The master's degree in gender and women's studies provides advanced feminist training in gender analysis for students with a variety of academic backgrounds and career plans. Incorporating local, cross-cultural and transnational emphases, the curriculum encourages students and faculty from the humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences to develop innovative ways of expanding knowledge about gender in global, local, and historical contexts. As the name gender and women's studies indicates, the M.A. retains the emphasis on women's lives and situations that have historically informed the field of women's studies, while also emphasizing the incisive import of gender as a category of analysis transforming knowledge about, for example, masculinity and men's lives, transgendered lives, as well as other complex topics. The degree engages the wide-ranging and multidisciplinary perspectives associated with gender studies and women's studies: queer studies, transgender studies, sexuality studies, race and ethnicity studies, disability studies, area and global studies, cultural studies, postcolonial and transnational studies.
The M.A. curriculum draws from the strengths of current course offerings in the program, as well as from methodologies and course offerings in other fields and departments. Among the domains of inquiry explored within the curriculum are: work, family and education; social movements, the state and civil society; bodies, genders, health and sexualities; individual, collective and communal identities; communications, technology and culture industries; politics of representation, media and cultural practices; migration, immigration, labor and political economy; militarism, international relations and governmental processes; intersectionality of systems of women's oppression; and arts, performance, and visual cultures. Some courses investigate these topics at the global level while others focus on the local, regional or national levels. The curriculum ensures an overarching transnational and cross-cultural framework. Courses use interdisciplinary methodologies and/or disciplinary approaches.
The degree program is designed to be a two-year full-time sequence; however, the program is also flexible enough to allow part-time students to pursue the M.A. All students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress in the graduate program in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and department policies.
Each student will complete 30 credits of coursework plus a thesis or a comprehensive exam project. Of the 30 credits, at least 15 must be in designated courses in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies. The remaining credits may also be departmental courses or may be chosen (entirely or in part) from graduate-level courses in other departments and programs in the university. All courses should be selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and/or the advisor, who must approve the selections.
Degree requirements include: 30 credits, 15 of which must be in courses in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies; GEN&WS 880 Proseminar: Graduate Study in Gender and Women's Studies; GEN&WS 900 Approaches to Research in Women's Studies/Gender Studies; a graduate level feminist theory course; and a thesis project or exam.
To remain in good standing in the M.A. program, certain deadlines must be met in a timely fashion.
- Students are expected to file their advisor form by the first week of classes of their second year of study.
- Students are required to have a thesis or exam committee arranged by the first week of their fourth semester.
- Students are required defend their thesis or complete their exams by the end of their fourth semester;
formal requests for an extension of the time for the thesis or exam will be considered, but not guaranteed. Failure to meet any of these requirements may result in a student being asked to leave the program.
A full description of the requirements for the MA degree program is available in our graduate program handbook.
Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress
To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.
Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement
Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement
Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement
21 of the 30 credits applied toward the graduate degree credit requirement must must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Prior Coursework Requirements from: Graduate Work from Other Institutions
For well-prepared advanced students, the program may accept prior graduate coursework from other institutions toward the minimum graduate degree credit and minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. The minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison.
Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison Undergraduate
For well-prepared advanced students, the program may decide to accept up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above completed at UW–Madison toward fulfillment of minimum degree and minor credit requirements. This work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.
Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison University Special
The program may decide to accept up to 15 University Special student credits as fulfillment of the minimum graduate residence, graduate degree, or minor credit requirements on occasion as an exception (on a case-by-case basis). UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.
Credits per Term Allowed
Program-Specific Courses Required
GEN&WS 880 Proseminar: Graduate Study in Gender and Women's Studies GEN&WS 900 Approaches to Research in Women's Studies/Gender Studies; feminist theory courses. 15 of the required 30 credits must be in GWS; at least 50% of the GWS courses must be graduate-level courses.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement
Other Grade Requirements
The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.
Advisor / Committee
Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.
An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.
A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.
Assessment and Examinations
Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.
Contact the program for information on any language requirements.
The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program website for details.
Knowledge and Skills
- Students should demonstrate the ability to read, understand, and critique the major concepts and theories related to feminism, women, and gender, and apply these critical perspectives across disciplines.
- Students should show an understanding of historical and contemporary agency by people across a spectrum of gender and the ways this agency has shaped lives in various geographic settings.
- Students should demonstrate the ability to analyze the intersections between gender and other socially meaningful categories, such as race, class, gender identity, ethnicity, disability, nation, religion, and sexuality, and to explain how gender functions as a social institution.
- Students should demonstrate the ability to conduct interdisciplinary feminist analysis that (1) includes a critical literature review, (2) selects appropriate research methodologies, and (3) proposes an appropriate research design to collect, analyze, interpret, and present findings.
- Students will develop and utilize strong cultural competencies (e.g., sensitivity to race/ethnicity/gender/disability/sexual orientation issues) to allow them to enter into various cultural, social, economic, civic, academic, and workplace settings.
- Students will acknowledge and engage in ethical courses of action in research and collaborative practice.