Women are not only more likely to attend college, but they are also more likely to go on to attend graduate school. In fact, women account for half of the students in law, medical, and business programs, however women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields are still way underrepresented, and women receive less financial aid than their male classmates. So, while gains have been made for women in academia there are still innumerable disparities, explicit and implicit, on the campus college and later in the workforce. Of course, many colleges and universities strive to make their campuses safe, inclusive, and supportive of women, and so we've listed fifty of those schools below.
In addition to providing this definitive ranking of the best woman friendly colleges and universities in the country, we at College Choice have included everything else students and parents need to know about succeeding in higher education. Scholarships, advice on choosing schools, sexual assault awareness, trans women rights, studying in the STEM fields, single mothering while in college-we've got it all covered. We at College Choice have attempted to consider every angle in presenting this resource.
We at College Choice realize gender is a complex construct that is often used to enforce, exclude, and oppress. We want to stress that this resource is for all woman-identified students, including the cis, genderqueer, and trans communities.
Meet the Expert
Cate Mackenzie's writing has been published in numerous journals, magazines, and on websites covering feminism and culture. She has also worked in book publishing for ten years. In that decade she has marketed, copy edited, proofread hundreds of books while also witnessing a dramatic change in social and digital media. Despite the flux, a certainty remains: people long to learn, and Cate loves making the path to learning as accessible and rewarding as possible. Cate has a BA and MFA in writing and lives in Oregon.
A Safe and Welcoming Campus
The statistics about the sexual assault and harassment women face in college are staggering. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates between 20 and 25 percent of women will experience a completed and/or attempted rape during their college career, more than half of whom will not tell anyone about their victimization. And this is just sexual assault; these numbers don't reflect the pervasive encounters women have with physical assault, stalking, and verbal harassment, and numbers cannot begin to reflect women's daily dealings with sexism, both overt and implied. From the crucial presence of the Women's Resource Center and extensive health services to active feminist groups on campus, institutional support, and feminist-inclusive curriculum, below are some fundamental factors that make a campus informed, safe, and nourishing for women.
The Women's Resource Center
Perhaps the most important facet of an informed, vibrant, and active campus is the Women's Resource Center (WRC), sometimes just called the Women's Center. While some centers stand alone, others work in collaboration with other student or diversity centers, health centers, or academic departments, but in all capacities the resource center is the nucleus of a woman's life on campus, providing not only a safe space but access to resources and services designed specifically for women and to give visibility to issues that affect women. From policy enforcement to health services, the resource center works in dual directions, for both the university and for the student, making campus not only a safe place for all students, but also a place where students can have their needs heard and met. Below are some of the ways a Women's Resource Center can serve its female students:
History: The WRC can provide both an autobiographical history of the center as well as a history of the school and how it has served its female students in the past. History often reflects precedence, vision, and progress.
Resources: In addition to connecting students with campus groups-social, health, academic, or other-the WRC can also provide information on local and national organizations that serve women, especially women in crisis. The WRC should also provide 24/7 helplines for immediate and urgent needs.
Scholarships and Aid: For more on scholarships, see our section below, which provides a list of potential awards, prizes, and aid to apply for. However, sometimes individual schools and academic departments offer their own scholarships. The WRC connect you with those that are available for women at your school, as well as pointing you to national scholarship connections too.
Calendar: For detailed information on social events, meetings, discussion groups, lecture series, and more, the WRC's calendar should cover the full scope of the university's events that will be of interest to women.
Connection: One of its primary responsibilities, the WRC connects students with different organizations and groups, promoting relationship, solidarity, and involvement.
Publications: If your school publishes any feminist newsletters, journals, or online magazines, find out how to access the content or even connect with the editorial team through the WRC.
Work: Looking to get involved on or off campus? Looking to make extra money or gain experience? The WRC will help facilitate internships, work studies, and study abroad opportunities.
Though each university or college's social calendar will look different from another, those schools that made our list for having the best Women's Studies programs (see our section on those programs below) and for being overall the most friendly toward women (see our definitive ranking below) boast a vibrant social environment. Their calendars are most often marked with weekly and annual events-including clubs, political organizations, discussion groups, lecture series, and more-that promote visibility among women. Some examples of women-oriented events you may want to look for when researching and applying to college include
Welcome back picnics in the fall
Take Back the Night
WGS Lecture Series
International Women's Day celebration
Celebration of Women's History Month in March
Domestic and Partner Violence Awareness Month in October
Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April
WRC and/or women in leadership retreats
Women's music festivals
And much more
Women and Gender Studies programs were first formed in the 1970s and have, since then, grown exponentially in popularity and utility. Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country now provide a full Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies degree (see our section on women's studies below as well as our ranking of the nation's fifty best programs) often offering it tandem with most other disciplines. Even schools with technical, business, health, or research emphasis find that a program in gender studies substantively augments their curriculum and promotes women in leadership in areas where women are underrepresented. To learn more about women's and gender studies, see our section below, where we've also ranked the best programs and explained how best to enact such a degree in the work force. But if you do not desire to major or minor in women's studies, there are numerous ways to seek out a school that provides a gendered balance to its curriculum and across disciplines. Here's what to look for in a school that intentionally and attentively incorporates the voices of and contributions from women:
A Women's and Gender Studies major and minor
A feminist library and/or archive
Course syllabi (across disciplines) that contains contributions from women writers, scientists, scholars, psychologists, and leaders in technology and business
Required courses on feminism and/or gender studies across disciplines
Academic departments and faculty reflect a breadth of gender and racial diversity
Outside lecturers also reflect gender and racial diversity
Emphasis on transnational and intersectional approach to education
Clubs, Organizations, and Extra-Curriculars
Social groups are the heart of a thriving campus life. They not only help students connect with others, but they promote activism, awareness, and solidarity. An especially active and high-functioning women's center will be comprised of various groups and organizations that align with many identities and needs. The examples below reflect a sampling of student-led groups that one can find through a Women's Resource Center, and are, in fact, pulled from our list of Best Colleges and Universities for Women.
