Master’s Degree

Master’s Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies

Description of M.A. Program

The Master’s Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies provides advanced feminist training in gender analysis for students with a variety of academic backgrounds and career plans.  Incorporating local, cross-cultural and transnational emphases, the curriculum encourages students and faculty from the humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences to develop innovative ways of expanding knowledge about gender in global, local, and historical contexts.  As the name “Gender and Women’s Studies” indicates, the M.A. retains the emphasis on women’s lives and situations that has historically informed the field of women’s studies, while also emphasizing the incisive import of gender as a category of analysis transforming knowledge about, for example, masculinity and men’s lives, transgendered lives, as well as other complex topics. The degree engages the wide-ranging and multidisciplinary perspectives associated with gender studies and women’s studies: queer studies, transgender studies, sexuality studies, race and ethnicity studies, disability studies, area and global studies, cultural studies, postcolonial and transnational studies.

Our M.A. curriculum draws from the strengths of current course offerings in the program, as well as from methodologies and course offerings in other fields and departments.  Among the domains of inquiry explored within the curriculum are:

  • work, family and education
  • social movements, the state and civil society
  • bodies, genders, health and sexualities
  • individual, collective and communal identities
  • communications, technology and culture industries
  • politics of representation, media and cultural practices
  • migration, immigration, labor and political economy
  • militarism, international relations and governmental processes
  • intersectionality of systems of women’s oppression

Some courses investigate these topics at the global level while others focus on the local, regional or national levels. The curriculum insures an overarching transnational and cross-cultural framework.  Courses use interdisciplinary methodologies and/or disciplinary approaches.


Students are involved from the outset in devising their own course of study in consultation with an interim adviser as they enter the program. Ultimately, they work closely with the thesis adviser, selected to correspond to their individual research project. The emphasis overall will be on flexibility within the over-arching transnational and cross-cultural framework.

Current departmental faculty provide expertise in the social sciences, humanities, arts, and biological/health fields. Depending on their specific goals for the M.A. degree, students may wish to organize their courses along disciplinary lines (the arts, biology and health, culture, economics, history, law, literature, policy, politics, among others) or along emergent thematic lines of feminist inquiry (sexuality, theory, transnational and postcolonial studies, dis/ability studies, among others).

The degree program is designed to be a two-year full-time sequence; however, the program is also flexible enough to allow part-time students to pursue the M.A. All students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress in the graduate program in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and our departmental policies.

Each student will complete 30 credits of course work plus a thesis or a comprehensive exam. project.  Of the 30 credits, at least 15 must be in designated courses in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. The remaining 15 credits may also be departmental courses or may be chosen (entirely or in part) from graduate-level courses in other departments and programs in the University. All courses should be selected in consultation with the DGS and/or the adviser, who must approve the selections.

The M.A curriculum includes two required courses: 880—Graduate Study in Gender and Women’s Studies taken during the first semester and 900–Research in Gender and Women’s Studies taken the second semester.  Students must also complete a graduate level course in feminist theory.  (This may include 440, 441, 445 or 449 taken for graduate credit.) The M.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies also requires students to complete one of two culminating projects, a thesis option or an exam option.  These are designed to elicit similar effort but to meet different goals.  The thesis option requires that the student develop and demonstrate expertise on a particular research topic of the student’s choosing.  The exam option requires that the student acquire and demonstrate a general understanding of the field of gender and women’s studies and a more in depth and nuanced understanding of a particular area of study.

Specific Requirements for the MA Degree (including forms)

MA Program: Application Process

Graduate Handbook

Fellowships and Financial Support

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies offers Teaching Assistantships to a few entering MA students each year. However, there are only a limited number of positions and applicants to the M.A. Program should not count on a Teaching Assistantship in the Department as a means of financial support.  The Department encourages MA students to apply for advertised teaching assistant and project assistant positions that may be available in the department or elsewhere on campus. The Department regrets that there are not assistantships or other departmental means of financial support available for all students in the M.A. Program.