Women's Studies Degree and Certificate Program Information

Oct 14, 2019

Women's Studies programs are available at the bachelor and master's degree levels, while some schools also offer graduate certificates in this area. Graduates from all levels often go on to careers in journalism, social work, and academia.

Essential Information

Women's Studies programs involve the deconstruction of gender roles in order to further the rights of women across races and cultures. As an interdisciplinary program, many areas are covered, including humanities, history, social sciences and the arts.

Degrees in Women's Studies are available at the bachelor and master's level, some of which involve the completion of internships prior to graduation. Graduate certificate programs are also available.

Individuals interested in pursuing a master's degree or a graduate certificate in Women's Studies must first complete a bachelor's degree. Applicants for a master's degree must additionally provide letters of recommendation, samples of written work, and a letter of intent.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Women's Studies

Many students in bachelor's degree programs in Women's Studies choose to couple the field with another for a double major. It is also common to choose a specialty area, such as women's literature or feminist art, within women's studies. This means that no two students will take the exact same list of courses to complete their degree. However, students must fulfill general education requirements, as well as complete core course in their major.

A few common examples of major courses are:

  • Feminist philosophy
  • Women's studies fundamentals
  • American women's literature
  • Sociology
  • Inequity in society

Master's Degree Programs in Women's Studies

Master's degree programs in women's studies prepare students for careers in the academic world. Some master's programs prepare students for doctoral study in other disciplines, such as philosophy, history and literature. Others are supplemental to professional degrees in fields such as law, social work or public health.

Coursework in a women's studies master's degree program typically differ depending on a student's area of expertise; however, a few common women's studies-focused classes are:

  • History of feminism
  • Oppression and privilege
  • Advanced humanities
  • Politics of the body
  • Feminist activism and movements

Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies

Students that have already completed an undergraduate degree program may enroll in a women's studies graduate certificate program. This program allows students and faculty to come together to discuss the social politics of gender. Students then apply the information to their own respective disciplines.

The courses in the women's studies certificate program vary depending on the student's desired area of focus. A few course topics commonly found in a certificate program are:

  • Gender, sexuality and violence
  • Global feminism
  • Racial and sexual politics
  • Woman and cultural reproduction
  • The future of feminist theory

Popular Career Options

Women's Studies is an academic and research-based degree program. For this reason, many undergraduate women's studies majors choose to continue their education and enter into a career in academia. However, a bachelor's degree in Women's Studies includes a strong liberal arts base that may be helpful to attain employment in a variety of fields.

A few professions pursued by graduates of a Women's Studies degree program include:

  • Journalist
  • Community leader
  • Health worker
  • Women's advocacy group leader
  • Case manager
  • Program director

Graduates of this certificate program may go on to a diverse array of careers depending upon their chosen field of study. Possible career choices include:

  • Social work organizer
  • Counselor
  • Government researcher
  • Grant writer
  • Women's shelter director

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although there are many different career path options for graduates of a master's degree program in women's studies, some individuals find careers in post-secondary academia. Though most 4-year universities only hire professors who possess a Ph.D., many community colleges hire teachers who have a master's degree in the area they will teach, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS also predicted an 11% growth for postsecondary teachers from 2018 to 2028. According to the BLS, the May 2018 median salary of a postsecondary teacher was $78,470, though wages vary depending on the type of institutions.

Continuing Education

Doctoral degree programs in women's studies are also available. They have a tendency to be very research oriented with a focus on preparing students for careers in academia, although different programs have different areas of focus, such as social sciences or politics. Ph.D. students typically must research, write and defend a dissertation.

Individuals with degrees or certificates in Women's Studies are well equipped to enter into professions dedicated to improving women's lives around the world.

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