International women's group
Queer and trans women groups
Mentoring programs between upperclass students and lower classes
Coalition of Women of Color
Women in STEM groups
Intermural sports for women
Women and faith groups
Feminist reading and discussion groups
Asexual and nonbinary groups
Policy and Institutional Support
Comprehensive campus policy and procedures should aim to diminish, if not eliminate, sexual harassment, assault, and other issues related to gender on campus. All the schools listed on our Best Colleges and Universities for Women ranking (see below) have substantive non-discrimination policies, reflecting a fundamental and necessary priority on student protection and service. Some schools even post their policies online. We've listed here some of the key factors indicating that a campus has legislated institutional support and inclusive policy
Clear policies and procedures are made widely available and accessible to the campus.
The school enforces Title IX, which requires institutions of higher education to report sexual violence, misconduct, and other behaviors that create hostile environments for women.
Guidelines for reporting incidents should be widely disseminated.
Likewise, the procedure for reporting incidents should be confidential and simple.
There is an advisory committee that oversees issues-academic, social, and health-specific to its female students.
The school provides extensive health insurance that covers the physical and emotional issues specific to women.
The school hires and pays its women's resource center staff.
Prevention programs train faculty, staff, and students alike on issues of safety and policy.
Most universities and colleges offer health insurance and provide a healthcare center on campus in an effort to meet an array of their students' needs. However, the most inclusive health system should cover all aspects of the mental, physical, and emotional health of its students, especially women, who are more likely to be anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed than their male classmates. Additionally, women are more likely to experience sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, more likely to feel various kinds of pressure and shaming, and more likely to develop eating disorders, depression, PTSD, and addictions. Therefore, the health-related needs of women not only vary greatly from their male classmates, but entail services that are at once confidential, sympathetic, and extensive. When researching colleges and universities be sure to look into their healthcare options and services. If even you receive insurance from your parents or another source, it's important to know what resources your school will make available to you. Here's what to look for regardless of your specific needs:
Full and inclusive reproductive health care
Resources on safe sex and contraceptive care
Free and anonymous STI tests
Cancer screening and prevention
Sexual and physical assault counseling
Information services that connect students with off-campus health options
Unlimited psychological counseling sessions
24/7 access to crisis and help lines
LGBT trained doctors, nurses, counselors, and staff
Health insurance that covers hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgeries
Voice modification programs
Respect to and use of pronouns and names
50 Best Colleges and Universities for Women
From sexual assault awareness to anti-discrimination in STEM fields, there's a breadth of considerations-social, economic, academic-to collate and compare when choosing a school. Such consolidation demands innumerable hours of research, the results being of crucial importance to your college experience and happiness. Which is why we've done that work for you, compiling below the best schools for women, taking into account a combination of crucial features: academic rankings; student performance, satisfaction, and retention rates; the level of safety and inclusion women can anticipate, and more. The scores below reflect the collective ranking of each of these factors.
The oldest university in the country, Harvard University was founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts by a vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is a private research university made up of Harvard College and 11 other schools and institutes, including the former Radcliffe College, now the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Harvard served around 21 students in the 2015-2016 school year. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Notable alumni include eight U.S. presidents, Helen Keller, Yo-Yo Ma, and Tommy Lee Jones. Harvard’s library collection is the oldest in the country and the largest private collection in the world.
The current iteration of the Harvard College Women’s Center (HCWC) was founded in 2006, though it was borne out of years of history of women’s centers at Harvard and Radcliffe beginning in 1971. Its mission “is to promote gender equity by raising awareness of women’s and gender issues, developing women’s leadership, and celebrating women who challenge, motivate, and inspire.” The HCWC offers a range of programming, many of which are student-initiated, including dinner discussions, film screenings, and panels and performances supported by the Ann Radcliffe Trust/Women’s Center Community Fund, as well as a mentorship program, the Gender 101 workshop, and the Women’s Leadership Awards. Harvard also offers Degrees in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
Opened in 1891 and known officially as Leland Stanford Junior University, Stanford University is a private research university in Stanford, in California’s Silicon Valley. In the fall of 2015, 6,884 undergraduate students and 9,128 graduate students matriculated across seven schools. The university has a 4:1 student to faculty ratio. It is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Stanford’s community includes 20 Nobel Laureates, four Pulitzer Prize winners, and 31 Nobel Prize winners from Stanford’s faculty since the university’s founding.
The Women’s Community Center (WCC), through the Division of Student Affairs, was established in its current form in 1991, though it has a history dating back to the 1970s. It provides “space, support, and advising to Women’s Voluntary Student Organizations (WVSOs),” which include academic, service, performing arts, sororities, and pre-professional organizations. The WCC offers programming for women in STEM fields, is home to the annual Stanford Women’s Leadership Conference, and hosts Herstory Month in April each year. In an effort to create meaningful dialogue and action around gender at Stanford, the WCC is home to the Men’s Outreach Project. Academically, the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies offers an undergraduate major, a secondary major, a minor, an interdisciplinary honors program open to students in all majors, and a PhD minor.
The third-oldest institution of higher education in the country, Yale University was founded in 1701 in what was the Saybrook Colony as the Collegiate School. Today, Yale is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. In 2015, Yale was home to 5,453 undergraduate and 6,859 graduate and professional students. It has 288 registered undergraduate organizations and 35 varsity sports teams.
