Perspectives from WGS Majors

Yael Jaffe

The Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program equipped me with knowledge and skills that enriched not only my academic work but my life more broadly. Having two additional majors and a number of campus involvements, my WGS coursework always informed my thinking and research in other fields, as well as my engagement with my community through education, organizing, and activism. I am forever indebted to WGS for offering me remarkable scholarship, invaluable resources, and mentors I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

Yael Jaffe '18

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.  Check our FAQ for information on counting study abroad classes to the WGS Major.

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

WMGS 105b Feminisms: History, Theory, and Practice

B. Seven additional courses

These courses must either carry the WMGS designation or are approved as Women's, Gender, and Sexuality 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: AAAS 135a, AMST 40a, AMST 124b, AMST/SOC 125a, ANTH 179b, CLAS 140a, ENG 28b, ENG 46a, ENG 64b, ENG 145b, ENG 153a, FA 69b, FA 157a, FA 178a, GECS 131b, HISP 125b, HIST 71b, HIST 121a, HIST 129a, HIST 141a, HIST 142b, HIST 157b, HIST 158b, HIST 162b, HIST 179a, NEJS 115b, NEJS 148b, NEJS 166a, NEJS 175a.

2. At least one course must engage in a systematic and comprehensive exploration of cultural differences, including racial, class and/or ethnic difference within or across cultures. These courses include but are not limited to: AAAS 125b, AAAS 133b, AAAS 135a, AAAS 148b, AAAS 165a, AAAS/ENG 141b, AAAS/WGS 136a, ANTH 144a, ANTH 145a, ENG 87a, ENG 107a, ENG 127b, ENG 138b, ENG 197b, SAS 101a, SAS 110b, SOC 130a, SOC 138a, SQS 160a, WMGS 140a.

3. At least one course must focus on sexuality. These courses include but are not limited to: AAAS 125b, AAAS 135a, ANTH 144a, ANTH 166b, CLAS 140a, ENG 64b, ENG 87a, ENG 107a, ENG 150a, ENG 151a, ENG 153a, HIST 71b, HIST 142b, NEJS 29a, NEJS 148b, NEJS 166a, NEJS 178a, SOC 169b, SQS 6b, SQS 126a, SQS 160a, WMGS 156b.

Students are not allowed to double count between elective categories listed in numbers 1, 2, and 3, above.

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 Website for more information about women's, gender, and sexuality studies internship opportunities.

6. Courses that fulfill the requirements for another major may also count toward the major in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

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 provided the thesis earns a grade of C or higher.

Both the essay and the thesis options require a defense. Three faculty members must evaluate the completed thesis; two faculty members must evaluate the essay. Of these faculty members, one must be from the WGS core faculty, and the second from the WGS core or affiliate faculty. For thesis students, the third reader may be selected from the general Brandeis faculty.

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. Click here for more information on essays/theses.

D. No course with a final grade below C- can count toward fulfilling the requirements for the major in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

E. No course counting for the major may be taken on a pass/fail basis. However, students who maintain a grade average of 3.3 or higher in their Women's and Gender studies courses will be permitted to count toward the major one credit-bearing peer assistantship (PEER 94a) in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

F. Majors are allowed to request WGS credit for up to two courses taken while abroad. These limits are in place regardless of how many semesters are spent abroad. Courses taken while abroad can fulfill elective distribution requirements, as determined by the UAH. Students are not allowed to substitute courses taken while abroad for WMGS 5a or WMGS 105b, nor can they receive credit for internships taken abroad.