Applicants to the program are normally expected to have majored in the department concerned, although the department will consider an applicant who has had some undergraduate work in the field and has majored in a related one. All such cases fall under the jurisdiction of the department. Prospective students who are in this category should address questions about specific details to the departmental graduate adviser or the director of graduate programs. With departmental approval, a student whose undergraduate preparation is deemed inadequate may make up any deficiency at Smith College.
Candidates for this degree must also offer evidence, satisfactory to the department concerned, of a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language commonly used in the field of study.
Smith College requires all master's students to take a minimum of 32 credits of work, at least 16 of which must be at the graduate level. Of the remaining 16 credits, no more than eight may be given for intermediate-level (200-) courses. To count toward the degree, all grades must be a B minus or higher.
Master's students arrive on campus having already identified a potential adviser and conduct research during both years of their program. This research ultimately results in a thesis that is read by the adviser plus two additional readers. A written thesis is required of all students in the master's program. The master's degree candidate is also required to present his or her research to the department at the end of the fourth semester.
In addition to these formal academic experiences, many graduate students regularly attend one of the several lunchbag seminars that meet weekly. The graduate committee also strongly recommends that each graduate student be required to present either a journal article or research update, at least once a year, in an appropriate forum such as one of the lunch seminars.