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Ph.D. Admissions

We are a small intellectual community, currently accepting 3-5 students per year. Applications are due November 15.

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in feminist and social justice activism, arts and culture outside academia as well as those who have studied women, gender and sexuality at the graduate and/or undergraduate level in any field or discipline.

When we read applications, we are looking for:

  • an intriguing research area or project (though we recognize that this may well change during your time in the program)
  • interests that appear to be a good fit with our faculty and resources
  • evidence of a solid grounding in critical race, women, gender, and/or sexuality studies (this may but does not have to come from university courses in WGSS)
  • a sense that you are committed to the work of a Ph.D. and understand what it is likely to entail

We take a holistic approach to admissions decisions. We have found that standardized test scores, such as the GRE, are not a good predictor for student success in our program. As of Fall 2020, we do not require the GRE for admission to our program.

Ph.D. Admissions

Application Deadlines

  • Ph.D. application deadline (for Fall 2024 matriculation): November 15, 2023.
  • Please do not hesitate to let us know if you are experiencing any problems as you attempt to upload your application materials. If you have any questions, contact department staff at (The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies does not consider applications for spring semester admission.)
  • Enrollment deadline: To accept or decline the offer, applicants must notify the Department and Graduate School by April 15, 2024.

Click here for access to the new online application portal

Application Requirements

As required by the Graduate School, all application materials are to be submitted electronically:

  • Graduate application
  • Statement of Purpose
    • Applicant’s motivations for pursuing a Ph.D. in women, gender, and sexuality studies
    • Specific intellectual interests in the field and the ways in which these interests are supported by the particular strengths of our faculty, areas of concentration (described in the major field examination section of the Ph.D. programand course offerings.
  • Transcript(s)
    • Official transcripts from all institutions attended, including all undergraduate and graduate work
  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • CV/Resume
  • TOEFL/IELTS (international graduate students)
  • Publications/Presentations
    • Writing sample of approximately 10 double spaced pages in length (Please use a scholarly format with citations)
  • Non-refundable application fee ($75) unless waived (Graduate School fee waiver information)

If you have any questions, please contact department staff at or the Director of Graduate Studies.

University of Maryland’s Graduate Application Process

The University of Maryland’s Graduate School accepts applications through Enrollment RX at Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Admissions Requirements site for specific instructions.

Learn more about Graduate School Admissions to the University of Maryland

The electronic submission of application materials helps expedite the review of an application. Completed applications are reviewed by the Women’s Studies Graduate Admissions Committee. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. Students seeking to complete graduate work at the University of Maryland for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the dean. To ensure the integrity of the application process, the University of Maryland authenticates submitted materials through TurnItIn for Admissions.

Information for International Graduate Students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. The office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable resource of information and assistance for prospective and current international students.  International applicants are encouraged to explore the services they offer and contact them with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information; it is not a guarantee of attendance. Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland, which will require submission of additional documents. Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International applicants for more information.


Applicants who do not register for classes in the semester for which they are admitted will have their admissions terminated. Students must maintain a cumulative “B” average or better in graduate course work and must satisfy all additional women’s studies and Graduate School requirements. In order to remain in good standing, doctoral students must be advanced to candidacy within five years of entrance, after which another four-year period is permitted for completion of the remaining requirements. Students should consult the Graduate Catalog for additional information on Graduate School policies and regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to have a complete application?
You must electronically submit an application, statement of purpose and research interests, official transcripts from any institutions of higher learning that you attended, three letters of recommendation, a CV or resume, and a writing sample of approximately 10 pages.

Can I apply for a fee waiver?
The processes for a fee waiver are overseen by the Graduate School, the department does not currently offer any of our own fee waivers.
Please visit the Graduate School Fee Waiver page to find out if you are eligible for the BigTen Free App or any of the other fee waiver programs supported by the Graduate School.

Do I need to take the GRE?
No. We do not find the GRE to be a good predictor for success in our program and we do not require it. If you have taken the GRE in order to apply to other programs, you do not need to report your scores to us.

What is the deadline for submission?
We admit only once per year, in fall for the following fall semester.  The Fall 2024 cohort deadline is November 15, 2023. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you are experiencing any problems as you attempt to upload your application materials. If you have any questions or concerns, contact departmental staff at

I can have everything in by the deadline except [fill in the blank]. Will you review an incomplete application?
We cannot review applications that are missing one or more of the requirements. Please follow up with your recommendation writers if the letters do not show in the application in early November to ensure they are received on time.

