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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Gender and Women's Studies

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Program Requirements

Bachelor of Arts

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women's Studies

A major in GWST requires a minimum of 44 credit hours (including the required Introduction to GWST course), to be met through courses taken in a variety of disciplines.

The interdisciplinary structure of the program helps GWST students gain an understanding of how gender as a category of inquiry is elaborated and studied in a range of disciplines and methodological approaches. Students are also required to take several courses offered specifically by Gender and Women's Studies. These courses include GWST colloquium and special topics courses, which have variable topics and may be in either the arts and humanities, or the social sciences. Majors will also take an upper-level GWST Theory course. 

The GWST major is broken into four primary categories of inquiry, which guide students through courses as they take at least one course from each area. These areas focus on history, institutions and power, intersectionality, and identity and rhetoric.

These areas have been selected as those that characterize our program and are pedagogically sound in relation to the field of study as a whole. Students do not necessarily need to take these courses in any particular order, as the four sections represent different but related foci.

For more information, see the GWST major requirement course matrix (PDF).

Courses in the areas of history and institutions and power draw attention to the public, social, and cultural structuring of gender identity and sexuality, and how resources are allocated unequally based on this structuring.

History is essential to an understanding of the varied and changing ways that societies have defined gender, and allocated roles and powers, on the basis of gender and accompanying expectations and resources.

Institutions and power looks at how gender identity is constructed by social institutions such as education, the church, the family, public policy, law and the media.

The next two sections, intersectionality and identity and rhetoric, focus on more individual experiences of the ways in which sexual and gender identities are understood and constructed.

Intersectionality recognizes that gender cannot be studied or understood in isolation from other structures, such as social status, ethnic allegiance, religious conviction or access to forms of cultural capital.

Identity and rhetoric recognizes that gender definitions and roles need to be understood in relation to the "linguistic turn" associated on the one hand with political theorists and on the other with deconstructive thinkers. This portion of the curriculum explores linguistic structures (itself also the outcome of symbiosis with social and cultural constructions) and representation.

Conceptually, the four sections move between an understanding of social formations and the exploration of personal experience in relation to these formations. As well as guiding students through these four related but distinct areas, the courses all draw on divisional strengths in research and teaching, and encourage students to explore the productive tensions between theoretical understandings of gender and community engagement through service, internships, or fieldwork.

These course requirements stress the interdisciplinary nature of this field of study, and students must take one four-unit course in each of the primary areas of inquiry listed above, which replaces the previous distribution of taking two courses in both arts and humanities, and the social sciences.

This requirement will not only provide students with more flexibility as they pursue their coursework as a GWST major, but will also ensure that their coursework contributes to a coherent course of study that reflects the major's learning outcomes (PDF).

Additional guidelines:

  • There can be no overlap of credit.
  • If a student is double-majoring, only one course from a student's other major department will be accepted toward his/her GWST major.
  • No course may count simultaneously toward a major and a minor.