PhD in Women's Studies: Degree Information

Students interested in exploring gender, racial, economic, cultural and sexuality issues experienced by women can pursue a Ph.D. program in women's studies. Learn about degree requirements, possible areas of concentration, and popular career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Ph.D. programs in women's studies prepare students for research or teaching careers in environments such as colleges and political organizations. This is a terminal degree that is usually only offered as an on-campus program.

Applicants need at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, though some programs require prospective students to also have a master's degree. Applicants may have to demonstrate related experience or proficiency in a second language, in addition to submitting GRE exam scores.

Students are often allowed to tailor their degree towards their interests, and possible concentration areas include the women's movement, gendered labor, gendered borders, sociology and rhetoric.

Women's studies Ph.D. students are generally required to complete qualifying exams as well as a dissertation prior to graduation.

Alternative degree fields include women's and gender studies or women's, gender and sexuality studies.

Ph.D. in Women's Studies

A doctoral degree program in women's studies typically takes an interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to feminist theory and applications, social issues and related subjects.

The core of the curriculum includes survey classes related to women in art, literature, politics, health and law, as well as courses in research methods and statistics. Students choose electives based on their concentration or area of study. Coursework may include the following topics:

  • Feminist genealogies
  • Contemporary feminist theories
  • Gender politics
  • Feminist pedagogy
  • Gender, sexuality and law
  • Women's health advocacy

Popular Career Options

Upon program completion, students may consider an academic career within the field of women's studies, such as a teaching position at the postsecondary level. Since a Ph.D. program in women's studies is typically interdisciplinary in nature, students may also be prepared for a career in a number of professional settings, and employers may include:

  • Research institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Political organizations
  • Educational institutions

A Ph.D. in women's studies requires an interdisciplinary and research-intensive course of study. Graduates will be prepared to enter into careers in academia, education, or politics.

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