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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- (200-) level courses. To count towards the degree, all grades must be a B minus or higher.

Master's students arrive on campus having already identified a potential advisor 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 lunch bag 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.