miller Analogy Test Scores or GRE Test Scores 
» Additional materials are required for individuals applying as advanced standing; transfer or  international candidates as well as those who are reapplying. Please see below. 

Details about each section of the application are found below.  


Please upload a detailed résumé which includes your academic degrees, both your volunteer and paid clinical experiences along with research experience, publications and professional presentations. Clinical experience should include details on the agency, location and type of supervision received.

Official Transcripts

Please arrange promptly for official copies of both your undergraduate and graduate transcripts bearing signature and seal to be sent to the School from each educational institution attended. Applications cannot be reviewed without transcripts on file. An unofficial/student copy of the transcript may be used as a placeholder until the official copy arrives. Transcripts should be mailed to: Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Admission, Lilly Hall, Northampton, MA 01063

Three Letters of Reference

We require three letters of reference, one of which should be from a licensed clinical social worker, preferably a senior supervisor in the field. We also strongly recommend that one of the letters be from an academic instructor or research advisor. All letters should be from professional references. It is your responsibility to follow up with reference writers to ensure completion. Reference writer PDF (If you are unable to contact your reference writers using our system above, complete the top portion of this form and distribute to your reference writers)

Personal Statement (not more than 1250 words)

Personal statement should be centered around your interest in clinical social work. Please describe your personal background- focusing on major familial and/or social dynamics or events that contributed to your interest in advanced degree in clinical social work that is committed to racial and social justice and the reasons you are applying to our particular graduate program. Describe the salient features of your professional experiences in practice, supervision, administration, teaching, research and community service. Finally, please describe your career and personal objectives.

Research Statement (not more than 500 words)

Your research statement should situate your work within the larger context of clinical social work. Your statement should start by articulating the broader field that you are interested in and the questions that you are interested in answering. It should then include a brief history of your past research if relevant. When describing past experience, you can include a description of your research questions, the work that you completed and the significance and implications of the findings. Your statement should also describe the future trajectory on which you intend to take your research. You can include answers to the following questions: What further questions do you want to solve? How do you intend to find answers to these questions? How can SSW help you in that process?

Clinical Internship Plan (not more than 500 words)

All applicants are asked to submit up to 500 word internship proposal at the time that they submit an admission application. The proposal should consider the criteria used to establish internships with the understanding that, once admitted, additional materials will be requested to confirm the applicant’s proposal. (All offers of admission are made conditional on the finalization and approval of all details of the clinical internship plan.)

The proposed internship site may be a work-study setting or a clinical placement with which the doctoral fellow would affiliate for two years, three days a week. If the applicant is in private practice, they may propose that one of the three day requirements be drawn from their private practice. If the applicant is in an organization that works primarily or only with children, adolescents and families, the applicant must affiliate with a community mental health organization that can offer 8-10 adult individual clients, and opportunities for supervision and clinical training.

Faculty from the School can also offer consultation for developing an internship if the applicant doesn’t have a proposed setting with which they can affiliate.  If you do not have a proposed internship site, you may request an Internship Consultation by emailing; a Consultant will be in touch by email as soon as possible. Please note, an admission decision cannot be made until the internship arrangements have been developed.

Internship Proposal Guidelines

Please describe your proposed clinical internship setting of three days per week specifying the site within the training center or the proposed clinical internship and describing the training opportunities relevant to your learning there. Include a description of clientele, opportunity for long-term treatment, some indication of kinds of cases available, contexts for service and treatment modalities.

Describe the supplemental educational resources relevant to your learning. Offer your analysis of the principal strengths and limitations of the proposed internship site.

Settings Eligible as Clinical Internships

Normally, clinical internships are work-study and are conducted in established non-profit professional community service centers, such as social agencies or the social service departments of a host setting. In addition, some alternative organizations, which offer equivalent experiences, may be used as sites for the clinical internship. Eligible non-traditional settings would be expected to have the equivalent of a social work department through a clear social work presence on the staff. In addition, the organization would be expected to provide clinical services which express social responsibility through variable fee structures and through providing service to vulnerable populations. The organization would also be expected to have in place provisions to support the further professional development of staff members through supervision/consultation and in-service training.

