Students in lecture in 1310 Sterling Hall

Major in Gender and Women’s Studies

The Gender and Women’s Studies major provides a unique background for students seeking to analyze gender and other vectors of inequality, both historically and in contemporary society, as reflected through texts, social practices, and social institutions in the United States and abroad.  Graduates have gone on to provide this kind of analysis in fields like health policy, immigration law, social work, reproductive justice, educational administration, employment policy, medicine, architectural design, and media production.

The curriculum reflects the interdisciplinary nature of gender and women’s studies, offering to all students an opportunity to study gender and women in such areas as literature, history, anthropology, sociology, education, law, biology, psychology, philosophy, political science, economics, and the arts. Department courses have been designed to fulfill breadth requirements in the appropriate divisions.

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies endorses the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Essential Learning Outcomes.  Drawing on UW’s essential learning outcomes, we have developed GWS Learning Outcomes for our majors that are cultivated through the structure of our major requirements.


Declare the Gender and Women's Studies Major

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Learn about the Major Requirements

Through the Guide, you can find more information about the requirements for the Gender and Women’s Studies Major. Please note: to declare the major in Gender and Women’s Studies, students must earn a B or better in one of the three introductory courses (Gen&WS 101, 102, or 103).

Meet with the Undergraduate Advisor

When you meet with the undergraduate advisor in Gender and Women’s Studies, you will learn more about the major, plan courses, discuss study abroad options, and discover how to get involved on campus and in the community.

UW-Madison students can use a new tool, Starfish, to schedule advising appointments. Search for and add the Starfish App to your MyUW page. Please send a quick email to Susan Nelson at if you have trouble figuring out how to use Starfish.

Course Planning

  1. Schedule an advising appointment through Starfish to discuss how the GWS major fits with your other academic interests.
  2. Browse the GWS fall 2019 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.


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. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Commencement Ceremonies

December commencement is scheduled for Saturday, December 15, 2019.

Whether you graduate in December or May, plan to attend the Gender and Women’s Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies Spring Graduation Reception. Join us for donuts and coffee and spend the morning with your favorite faculty and staff.

Date and time will be announced as we get closer to the day.

Final DARS Check

If you plan to graduate in December 2019, please ‘Apply to Graduate’ in your Student Center by November 1, 2019. Doing this signals to the Office of the Registrar that they should audit your student record and give you the green light to graduate.

Be sure to check your DARS. Near the top, you should see the phrase “all reqs complete pending final review.” This means that you have nearly completed your degree. Confetti will fall from the ceiling!