Shelf of books written by UW-Madison's Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty

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. The degree engages the 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 MA curriculum in Gender and Women's Studies draws from the strengths of current course offerings in the program, as well as from methodologies and course offerings in other fields and departments. 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. All students are expected to maintain satisfactory progress in the graduate program in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and department policies.


This master's program is offered for work leading to the PhD. Students may not apply directly for the master's.  If you are interested in applying for the PhD program, please see admissions information here.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

We offer TA positions to new MA students, including tuition remission, stipend, and health insurance. We award new students at least two semesters of guaranteed funding and sometimes offer additional positions. Availability of positions may be different for international students; eligibility is determined at admission. There are a limited number of TA positions, so do not count on these as support for the entire two years of study. We encourage students to apply for positions elsewhere on campus.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 21 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy:
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations To earn the MA degree, students must complete a thesis or exam. Refer to for detailed information.
  • Thesis Project: Students enroll in GEN&WS 790 and complete a thesis. Students must receive approval for thesis from committee. Students will defend the thesis in front of the committee.
  • Exam: Students must complete a culminating MA exam to demonstrate a general understanding of the field and an interdisciplinary substantive field. Each field will be based on a reading list of roughly 25 books, 75 articles, or their equivalent, constructed in collaboration with the student’s permanent advisor and an additional faculty examiner.

Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

Departmental Courses15
Students must complete at least 15 credits of courses in the department of Gender and Women's Studies. Students select courses in consultation with advisor. The following courses are recommendations to fulfill this requirement.
Research Methods in Gender & Women's Studies
Gender and Women's Studies: The Emergence and Transformation of a Field
Contemporary Theorizing in Gender and Women's Studies
Students are recommended to complete the following course if they are writing a thesis to meet degree requirements. A maximum of 3 credits may fulfill the departmental courses requirement.
Research & Thesis: Master's and Professional Level
Additional Coursework15
Students must complete additional coursework to meet the minimum credit requirement. Students may apply up to 6 credits of GEN&WS 790, GEN&WS 799, GEN&WS 990, GEN&WS 999 and other departments' independent study courses toward the minimum credit requirement.
Total Credits30

Independent Study

Students will be allowed to take independent/directed-study credits that do not fulfill the degree minimum requirement, if they wish.

Special circumstances or requests for additional independent/directed-study credits to fulfill minimum requirements must be approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies and the advisor.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special student at UW–Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.


Refer to the Graduate School: Probation policy.

Advisor / Committee

Refer to the Graduate School: Advisor and Graduate School: Committees (Doctoral/Master’s/MFA) policies.

Credits Per Term Allowed

Students in the MA program are expected to carry 6 credits per semester. They may carry up to 12 although we do not encourage more than 9. Students who would like to carry fewer than 6 credits must apply in writing to the Director of Graduate Study for a waiver of this requirement and are not eligible to work as teaching assistants.

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Acknowledge and engage in ethical courses of action in research and collaborative practice.


Faculty & Staff

GWS Faculty

GWS Staff