Frequently Asked Questions


What is women's and gender studies?

Women's and gender studies draws on the humanities, arts, social and biological sciences to explore the broad range of intellectual questions concerning both the social positions of women and the gendered constructions of knowledge, identity, and culture. Students in the program have the opportunity to study theories of feminism, gender, and sexuality; the diversity of women's experiences and representations past and present; and women's movements in the United States and around the globe.

Why pursue women's and gender studies at Brandeis University?

An education in women's and gender studies offers students the opportunity to build global knowledge in fields across the creative arts, humanities, social and biological sciences. Our curriculum brings students into contact with the extensive research on women, gender, and feminism that has burgeoned during the past 30 years as well as with historical and cross-cultural knowledge that recognizes the intersections of gender with race, class, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, age, ability, and nationality. Our program draws an enthusiastic and diverse group of students who seek intellectual challenges and who are committed to social justice.

What skills will I gain from majoring in women's and gender studies?

Students who take courses in women's and gender studies gain valuable skills in research and analysis, critical thinking, writing and public speaking, creative problem solving, leadership, conflict resolution and team building.

What can I do with a degree in women's and gender studies?

The women's and gender studies curriculum prepares students for a wide range of careers. Graduates of our program are applying their skills and knowledge to academic and professional pursuits in medicine, law, education, government, social service, public policy, religion, counseling, international relations, journalism, publishing, business, and the arts. Learn more about what some of our graduates are currently doing.

What degree does the graduate program offer?

The Women's and Gender Studies Program offers three graduate degree options: M.A. in women's and gender studies, terminal joint M.A. degree in women’s and gender studies and one of the following six disciplines: anthropology, English, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, public policy (Joint M.P.P. through Brandeis' Heller School for Social Policy Management), sociology, or sustainable international development (Heller), or Ph.D. students may complete the joint M.A. as they work towards a Ph.D. in one of the following fields: anthropology, English, history, music, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, psychology, social policy (Heller), or sociology. There is no Ph.D. offered solely in women’s and gender studies. All of the degrees we offer are on the M.A. level.

Why pursue the M.A. in women's and gender studies?

Brandeis faculty and alumnae have been in the vanguard of feminist scholarship worldwide.  Our M.A. provides a strong grounding in discipline specific studies along with interdisciplinary education in women’s and gender studies theories, knowledge, and methodologies.  By introducing current research in a range of fields, women’s and gender studies creates cross disciplinary dialogue and prepares students for intellectual leadership in careers as diverse as public policy, education, social service, management, writing, counseling, and publishing.  Ph.D. students will find the joint M.A. to be excellent preparation for research on women or gender and for teaching careers both in women’s and gender studies and in their chosen discipline.

How do I go about becoming a major or minor?

As early as possible in their academic careers, students interested in women’s and gender studies should take WMGS 5a (Women and Gender in Culture and Society), the required introduction to the field. In order to declare a major or minor, each student should meet with Dian Fox, the Women's and Gender Studies Program undergraduate advising head, who will help him or her select as an adviser a faculty member well suited to the student’s academic interests. The advisor will help to plan a course of study tailored to the student’s intellectual and professional interests while meeting the core and elective requirements for the degree.

Will a course that I have taken count as a women's and gender studies' elective?

The current list of courses that count as electives can be found in the Brandeis University Bulletin. If a course is not listed , but you believe that it may count as an elective, please contact the Women's and Gender Studies Program office.

Does Brandeis participate in the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies?

Brandeis University is one of nine degree-granting institutions in the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies located at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The other participating institutions are Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Tufts University and UMass Boston. Each semester the GCWS offers interdisciplinary, team-taught seminars to students matriculated in member school graduate programs.

Courses taken through the GCWS transfer as electives outside the student’s home department. The exception is the GCWS course Feminist Inquiry: Strategies of Effective Scholarship, which counts as the feminist research methodologies requirement. For further information about GCWS and to apply, please visit the GCWS web site. You must also fill out the Brandeis University Cross-Registration Petition through the registrar’s office.

How can I become a peer assistant for WMGS courses?

Women's and Gender Studies majors and minors who have already taken WMGS 5a (Women and Gender in Culture and Society) may apply to receive credit for a peer assistantship provided they have maintained a 3.3 GPA in WGS core and elective courses.

Can I declare a women's and gender studies major as a first-year?

Yes. In order to declare a major, each student should meet with Dian Fox, the Women's and Gender Studies Program undergraduate advising head, who will help him or her select as an advisor a faculty member well suited to the student’s academic interests. The advisor will help to plan a course of study tailored to the student’s intellectual and professional interests while meeting the core and elective requirements for the degree.