The Yale University Women’s Organization (YUWO), founded in 1965, seeks “to provide an opportunity for women of the Yale community to meet and pursue common intellectual and social interests” through education, recreation, and service. The Working Women’s Network aims to provide a community and advocate for policy improvements for women who work in all areas of Yale. This includes offering professional development and enrichment for women at Yale, support for women seeking a greater work-life balance, and developing relationships with other organizations with shared goals. Established in 1979, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale offers a variety of courses and a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Chartered in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. It is a private Ivy League research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. For the 2014-15 academic year, the university enrolled 5,275 undergraduate and 2,671 graduate students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1. It is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and offers 36 undergraduate degrees, concentrated into 34 majors within 15 broad fields of study. Princeton teams have won more Ivy League championships than any school over the last two decades.
In 1971, ten years after the first women graduate students enter the university, the Princeton University Women’s Center was established. The Center seeks to “recognize and redress historic and persistent gender inequality at Princeton and beyond.” It offers information and resources on everything from gender-free restrooms to a rape aggression defense course to religious life. Programming through the Center includes events like Take Back the Night, #BlackLivesMatter documentary screening, Women in STEM Seminar Series, and the Womanist Mystique Symposium. It offers a social justice training retreat, mentorship, and the Women’s Center Action Groups, which are semester-long student-led teams that develop two to three programs on gender-related themes. Princeton also offers a Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commonly known as MIT, is a private research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861, MIT offers 46 undergraduate majors for the 4,527 undergraduate students enrolled in 2015. In addition to the Bachelor of Science degree, MIT also offers six Master’s degrees, a Doctorate of Philosophy, and a Doctorate of Science. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In the 2015-16 academic year, women made up 46% of undergraduates and 33% of graduate students. The campus houses state-of-the-art facilities including wind tunnels, linear accelerators, and robot test labs.
Through the Division of Student Life, Women@MIT is a central location of information and resources for women students at MIT. It strives to provide MIT students information on the offices, departments, and organizations that exist to support and empower women students at MIT. It also provides a number of events and programs and oversight to the Margaret Cheney Room, MIT’s Women’s Community Center. Established in the mid-1980s, Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) at MIT is an interdisciplinary academic program which seeks to “educate MIT undergraduates on the importance of gender equity, and to promote a broad understanding of gender and its complex intersectionality with sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, religious affiliation, and other categories of identity.” The program offers a degree concentration, minor, and major.
Duke University is a private research institution located in Durham, North Carolina. Originally established in 1838 as Trinity College, it became Duke University in 1924 through a philanthropic endowment. In the fall of 2015, Duke had 6,485 undergraduate and 8,465 graduate/professional students enrolled across its 9 schools and college. It has a student-faculty ratio of 7:1. Duke is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers 50 undergraduate majors and 52 minors. In an advancement of the university’s mission of ” knowledge in service to society,” more than 75% of students at Duke are engaged in service-learning opportunities in Durham and throughout the world.
The Women’s Center at Duke is “dedicated to helping every woman at Duke become self-assured with a streetwise savvy that comes from actively engaging with the world.” In line with this mission, the center has programs geared towards empowerment, such as Salary Smart; Education & Outreach, like Gender Violence Education; Building Community, with the Women’s Collective, Activism, through the Beautiful Project; and Civic Engagement with alternative school break options. It is also home to the Duke Men’s Project, which aims “to rework current narratives of masculinity for a healthier alternative; one that is inclusive, equitable and positive.” Duke also offers a Program in Women’s Studies, which includes programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to a certificate program, a variety of initiatives, and the Feminist Theory Workshop.
Located in Pasadena, California, the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, is a private university founded in 1891. It has a 3:1 student to faculty ratio and six academic divisions. In 2015, Caltech had 1,001 undergraduate students and 1,254 graduate students. The gender ratio was 33% female and 56% male across the university. The school’s global facilities include a jet propulsion laboratory, seismological laboratory, and an international observatory network across five states, Antarctica, and (in 2017) Chile. It is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Caltech provides a variety of resources for women, many with a focus on the advancement of women in science and engineering. These resources include career, academic, and personal mentorship, discussion groups, and various clubs and groups. The school has also established Parenting at Caltech as a resource for parents and caregivers, from information on parental leave to support groups for caregivers to lactation rooms on campus. The school’s WAVE Fellows program aims to foster diversity by increasing the participation of underrepresented students in science and engineering Ph.D. programs, including women.
The University of Pennsylvania, commonly known as Penn, was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740 and is one of the country’s Colonial Colleges, established before American Revolution. It is an Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia, regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 89 undergraduate majors are offered, and the university holds a “One University” policy, which grants undergraduates access to courses in nearly all undergraduate and graduate schools, as well as allowing students to take courses at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore—an agreement known as the Quaker Consortium. With a student to faculty ratio of 6 to 1, in the fall of 2015 Penn had 10,406 undergraduate and 11,157 graduate students.
Founded over 40 years ago, Penn’s Women’s Center is one of the country’s oldest campus-based Women’s Centers. The center hosts programs on career development, stress management, parenting, violence prevention, health and wellness, in addition to events which highlight women and female-identified writers, activists, artists and political and professional leaders. It also works closely with Penn Violence Prevention to educate the campus community about dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault and provides crisis and options counseling. The center has a fully-equipped nursing room and a film and book library, meeting rooms, and lounge for meetings, workshops, and other projects. Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Penn is an interdisciplinary program offering over 50 courses, a major, a minor, and a graduate certificate.
12 miles west of Boston, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, sits Wellesley College, a private, women’s, liberal-arts college founded in 1870. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2015, Wellesley enrolled 2,344 students. The school offers 56 majors and has a student to faculty ratio of 7:1. Over 70 percent of students participate in an internship while at school and more than 150 student organizations are offered, along with cultural centers and multi-faith life on campus.
Coming out of the college’s mission to “provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world,” Wellesley has offered Women’s and Gender Studies since 1982. The program which examines “how the lives of individual women and men are shaped by broader structural forces in both historical and contemporary contexts . . .” The program offers both a major and minor with five different concentration options, from Global/Transnational Feminisms to Gender and American Cultural Studies. All majors are required to choose a capstone research experience. Women’s and Gender Studies also puts on a variety of events, including the annual Domna Stanton Lecture Series.
