Graduate Certificate in Sexuality & Queer Studies

SQS Certificate Application Form
SQS Certificate Special Topics Form (PDF)


This graduate certificate provides training in queer methods of social and cultural inquiry. It helps students gain critical knowledge and skills needed for developing theoretically innovative and socially engaged projects that address the challenges of studying sexual communities within disciplines and institutional protocols. 

Sexuality is a domain of study in a wide variety of traditional academic disciplines, ranging from Sociology, Psychology, Biology, Statistics and Anthropology to English, Philosophy, the Arts, and History, as well as for many professional fields (e.g. Law, Social Work, Public Health, and Medicine). Indeed, significant aspects of foundational knowledges and methods have been interrogated and reconceptualized through research on sexuality, as that term is understood among and within  particular fields.

At the same time, these disciplines of knowledge and professional training have historically naturalized normative forms of (hetero) sexuality, even as they have sought to study sexuality more broadly. This has led to the near impossibility of work within disciplinary formations to represent, query, or queer  conceptions and experiences of sex and sexuality without recourse to a comparison to heterosexuality. By contrast, interdisciplinary Queer Studies denaturalizes heterosexuality and interrogates analyses of sexual normativity. It names the emergent body of cutting-edge scholarship as a critical area of inquiry with important methodological, theoretical, and practical contributions. 

Over the past three decades, innovative scholarship has forced a reappraisal of the ‘sexual.’ Pursuing a  graduate certificate in Sexuality and Queer Studies will prepare students to participate in this critical and generative scholarship at the University of Washington.

Why should you pursue a graduate certificate in SQS?

Students will learn the multiple genealogies of queer scholarship and political practice through courses centered on the foundational work of queer scholars and scholars of queer studies.

Students will be able to interrogate and analyze the complex intersections of sexualities with other dimensions of societal power. In order to promote this goal, the certificate curriculum will include courses that address sexuality, race, political economy, and other dimensions of inequality.

  1. Students will learn skills of effective communication about sexualities and queer studies through both writing and speaking.
  2. Students will develop skills in collaboration through the provision of opportunities for cross‐disciplinary teaching, student projects, and coalitional community projects.
  3. Each student will work with an advisor associated with the certificate to help plan a program of study that is both intellectually coherent and linked to that student’s research. In addition, the Advisor will work with each student at the end of their program to develop a short public presentation (capstone) linking the learning goals, courses and the student’s research.

Admission Requirements

  • A completed Graduate Certificate Program application.
  • A typed 1‐page statement of purpose, which includes reasons for pursuing a certificate and how the Graduate Certificate in Sexuality and Queer Studies will contribute to the student’s career goals.
  • Identification of a certificate advisor from among the affiliate faculty, with a written commitment from the advisor, as indicated via signature.*
  • Curriculum Vita.

*An advisor can be identified for you, please contact for assistance.

Certificate Requirements

  • 20 student credit hours, numbered at the 400 level and above from the list of approved courses (At least 15 of these credits must be from graded courses and at least 9 of the credits must be at the 500 level or above).  A minimum 3.0 grade is required for all courses taken to satisfy the certificate requirements.
  • Successful completion of GWSS 464/564 with a minimum 3.0 grade.
  • Public capstone presentation at the completion of the certificate, completed in consultation with your advisor.

Core Course

GWSS 464/564 Queer Desires, will serve as the primary core course along with a Capstone presentation. Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies will offer this course yearly. This course explores desire and the politics of sexuality as gendered, raced, classed, and does so within a transnational analytic framework.


Courses that will serve as electives are listed as Approved Courses. These courses range from a wide variety of disciplines, including Social Sciences departments such as Communication, Geography, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, Humanities departments such as English and Comparative Literature, other A&S departments such as Psychology, and other UW schools and colleges such as Law, Public Affairs, Social Work, and UWB and UWT.