Best Degrees in Gender and Women’s Studies

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If you’re interested in the study of women, gender, and sexuality, check out the best bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies.

Gender and Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary field. It blends the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and the arts to examine the identity and experiences of women. These programs explore how gender intersects with social class, race, sexuality, age, and ethnicity. Students learn about the history and contributions of women, the social forces that shape their experiences, and how the lives of women differ across cultural and historical contexts.

In these programs, you’ll develop skills like research, inquiry, and critical thinking. You’ll also develop an understanding of topics and issues that are often overlooked in traditional disciplines. These skills will prepare you for a wide range of careers in social services, public health, public policy, academia, law, education, and much more.

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What kind of Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies should you get?

Typically, bachelor’s degree programs in Gender and Women’s Studies are highly customizable. With help from a faculty member, you’ll choose courses that relate to your interests and goals. Some programs also have subplans or concentrations in areas like LGBT Studies, Feminist Studies, and Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.

If you’d like to pursue a career in academia, keep in mind that the bachelor’s degree is just your first step. Ultimately, you’ll need to earn your Ph.D. It’s also important to remember that these programs are available in both traditional and online formats. With online programs, you can work and study anytime, anywhere. If you’re interested in online education, browse our list of the Best Online Colleges and Universities.

How much money do people make with a Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies?

The salary you’ll earn with a bachelor’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies depends on the career field you choose. This interdisciplinary degree opens the door to many different occupations. Below, we’ll look at a few options and the median salary for each, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Social worker: $49,470
  • Journalist: $43,490
  • Social and community service manager: $65,320
  • High school teacher: $60,320

Keep in mind that women’s studies is a broad field with wide-ranging possibilities, and not all of them are listed here. Most of these careers are growing as fast or faster than the national average. Your salary will vary depending on where you choose to live and work. If you decide to earn a more advanced degree, you’ll have additional opportunities leading to higher salaries.

What can you do with a Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies?

A bachelor’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies can lead to a career in education, non-profit work, advocacy, law, public health, public policy, government agencies, social work, research, counseling, women and family services, public relations, journalism, and much more.

The degree sharpens your research, analysis, and critical thinking skills, and it gives you a unique perspective on contemporary social issues. These abilities can apply to a wide range of careers, and they’re also great for graduate school. You may want to pursue advanced study in law, social work, public health, or other fields.

What are the requirements for a Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies?

To apply to the bachelor’s degree programs on this list, you’ll need to submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Some programs also require letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or short answer questions.

Once accepted to one of these programs, you’ll take courses in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, and the arts. You may be required to complete field experience via a practicum or internship. Many of these programs culminate in a major research essay, thesis, or another senior project. You will likely take a senior capstone course and be expected to present your final project.

What are the best Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies?

We’ve put together a list of the 40 best Bachelor’s in Gender and Women’s Studies. To find the best of the best, we looked at program reputation, tuition costs, and overall return on investment.

Best Degrees in Gender and Women's Studies Badge

We analyzed data from trusted sources like:

    • PayScale
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • U.S. News and World Report
    • Princeton Review
    • Official college and university websites and course catalogs

Choosing a college and a program can be overwhelming, so we’ve done the hard part for you. You can trust that the programs on this list will provide a comprehensive education in gender and women’s studies that will thoroughly prepare you for any career in the field.

  1. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Established in 1636, Harvard University is one of the most prestigious names in higher education. The private Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts currently enrolls more than 36,000 students. It’s ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Harvard students live in a unique housing system, with 97% of undergraduates living on campus all four years. It’s home to a program in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

    Program Features

    The concentration (Harvard’s term for majors) in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality offers a wide range of courses in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Advisers help students create a program of study that fits their interests and goals. Juniors apply to write an undergraduate thesis or to pursue a joint concentration. Potential courses include:

    • LGBT Life Stories
    • Global Feminisms
    • Beyond the Sound Bite: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the Daily News
    • Feminist Theory as Critique
    • Psychology of the Gendered Body

    Notables

    Faculty members work closely with WGS students, from the small-group Sophomore Tutorial through advanced courses and the Junior and Senior Tutorials, where students who have selected the thesis track work one-on-one with a tutor to finish their junior paper and senior thesis. Most WGS courses are seminars that promote discussion and the exchange of ideas.

