Master's Degree in Gender Studies: Program Overview

Master's degree programs in gender studies focus on how gender and culture interconnect to influence social norms. Topics covered include gender, race, class and sexuality in history, religion, family life and politics.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in gender studies can go by many names including women's studies or gender and cultural studies. These programs focus on how being a specific gender relates to the world's political, economic and societal structures, and can be completed in about a year.

Courses may cover topics related specifically to gender such as reproductive justice, gender law and gender and popular culture, as well as cross-disciplinary courses from other programs, such as black women's studies, the psychology of women and gender, women writers and gender and film. Students may be required to complete a research or thesis project; an internship may be an option as well. Some of these programs may be available online.

Master of Arts in Gender Studies

Program opportunities for a master's degree in gender studies might include a Master of Arts in Gender/Cultural Studies or a Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies. A bachelor's degree is required for admission, and students majoring in unrelated fields may be required to take prerequisite courses in women's and gender studies. Depending on the program, full-time students may complete their studies in one calendar year, while part-time students may take up to five years for program completion.

Gender studies students develop knowledge of how power relations and social inequalities arise in different cultures. In addition to electives such as sociology, history and economics, students may opt to concentrate their studies on a specific area, such as gender and health, LGBT studies, women and race, or women's literature. Common courses include:

  • Gender, law and policy
  • Psychology of women and gender
  • Sex and gender in American society
  • Gender and globalization
  • Feminist social movements
  • The body in popular media

Popular Career Options

Career opportunities for a student who completes a master's degree program in gender studies are commonly diverse. Although students typically need a doctoral degree to teach in a college or university, a student may seek a non-faculty position in an academic institution. Students might consider pursuing a leadership position in a number of settings that address gender issues, such as:

  • Social service agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Public policy centers

Continuing Education Information

Students wishing to advance their education in gender studies to a terminal level might consider a doctoral degree in gender studies or a related field. Students might choose to pursue a Ph.D. in Gender Studies or a Ph.D. in Women's and Gender Studies.

Over the duration of a master's degree in gender studies, students may be required to complete an internship as well as specific coursework, and may choose to write a thesis or research project. Gender in society, media and culture are just some of the topics covered in these programs.

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