One of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution, Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League, research university in Hanover, New Hampshire. The college was established in 1769. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2014, Dartmouth had around 4,200 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. The undergraduate college offers more than 40 departments and programs. There are four graduate schools. Admission to the college is need-blind. About 60% of undergraduates take part in any of the 45 faculty-led off-campus opportunities in over 20 countries during their time at Dartmouth.
Founded in 1988, the Center for Gender and Student Engagement (CGSE) at Dartmouth seeks to “facilitate students’ development with a focus on gender exploration and social justice in a safe and inclusive space” and falls under the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. CGSE provides programming, events, advising, and individual engagement opportunities. The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality program offers a major, minor, and honor’s program. It also provides global opportunities for students to study in Hyderabad, India or take part in other international internships.
Named after its benefactor, Johns Hopkins, an entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist, Johns Hopkins is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It was founded in 1876 and is considered America’s first research university. It is regionally accredited by the Middles States Commission on Higher Education. In 2015, more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in the university’s nine schools and Applied Physics Laboratory. The university offers more than 240 academic programs. 36 Hopkins researchers have earned Nobel Prizes. The school has 11 campuses spread across the world, from Baltimore to Nanjing, China.
Through its Diversity Resource Council, Johns Hopkins provides a variety of resources, positions, and programs specifically by and for women. These include the Women’s Network, the School of Medicine’s Women’s Leadership Council, Society of Women Engineers, and Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society. Beginning in 1989-90, the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality offers an undergraduate minor, research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, and opportunities for graduate students to design and teach a course. The program also offers an undergraduate Seminar/Practicum, which combines “volunteer work in a local social service agency with a seminar that explores the connections between social justice and academic inquiry.”
Established in 1764, Brown University is a private, Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. It is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges established before the American Revolution. It is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2015, Brown had 6,320 undergraduate, 2,230 graduate, and 523 medical students enrolled. The university offers around 2,000 courses in more than 40 academic department and undergraduates are responsible for designing individualized programs of study across multiple departments.
The Sarah Doyle Women’s Center (SDWC) was established in 1974 to “provide a comfortable yet challenging place for students, faculty, and staff to examine the multitude of issues around gender.” It offers program and services for all women in Brown’s community and shares staff and resources with the LGBTQ Center. In additional to a 4,000 volume library and art gallery, the center offers a list of resources including health services, sexual assault counseling and legal aid, and eating disorders. The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program offers a year-long advanced research seminar, conference and lectures, postdoctoral fellowships, and an undergraduate concentration, among other opportunities.
Commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, William Marsh Rice University is a private research university located in Houston, Texas. The university was founded in 1912 and is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In the fall of 2015, Rice had 3,910 undergraduate and 2,809 graduate students and a student to faculty ratio of 6:1. 53% of undergraduate students participate in research while at Rice. It offers more than 50 undergraduate majors across six divisions of study: Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences.
The Vision of the Rice Women’s Resource Center is to “increase awareness of and sensitivity to gender issues in order to build a more supportive, dynamic atmosphere on campus.” This is done through educational and social events and programs such as Consent is Sexy Week, self-defense classes, and the Vagina Monologues. The Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice was established in 2006 and offers an undergraduate major in The Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, a minor in Poverty, Social Justice, and Human Capabilities, a graduate certificate program, a two-year postdoctoral fellowship program, the Feminist Research Group and the Sexuality Studies Working Group. In addition, it houses four different research clusters and the international journal Feminist Economics.
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University is a private research university founded in 1873. It offers undergraduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education, and human development, as well as graduate and professional degrees. For the 2015-16 school year, 6,883 undergraduate and 5,722 graduate and professional students were enrolled. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Vanderbilt offers more than 500 clubs and organizations, 15 sororities, and 19 fraternities. Six Nobel Laureates attended Vanderbilt, including former Vice President Al Gore and Muhammad Yunus.
The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, established in the 1970s, is “affirming space for all members of the Vanderbilt community that acknowledges and actively resists sexism, racism, homophobia, and all forms of oppression while advocating for positive social change.” Programs at the center around three major areas: Gender Matters Programs, such as the Cuninggim Lecture on Women in Culture and Society; Wellness Programs, like Vanderbilt [IM]Perfection Project; and Work, Power, and You Programs, including Work-Life Workshops. Vanderbilt Women’s and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary program offering a major, minor, Honors track, and Graduate Certificate.
Outside Chicago sits Northwestern University (NU), a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851, classes began in 1855 with two faculty members and 10 students. Between the 12 schools and colleges, Northwestern enrolled 8,314 undergraduate and 12,641 graduate students in the fall of 2015. It offers 124 undergraduate and 145 graduate and professional degrees. Northwestern is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2008, NU established a campus in Doha, Qatar, which offers undergraduate degrees in communication and journalism.
The mission of the Women’s Center at Northwestern is “to enhance the academic achievement, career aspiration, and personal development of women at NU and to help build an environment wherein women and men can work productively together.” The center offers programs and events on issues ranging from women’s health, finance, sexuality, and violence against women. The center also provides counseling, outreach to other campus organizations, resources and referrals for students, staff, mothers, faculty, and the LGBTQ community, and women’s leadership and empowerment. The Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) Program at NU offers a major and minor for undergraduate. For graduate students, an Interdisciplinary Graduate Cluster, a Graduate Certification, Graduate Colloquium and Reading group, research and conference funding, teaching assistantships in GSS courses, and seminars are all options.
Founded in 1865 in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is both a private Ivy League university and one of three land-grant universities in the country. As of the fall of 2015, Cornell had 14,315 undergraduate students and 7,589 graduate and professional students across 14 colleges and schools. It is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Cornell has graduated 45 Nobel Laureates. It was one of the first universities in the Northeast to admit women and one of the first to have a Women’s Studies Program.