  2. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A private Ivy League research university that’s ranked No. 3 in the nation, Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut. With its 300-year history, Yale is rooted in tradition, but the university is also committed to innovation and improving the world for future generations. Yale students experience the feel of a small school while enjoying the scholarly and cultural resources of a large university. Yale offers a major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

    Program Features

    Students majoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies complete core courses, develop an area of concentration, and write a senior essay. Work is interdisciplinary, drawing on cultural studies, literature, social sciences, natural science, and more. Recent concentrations have included AIDS health policies, women’s health, gender and sexuality in early education, and the intellectual history of civil rights activism. Students complete courses such as:

    • Neoliberalism and Sexuality
    • History of Sexuality
    • Health and Illness in Social Context
    • Transnational Approaches to Gender and Sexuality
    • Gender, Justice, Power, Institutions 

    Notables

    All students must complete two methodology courses, five courses in the area of concentration, and the Junior Research Seminar. The research seminar gives students the opportunity to apply the interdisciplinary theories and methods they’ve learned throughout the program of study. Students also write a yearlong or single-term senior essay.

  3. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, California that is ranked among the nation’s Top 10 universities by U.S. News and World Report. Since its establishment in 1891, the university has been committed to innovation, discovery, and limitless opportunities. 16,424 students learn from Stanford’s world-class faculty and participate in the school’s eclectic and thriving campus life. Stanford offers more than 65 majors, including a BA in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

    Program Features

    Stanford’s Bachelor of Arts in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies requires 63 units. Students select a thematic focus and outline a plan of study. The major consists of at least 12 approved courses, including core courses, the thematic focus, and electives. Students also complete a practicum that blends field research and community service. Courses include:

    • Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • Feminist and Queer Theories and Methods Across the Disciplines
    • Sex and the Novel
    • Gender and Power in Ancient Greece
    • LGBT/Queer Life in the United States

    Notables

    Students are encouraged to pursue a broad range of courses. They may choose to develop their own individual plan of study or declare a formal subplan. Formal subplans include the Arts & Culture Subplan, Health Subplan, Global Studies Subplan, and LGBT/Queer Studies Subplan.

  4. Amherst College
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is a private liberal arts university enrolling 1,849 students. Amherst offers more than 850 courses and has no distribution requirements, allowing students to shape their program of study. Founded in 1821, the university is also known for having one of the most comprehensive financial aid programs in the nation. Amherst College offers a major in Sexuality, Women’s, and Gender Studies. 

    Program Features

    Students enrolled in the Sexuality, Women’s, and Gender Studies program at Amherst explore feminist and queer thought in a range of social and global contexts. They complete a total of nine courses, including three required courses. Students choose to write a thesis or assemble a portfolio and a five-page reflective essay. You’ll take courses like:

    • The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender
    • Feminist Theory
    • Contemporary Debates
    • Transgender Histories
    • Evaluating Social Policy

    Notables

    The SWAGS portfolio consists of three papers written in courses for the major. One submission can be poetry, fiction, film, art, or photography if a written analysis of the work is included. The reflective essay explains the selection of the three papers, their key themes, and the student’s evolution in thinking about women, gender, and sexuality.

  5. Williams College
    Location

    Williamstown, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Williams College is a private liberal arts college that was established in 1793 in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Williams enrolls 2,000 undergraduate students and has a student-faculty ratio of 7:1. The university admits U.S. students regardless of their ability to pay and meets 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need. At least 90% of students graduate within four years, 40% of them as double majors. One major option at Williams is a BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines how assumptions about sexuality and gender operate in society, shape identities, and influence social and political structures. Students learn to evaluate, critique, analyze, understand, and communicate about gender, gender identity, sexuality, and feminist and queer perspective. Courses include:

    • Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
    • The Feminist Poetry Movement
    • West Africa Through Women’s Voices
    • The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality
    • Foundations in Sexuality Studies 

    Notables

    This program has existed in some form at Williams for more than three decades. Integral to the major is the idea that factors like race, ethnicity, religion, class, ability, and nationality are important to the critical understanding of sexuality and gender. Williams College has graduated over 300 majors and concentrators in the program’s history.

  6. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university and one of nine colonial colleges in the nation. Penn is consistently ranked among the Top 10 universities nationwide and enrolls more than 20,000 students. Located in Philadelphia, the university is committed to research, innovation, community engagement, and inclusion. Penn’s beautiful urban campus is home to a major in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

    Program Features

    Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies have the flexibility to design a major that aligns with their interests. Students take three required courses, a Capstone Course, and nine courses in either an elective track or a concentration track. The program is also a popular double major. In this program, you’ll take courses such as:

    • Gender and Society
    • Introduction to Queer Theory 
    • Law and Social Policy on Sexuality and Reproduction
    • The Science of Sex and Sexuality 

    Notables

    Students choose from the following concentrations: Feminist Studies, Global Gender and Sexuality Studies, Health and Disability, LGBTQ Studies, or Self-designed. Self-designed concentrations might include Sociology and Anthropology, History and English, Media and Communication, and so on. Alternatively, students may select nine electives in the area of gender, sexuality, and/or women.

