Perspectives from WGS Majors

Amalia Bob-Waksberg

"It would be impossible to adequately articulate the profound impact that the WGS program at Brandeis had had on me. My WGS courses were by far the most intellectually challenging and riveting and the ones in which I had the most growth. I was consistently blown away by professors who are brilliant, approachable, and supportive. My learning undoubtedly extended beyond the classroom. The WGS faculty and staff tirelessly advocate for students and I found in them mentors, activists, and friends."

Amalia Bob-Waksberg '14

WGS Major Requirements

Nine courses are required for the WGS major as outlined below. See the University Bulletin for an updated list of course descriptions and the Registrar’s website for a list of classes currently being offered.

A. Two core courses

Ordinarily, WMGS 5a and WMGS 105b will be offered each fall. With permission of the WGS undergraduate advising head, students may be allowed to substitute another feminist theory course for WMGS 105b.

WMGS 5a Women, Genders, and Sexualities
This interdisciplinary course introduces central concepts and topics in the field of women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Explores the position of women in diverse settings and the impact of gender as a social, cultural, and intellectual category in the United States and around the globe. Asks how gendered institutions, behaviors, and representations have been configured in the past and function in the present, and also examines the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with many other vectors of identity and circumstance in forming human affairs. Usually offered every fall.

WMGS 105b Feminisms: History, Theory, and Practice
Students are encouraged, though not required, to take WMGS 5a prior to this course. Examines diverse theories of sex and gender within a multicultural framework, considering historical changes in feminist thought, the theoretical underpinnings of various feminist practices, and the implications of diverse and often conflicting theories for both academic inquiry and social change.

B. Seven additional courses

Students must take seven additional courses that either carry the WMGS designation or are approved as women's and gender studies electives. These seven courses must meet the following additional requirements.

1. At least one course must have a historical focus encompassing a period before 1945. Courses that fulfill this requirement include but are not limited to:

  • AMST 40a, 118a, 121a, 123b, 124b, 125a
  • CLAS 140a
  • ENG 64b, 120a, 138a, 144b, 145b
  • FA 69b, 157a
  • HISP 125b
  • HIST 55b, 157a, 173b, 179a
  • MUS 150a
  • NEJS 29b, 115b, 148b
  • SAS 170b

2. At least one course must engage in a systematic and comprehensive exploration of racial, class and/or ethnic difference within or across cultures. These courses include but are not limited to:

  • AAAS 125b, 133b, 136a
  • AMST 144b
  • ANTH 144a, 145a
  • COML 122b
  • ENG 87a, 107a 
  • HIST 173b
  • NEJS 29b,
  • POL 130b
  • SAS 110b
  • SOC 138a
  • WMGS 140a, 141a

3.  At least one course must focus on sexuality.  These courses include but are not limited to:

  • AAAS 125b
  • ANTH 144a, 166b
  • CLAS 140a
  • ENG 64b, 87a, 107a, 120a, 121a, 150a, 151a, 153a, 181a
  • HIST 142b
  • NEJS 29a, 29b, 148b, 166a, 178a
  • SOC 169b
  • SQS 6b

4. No more than three courses may be taken from any one department or program outside women's, gender, and sexuality studies.

5. Students are strongly encouraged to undertake an internship in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as one of their electives. Students pursuing an internship for semester credit must spend eight hours per week engaged in significant work within a setting that can provide focus on women, gender and/or sexuality. At the placement, the student must work with a supervisor or mentor; at Brandeis, the student must enroll in an internship course with a faculty member who will guide the intellectual component of the internship, read the student's written work and award a course grade. Students are expected to keep and submit weekly journals, to read from a list of relevant scholarship, and to produce a final paper of 15-20 pages in length. Please visit the Hiatt Career Center Web site for more information about women's, gender, and sexuality studies internship opportunities.

C. Requirements for Honors/Completion of a senior essay or thesis

To be considered for honors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, students are required to complete and defend a senior essay or thesis. Program honors are awarded on the basis of excellence in all courses applied to the major, as well as all courses taken in the program, including the senior essay or thesis, as determined by the program faculty.

Completion of a senior essay:
Students interested in writing a senior essay must complete either WMGS 99a (fall) or WMGS 99b (spring). Students who complete the essay option cannot count either WMGS 99a or b toward the nine courses required for the major.

Completion of a senior thesis:
Students interested in writing a senior thesis must complete WMGS 99a in the fall and WMGS 99b in the spring. Students who complete the thesis option (WMGS 99a and b) may receive one course credit towards the nine courses required for the major.

Students are encouraged to revise the essay or thesis based on the comments of their core faculty readers and submit the revised copy to be considered for the Giller-Sagan Prize at the end of the spring term. Both essays and theses require a defense. Two WMGS core faculty, or one core and one affiliate, must sign off on the completed essay or thesis. Students must receive a “C” or higher on their senior thesis for credit towards the major.

Courses that fulfill university requirements or requirements for another major may also count toward the major in women's, gender, and sexuality studies.

No course counting for the major may be taken on a pass/fail basis. Students who maintain a grade average of 3.3 or higher in their women's and gender studies courses, however, will be permitted to count toward the major one credit-bearing peer assistantship in women's, gender, and sexuality studies.