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is a central hub for Cornell students seeking resources on women’s, gender and, sexuality issues. Resources offered include those on women’s health and sexuality, sexual assault, body image, alcohol and other drugs, and academic support. The WRC sponsors many programs and events, including workshops on finding internships, discussions around campus safety, Love Your Body Day, and The Vagina Monologues. The majors and minors offered by the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Cornell all include courses in three areas: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, the study of intersecting structures of oppression including race, ethnicity, and class, and global perspectives on feminism, gender, and sexuality. It also offers an Honors program.
The University of California, Berkeley, also known simply as UC Berkeley or Berkeley, is part of the University of California system. It is a public research university located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 1868. UC Berkeley is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Enrollment in the fall of 2014 was 27,126 undergraduates and 10,455 graduates across 14 colleges and schools. 73% of undergraduate classes have fewer than 20 students and the student to faculty ratio is 17:1.
The Gender Equity Resource Center, or GenEq, has roots dating back to the 1970s. It is a campus community center for “students, faculty, staff and alumni connect with resources, services, education and leadership programs related to gender and sexuality.” It has programs and services centered around four main areas: Women, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT), and Hate Crimes and Bias Driven Incidents. The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at Berkeley offers, in addition to its research, an undergraduate major, two minors, a graduate program, and, as of the spring of 2016 is in the process of developing a PhD program.
Founded in 1842 by a Catholic French missionary, the University of Notre Dame du Lac, or Notre Dame, is a research university located outside South Bend, Indiana. In the fall of 2014, Notre Dame enrolled 8,551 undergraduates students across its four colleges and School of Architecture, as well as 2,138 graduate and 1,593 professional students. 67 undergraduate bachelor degree programs are offered. It is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
The Gender Relations Center (GRC) “implements programs about healthy relationships, gender and sexuality consistent with the Catholic character of the University.” Its programming covers a range of topics, including competition and perfectionism, gender roles, sexism and stereotyping, sexual assault and harassment, and courtship and marriage. The Gender Studies program at Notre Dame is an interdisciplinary program offering undergraduate primary and supplementary majors and a minor, and a graduate minor, master’s track, and doctoral track, through the context of Catholic identity.
Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university and is accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. The university was founded in 1853. In the fall of 2014, the university had 14,503 students, both undergraduate and graduate, with an 8:1 student to faculty ratio. With over 300 academic programs, three out of four students pursue multiple majors and/or minors. Around 75% of undergraduate students participate in intramural sports, and there are around 320 undergraduate student groups on campus.
From over 350 student groups, the university has several student organizations specifically geared towards women. These include Women in Computer Science, Society of Women Engineers, Association for Women in Science, and the Women’s Panhellenic Association. In addition, the Association of Women Faculty “serves to foster professional and social interactions among women faculty, to defend campus-wide diversity and to advance the interests of women faculty at Washington University in St. Louis.” Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or second major, internships, and graduate certificate for students in MA/PhD programs.
Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1890, the University of Chicago, or UChicago, is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois in the Hyde Park neighborhood near Lake Michigan. In the fall of 2015, 5,724 undergraduate and 9,588 graduate, professional, and other students were enrolled. The University offers 51 majors and 33 minors in the undergraduate college and five divisions and six professional schools for graduate work. Regional accreditation is provided by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
UChicago offers the Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) in order to “promote healthy gender relations through dialogue and education and to work toward the elimination of sexual violence.” RSVP provides information on policies and resources, hosts educational workshops, collaborates with student groups, and trains students to become activists against sexual violence. Founded in 1996, the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality offers an undergraduate major and minor, as well as a Graduate Certificate for PhD students who have completed the required coursework, written a research paper or thesis chapter, and participated in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop. The Center also sponsors workshops, lectures, and symposia and offers several fellowships, and occasionally research support.
Founded in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is the second-oldest of the University of California campuses. Located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, UCLA offers over 125 undergraduate majors, almost 150 graduate programs, and is the most applied-to university in the country. In 2014 undergraduate enrollment was just under 30,000 students. It is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. UCLA has graduated 13 Nobel Laureates and over 140 companies have been created from technology developed at the university.
Established in 1984, UCLA’s Center for Study of Women (CSW) is part of the Division of Social Sciences’ commitment to gender equity and research parity at the university and is the “first organized research unit of its kind in the University of California system.” It administers research grants, organizes research projects and programming, and publishes policy briefs and blogs. The Department of Gender Studies offers an undergraduate major and minor, a Graduate Concentration for graduate students, and a highly selected PhD program.
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819. Often referred to simply as Virginia, the University of Virginia is a public-private flagship and research university. It is made up of eleven schools in Charlottesville, North Carolina, and the College at Wise in Southwest Virginia. In the fall of 2015, 15,669 undergraduate and 6,316 graduate students were enrolled. It is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Academical Village, designed by Jefferson, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center offers a variety of free resources and programs, including Body Positive/Eating Disorders Education, counseling, a legal clinic, and the Men’s Leadership Project. Staff members also teach and mentor students through “learning and leadership opportunities that combine service work or interning with classroom study of gender equity and other social justice issues.” The Center also offers an internship program and publishes Iris Magazine. The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program is an interdisciplinary program offering an undergraduate major, distinguished major, and minor, as well as research and education abroad opportunities.
The oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the United States, Georgetown University, is a private research university in Washington, D.C., founded in 1789. Often referred to as Georgetown, a total of 4 517 undergraduate, graduate, business, medical, and law students were enrolled in the fall of 2014 at the Georgetown campus. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education provides regional accreditation. Georgetown has over 200 co-curricular clubs and organizations. The school’s colors are blue and gray, representing the Union and Confederate sides of the country during the Civil War.