Internship Settings Options

Below are the dimensions of an optimal internship settings, on the one hand, and an acceptable internship setting on the other. We know that some agencies lack resources for supporting advanced clinical study, particularly for a senior social work staff member, and we know that the character of agency practice is changing in ways that can compromise support for advanced study. The description of optimal and acceptable internship characteristics is intended to clarify the range within which feasible clinical internships may be developed. All internship plans must be agency-based.

  1. The Optimal Internship

    The training center supports advanced clinical education for social workers and accords priority to the fellow's learning needs during the three day-per-week internship program. The center's resources include:
    1. Opportunities for intensive treatment, including treatment over a two-year period, with a patient population varied as to age and diagnosis, with at least 8-10 adults over 18.
      An emphasis on individual treatment plus opportunities in a range of treatment modalities, i.e., family and group treatment, short-term treatment.
    2. During the second year of internship, opportunities for pertinent professional experiences in consultation, teaching in-service, or supervision.
    3. The availability of regular supervision by a clinical social worker meeting the School's criteria.
    4. The availability of regular consultation with senior staff in relation to specialized areas of practice, i.e., child treatment, adult treatment, family and group treatment, etc.
    5. Supplemental educational resources such as staff conferences in which clinical data are examined from theoretical and dispositional points of view.

Supervisory functions and qualifications:

An agency supervisor supports the internship by planning and monitoring the internship program, by facilitating the fellow's access to learning resources, by providing some direct supervision, by serving as a liaison to the School, and by evaluating the fellow's clinical performance.

The qualifications of the supervisor include a master of social work degree and an advanced level of clinical practice, preferably a Ph.D. in social, informed by such dynamic perspectives as object relations theory and/or relational psychodynamic approach. The supervisor is interested in the integration of theory and practice and views the therapeutic process as a method of inquiry as well as a service method. The supervisor brings professional standards and commitment to this role and is prepared to collaborate in support of advanced clinical study. A doctoral level supervisor from other disciplines such as clinical psychology or psychiatry will be considered on a case by case basis.

  1. Acceptable Internship Settings

    If an agency is unable to support an optimal internship, the doctoral fellow must develop an equivalent program. The fellow must arrange for protection of enough time from completing work obligations to safeguard opportunity for advanced study. If qualified supervision and consultation are unavailable in the agency, the fellow must arrange and support external supervision/consultation. Similarly, if the supplemental education resources are unavailable in the agency, these too must be secured externally.

    While an agency base for the three-day-per-week internship is required, one day of that clinical work can be drawn from the fellow's private practice. This arrangement may help expand the range and duration of clinical work conducted under agency auspices.

    Whether the social work supervision is agency-based or externally-based, the functions and qualifications of the supervisor listed above are unchanged.
Case Summary (not more than 4500 words)

Guidelines: No more than 4500 words. Disguise all case material. Support statements with clinical data and citations from the literature. Prepare paper according to APA guidelines and the Case Study 

Important Note: If accepted, the case material you provide will be used in your first year practice class.

