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Applying for a Ph.D. in Feminist Studies

Admission Deadline - December 1 (annually)

The Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) admits graduate students to our Ph.D. program for autumn quarter only. Applications must be received by December 1 for consideration. We strongly encourage all applicants, but especially international applicants, to submit materials early to avoid any unexpected delays. 

Admission Overview

The goal of the department is to admit students whose career goals and scholarly interests can be best nurtured by our faculty and academic milieu. Application materials should indicate why an applicant believes our department can provide a strong foundation in their intended area of study, including ways in which the applicant's interests intersect with those of our core faculty. Applicants should also identify any unique talents or experiences that they will bring to enrich our community of scholars.

 A strong applicant will have
✔ Familiarity with the academic field of Feminist Studies at the undergraduate level
✔ Basic training in either qualitative and/or quantitative research methodology*
✔ Intermediate to fluent knowledge in a foreign language*

*Applicants without methodology or foreign language experience should plan on meeting this criteria early in their graduate student career.

Please note: GWSS does not accept non-matriculated graduate students into the Ph.D. program, nor do we accept non-matriculated students for enrollment into graduate level courses. Additionally, GWSS does not offer a stand-alone Master's degree program; an M.A. degree can only be earned by applicants enrolled in the Ph.D. program. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the Graduate School’s minimum admissions requirements, including:

  1. A 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher over the most recent two years of study
  2. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  3. Proof of English language proficiency (non-native English speakers only)

Please note the following:

  • The standards listed above are minimum requirements and meeting them does not guarantee admission.
  • An M.A., while beneficial, is not required for admission to the Ph.D. program.
  • In recognition of the cost and accessibility of the GRE exam as factors that potentially limit the diversity of our applicant pool, we no longer require GRE scores as part of our application process.

How to Apply

  1. Start an Application
    Applications for graduate study are submitted electronically via the Graduate School. Click here to start a new application. You can also return to an application in progress by clicking here.
  2. Submit the Following:

    a. Statement of Purpose
    Describe your academic background and preparation for advanced study in GWSS, and identify the areas of scholarly focus you want to develop through graduate training. This statement should address your motivation for seeking an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Feminist Studies at the University of Washington, your research interests and questions, and your long-term goals in pursuing a graduate degree. The statement of purpose should be 2-3 double-spaced pages (500-750 words).

    b. Writing Sample
    A sample of your writing helps us discern your capacity to write, develop a line of inquiry, analyze research materials, and communicate ideas. Appropriate samples include seminar or course papers, or an excerpt from an undergraduate or Master’s thesis. If you submit a thesis excerpt, please attach a cover sheet with an abstract of the longer work and a brief explanation of why you have selected this particular section. The writing sample should be an original, individual, not co-authored work and should be no more than 25 double-spaced pages including a bibliography. Please do not submit take-home exam essays.

    c. Letters of recommendation
    Three letters of recommendation are required. One letter may be from a non-academic reference who can address the applicant's academic skills, but the other two letters should be from academic references. As part of the online application process, you will be asked to provide the names and email addresses of your three recommendations. Your recommenders will then be contacted and asked to fill out the recommendation online. The content of the letter is at your referee's discretion. If you choose to ask your recommenders to provide a hard copy instead, please note that we do not supply or require a specific form for referees to fill out. The content of the letter is at your referee's discretion. It should be in a signed and sealed envelope and may be sent directly to the department.

    d. Transcripts
    As part of the online application, you will be asked to upload PDF or Word versions of transcripts from all institutions you attained a baccalaureate or higher degree from. If you are currently working toward your baccalaureate degree, you should upload transcripts from the institution that will award the degree. For the admissions process, unofficial transcripts will suffice. Offers of admission will be contingent upon receiving an official transcript from all institutions in which you received a baccalaureate, or higher, degree. 

    e. Intended Research Focus
    Please summarize your intended research focus, as elaborated upon in your statement of purpose, in 40 words or less.

    f. Scholarly Match
    List the names of up to three core faculty members in GWSS as potential mentors whose expertise and interests most closely match your own proposed research. Please check individual faculty websites for their current availability. Emeritus (retired) faculty do not generally serve as advisors.

    g. Diversity Statement (Optional)
    Consistent with the University of Washington’s commitment to graduate excellence through diversity and to fostering an inclusive intellectual community, GWSS actively seeks and welcomes students from diverse backgrounds, through the constitution of our faculty, research supported, and courses offered. This optional statement provides a space for you to reflect upon your personal history, family background, and educational, cultural, or economic challenges or opportunities. Please describe the ways these experiences have influenced the development of your scholarly interests and future goals. The diversity statement should be 1-2 double-spaced pages (250-500 words).  

    h. TOEFL Scores (International Students)
    All non-exempt international students, ask ETS to forward your score reports to the University of Washington using institution code 4854. No departmental code is required. Score reports over two years old are no longer valid.

  3. Pay the Fee
    An application fee of $85 is required to submit your application for graduate study. Unfortunately, GWSS does not have the funds to provide application fee waivers, but under certain circumstances, the Graduate School does provide fee waivers. To see if you qualify, please click here. 


Incoming students are typically offered a twelve-quarter funding package consisting of a combination of department-based research and teaching assistant-ships and University-wide fellowship funding secured through the department. Funding is subject to satisfactory performance, which is reviewed annually. Students with disabilities, as confirmed by Disabilities Resource Services, may qualify for additional funding.

In order to be considered for a Teaching Assistantship, international applicants must meet the conditions outlined by the Graduate School in Memo 15.

In addition to any funding package offered by the department, applicants should also consider the following funding sources:

  • Graduate Funding Information Service (GFIS)
    GFIS works with current and admitted UW graduate students to help identify funding opportunities for graduate school-related expenses including tuition, research, and conference and research travel. 
  • Peterson's
    Sign up for a free account and get access to an extensive and searchable database containing thousands of award and scholarship opportunities. 
  • Unigo
    Complete a free scholarship profile and allow Unigo to do the work of identifying scholarships that are right for you. 

Questions about the program? Please consult the Graduate Manual.