The United Feminists group at Georgetown puts on educational and awareness-raising programming and social events and advocates on behalf of issues relating to women’s rights. It helps promote networking among women’s and gender groups, organizations, and individuals active in the women’s and gender movement. Georgetown College offers a major and minor through the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the School for Foreign Service offers a certificate in the program, which is equivalent to a minor.
Founded as Elon College in 1889, Elon University, established in 2001, is a private liberal arts university located in Elon, North Carolina. The school is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In the fall of 2015, it had 5,903 undergraduate and 728 graduate students, with a student to faculty ratio of 12:1. Elon offers over 60 undergraduate majors and eight graduate programs. 88% of undergraduates participate in volunteer work and 72% study abroad. Elon offers over 200 student organizations.
Sexual and Relationship Violence Awareness and Response at Elon University is “a comprehensive intervention, response and support strategy to address acts of interpersonal violence” coordinated by the Office of Health Promotion, along with the Sexual Assault and Gender Issues Committee (SAGIC). The program offers a survivor-centered response system, which includes a Violence Responder on-call 24/7, an on-campus confidential advocate, and health and counseling services. Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies (WGSS) offers a 20-credit minor as well as elective courses. WGSS also offers programming throughout the year, including a faculty/staff working group for those interested and engaged in WGSS-related scholarship, film/documentary screenings, and speakers.
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington, also known as UW or U-Dub, is a public research university. The school’s main campus is in Seattle, Washington, with campuses in Tacoma and Bothell, Washington. UW is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Across all three campuses, the university had 55,767 students, both undergraduate and graduate/professional, in the fall of 2015. It offers over 1,800 undergraduate courses each quarter across 16 colleges and schools. The UW has more Pell Grant recipients than all Ivy League schools combined.
The University of Washington’s Women’s Center desires to “create a more inclusive and compassionate society by promoting gender equity and social justice through educational programs and services that allow all participants to succeed in life.” Programs include the Alene Moris National Education for Women’s Leadership Institute, the Anti-Human Trafficking Conference, and the Re-Entry Program, which provides assistance to women as they re-enter the academic environment, and in dealing with complex family and financial issues. The Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies offers “graduate and undergraduate programs in feminist studies that are interdisciplinary and relate gender and sexuality to other forms of social difference such as race, class, nationality, and ability.”
Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836, Emory University was named after a bishop with a vision for an American institution that emphasized character development as well as education. Coca-Cola is the official unofficial drink of the campus due to early financial support from the soft drink company in the early 1900s. Today the school is comprised of a 14,000-member student body, enjoys a small student-to-faculty ratio of 8 to 1 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. A quirky fact about Emory lies in the mysterious question “Who is Dooley?” referencing a biology lab skeleton known to be a well-known feature of the school’s science department since 1899.
Featured at Emory University is the Emory Department of Women’s Studies (EDWS) which was established in 1986 under the name of the Institute for Women’s Studies and began by offering a minor in Women’s Studies and the university. The EDWS graduated its first Women’s Studies PhDs in the spring of 1995 and since has graduated over 40. The EDWS “has sought from its inception to connect the study of women and gender with race and class, and not to isolate gender as a single category of analysis.”
The four-year private Tufts University currently has nearly 11,000 students enrolled and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The main campus is located in Medford, Massachusetts, a community of 55,000 located just 3 miles northwest of Boston. Boasting a low student-to-faculty ratio of 9 to 1, over 93% of the student body at Tufts is actively involved in extracurricular activities on the campus; many of which are within the 132 school-supported clubs and organizations. One beloved tradition at Tufts began when PT Barnum donated the stuffed hide of an elephant to the school. Jumbo the elephant stood on the campus for 86 years before being destroyed in a fire in 1975. The ashes currently reside in a peanut butter jar on the desk of the school’s athletic director and are picked up and shaken for good luck by coaches and players.
The Women’s Center at Tufts University was established in 1972 as “a space open to all students interested in topics and issues broadly related to the experience of women and gender; we particularly investigate gender at the intersections of other identities such as race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and citizenship status.” In addition to serving the undergraduates at Tufts, the Women’s Center offers resources, information, planned events, and opportunities directed at faculty and staff, grad students and parents. A student group named SAGE (Students Acting for Gender Equality) was created from the efforts of the Women’s Center. SAGE exists to “educate ourselves on gender and intersectional feminist issues while gaining the skills necessary to productively work towards gender and social justice at Tufts and beyond.”
Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Creighton University is a Jesuit college situated in Omaha, Nebraska, which offers programs ranging from under-a-year certificates to doctor’s degrees in professional practice. The school was established in 1878 with a staff of 5 Jesuits, 2 lay teachers and 120 students. It currently boasts over 8,000 students and in 2015 was named as the 3rd Most Innovative School in the Midwest Region by US News and World Report. In addition to having a higher number of female students than males, Creighton has been recognized for being a top school for military and graduate students.
In 1998 students and faculty of Creighton University came together to form the Eileen B. Lieben Center for Women. “While the Lieben Center is student-centered, it is a welcoming space for all members of the Creighton community and aims to improve the quality of life on campus through programming, education, and empowerment.” One exciting feature of the Lieben Center is the Wareham Program, which offers a 6-week long educational study of the history of women’s leadership, culture and the opportunity to hear from notable women leaders from Creighton and Omaha. The Wareham Program is offered to female sophomore and junior students.
Boasting the title of the first state university in America and the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century, construction for the University of North Carolina began in 1793. UNC is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and currently offers 78 bachelor’s, 113 masters and 68 doctorate degrees for its almost 30,000 member student body. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UNC has one of the most developed study abroad programs which features nearly 30% of its undergraduates study abroad in 325 programs offered in 70 foreign countries.
