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PhD & Doctoral Programs in Gender Studies

PhD/doctoral programs in gender studies include research and critical analysis of several intertwined topics. Programs may interweave politics, environmentalism, education, and activism into the study of gender and how the notion of gender is advanced or suppressed by past and present approaches to those topics and more.

An Introduction to PhD/Doctoral Programs in Gender Studies

Gender studies programs at the doctoral level are intersectional programs that explore and examine ethnicity, class, culture, economics, politics, and place while also considering the role of gender within these contexts. The PhD programs can generally be completed within four to five years. Although an undergraduate degree in gender or women's studies may not be necessary, some programs prefer that students have some coursework, research work, or activism in feminist-gender studies prior to admittance to the program.

Gender and Human Rights

Whether it's the human right to equality in social treatment, environmental equality, or economic equality, students in gender-focused human rights classes learn about a number of infringements thrust upon individuals because of gender biases. Coursework may include international focus on gender-based violence, health issues, and sexuality. Human rights laws and political hierarchies that have roots in gender, ethnicity, and/or nationality may also be a part of the discourse for students to analyze and critique.

Feminist Theories

Considering ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and disability from the cross perspective of feminist theory can be a tool for social change by getting people to talk and think about various aspects of society in an ever changing and expansive light. Feminist, and queer, theorists have brought, and continue to bring, differing perspectives to major topics like democracy, capitalism, and equality in the workplace. Coursework in feminist theories can shed light on the impact of feminist theories on these and other subjects, and how the world can be changed by engaging from this diverse perspective.

Research Methodologies and Feminism

What tools are used for conducting research, and within what frameworks does the exploration begin? These are a couple of questions that can be answered in a feminist methodologies course that assists students in discovering how to pose research questions and access and identify viable and relevant resources. These skills are particularly important when discerning the advantages and disadvantages of past and present methodologies which may originate from authoritative, non-feminist sources. Using qualitative research methods, students will be challenged to critically examine works that stand as feminist scholarship while reconsidering the applied sciences, the humanities, and social sciences from the feminist perspective.


Gender studies activism courses may examine the global political and social history behind feminist activism and how, in a male dominated society, women mobilized themselves. Coursework may include past and contemporary activism and how it has, and continues to, challenge political, cultural, and religious philosophies, among others. Ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, imperialism, and colonialism may also be used as looking glasses to peer into the influences of activism and how activism has affected change, for better or worse, in those areas.

Gender in Education

Gender in education has been a constant mainstay whether by dividing classrooms, classes, or schools by gender; present discussions on gender and school bathroom usage; or gender as it determines who can play what sports. Students may learn about and discuss several issues surrounding the oppressive sides of masculinity and sexism, as well as the idea of directing gender-thought away from the binary descriptive of man or woman. Studies in gender education take into consideration a variety of parameters (ethnicity, religion, culture, region, etc.) and their engendering effects on education and the educational experience.

Admittance Requirements for a PhD/Doctorate in Gender Studies

  • GPA: A GPA of 3.0 or above is a general requirement to be considered for admission to doctoral-level programs in gender studies.
  • GRE: Applicants should be prepared to submit GRE (Graduate Records Exam) scores along with their applications in order to be considered for admittance to a PhD in Gender Studies program. International students, for whom English is not a first language, will need to provide proof of English language proficiency, such as TOEFL scores.
  • Writing: Along with a personal statement, applicants may likely need to submit a writing sample that demonstrates subject knowledge in women's, feminist, sexuality, and gender studies and that also showcases their analytical skills.

An interdisciplinary field, PhD and doctoral programs in gender studies generally include research, writing, analysis, and discourse on topics intricately tied to women and sexuality, like politics, poverty, ethnicity, culture, and geography. Applying a historical to contemporary outlook, students will advance their research and academic skills in several other topics, to include educational and environmental discrimination and gender, for a well-rounded program that questions the status quo and seeks to advance societal thinking on sexuality and a host of other interrelated issues.