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Master's & PhD Programs in LGBT Studies

This article will walk you through what to expect from a master's or Ph.D. program in this area, including the prerequisites for application and common courses in LGBT studies.

What to Expect from a Graduate Program in LGBT Studies

Master's degree programs in LGBT studies typically take between two and three years to complete while Ph.D. programs in this field often take around five to six years. Coursework can vary considerably from program to program, but there are some general themes you can expect from taking a program like this.

Feminist Theories

Here you can become familiar with a broad range of feminist ideas. You may consider how feminism intersects with a variety of aspects of life, including politics, economics and family. Courses like this generally aim to give you tools to critique popular culture using feminist theory as your lens.

Queer Theories

Classes that cover this area of knowledge look at the history of queer theory and its impact on the world today. You may read about some of the foundational thinkers and ideas or be introduced to modern-day influencers in the field. There may also be an opportunity to look to the future and see where this field is headed.

Social Justice

Courses in social justice may ask you to analyze systems of oppression, both in terms of how they affected the past and how they continue to affect the present. You may investigate the practices social justice movements have used and their impacts. Coursework may extend into considering human rights and barriers to equality that still exist.

Foundations of Human Sexuality

Classes in the foundations of human sexuality dive into sexual identity and how it evolves as we age. Psychological theories of the sexual self are explored, as are the ideas of sexual coercion, courtship and behavior. Professors might zoom out also and look at how ideas of human sexuality can vary from culture to culture. May courses like these also frame the subject in a historical context, examining how our ideas of sexual identity have changed.

Intersectionality

Often, a discussion of intersectionality is split over a variety of courses looking at other marginalized groups and their overlap with LGBTQ populations. These courses consider what kind of barriers result from differences in sexual orientation, class, race and disability status. You may see how being part of multiple marginalized groups might impact things such as a person's health or their ability to speak and be heard by others.

Health in LGBTQ population

In a class on LGBTQ health, you can expect to learn the general aspects of physical and mental health issues for which people in the LGBTQ community may be more at risk. Many of these classes operate under the idea that LGBTQ populations have a large health disparity; their goal is to allow you to analyze the reasons why this may be. You might be expected to analyze policies and procedures, coming up with ideas that help build a bridge toward equity.

Research Methods

Common to many graduate-level programs, research methods courses aim to give you a guide as to how to structure your degree-specific research. Topics of discussion may look at the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods and help you to determine when to use each option or decide when a mixed-methods approach may be more appropriate. Some programs may provide you with an education on the ethics of research, including how traditional academia has contributed to the discrimination of marginal groups.

Getting into a Master's/Ph.D. Program in LGBT Studies

Despite being two different degree levels, master's degree and Ph.D. programs have many similar admittance requirements. For one thing, you generally are required to submit all of your transcripts from your postsecondary education. You are also likely to have to submit two or three letters of recommendation, and these will generally need to come through academic or professional sources. You may also have to submit two pieces of writing: a personal statement and an academic writing sample. The personal statement will generally outline why you want to enter the program and why you would be a great addition to it. The academic writing sample will generally be either a past assignment or a piece of work you submitted to an academic journal. You may also have to submit your resume and meet a minimum GPA requirement. GRE scores might also be required.

Master's degree and Ph.D. programs in LGBT studies are interdisciplinary and allow students to select from among course topics ranging from human sexuality to LGBT health. Admission typically requires prospective students to submit undergraduate transcripts, writing samples, and letters of recommendation, among other materials.