Why study women, gender and sexuality studies?

WGSS was built out of the dual goals of examining inequalities resulting from gender, race, sexual orientation and class using an interdisciplinary lens, and translating this research into meaningful, tangible knowledge that contributes to the betterment of communities. Our interdisciplinary faculty members are engaged in research that examines many of the cutting edge issues vexing contemporary times, both domestically and globally, such as discrimination, violence, human trafficking, health and inequality, and migration, to name a few. The common thread throughout these different areas of research is the focus on investigating the factors that create and contribute to vulnerability across time and geography.

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is one aspect of feminism, one where academic discussion and learning go on. WGSS students learn about the ways in which people's roles in society have been constructed and the ways in which these roles have changed and continue to change. WGSS courses will make you informed about, and sensitive to issues of gender in relation to education, lifestyle, social roles and status, sexuality, legal status and equity. You will face these issues at work; WGSS courses will help you to deal with them in an informed, responsible, and just manner.

What will women, gender, & sexuality studies give me?

  • Awareness of the issues facing women, men, and non-binary people -- and the world -- today.
  • Knowledge of many different academic fields.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Strong writing and researching abilities.
  • A solid base on which to enter the workforce, pursue further education and have an impact in the world.
  • Graduates of WGSS go on to do many different things, and the possibilities are endless.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

The Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies PhD program accepts applications for fall admission only. All applications and admissions materials must be received by December 1st to be considered for admission for the following fall semester.

Application Materials

Applicants should upload the supporting application documents listed below to the online application. There is no need to send copies of application materials directly to the Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies department.

  • Copy of official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose (no longer than two pages, single spaced)
  • Writing sample (no longer than 30 pages)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (for applicants who don’t already have a graduate degree)

Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements as described here.


Visit the Department of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies website for detailed information about PhD admissions requirements.


Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program requires completion of core and elective courses and demonstration of depth in a chosen concentration or track. Candidates must complete a minimum of 13 credit hours of required courses in WGSS and 15 credit hours of elective WGSS courses. In addition, the student must take a minimum of 18 credit hours (3 in theory, 3 in methods, and 3 in a designated field) in an approved concentration or track selected from the list below.

Students must also fulfill Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement as outlined in the WGSS Graduate Handbook (available on line). At the end of 30 hours of course work (21 in WGSS and 9 in a concentration), Students will take a qualifying exam in their fourth semester (administered by the instructors of WGSS 800, WGSS 801, WGSS 802). Results of this exam will determine whether the student will earn a terminal M.A. and then leaves the program, or if the student earns an M.A. and then continues on towards the Ph.D. After completion of 31 credit hours and the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement, students take a comprehensive oral examination, the centerpiece of which is a portfolio of all major written work (exams, papers, syllabi), and a professional essay. Within 3 months of passing this exam the student defends a dissertation prospectus and enrolls in dissertation hours.

Required Graduate Courses in WGSS

WGSS 800History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies3
WGSS 801Feminist Theory3
WGSS 802Feminist Methodologies3
WGSS 803Topics in Feminist Pedagogy: _____ (0.5 hour, taken 2 times)1
WGSS 804Topics in Professional Development: _____3
WGSS 999Doctoral Dissertation1-12


African and African-American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Classics (Greek and Roman Studies), Communication Studies, English, Film and Media Studies, History, History of Art, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theatre, Indigenous Studies, and Museum Studies.

The WGSS graduate student handbook lists a selection of the approved courses in the concentrations.