PhD Degree Requirements

The doctoral program requires a minimum of 80 graduate credit hours, at least 50 of which must be earned beyond the Master's degree; a general Candidacy Examination covering the course work; followed by completion and defense of a dissertation comprising an original work of scholarship. Doctoral students are required to take at least 2/3 of their courses in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Coursework Requirements

Required Core Theory Courses | 12 credit hours (4 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 7760 - Feminist Inquiry: Methods (3 credit hours, offered every other 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 | 21 credit hours (7 courses)

  • 9 credit hours in WGSST courses at 5000-level or above
  • 12 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.
  • Self-funded students who never serve as GTAs still must take WGSST 7702, but are exempt from taking WGSST 8163. The one credit hour from WGSST 8163 will be waived.
  • Up to 6 hours of WGSST 7790 – Research and Writing Workshop may count towards the degree, but not toward the required 9 WGSS elective credits.
  • Only 6 hours of WGSST 8193 – Individual Studies may count toward the degree.
  • PhD students may use 6 credit hours taken as an MA student but not used toward the MA degree as part of PhD coursework.
  • WGSST 7760 is offered every other year.
  • It is strongly recommended that PhD students take an additional methods course. On occasion, faculty may teach 8860: Topics in Advanced Feminist Methods.
  • Students should choose electives in consultation with the faculty advisor.
  • 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 PhD students consider a graduate minor or graduate interdisciplinary specialization in conjunction with their research area.
  • PhD students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English (see “Language Requirement”).
  • PhD students are permitted to take courses that will not count towards their degree requirements but do count as graduate credit hours.

Language Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English by:

  • Passing an examination in the given language.
  • Passing a language department’s 6571 & 6572 or 1101 & 1102 with a grade of B or better.
  • Making other arrangements with a qualified resource outside the university per advisor’s approval for unusual circumstances where a language is not offered at OSU.
  • Showing reading competence in a second language before taking the Candidacy Examination by arranging a competency examination.
  • Entering the program as an international student with English as a second language.

Transfer of Credit

If a student holds a master’s degree from another institution, they should confer with their advisor during Autumn semester of their first year about receiving and applying transfer credit to the WGSS PhD program. Typically, students may transfer a block of 30 credit hours towards the PhD.

Only in exceptional circumstances will individual courses be evaluated for transfer to waive WGSS PhD coursework requirements. In these circumstances, final determination about transfer and use of courses from other institutions will be made by the Graduate Studies Committee in consultation with the student’s advisor. 

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 PhD. 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 dissertation 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.

Candidacy Examination

The candidacy exam marks the transition from PhD student to PhD Candidate. After successful completion of the candidacy exam, students will shift focus from studying coursework to pursuing independent research and writing a dissertation. The candidacy exam is therefore designed to show that students are intellectually prepared to pursue independent research by demonstrating mastery in a broad range of theories and concepts covered in coursework.

Regular PhD students should plan on taking the candidacy exam during Autumn semester of the third year. Direct-to-PhD students should plan on taking the candidacy exam during Autumn semester of the fourth year.

The candidacy examination consists of two portions, written and oral, administered by the student’s examination committee and under the auspices of the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School.  The written portion evaluates a student’s comprehension of their fields, readiness to undertake independent research, and capacity to express complex ideas clearly. The written exam has three, twenty-page sections. In close consultation with the advisor and exam committee, a student will choose one of the following options: three timed exams of four days each, resulting in three 20 page essays; three 20 page papers; or a combination thereof.

According to Graduate School rules, the oral defense must take place within one month of completion of the written portion. The date of the oral defense must be filed with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the exam date.


Subsequent to successful completion of the candidacy exam, PhD candidates will complete the research and writing of an original work of scholarship supervised by the advisor. If the recommended timelines for program milestones are followed, candidates should have three years of funding to complete the dissertation. If a candidate fails to complete the dissertation during funded years, they may continue to pursue the dissertation at their own expense. Regular PhD candidates should plan on defending their dissertation by the Spring semester of the fifth year. Direct-to-PhD candidates should plan on defending their dissertation by the Spring semester of the sixth year.

PhD candidates are encouraged to seek funding for their dissertation research from all available sources, including those outside the university. 

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