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Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Certificate

The department offers a 21-credit undergraduate certificate program for students interested in a program more in-depth than a minor.

About the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Undergraduate Certificate

An education in women, gender and sexuality studies offers students a flexible program of study examining feminist scholarship and the history, status, contributions and experiences of women in diverse cultural communities. The program of study emphasizes the significance of gender as a social construct and as an analytical category.

Students interested in a more in-depth program may consider the major.


Certificate Requirements

Students will earn a total of 21 credits, distributed as indicated below. At least 12 credits must be at or above the 300 level. No course with a grade less than “C-” may be used to satisfy the certificate and an overall GPA of 2.0 in the certificate is required for completion. No more than 9 credits can overlap with the student's major. Students will design their programs in consultation with a Women’s Studies advisor.

1. The Introductory course – 3 credits
(1 course, any of the following, usually taken in the first or second semester in the program)

  • LGBT200: “Intro LGBT Studies”
  • WGSS200: “Intro to WGSS: Gender, Power, and Society”
  • WGSS250: “Intro to WGSS: Art and Culture”
  • WGSS263: “Intro Black Women’s Studies”
  • WGSS290: “Bodies in Contention”

2. The Foundational Course – 3 credits
(usually taken during sophomore or junior year)

  • WGSS302: “Feminist, Critical Race, and Queer Theories” (Required)

3. The Thematic Concentration Area – 12 credits
(4 courses, taken over the course of the certificate. See list of thematic concentration areas, below)

Students will identify an area of interest with the advisor when they declare the certificate.

4. The Capstone – 3 credits (1 course, usually taken senior year)

  • LGBT488: “Senior Seminar” (any version/letter is fine) (prereq.; LGBTQ Thematic Concentration or LGBT coursework)
  • WGSS488: “Senior Seminar” (any version/letter is fine)
  • An additional 400-level course from the thematic concentration in consultation with the advisor

Courses can fulfill multiple requirements and students can fill any remaining credits needed towards the 21-credit requirement with approved electives. Ex. LGBT 200: “Introduction to LGBTQ Studies” fulfills the Introductory requirement and also counts towards the LGBTQ Studies thematic concentration area.

Thematic Concentration Areas

As a central aspect of the WGSS certificate and major, the department has introduced thematic concentration areas. Students will choose from the 6 areas designed by the department or create an area of their own with the advisor. These informal thematic concentrations are:

  • NEW - Gender, Sexuality, and Health
  • Social Justice
  • Transnational Politics and Perspectives
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Class
  • Bodies, Genders and Sexualities
  • Arts, Technologies, and Cultural Production
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer + Studies
  • Student Designed

There is a degree of overlap in the concentrations and in the courses offered under each, since the subfields within gender, race and queer studies necessarily overlap and intersect, but each concentration reflects a particular set of interests and scholarly approaches within the fields that make up WGSS. Each of our courses (and many from related departments) will be assigned to a particular concentration (and most will count toward two or even more concentrations).

  • NEW Gender Sexuality, and Health: This concentration explores how structures of racial, colonial, and gendered power influence knowledge and practices of medicine and health, and considers how feminist, queer, and trans thought and activism have worked to reimagine health in the service of justice and liberation. Courses may analyze topics such as feminist critiques of ableism and fatphobia; the politics of sexual health; constructions of mental health, trauma, and illness; reproductive justice and maternal health; disability justice; environmental justice and land-based approaches to health; and visions of care and wellness within feminist, queer, and trans organizing. Students may explore careers in medicine, health, social work, counseling, psychology, and public policy among other fields
  • Social Justice: Courses in this concentration come from a variety of perspectives that examine social inequalities and ways to address them. This can include histories of social movements and contemporary activist engagement. Students will develop tools to act as a force for change in the world.
  • Transnational Politics and Perspectives: There will be an emphasis on explorations beyond the U.S. context and include an analysis of imperial histories and interventions. TPP courses examine how power works in the circuits that connect people in different geographic locations. Students explore the asymmetric flows of bodies, goods and ideas and how questions of race, class and gender can be compared and connected across geographic regions.
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Class: These courses are rooted in global imperial histories and American experiences of enslavement, dispossession, colonization and immigration. Among other things this includes an emphasis on the Black diasporic experience in the United States.
  • Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities: Students interested in this area will explore how knowledge about the human body has been shaped by cultural ideas of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and ability. Courses will range across a variety of geographic locations and disciplinary approaches.
  • Arts, Technologies, and Cultural Production: This concentration explores the role of media, culture and technology in challenging and perpetuating systems of gendered and racialized oppression. Courses are likely to focus on art and culture created by members of marginalized communities, the relationship between aesthetics and politics, digital feminisms and/or on analysis of the cultural systems that shape media and technology.
  • LGBTQ Studies: These courses offer focused, interdisciplinary study of the lives, experiences, identities, creative work, political movements, knowledge production and cultural representations of LGBTQ people and communities. This concentration area recognizes the breadth of perspectives on identity, representation, politics and interlocking systems of oppression that comprise the growing, dynamic and expansive field of the study of genders and sexualities today.
  • Student Designed: This concentration area is one that a student creates with the department advisor based on a clear and compelling interest that cannot be explored in the existing thematic concentration areas.


Sample Four-Year Graduation Plan

21 total credits, minimum of 12 upper level credits

Year 1 (3 credits of WGSS coursework )

  • 3 credits of any WGSS introductory course ex. WGSS250: “Women, Art, and Culture”

Year 2 (9 credits of WGSS coursework)

  • WGSS302: “Feminist, Critical Race, and Queer Theories”
  • Choose a Thematic Concentration Area, ex. Race, Ethnicity, and Class
  • 6 credits of coursework in the thematic concentration ex. WGSS211: “Love, Labor, and Citizenship: History of Women in the U.S. Since 1880” and WGSS265: “Constructions of Black Manhood and Womanhood”

Year 3 (3 credits of WGSS coursework)

  • 3 credits of upper-level thematic concentration ex. LGBT327: “LGBT Film and Video”

Year 4 (6 credits of WGSS coursework, )

  • Capstone ex. WGSS488: “Senior Seminar – Black Women in the Arts”
  • 3 credits of 300 or 400 level thematic concentration ex. ENGL408: “Literature by Women before 1800”


Sample Three-Year Graduation Plan

(example of no courses taken freshman year)

Year 1 (9 credits of WGSS coursework )

  • 3 credits of any WGSS introductory course ex. WGSS250: “Women, Art, and Culture”
  • 3 credits of foundation – WGSS302: “Feminist, Critical Race, and Queer Theories”
  • Choose a thematic concentration ex. Arts, Technologies, Cultural Production Concentration
  • 3 credits of coursework in the thematic concentration ex. WGSS255: “Reading Women Writing”

Year 2 (6 credits of WGSS coursework)

  • 6 credits of upper-level thematic concentration ex. LGBT327: “LGBT Film and Video” and WGSS448: “Literature by Women of Color”

Year 3 (6 credits of WGSS coursework)

  • Capstone ex. WGSS488: “Senior Seminar – Black Women in the Arts”
  • 3 credits of 300 or 400 level thematic concentration ex. ENGL408: “Literature by Women before 1800”


Pre-2020 WMST Certificate Requirements

Note: Students admitted after 2020 should follow the requirements described above. These requirements are for students admitted prior to 2020.

Requires 21 credits; including 9 credits at the 300-400 level distributed as follows:

1. Foundation Courses (9 credits)

  • WMST200: “Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women and Society” (3 credits) OR WMST250: “Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women, Art and Culture” (3 credits)
  • WMST400: “Theories of Feminism” (3 credits)
  • WMST488: “Senior Seminar” (3 credits)

2. Distributive Courses (12 credits)
Required and elective courses must be chosen, however, so that students take at least one course (3 credits) from each of the three distributive categories

  • Area I: Arts and Literature
  • Area II: Historical Perspectives
  • Area III: Social and Natural Sciences

At least one course (3 credits) must include cultural diversity (noted on the course documents on WMST Courses listing with an *). Students are also encouraged to take an experiential learning course (WMST386, formerly 380, or WMST350).

No course with a grade less than “C-” may be used to satisfy major requirements, and an overall GPA of 2.0 in the major is required for graduation


Undergraduate Alumni

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