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MA Degree Curriculum


Per Graduate School policy, a minimum of 30 credit hours are required for any master’s degree. The WGSS MA curriculum requires 31 credit hours of coursework, including 5 core courses and 6 electives. It is expected to take two academic years (four semesters) to complete the degree requirements.

While the WGSS MA curriculum only requires 31 credit hours of coursework, most MA students will earn an average of 36 credit hours through the required courses and minimum enrollment requirements per semester. Graduate Teaching Associates are required to enroll in a minimum of 8 credit hours per semester. Fellows are required to enroll in 12 credit hours for Autumn and Spring semester and 6 credit hours for Summer term.

In consultation with their advisor, students will complete the master’s examination in WGSS either by presenting a portfolio of written work or writing a thesis to conclude the program. 

Coursework Requirements

Required Core Theory Courses | 9 credit hours (3 courses)

  • WGSST 7700 - Feminist Inquiry I (3 credit hours, offered every Autumn semester)
  • WGSST 7701 - Feminist Inquiry II (3 credit hours, offered every Spring semester)
  • WGSST 7790 - Research & Writing Workshop (3 credit hours, offered every Spring semester)

Required Graduate Teaching Associate Courses | 4 credit hours (2 courses)

  • WGSST 7702 - Feminist Pedagogy (3 credit hours, offered every Autumn semester)
  • WGSST 8163 - WGSST Teaching Practicum (1 credit hour, offered every Spring semester)

Elective Courses | 18 credit hours (6 courses)

  • 9 credit hours in WGSST courses at 5000-level or above
  • 9 credit hours in WGSST courses or related disicpline-based courses offered by other academic units

Coursework Notes

  • All incoming students are required to take WGSST 7700 in their first semester & WGSST 7701 in their second semester.
  • Students take WGSST 7702 during their first semester as a GTA.
  • Students take WGSST 8163 during their second semester as a GTA. WGSST 8163 is a one credit hour course.
  • Students on fellowship for the entirety of their MA are exempt from taking WGSST 7702 and 8163. These students will need to take an additional three elective courses to replace the credit hours associated with WGSST 7702. The one credit hour from WGSST 8163 will be waived.
  • MA students are strongly encouraged to take WGSST 7790 during their second semester. Students who choose the thesis option must take WGSST 7790 before their final year.
  • Only 3 hours of WGSST 8193 – Individual Studies may count toward the degree.
  • Students should choose electives in consultation with the faculty advisor. Choices should reflect a coherent program of study that provides a broad grounding in WGSS as well as familiarity with a specific focus area.
  • WGSST electives are generally listed as “WGSST 8800.0X – Topics in Feminist Studies” with a subtitle describing the course for that semester. Course details will be announced the semester prior to offering.
  • WGSS will offer between 1-3 elective courses per semester.
  • It is strongly recommended that MA students consider a graduate minor or graduate interdisciplinary specialization with their non-WGSS elective courses.

Graduate Progression Policy

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Program supports and adheres to the University’s Graduate School Handbook rule which states, “a student must maintain a graduate cumulative point-hour ratio of 3.0 or better in all graduate credit courses and must maintain reasonable progress to be considered in good standing.” This translates to earning no less than a B for a course to be counted toward the 30 credits required to complete the MA. Students who fail to earn a B or better in a class and therefore cannot earn credit hours for the course may fall behind in the program. Insufficient progress on the thesis or MA portfolio may also cause students to fall behind. Failure to maintain reasonable progress through the program may result in suspension.

Students who fall below a 3.0 cumulative GPA will be placed on probation by the Graduate School and given one semester to improve their performance. Students who fail to do so may be suspended from the program.

MA Examination 

The MA examination is a test of the student’s knowledge of the field and serves as the culminating experience to earn the master’s degree. The two forms of examination offered to MA students in the program include the following: the master’s portfolio option, consisting of two 20 page papers; or the master’s thesis option, a 40-45 page thesis.
Portfolio Option

The MA portfolio option is the default option for students in the WGSS MA program. The portfolio consists of two papers approximately 20 pages in length that aim to be of journal submission quality. An oral defense of the student’s portfolio may be held at the discretion of the advisor and exam committee, but is not required.

Thesis Option

The MA thesis is a culminating experience students may choose to earn their master’s degree. A thesis is a work of original research at an advanced level and is expected to be between 12,000 and 14,000 words (roughly 40–45 pages), although the final length will be determined in conjunction with the student’s faculty advisor and exam committee. The thesis option requires substantial research and often draws on primary as well as secondary sources. Students will work closely with their advisor at all stages of thesis development, from the study design to the research and writing. In a select cases, students enrolled in dual-degree programs are required to complete a thesis for the other department. 

Dual and Combined MA Degrees

To pursue a dual or combined degree, a student must first be accepted into both programs. Applicants should consult with both programs to learn the specifics of each application process, particularly if a student is already enrolled in one program. Dual or combined MA programs typically take three years to complete.

Dual degree students must select a “home” department. The program of study will be developed individually after consultation with advisors in each department. The program of study must be approved by the advisor and submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee. Per Graduate School Policy, 50% of coursework must be unique to each degree. For example, of the 31 credit hours needed to complete the MA in WGSS, 15 credit hours may only count towards the WGSS MA. Both departments must agree to accept the classes that will count towards both degrees.

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