  1. Identifying Information
    1. Client's age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, employment, resources (family, friends, etc.), and immigration status.
    2. Describe client's appearance and intelligence. Include client's reactions to the social worker.
  2. Referral Sources
    1. Who referred the client? Why? Is treatment voluntary or involuntary? Does the client understand the reason for referral?
  3. Presenting Problem
    1. How does the client see the problem? Why have they come?
  4. History of the Problem
    1. How did the problem develop? Is it chronic or acute? Describe precipitating events and the course of the problem. Under what circumstance is the problem manifested (home, school, work)?
  5. Previous Counseling Experience
    1. Discuss any previous treatment/counseling. What do you know about the treatment and its outcome? What do you know about the previous therapeutic relationship?
  6. Family Background
    1. Discuss socioeconomic, educational, and occupational background of the family. How do family members interact? Include a genogram.
  7. Personal History
    1. If client is a child, include a developmental history (i.e., toilet training, language, motor development).
    2. If client is a child or adult, discuss any developmental interferences. Include information about process, levels of achievement, learning differences. How did the client cope previously
    3. Include a vocational history (adaptation to jobs, bosses, co-workers, recreational activities).
    4. Is there a past use of substances?
    5. Include a sexual history as well as any past or current physical, sexual, or emotional trauma.
  8. Medical History
    1. Discuss any illnesses or organic factors that may contribute to psychosocial difficulties.
  9. Education
    1. Discuss any diagnosed or undiagnosed learning differences (i.e., processing problems, dyslexia, ADHD, Aspergers). If client is a child, summarize educational evaluations.
  10. Social Class
    1. Consider socioeconomic history, including social class changes. If a couple, discuss social class differences. Discuss if client is of higher or lower socioeconomic class than therapist.
  11. Cultural Context
    1. Discuss current problem within its cultural context. Address history of immigration, languages spoken, interactions with cultural institutions, traumatic stressors, crises, health beliefs, family, education, and work values.
  12. Spirituality/Religion
    1. Discuss current or past spiritual or religious affiliations. How do these factors contribute to understanding the client's perception of life events? How might they affect the treatment?
  13. Mental Status
    1. Discuss client's current functioning. Use an ego psychological framework to discuss client's ego functions, defenses, strengths, limitations (social, psychological, physical, or environmental).
    2. Evaluate the client's motivation, degree of self-awareness, capacity for insight, and ability to follow through with treatment.
    3. Comment on client's appearance, attitude, motor activity, affect and mood, speech, thought processes, thought content, perception, orientation, judgment, and capacity for abstraction.
  14. DSM V Diagnosis
  15. Conceptual Understanding
    1. Using all the data presented, how do you conceptualize this case theoretically? What theory or theories (i.e., object relations, self psychology) inform your assessment and practice? Draw upon the theoretical constructs that help you understand the client's story. Discuss how the theory helps you understand the problem and how the theory informs the
  16. Recommendations for Treatment
    1. Based on your theoretical formulation, discuss treatment recommendations, including the client's reactions to them, other recommendations perhaps not provided by your agency, duration and frequency of treatment, and any potential problems in treatment.
  17. Therapeutic Relationship
    1. In light of your conceptualization and goals, discuss the therapeutic relationship, including impasses in the treatment, transference/countertransference, and ethical dilemmas.
  18. Treatment Evaluation
    1. In light of treatment goals, evaluate the treatment to date. Consider the factors that have facilitated or impeded therapeutic progress. To demonstrate growth or lack of progress, discuss the goals and objectives of client and therapist in light of the actual practice. Consider what variables may be impeding or facilitating the therapeutic process.
  19. Clinical Process Recordings
    1. Provide excerpts of clinical process recordings with the client that are illustrative of the case.

Process Recording Examples
(Two excerpts taken from the work of a recent student in the Program, and used here with the student's permission.)

Excerpt 1

Th: Have you been able to hold a job?
DW: Yes. The longest I held a job was about six months. Or maybe it was a year. I always had so many kids... but my kids are getting older now.
Th: Was more difficult when they were younger?
DW: My favorite job was working at the Zoo...
Th: The Philadelphia Zoo? What did you do at the Zoo? [I love the zoo and am excited to find out she worked there.]
DW: I was working at the dairy barn.
Th: Oh yeah? [I know exactly where this is; I've been a good customer over the years.]
DW: When I went for the job interview, some of my kids was with me and we visited the petting zoo before the interview. I was playing and talking with lots of the kids there. The lady who interviewed me - turned out she saw us there. She said I was real good with kids. She said, "I know just the spot for you when you finish this application form." She said, "I'm gonna put you in the Dairy Barn 'cause you patient and good with kids. You won't get mad at the kids when they stand there just going: Um.... Um.... Um...." Course in the end, most of them wanted that cookie dough. It was the most popular one. We had a whole freezer-full of that cookie dough... [She looks happy and relaxed as she talks about these positive memories of her competence.]
Th: You smile and you look very happy as you talk about this memory.
DW: Yeah.... maybe I can go back to working there when the weather gets better. I really liked working there, and they say I real good at working with the kids. I'd see one crying and he'd be lost. Every day at least one kids got lost. I'd take them down to the desk and they'd get on the speaker and make an announcement. I'd tell them, "Don't cry. Wherever they is, they're coming for you real soon, you'll see." [She sounds and looks increasingly less happy; my 'chiming in' also changes tone.]
Th: Now you sound kind of sad...
DW: I watched on the news where they shot that little boy. He was just 14 - shot a 12 year old who's in critical condition.
Th: I heard about that on the news. It's a very sad story.
DW: Shot him in the face... [She provides more details and talks about the bad neighborhood that the event occurred in and whether he will be charged as an adult or as a child.] I think they should charge the parents!