  7. Dartmouth College
    Location

    Hanover, NH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Another of America’s nine colonial colleges, Dartmouth College was established in 1796. The private Ivy League university is located in Hanover, New Hampshire and ranks among the world’s best institutions of higher learning. Dartmouth emphasizes the liberal arts and serves 6,500 students. Its mission is to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and responsible leadership. Dartmouth offers an undergraduate Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of Arts program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies prepares students to systematically analyze gender construction and the social, cultural, historical, political, and economic experiences of women. The major consists of an introductory course and nine additional courses, with students selecting a concentration and completing a culminating Senior Seminar. Courses include:

    • Roots of Feminism
    • Contemporary Issues in Feminism
    • Sex, Gender, and Society
    • Women in Politics
    • Women and War in Modern American Literature and Film

    Notables

    Dartmouth’s Women’s Studies Program was founded in 1978. It was the first of its kind in any of the previously all-male Ivy League universities. The program may also be undertaken as a minor, modified major, or a certificate. Possible areas of concentration include Women in the Third World, LGBT Studies, Gender in Literature, and Gender in Science.

  8. Pomona College
    Location

    Claremont, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Just 35 miles east of Los Angeles, Pomona College is a private liberal arts university in Claremont, California. It’s one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities and is home to a diverse community of close-knit students who are passionate about making a difference. Pomona enrolls 1,670 students and has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1, allowing students to work closely with professors and peers alike. Pomona students choose from 48 majors, including Gender & Women’s Studies.

    Program Features

    The Gender and Women’s Studies program focuses on feminist research, the intersection of gender and other social forces, and rigorous critical inquiry into these forms of difference. The program is designed to challenge assumptions about women, sexuality, and gender roles. Students choose a theoretical focus on feminist scholarship or a joint major linking feminist studies with another program or discipline. Potential courses include:

    • Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies
    • Introduction to Queer Studies
    • Queer and Feminist Theories
    • Critical Race Theory, Representation, and the Rule of Law
    • Women in the Third World

    Notables

    Students complete a senior seminar and a senior thesis. In the seminar, students read, analyze, and discuss interdisciplinary issues related to gender and women’s studies. They receive guidance on researching and writing the thesis by regularly meeting with their advisor(s). All students must take at least one course that is cross-listed with an ethnic studies program.

  9. Swarthmore College
    Location

    Swarthmore, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Swarthmore College is known for its beautiful campus, extensive liberal arts curriculum, and emphasis on open dialogue and self-discovery. The private college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania – just outside of Philadelphia – was founded by Quakers in 1864. It’s a small university with an 8:1 student to faculty ratio, but Swarthmore offers more than 600 courses and undergraduate research opportunities. One of Swarthmore’s innovative programs is a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

    Program Features

    The Gender and Sexuality Studies Program emphasizes the relationships among gender and sexuality, race, class, and other social forces. Students learn to connect this inquiry to local and global politics and to analyze social relations of power through a variety of texts, contexts, and practices. The program begins with an introductory course on analytical tools, theories, and key questions and concepts. It ends with a senior capstone. Additional courses include:

    • Feminist Film and Media Studies
    • Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Islam
    • Gender, Race, and Science
    • Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement 

    Notables

    The program blends queer and feminist theory with research in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Students may also pursue a minor or special major in the field. Faculty members are committed to incorporating both contemporary and historical perspectives throughout the program of study.

  10. University of California-Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of California, Los Angeles, more commonly known as UCLA, is a public research university established in 1919. U.S. News and World Report rank UCLA first in the nation among public schools and No. 19 in the nation overall. The university enrolls over 45,000 students and receives more applicants than any school in the nation. UCLA offers more than 125 majors, including a major in Gender Studies.

    Program Features

    UCLA’s Gender Studies major focuses on an understanding of social inequalities, qualitative research methods, writing, and analytical skills. Courses integrate faculty research and feminist pedagogical approaches. Students earning the Bachelor of Arts will be able to write essays, give oral presentations, and conduct research in the field of women, gender, and sexuality. Core courses address:

    • Gender and the body
    • Gender and power
    • Social movements
    • Freedom and liberty
    • Politics of social justice 

    Notables

    A grade of “C” or better is required for all major courses. All students complete Introduction to Gender Studies and four units each of Power, Knowledge, and Bodies, as well as seven electives. Courses may be taken in any order. Students also complete a Capstone Seminar focused on research.

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