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Admissions & Requirements

Admission Information

Admission to the WGSS Certificate Program is contingent upon: prior admission to the UMass Amherst Graduate School into a graduate degree-granting department; OR after prior completion of a graduate degree and acceptance as a non-degree student.

The candidate should demonstrate a commitment to, and evidence of, theory, research or organizational experience in feminist concerns. Knowledge of feminist scholarship is expected, but an undergraduate major in Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Queer Studies or similar is not required as prerequisite for admission to the program. Non-degree students should contact Graduate Admissions (530 Goodell) for a non-degree student application.

Students interested in admission to the WGSS Certificate Program should visit the main office (W401 South College) or call 413-545-1922 with questions about the application process.


The program requires the following coursework*:

  1. Two core approved graduate courses:
    1. Feminist Theory (WOMENSST 791B) :Although a background in theory is required for admission, this course is both a foundational core requirement and prerequisite for the Issues in Feminist Research Seminar. Students approach this theory course with a range of theoretical expertise and emphasis is placed on methodological and historical contexts. Course content explores the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality in a national and/or global perspective and examines selected paradigms in feminist theories. Offered fall semester only.
    2. Issues in Feminist Research Seminar (WOMENSST 691B): A three credit methods seminar with course content that explores an integrative analysis and may examine selected paradigms in feminist theory. Offered spring semester only.
  2. Two interdisciplinary approved electives from the following categories:
    1. Transnational/Critical Race Feminisms: This requirement ensures that students understand the critical importance of the anti-racist politics of racial justice movements and women of color to feminism, and further accommodates the inclusion of transnational feminisms, critical race studies and sexuality studies into the field of inquiry. This course should be selected from the designated options in the WGSS course guide, but a petition for inclusion form is also available.
    2. Open elective (previously Feminist Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches):Students must also select one other course with substantive feminist content to include as their second elective. Ideally, this course will be selected from the WGSS course guide, but a petition for inclusion form is also available.
  3. A final research project - WOMENSST 793A: The final stage for the completion of the certificate is a year-long research project under the direction of a committee of two faculty members, at least one of whom is a WGSS faculty member. Students begin working on this project as part of small writing groups during the fall of the year they plan to complete; submitting an abstract and project draft to their committee at the end the fall semester. Upon their committee’s approval, certificate students enroll in 793A for the spring semester during which they complete their project. The project culminates with the submission of a full-length project and an oral presentation at the graduate student symposium at the end of the spring semester.

    Research projects may take a variety of forms including but not limited to a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation; a research paper or project of outstanding quality; a book chapter; a performance or multimedia presentation. Whatever the field of study, the research paper must focus on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality and, if relevant, transnational issues. It can be developed from 1) a paper submitted to meet one of the core requirements; 2) prior research; 3) a practicum or other project. The student’s advisor and the Associate Director of the Graduate Program will evaluate the project for final approval. A final copy of the research project is to be left with the program office. 

    *Please note that in the interest of encouraging student involvement in the intellectual life of the program, a maximum of two courses (half of the required coursework) can be applied towards the certificate prior to acceptance as a certificate student.


Courses will be offered and coordinated by core, adjunct and associated graduate faculty of the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program and will be published in the WGSS Course Guide every semester. Our Graduate Program Director provides supervision of research and advising.  For further information, contact the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program, W401 South College, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. 01003. Telephone 413-545-1922.