Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. program provides an interdisciplinary foundation for scholarship in WGSS, combining coursework, teaching experience, and independent research. Students complement seminar-style courses in WGSS with a disciplinary concentration of their choice. With careful planning, the PH.D. may be completed in five years.

WGSS Core Courses (12 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 (1.5)
  • WGSS 804: Topics in Professional Development (1.5)

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 three annotated bibliographies, an oral defense, and a defense of the dissertation prospectus. Refer to the graduate student handbook for detailed procedures regarding the oral comprehensive exam.


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.