The mission of the Carolina Women’s Center (CWC) is to “create an inclusive education and work environment where gender is not a barrier to success, difference and diversity are celebrated, and everyone is safe to live, learn, teach, and work without the threat of harm or unequal treatment.” The programs offered by the CWC are divided into three sections: one-time events, ongoing programs and annual programs and events. The CWC offers many opportunities to grow and connect in each area including a program called HAVEN which educates staff and students over matters of sexual assault, stalking, and violence. An annual program offered is Women’s/Gender week which celebrates a unique theme tied to gender equality.
The smaller and private Oberlin University in Oberlin, Ohio consists of less than 3,000 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9 to 1. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the campus lies 35 miles west of Cleveland and is known for its commitment to the arts by hosting over 500 concerts each year and featuring over 230 Steinway grand pianos within its buildings. The school’s academic reach is far and wide as 84% of its student body are out of state. A higher percentage of graduates from Oberlin go on to earn their doctorates than any other school in the nation.
Named in recognition of well-known African American sculptor, Mary Edmonia Lewis, the Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People exists “transform existing systems of oppression based on sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, size, religion, nationality, ethnicity, and language.” The Edmonia Lewis Center offers programs and resources throughout the calendar year as a support for faculty and students in order to create a safe space for acceptance and education. Each one of their programs is based on efforts that are founded in “anti-sexism, anti-classism, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, anti-heterosexism, and anti-transphobia.”
The University of Southern California first opened its doors in 1880 with 10 teachers and just 35 students. The school pre-dates electric lighting, the telephone and paved roads in sunny Los Angeles. The staff has grown to be the largest private employer in the City of Los Angeles and the school boasts a student enrollment of 42,000. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, there are over 230 hours of motion picture film developed by the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. Popular and award-winning filmmakers Ron Howard and Robert Zemeckis are just two of the University of Southern California alumni who studied film there.
The on-campus Center for Women and Men (CWM) is offered to the students and faculty of USC 5 days a week and exists to “facilitate the success of students, faculty and staff by providing innovative opportunities for leadership and scholarship and by offering advocacy and confidential counseling to those who have experienced gender-related harm.” Their hope is to encourage healthy relationships by offering educational programming that prevents abuse of all kinds. The CWM is staffed by a Director, Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Psychologist and assistants.
Mount Holyoke College is a 4-year private women’s college, located in South Hadley, Massachusetts that offers its 2,200 students bachelor’s, post-baccalaureate certificate, and master’s degree programs. High academic standards are a priority at MHC as over half of incoming first-year students graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class. Diversity is also held in high regard for the school as 25% of the student body is comprised of international students while over 25% of domestic students identify themselves as ethnic minorities.
Holyoke College was founded in 1837, nearly 100 years before women gained the right to vote. Being an all-women’s university, Mount Holyoke College has always championed the rights and accomplishments of women in leadership and influence. This is apparent in all of the programs and resources made available through the Weissman Center for Leadership (WCL) located on the MHC campus. The WCL offers a variety of internships, courses, mentoring programs and networking opportunities through programs like Community Based Learning (CBL), Leadership and Public Service (LAPS), Speaking, Arguing and Writing (SAW), and Teaching and Learning Initiatives (TLI).
40 miles west of Detroit lies the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Home to the Wolverines, the school was originally established in Detroit by the name of “Catholepistemiad” in 1817 before being relocated in Ann Arbor in 1837. One of the oldest buildings on the university’s campus is the President’s residence which dates back to the mid 1800’s. Over 42,000 students are enrolled at the school yet they enjoy a low student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Michigan is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and its alumni include such innovators as the first American to walk in space and the co-founder of Google.
The Center for the Education of Women (CEW) at University of Michigan was founded as a pioneering women’s center in 1964 in order to serve women students with a three-prong approach for the priority of “service, advocacy and research.” Two main highlights of the CEW are the CEW Leadership Council and the Professional Development Network. The CEW Leadership Council consists of dedicated volunteers who serve as an advisory board for the Center while the Professional Development Network develops programs like the Women of Color in the Academy Project and the Women of Color Task Force. These groups work fervently within the student body and administration in order to raise awareness and support for women’s rights within school culture and policy.
With over 70 majors, minors and concentrations to choose from, the 5,000 students enrolled at Drake University are presented with as many academic options as they are extracurricular activities as seen by the 160 active student organizations on campus. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, the school receives its accreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Drake Bulldogs compete at the NCAA Division I level and offer the student body excitement on the playing fields while Des Moines offers plenty of activities like kayaking, rock-climbing and skiing in the nearby state and sports parks.
Initiated in January 2016, the Director for Student Engagement, Equity & Inclusion was established at Drake University in an effort to offer programs and support that would cultivate an “inclusive campus climate” among students, faculty and staff. While the program is virtually still in its infancy, there is hope it will continue to be shaped into a quality resource for DU students based on the level of excitement and momentum it has experienced thus far. Some of the programs already underway are mentoring, advocacy, advising and training workshops. These programs are currently volunteer-led with the hope they will develop into paid staff positions in the future.
The University of Florida, located in Gainesville, Florida, is no stranger to receiving national attention as their Gators have won the NCAA Division I national football championship three times, two of which were with quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the most popular college athletes in recent history. Even though UF boasts a whopping 50,000 enrolled student body, the school is able to keep its freshmen engaged and progressing indicated by its 97% retention rating. 66% of University of Florida students graduate with no student loan debt while 10 major corporations ranked UF among the top 10 universities to recruit new hires. With a rich history of traditions that began over 160 years ago, the school is proud of its past and excited about a future that includes generating over 160 startup companies in the past 12 years.
Much of the services provided for women’s well-being and health are run through the University of Florida’s police department and health services as opposed to a traditional women’s resource center or programming. One culturally-relevant feature available to the student body is the Gatorsafe App which is a “mobile safety application that provides students a ‘safety tool box’ to enhance their personal safety.” The department also sponsors the Rape Aggression Defense Program (RAD) designed specifically for women in an effort to educate female students and staff members in matters of “awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance” and empower them with training in hands-on self-defense against an attacker.
