Puddles of rain water dot the Memorial Union Terrace chairs and tables following a passing summer thunderstorm at University of Wisconsin-Madison at sunset on June 28, 2017. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

PhD Program: Prospective Students

Application Process

Application Due Date

The Graduate School’s fall 2024 application will open in early September. Applications are due December 1, 2023.

Applications are to be submitted online directly to the Graduate School.

How to Apply:

To apply for admission to our PhD program, you will need to complete the Graduate School’s online application. This application includes the Department’s Supplemental Application, which will provide us with more detailed information about your research interests. Below you will find guidance for filling out the application and a description of the materials you will be asked to submit. Once you have read the following information carefully, go to the Graduate School’s Apply Now page.

  • Preferred Faculty Advisor. Provide the names of up to three faculty members with whom you would like to work. We encourage you to explore the research specializations of individual faculty members. Be sure that the expertise of the faculty you list is consistent with your research interests.
  • Personal Statement. The personal statement is a place for you to communicate your reasons for attending graduate school, what your career goals are, and why you think the University of Wisconsin—Madison is the best place for the training that will help you meet your goals.  Be sure to tell us in your personal statement if you have prior research experience and your role in that research. Explain the research area or topics that you want to pursue for your PhD (maximum 1,000 words).
  • Writing Sample. Please include a 10 – 20 page writing sample with your application materials (should not exceed 25 pages).
  • Planned Concentration. Indicate the concentration you plan to pursue. See the the list of concentrations here and be sure that your planned concentration aligns with your research interests as described in your Personal Statement.
  • Transcripts – Upload an unofficial copy of your transcript from all institutions attended, showing any undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded. If accepted, you will be required to send an official transcript from each institution.
  • CV or Resumé – This should highlight your accomplishments and qualifications including academic honors or distinctions; professional, research, and/or teaching experience; and any publications.
  • Letters of recommendation – Provide contact information for the three individuals who will furnish recommendations on your behalf. (They will receive an upload link by email.)
  • Application fee waivers – The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies has closed its fee waiver application for international applicants for the fall 2024 admissions cycle. If you have already submitted a fee waiver application, Graduate Program staff will be in contact in early November with the Graduate Committee’s decision. Domestic applicants can apply for an application fee waiver through the Graduate School. Please note: international students will be required to pay a $6 processing fee even if granted an application fee waiver.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Can students take courses outside of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies?

Absolutely! An integral part of the PhD program is the Concentration, which can be in a discipline (e.g., Political Science) or an interdisciplinary area (e.g., Health, or LGBTQ+ Studies). An Individualized Concentration is also possible. The concentrations are structured around courses outside the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies.

Is funding available for students?

Each student accepted into the PhD program in Gender & Women’s Studies will be given 5 years of guaranteed funding (salary at the 50% level, plus tuition remission), conditional on the student remaining in good standing. This guarantee refers to the 9 months of the academic year. The Department, in addition, will do its best to provide support in the summer.

This funding may come in any combination of internal fellowships (e.g., University Fellowship, Graduate Research Scholars Fellowship), Teaching Assistantships, Project Assistantships, Research Assistantships, and external fellowships for which you apply (e.g., National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, AAUW Dissertation Fellowship).

How do I apply for funding?

We consider all applicants for funding, and you do not need to submit any additional materials to be considered for funding.

What GRE tests should I take, and when?

The Department of Gender & Women’s Studies does NOT require GRE scores.

Is an undergraduate major in Gender & Women’s Studies required?

No.  Although many of our graduate students will have majored in gender & women’s studies as undergraduates, we are interdisciplinary, and others will have completed majors in an array of disciplines—e.g., anthropology, history, English, political science, psychology, sociology – or interdisciplinary fields.  Regardless of your undergraduate major, it is important that you have taken at least some gender & women’s studies courses and have some familiarity with the field.

Is it acceptable for me to contact a professor directly?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to contact faculty with whom you would be interested in working prior to preparing your application. On the application website, you will be asked to list up to three faculty members with whom you would like to work.

How do I apply for an application fee waiver?

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies has closed its fee waiver application for international applicants for the fall 2024 admissions cycle. If you have already submitted a fee waiver application, Graduate Program staff will be in contact in early November with the Graduate Committee’s decision. Domestic applicants can apply for an application fee waiver through the Graduate School.

Please note: international students will be required to pay a $6 processing fee even if granted an application fee waiver.

Am I required to take the TOEFL exam?

Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. 

What should I include in the Statement of Purpose?

The Graduate School has developed these useful guidelines for the Statement of Purpose along with a number of resources for applicants.

When will I be notified if I am accepted?

Admitted students will be contacted by email, no later than February 15.

When do you need to know whether or not I will attend?

We must have your response by April 15, which is the deadline that all U.S. graduate schools have agreed to.  If you have chosen another program or school before that date, we would be grateful if you let us know as soon as you decide.

As you are making a decision, here is more information about UW-Madison and tips for negotiating competing offers from different programs.