Excerpt 2

Th: You look very sad now.... This hospitalization... was it right after the twins died?
Cl: It was like 2 or 3 months later.
Th: Did you ever get depressed before the twins were born? Or just after they died...
Cl: I got depressed about 3 months later.
Th: Were you depressed between when they died and the nervous breakdown 3 months later?
Cl: I was depressed when I first heard that they died. I didn't get no chance to talk to somebody about them or nothing like that...
Th: And when was the first time you started hearing voices or seeing things?
Cl: Then.
Th: Then... after they died?
Cl: About three months later.... Every time I would see twins I would chase they had to put me in the hospital....
Th: When you saw twins you were thinking...
Cl: That they was mine.... It almost killed me. You ever want something so bad and didn't get it? I wanted them girls so bad... they was supposed to be my last kids... I was supposed to get my tubes tied then... but I didn't.... But I got 2 little girls now, Virginia and 'Borah... (voice getting softer and sadder)
Th: It sounds like that was a really, really hard time for you...
Cl: It was...
Th: Before that time, did you ever have any issues with depression?
Cl: Yes, my mother used to take me to a therapist.... I used to go to the clinic on Copley Street. You know where that is? A psychiatrist... I used to go see her. I forgot her name.... it was a long time ago...
Th: That was when you were a child?
Cl: I was so young. How old was I when I had them twins? I was in my late 20's or early 30's...
Th: When you saw that psychiatrist earlier, was that in your 20's? Teens? Early teens?
Cl: I was a teenager when my mother first started taking me to see a psychiatrist....
Th: Do you remember why she took you?
Cl: Cause I used to always be down and cry all the time. She thought I had the same thing she had.
Th: What do you think? You've seen schizophrenia in your mother and your sister...
Cl: I don't think I got the same thing... schizophrenia. But there are all different types of schizophrenia...
Th: That's true. That's one of the reasons I think it's important to clarify this.... Do you ever hear voices or see things when you are not depressed?
Cl: No.
Th: It's always when you are depressed already?
Cl: Yes...
Th: Does it ever happen when you are just a little depressed? [shakes head no] How depressed do you have to be before you start to hear voices or see things?
Cl: At least a little depressed. That's how I know I'm getting sick again...
Th: Feeling depressed? Or the voices?
Cl: Hearing the voices. Then I know something wrong.
Th: Do you hear the voices and then you get depressed?
Cl: I already BE depressed when I hear voices... [sounds a little irritated]

Optional Supplementary Information
  1. Writing Sample: You may also wish to attach relevant writing samples with your application (e.g., honors thesis, reprints of publications).
  2. Miller Analogy Test Scores or GRE Test Scores: The Smith College School for Social Work MAT code is 1227. Submit MAT or GRE scores in support of your application no later than the application deadline.

Additional Required Materials for Special Applications

Advanced Clinical Standing Applicants

Applicants admitted to the Ph.D. program may, prior to enrollment, petition to take the Clinical Qualifying Examination normally scheduled at the end of the first clinical internship. Passing this examination, which is the same as the oral and written exam normally given at the end of the first internship, qualifies the applicant to waive one year of clinical internship. However, all three summers of academic coursework are typically required.

Transfer Students

Students with doctoral level coursework in closely allied fields may request transfer of academic credit for comparable courses. The director will determine which credits may be transferred. Review of course syllabi and assignments is often necessary. An individualized course of study will be developed for transfer applicants.

International Students

A substantial working knowledge of English is essential for admission. Applicants for whom English is not a first language must take the IELTS or TOEFL iBT and have an official score report sent to the Office of Admission. A minimum score for IELTS is 7.0. A minimum score for the TOEFL iBT is 94 and must meet a minimum high score in each test area: Reading (22 minimum); Listening (22 minimum); Speaking (26 minimum); and Writing (24 minimum). The IELTS/TOEFL requirement may be waived by the Admission Committee if English has been the primary language spoken in the home and at school. The school reserves the right to require the IELTS/TOEFL of any applicant whose first language is not English.

Ph.D. Request to Reapply

If you would like to reapply, you will need to open a new application. If you are applying for financial aid, you must also submit the appropriate financial aid forms.

Previously submitted application materials are kept for two years. If you need assistance determining which materials were received for your previous application, or for assistance with the reapplication process, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Admission.