Students in lecture in 1310 Sterling Hall

Major in Gender and Women’s Studies

The Gender and Women’s Studies major provides a platform for students to study how equity and social justice are connected to gender, sexuality, and identity. Gender and Women’s Studies students explore the field in disciplines such as literature, history, anthropology, sociology, public health, education, law, biology, psychology, political science, and the visual arts. In Gender and Women’s Studies courses, students develop strong analytical and communication skills through classroom discussion, writing, and independent projects.

Undergraduates in our programs pursue research skills through thesis writing and professional development opportunities through career workshops with alumni and in our internship program. Graduates from our programs apply a critical lens in fields like health and public policy, social justice and advocacy, reproductive justice, non-profit administration, clinical medicine, software development, communications, and media production.

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies endorses the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Essential Learning Outcomes.  Drawing on these, we have developed GWS Learning Outcomes for our students that are cultivated through our major coursework.

Declare the Gender and Women's Studies Major

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Meet with the advisor

Meet with the Gender and Women’s Studies advisor to plan courses, discuss study abroad, and discover involvement opportunities. Please use Starfish to schedule an advising appointment (in Sterling Hall or on Zoom). Send a quick email to Susan Nelson at if you have questions about how to do any of this.

Learn about the requirements

Find more information about the requirements for the Gender and Women’s Studies Major.

Declare the GWS major

Complete this quick form to declare the Gender and Women’s Studies major. Please contact the undergraduate advisor with questions about course planning.

Course Planning

  1. Schedule an advising appointment through Starfish to discuss how the GWS major fits with your other academic interests.
  2. Browse the spring 2022 course list with the approaches and issue areas for the GWS major included.
  3. Use the planning grid as you think about how to complete the 10 courses for the GWS major.

GWS 660 Internship Course

Gen&WS 660: Internship in Gender and Women’s Studies is offered every spring semester through an application and interview process. This course offers students the opportunity to work in organizations in ways that connects their GWS courses to specific issues in community settings.

Find more information here along with the application for Gen&WS 660

Honors/Research for GWS Majors

Are you eager to experience the excitement of original research? Research or Honors in the Major is appropriate for students considering graduate work in gender and women’s studies or who want rigorous training in research, reasoning, and writing skills useful to a wide range of career choices.

Students should consult with the undergraduate advisor to determine the best way to develop a senior thesis project through Research or Honors in the Major. In either track, students will complete a senior thesis project; students who elect to pursue Honors in the Major will also complete additional honors requirements.

Spend some time reading the Guidelines for Writing a Senior Thesis in GWS to get started. Learn more about the requirements for Honors in the Major in Gender and Women’s Studies in the Guide.


Commencement Ceremonies

Winter commencement is scheduled for Sunday, December 19, 2021 at 10 am. Check back here for details about how the Department of Gender and Women's Studies will celebrate graduates.

Alexandra Adams, Yanika Davis and Samantha Adams take a group photo before UW-Madison's spring commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on May 12, 2018.