Women's History Graduate Programs

Jan 30, 2019

Several history departments offer students the chance to specialize in women's history and explore the multifaceted history of women and the social, political and cultural uses of gender. Each program is set up slightly differently, but students are typically equipped with the research skills needed to pursue careers in the field. Compare and contrast the women's history degree programs that are available at the master's and doctoral levels.

Master of Arts vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Women's History

Master of Arts in Women's History

Master of Arts (MA) degree programs are usually available in women's history or history of women and gender and are designed to be completed in about 2 years. These programs may range from about 30 to 48 credits and typically require a thesis, but some programs may offer a thesis and non-thesis option where students complete a final exam in place of a thesis. Students in the program usually take various seminar courses and depending on how the program is set up, may take courses in gender and topical history electives or courses in areas like feminist theory, historiography and/or translational, geographical or chronological topics in women's and gender history. Some degree programs may also offer unique opportunities to earn dual degrees, such as a joint degree in women's history and law. Graduates of MA programs in women's history may pursue advanced education or work careers in education, museums, historical organizations, film and television and more.

Doctor of Philosophy in Women's History

At the doctoral level, students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Women's History, a joint PhD in Women's Studies and History or a PhD in History with a focus in a geographical location with further specialization in women's history and the history of gender. These degree programs may take 5 or more years to complete and typically require a dissertation. Students may also need to complete comprehensive exams, choose a minor area of study and/or meet foreign language requirements in 1 or 2 foreign languages, depending on the program and specialization. Coursework in these programs vary greatly based on a student's various specializations and research interests, but students may take coursework in feminist theory and gender history, research in women's history, contemporary theory and comparative study. Graduates of these doctoral degree programs are able to work many of the same positions as master's students, but may also pursue more advanced research or academic positions.

Common Entrance Requirements

Applicants to graduate degree programs in women's history need to have at least a bachelor's degree and, depending on the program, may need to submit GRE scores. Many of these degree programs are highly competitive and master's programs may have a minimum GPA requirement around a 3.0, while some doctoral programs may expect a GPA between a 3.25 or 3.5. Students typically need to submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement/writing responses and a writing sample with their application, but some programs may also ask for a resume. The writing sample may vary in length depending on the program, but may be a research paper, undergraduate or graduate thesis or other scholarly work that demonstrates a student's communication and research skills.

Like many history degree programs, MA and PhD programs in women's history typically provide students with the flexibility to specialize in various areas of the field. Students usually complete a research project (thesis or dissertation) and participate in a range of seminars.

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