What role do volunteer activities and extracurricular work play in the admissions process?
Feminist activist and other service work are not requirements, but they may make an application more attractive.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program if I am coming in with a bachelor’s degree?
We receive many more applications than slots available. We have found that the students applying to our program who have already completed an MA are able to present particularly strong applications. We do accept students with an undergraduate degree only. However, it is a good idea to apply to both stand-alone MA and Ph.D. programs to keep your options open.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program if I didn’t major in women, gender, and sexuality studies?
You do not need to have a degree in women, gender, and sexuality studies. Among the factors that we consider important are an applicant’s knowledge and familiarity with scholarship on gender, race, and sexuality, but this knowledge may have originated in other disciplines or outside academia.

Writing Sample

How long should the writing sample be?
Writing samples should be no more than 10 pages. A writing sample of this length allows the reviewers to better evaluate both analytic and theoretical skills.

Does my writing sample have to be on a women, gender, and sexuality studies topic?
The writing sample can be on any topic related to gender, and should be a paper of which you are particularly proud.

I wrote this great paper that I really want to submit, but it is too short/long. Can I send it anyway?
If there is a piece that you feel represents your writing well, but it is too short, you can submit that as well as an additional sample that meets the length requirement. If your piece is longer than 10 pages, please select an excerpt that you feel represents your writing best.


What kind of funding is available?
There are several options for funding. Fellowships are available on a competitive basis. We also offer 9.5-month assistantships; these include a stipend and require 20 hours per week of work in the department. Most of our assistantships are for teaching positions, although new graduate students are not assigned teaching positions in their first year. Students may also find assistantships in other departments on campus. For information on funding, including scholarships and student loans, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid.

International Students

Who has to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
The TOEFL is a requirement for all international students who apply for admission to the Graduate School. Non-native speakers of English who have earned a degree from the United States, United Kingdom, English-speaking Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Common wealth Caribbean are exempt from presenting TOEFL scores. Native speakers of English are defined as those who have received all of their education in one of the countries listed above.

Is the TSE (Test of Spoken English) required for international students applying for a teaching assistantship?
Yes, unless you have a degree from a university in an English-speaking country (see above). However, since teaching assistantships are not assigned to first-year students, you will have an opportunity to take the TSE once you arrive on campus.

Where can I get more information about applying as an international student?
International applicants should address any questions to International Student and Scholar Services, 1126 H.J. Patterson Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA (301-314-7740).

Miscellaneous Information

Where can I find out more about the department and about faculty research interests?
Our website lists all of our core and affiliate faculty as well as their research interests and other information.

Can I use Interfolio to provide letters of recommendation?

The Graduate School does accept recommendations through Interfolio but it is not a requirement. Usually the recommenders are assigned an Interfolio email and the applicant would enter that email in their application. Interfolio can also email the letters directly to

What if I just want a master’s degree and not a Ph.D.?
We do not have a stand-alone master’s program and so we only accept applications from students that intend to go on to complete a Ph.D. Current doctoral students may request conferral of a master’s degree upon successfully completing 31 credits of coursework; they must either produce a thesis with an oral exam or pass the general exam.

How do I decide between applying to a women’s studies program with a focus on another discipline and applying to another discipline’s program to focus on gender?
With interdisciplinary programs like women’s studies, it can be hard to decide whether, for example, to pursue a women’s studies degree with work in history or a history degree with work in women’s studies. In many cases, the difference is not great. Some programs are harder to gain acceptance into than others, therefore we recommend applying to both and make the decision based on which schools accept you and what they have to offer.

How long will it take to complete my Ph.D.?
Only an estimate is possible since everyone’s program will differ, especially the amount of time for research and writing the dissertation. We estimate about 5-7 years.

What is the job market for Ph.D.’s in women, gender, and sexuality studies?
Nationwide, the placement record for women, gender, and sexuality studies PhD graduates is about 60%. We believe that the job market for our graduate students will be good as women, gender, and sexuality studies is expanding significantly at this time. “Programs” that once depended on faculty housed in other departments are becoming independent departments and hiring their own faculty. In addition to academic careers, our students will also be able to take jobs at research and policy institutes, in the government, and at other non-profit advocacy and funding agencies.


Learn more about the career and life paths of our alumni, who work in fields ranging from academia to the nonprofit community.

Graduate Placement