What is Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies?

Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is both a discipline and an interdisciplinary program. Over the past 30 years, feminist scholarship has developed analytic and methodological tools by which to study and explore women's lives and constructions of gender from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. The Program offers a Bachelor of Arts, an undergraduate minor and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies.

The discipline examines women and gender as multifaceted and diverse, embedded in a matrix of power relations including race, class, sexuality and nationality. Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies uses and transforms the analytical tools of different disciplines in the social sciences, arts and humanities and natural and physical sciences such as anthropology, art, biology, business, communication, education, history, legal studies, literature, nursing, philosophy, political economy, psychology, sociology and more. There are now over thousand undergraduate and graduate programs nationwide. Current scholarship at the University includes: Latin-American and Caribbean feminisms; feminist philosophy; sexuality; queer studies, women’s health issues; international human rights; social construction of identities; global women’s activism; gender and development; feminist pedagogy; critical race feminisms; postcolonial and transnational studies; globalization; feminist science studies; and third world feminisms.

Examples of recent course offerings: Race, Gender and Science; Theorizing Black Feminisms; Biology of Difference; Gender and Resistance in African American Women's History; Politics of Gender, Sexuality and Development in South Asia; Introduction to Sexuality Studies; Asian American Women: Gender, Race and Immigration; U.S. Women’s Lives in Contexts: Reading and Creating Political Autobiography; Feminist Research Methodologies.

Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at UMass has a proud history. We are one of the most established programs in the country, graduating our first undergraduate majors in 1975 and developing a graduate program in the 1990's. In addition to the thriving community of feminist scholars and teachers on campus and within the Five Colleges there is a specialist at the library. The University is also home to the Everywoman's Center, one of the oldest and largest women's centers in the country. We have also been a vibrant force at the other four colleges. The Four Colleges and the University, in collaboration with the Five College Consortium, worked together to establish the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. The Center organizes conference and workshops, features works in progress of Five College faculty, and offers residencies for national and international scholars and activists.

Undergraduate Options
Major, Minor, Internships, Career Options

Requirements: Students who major or minor work closely with a faculty sponsor and have the option to create an individualized course of study. Majors take 36 credits including a sequence of five required core courses designed to introduce an integrative analysis, the classic works in the field, analyze developments in feminist theory, explore new methodologies in feminist scholarship, and study women of color both inside and outside the U.S. Majors are required to complete an orientation process at the start of their program and a report at the end. The minor is an 18 credit concentration with 2 required courses. Majors and minors are encouraged to pursue internships, honors projects and fieldwork placements that are local, national or international.

Examples of focused Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies majors include: Women and the Law, Latin American Women, Women's Literature, Women and Health. Our graduates are attorneys, union organizers, doctors, television producers, professors, corporate and small business managers, writers, social workers, therapists, teachers and more.

Graduate Options

The Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed for graduate students enrolled in a master's or doctoral degree granting program or for activists returning as non-degree students to pursue scholarship in Feminist Studies. The purpose of the certificate is to enable students interested in feminist scholarship to pursue a coherent, integrated curriculum. Students completing the certificate have the opportunity to bring a feminist perspective to bear on the practices and ideas of their own lives and discipline, thereby increasing the body of feminist theory and research.

Certificate students are advised to work with both the Graduate Program Director and the Graduate Certificate Program Coordinator. Requirements include: Two core courses—Feminist Theory and an Issues in Feminist Research Methods Seminar, two focused interdisciplinary electives and a final research project. Community and professional development are also integral to the curriculum.

Service and Scholarship

Our students, both undergraduate and graduate, work closely with professional staff advisors and faculty members in planning their academic programs and service projects. All University students are welcome to meet with an advisor, enroll in a class (space and prerequisites permitting) or seek assistance or advice.

Faculty and staff have won numerous awards ranging from the Distinguished Teaching Award, The Outstanding Academic Advisor Award and the Chancellor’s Citation and also serve on University committees, commissions and task forces. Our faculty are sought after guest lecturers on other campuses and at conferences. Students are active in community and campus service, and have been recognized with numerous awards over the years including the Senior Leadership Award, Field Scholarships, Honors Dean's Awards and Research Fellowships, the 21st Century Scholars Award, the Diversity and Opportunity Fellowship, and the Five College Fellowship for minority scholars and more.