Experiential Learning and Individual Study
The department offers numerous opportunities for experiential learning and individual study.
Honors Program and Experiential Learning
The honors program provides an opportunity for students within the university to pursue an academic interest in some aspect of women’s, gender and/or sexuality studies in greater depth than that allowed by formal classes.
The experiential learning and professional development requirement for the major is an integral part of the degree. Every student in the B.A. program has a faculty mentor to guide them through the process, and scholarship is an integral part of each assistantship, The work of each assistantship is tailored to the interests of each student and the needs of their position.
Read more about each program below.
The honors program provides an opportunity for students within the university to pursue an academic interest in some aspect of women’s, gender and/or sexuality studies in greater depth than that allowed by formal classes. While the honors program puts emphasis on the development of habits of self-reliance, individual initiative and critical analysis, students also have the experience of working one-on-one with a faculty mentor. The thesis project may result in a sustained piece of writing or a substantial creative or activist project.
Students are accepted into the honors program each semester. Ideally students should apply in the second semester of their sophomore year. Transfer students are welcome to apply.
Applications are accepted from students of any major who have completed three WMST and/or LGBT courses at the time of application and have a 3.25 overall GPA and a 3.25 GPA in the WMST/LGBT courses taken.
The honors program consists of 12 credits, ideally taken across four semesters. Transfer students or students who are planning to study abroad should speak to the director of undergraduate studies about the possibility of completing the honors program in three semesters. The four courses are: an upper-level course of choice taken with an honors option; the WMST or LGBT senior seminar taken with an honors option; and 6 credits of WMST honors thesis.
Students wishing to begin the honors program in the spring semester should apply by November 1 of the prior fall semester. Students wishing to begin the honors program in the fall semester should apply by April 1 of the prior spring semester.
To apply, submit:
- the application form
- a transcript (unofficial is acceptable)
- a list of all LGBT and/or WMST courses completed
- a list of any LGBT or WMST courses in which you are currently enrolled
- the names and email addresses of two faculty who can evaluate your abilities and readiness to take on an independent project, at least one of whom has been your instructor in an LGBT or WMST course
- a sample writing or creative project that you have completed for a course
- a brief (maximum 250 words) statement of why you are interested in the honors program
- indicate when you expect to graduate
Applications should be submitted to Gwen Warman, women’s studies advisor. They may be submitted electronically as a single PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about the honors program, your application, the program’s structure, possible honors projects or any other topics, you are encouraged to speak with Gwen Warman and with other members of the WGSS faculty.
Experiential Learning and Professional Development
The experiential learning and professional development requirement for the major includes 1 credit of WGSS 497 Professional Development and 3 to 6 credits of hands-on experience; through either WGSS 358 Teaching Assistantship (UTA), WGSS 368 Internship, or WGSS 378 Research or Creative Works Assistantship (URCA). Certificate students are also eligible to take these courses, however they are not required to do so and registration priority will be given to majors.
Every student in the B.A. program has a faculty mentor for their hands-on component and scholarship is an integral part of each assistantship, the work of each assistantship is tailored to the interests of each student and the needs of their position. Students are encouraged to complete the hands-on requirement in their Senior year (or last 2 semesters) and to begin discussing their options with the advisor as Juniors.
Registration in WGSS 358, 368, and 378 is contingent on completion of the learning contract prior to the final day of Schedule Adjustment. Students are encouraged to begin the learning contract process with their faculty mentor as soon as they are assigned. Students should have their assistantship or internship confirmed prior to the first day of the semester.
Internships: Three to Six Credits
The WGSS Internship program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to combine theory and practice and get hands-on experience with specific women’s, gender, or sexuality issues in a workplace or organizational setting. The course has two components: work at the internship setting developing practical skill sets applicable to that environment, and work with a faculty mentor that provides a framework to think about the internship experience and an opportunity to reflect on the pragmatic and political issues associated with the work of the particular organization. The faculty mentor will help the student identify the connections that may exist between the experiential site and the field. It is an opportunity to identify and critique the existing literature in the field to facilitate a complex and dynamic understanding of the experiential site.
Prior to registering for this course students must identify an internship site and secure a position, the academic advisor will then assign them a faculty mentor. Once assigned the student completes a learning contract with their site supervisor and faculty mentor to outline the plans for the semester. The number of credits a student receives is based on both the number of hours worked at the site and number of hours of academic work completed with their faculty mentor. Students should begin discussing their plans for internships with the academic advisor a semester before they hope to fulfill the requirement.
For more information please review this sample WGSS 368 syllabus
Teaching Assistantships: Three credits
As Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs) students assist a member of the WGSS faculty with an undergraduate LGBT or WGSS course, while becoming conversant in feminist, critical race, and queer pedagogical debates and approaches. This experience allows students to build expertise, develop pedagogical competencies, and strengthen their knowledge base in the areas of feminist, critical race, and queer pedagogical debates and approaches. To qualify for selection as a teaching assistant, a student must have taken and passed the course they wish to support and must secure the permission of the instructor and academic advisor in order to register. Once assigned the student and the faculty member complete a learning contract which outlines the plans and expectations for the semester. Through the UTA experience students build peer review skills; learn to construct and apply a lesson plan; strengthen their organizational and time-management skills; and learn and practice consistent, thorough, and fair modes of assessment.
For more information please review this sample WGSS 358 syllabus
Research and Creative Works Assistantship: Three credits
The Undergraduate Research and Creative Works Assistantship (URCA) provides an opportunity to develop an enhanced understanding of specific research methods and or creative practices. The overall goal is to provide students with an understanding of how field contributions are made, either by crafting their own research contributions, or providing support for a faculty mentor’s ongoing projects. Working alongside a faculty member in their area of expertise, the URCA will have an opportunity to build their research (and or creative) skills and strengthen their understanding of the field. The accompanying academic work each URCA completes will be personalized to the student’s interests and abilities, as well as to the specific research (or creative) project and the faculty mentor’s expectations. When a faculty member has a project they would like assistance with they will generally publicise this among the department’s undergraduate students and hold interviews to find a good match. Once a student is selected and assigned they will complete a learning contract with their faculty mentor which outlines the plans and expectations for the semester.
For more information please review this sample WGSS 378 syllabus
Professional Development Course: One credit
This course assists students in thinking about the next step post-undergraduate degree and to think long term about the importance of their WMST degree in lifelong career, personal, and political Development. Students may take this course in preparation for their experiential learning course (working to select an appropriate internship or assistantship that can translate well to their career aspirations) or they may take it afterwards as they determine their post-graduation steps.
The Professional Development course means that all students, whether they are doing the internship, the teaching assistantship, or the research assistantship, have an opportunity to reflect upon where they are going beyond the B.A. and develop ways to communicate how their coursework and experiences at UMD have prepared them for the next step. The course will focus on the practicalities of resume writing, internship or job searches, etc. but also on the specific challenges/opportunities of translating interdisciplinary training to professional internship or beyond-the B.A. sites.
WGSS Students have previously interned at such places as:
- Asian Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
- Court Appointed Special Advocates
- DC Rape Crisis Center
- Feminist Majority Foundation
- Institute for Women’s Policy Research
- Jewish Women International
- League of Women Voters of Maryland
- Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault | MCASA
- MICA at UMD
- My Sister’s Place
- National Organization for Women
- National Women’s Studies Association
- State of Maryland’s Lt. Governor’s Office
Looking For Places to Intern? Explore the resources at the University Career Center, or browse through organizations from their internship database: