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  • Degree Requirements for Ph.D.

Course Requirements

WGSS Core Courses (13 credit hours)

  • WGSS 800: History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (3)
  • WGSS 801: Feminist Theory (3)
  • WGSS 802: Feminist Methods (3)
  • WGSS 803: Feminist Pedagogy (0.5, taken twice)
  • WGSS 804: Topics in Professional Development (3)

WGSS Elective Courses (15 credit hours)

Students must take a total of 15 credit hours of graduate level courses within WGSS.

Concentration Area (18 credit hours)

Students must select a concentration in a department other than WGSS and complete at least 18 credit hours within the concentration.

  • Theory course (3)
  • Methods course (3)
  • Fields course (3)
  • Three elective courses (9)

Approved concentrations (so far): African & African American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, English, Film & Media Studies, History, History of Art, Indigenous Studies, Museum Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration, Sociology, & Theatre.

Qualifying Exam

Students will take a qualifying examination (master’s exam) once they have passed or registered for 30 hours of coursework (typically in the fourth semester of the program). The qualifying exam consists of questions related to the content of WGSS 800, WGSS 801, and WGSS 802. Students must pass this exam to earn an MA. Refer to the graduate student handbook for detailed procedures regarding the qualifying exam.

PhD Oral Comprehensive Examination

After completing all course requirements listed above, students will take an oral comprehensive exam. The exam consists of an electronic portfolio and professional essay. The dissertation prospectus can be defended as a part of the oral comprehensive exam. If the student chooses to defend the prospectus separately from the oral comprehensive exam, it should be presented to the dissertation committee no later than three months following the exam. Refer to the graduate student handbook for detailed procedures regarding the oral comprehensive exam.

Electronic Portfolio

The electronic portfolio should include the following components:

  • 3 seminar papers of your choice (with instructor comments if available);
  • 3 syllabi of your choice;
  • no more than 3 conference papers;
  • no more than 3 grant proposals

Professional Essay

Students are asked to write a 15-20 page professional essay that explains how they are situating themselves in the WGSS field, what they have learned from their disciplinary concentration, and how their long-term research agenda fits into up to three relevant thematic areas. The professional essay should explain why the student selected their concentration. In addition, it should identify no more than three fields in which the student situates their work. It should explain how those fields might be integrated and related to one another, and what the student understands to be the leading research issues in those fields.


The dissertation must be an original work of research that advances the interdisciplinary field of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. The student must submit a brief prospectus of the dissertation project, including a detailed plan of work. All members of the dissertation committee must endorse the prospectus in order for the project to go forward. Upon completion of the dissertation research the student must defend the dissertation before all committee members in the “final oral examination,” or dissertation defense. The student satisfies the dissertation requirement with a majority vote of “satisfactory” by the dissertation committee. The committee may also recommend the student for Honors, which is a designation conferred by the department at graduation. Refer to the graduate student handbook for detailed procedures regarding the dissertation and dissertation defense.

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