Feminist Studies Doctoral Program

Who We Are

The Graduate Program in Feminist Studies at the University of Washington has a strong interdisciplinary orientation.  Intersectional and transnational perspectives foreground our studies of race and ethnicity in U.S. and global contexts, as we analyze how these social formations intersect with gender, women and sexuality in specific times and places.  Our core faculty specialize in research and scholarship informed by disciplines such as History, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, Cultural Studies, English, and Political Science.  In addition one hundred adjunct and affiliate faculty members from departments all around campus hold appointments in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and offer courses and consultative expertise to students in our Graduate Program.

See Faculty for additional information about our doctoral program faculty and their research interests.

Our History

The Women Studies Program at the University of Washington was founded in 1970 and achieved departmental status in 1996.  Two years later the graduate program in Women Studies was founded and our first cohort enrolled.  More than 30 doctoral students have successfully completed the program, with the department granting an average of 3 PhDs each year since 2006.  In 2011 the department changed its name from Women Studies to Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, and the graduate program was renamed Feminist Studies to better reflect the scope and direction of the program and our fields of inquiry.

Applying to the Program

Students applying to this program should ideally have a strong academic or activist background in Women, Feminist, or Gender, Studies and desire to further their education in Feminist Studies.  Applicants may have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in any discipline but should have a record of academic coursework or activism that includes study of such subjects as feminist theoretical and/or empirical analysis of the impact of race, class, sexuality, and gender on society.

The application deadline is December 1st.

Program Requirements

Students pursuing the Ph.D. must complete at least 60 credits of course work, which include 15 credits of core seminars: GWSS 501: History of Feminism; GWSS 502: Cross Disciplinary Feminist Theory; and GWSS 503: Feminist Re- search and Methods of Inquiry, taken sequentially; Feminist Pedagogy; and 45 credits of coursework in research methods and the student's area(s) of concentration. Students will typically take courses in at least two other methodologies and satisfy our language requirement.  Ph.D. students take a written and oral General Examination at the end of end of course work, usually in the third year of study. Successful completion of this exam results in admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. and marks the start of more intensive dissertation research.  Students must then complete 30 credits of research culminating in dissertation completion.

Preparing for Your Future

Our Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students for scholarly careers in feminist research and teaching interdisciplinary gender, women, and sexuality studies and/or related disciplines at the university/college level. Graduates of our Ph.D. program may also find employment with governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies (NGO's) and non-profit organizations working on social issues. 

In recent years our graduates have taken tenure-track positions at major universities, postdoctoral fellowships, research positions with and directorships of Women’s Centers and writing centers, and leadership positions in international organizations.

The Heart of the Program

Scholarship in our department can be displayed across several overlapping clusters:

  • Gender, sexuality, violence and social justice
  • Transnational perspectives on gender, racism, ethnicity and U.S. ethnic formations
  • Political economy, popular culture and commodity circulation
  • Theorizing power and representation
  • Feminist science and social science studies and inquiry
  • Feminist cultural production and public humanities

Funding Your Graduate Studies

Incoming students, domestic and international, are typically offered a twelve-quarter funding package comprised of a combination of department-based research and teaching assistantships and University-wide fellowship funding secured through the department, subject to satisfactory performance (which is reviewed annually). Because of our desire to work intensively with each of our doctoral students and to fund our students through the majority of their graduate training, admission to the graduate program is highly competitive. We typically admit about two to four new students each year. Students with disabilities, as confirmed by Disabilities Resource Services, may qualify for additional funding.

Graduate Manual and Forms

Please consult the Graduate Manual for additional details about the procedures and policies of the UW Graduate School and the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies.  Please see Graduate Forms to download frequently used forms.

Feminist Studies Doctoral Program Pamphlet (PDF)