Nestled in the city of Claremont, California, just east of Los Angeles, Scripps College is home to just under 1,000 students, 98% of which are undergrads, at this women’s 4-year private school accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Founded in 1926, the mission of the school is to “educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.” The average class size at Scripps is 16 and the students have 50 majors to choose from.
Scripps has streamlined its resources and support to students by forming the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE) which exists to “build a community of people dedicated to enhancing and supporting inclusion at Scripps College and beyond through programming and advising within a social justice framework.” SCORE acts as a hub for information and communication among the various student organizations on campus. They also have a space on campus equipped with a kitchen, living room, and conference room that can be reserved for student use. SCORE offers a three-tier approach to utilizing their services which include the use of their space, participating in SCORE events or applying to work at SCORE in a student’s free time.
The 10,000 students currently enrolled at Case Western Reserve University enjoy a small student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to 1 and have many popular attractions and entertainment options available to them as the campus is conveniently located in the heart of University Circle, an area well-known for places like West Side Market, Playhouse Square and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other live music venues and shopping and dining locations. Established in 1826, the school is located just 5 miles from downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
The Flora Stone Mather Center for Women was named after the most generous benefactress in the school’s history. In fact, CWRU was originally named after her. The Center itself began to get championed in the late 60’s when a fund was created for its development. Today the Center offers many programs for staff and students alike including such Signature Programs as Act III Roundtable: A Drop-in Discussion Group, the Mather Spotlight Series and Women of Achievement Luncheon (bi-annual event), Mather Salon Series, MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support), Lactation Rooms, Women’s History Month and Women of Color Series.
Originally holding classes near New York City’s city hall in lower Manhattan in 1832, New York University was originally located in Clinton Hill. Today, NYU has a student body of 49,000 proud “Violets” and boasts 5.9 million volumes within its 11 libraries throughout campus. The libraries are visited by over 10,000 users per day. Even though New York University employs 4 Nobel and Crafoord Prize Winners and 5 Pulitzer Prize Winners, a smaller student to faculty ratio of 10 to 1 is prioritized. NYU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
In 2015, NYU’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS) celebrated 15 years of facilitating “a broad interdisciplinary investigation of gender and sexuality as keys to understanding human experience.” The CSGS plans and promotes events including seminars, conferences and panel discussions which are “open to the public and provide a vital and lively meeting place where scholars, students, artists, and activists can discuss issues involving gender and sexuality, and their intersections with other social phenomena such as race, religion, nation, class, ability/disability, and ethnicity.”
Mills College is an independent liberal arts school established in 1852 in Oakland, California, just a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Mills offers bachelor’s degrees exclusively to women and a graduate and certification programs for both men and women. The college is ranked at 5th among colleges and universities in the west by the US News & World Report. Ethnic diversity is a hallmark of the school as over 50% of the 876 undergraduates are students of color.
As a college with an undergraduate enrollment comprised of 100% women, Mills has always championed leadership, academic preparedness, and professional support of women. Although the college does not offer a brick and mortar support and resource space for its women’s services, the school has established the virtual Gender and Sexuality Resources page on its website “where students, alumnae/i, staff, and faculty can locate resources and information related to gender and sexuality.” The site includes links to organizations mostly linked to the LGBT community, academic programs the school offers like Women’s Gender and Sexuality, Queer and Ethnic Studies, Religion and Spirituality organizations and on-campus wellness programs.
Home to such beloved traditions and cultural events like the Corps of Cadets, Yell Practice, Aggie Bonfire, Elephant Walk, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and the mascot Reveille, Texas A&M University has an excellent alumni network with many supporters around the globe. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, A&M is located in College Station, Texas and was established in 1876 as the first public institution of higher learning in the state. Today the student body is 60,000 strong and although they are in different conferences, A&M and the University of Texas still foster a healthy rivalry that dates back to 1915.
During the fall of 2001, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) was established on campus in order to “enhance the campus climate for women through visibility, advocacy, support and programming.” The Center advocates for women by educating students, faculty, and staff about women’s issues. It also functions as a resource and referral center. Some of the programs offered are Breastfeeding Welcomed Here Campaign, Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshops, and the Women’s Progress Awards.
Situated in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the College of William and Mary is a unique institution. Chartered by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1693, it is the second oldest institution of higher learning in the nation and yet as a “Public Ivy” school offers a top-tier education utilizing progressive research at a lower-than-expected tuition rate. The almost 8,500 students hail from 49 states in the US and 68 foreign countries. The College of William and Mary offer 40 undergrad programs and manage a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1.
Operating as a unit within the Division of Student Affairs, the Center for Student Diversity (CSD) “strives to foster inclusion, collaboration, and relationship-building within our campus community.” Although the CSD offers programs and resources for a multitude of demographics from racial minorities and the LGBT community to women and minority religious groups, the Center welcomes all people in a spirit of unity and equality. They have an open invitation for all of their events but also highlight their SPAN program for mentoring new students and have work opportunities with paid and volunteer positions available.
Home of the Golden Gophers, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has enjoyed a storied past of athletic success including a stint of five national football champion teams between the years of 1934 and 1941. The University receives its accreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, dates all the way back to 1851 and is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 30,000 undergraduate students are enrolled at the school and have a plentiful choice of programs from over 180 majors. Notable alumni include former vice president Walter Mondale, writer Garrison Keillor and NFL Super Bowl champion coach Tony Dungy.
The Women’s Center at the University of Minnesota operates as an extension of the school’s Office for Equity and Diversity. The Women’s Center mission statement states it “increases connections for women’s success, cultivates socially responsible leaders, and advocates for organizational culture change toward excellence for all.” The Center plans and provides events for students and staff throughout the calendar year in addition to offering scholarships and grants. Students can stay informed of all programs and resources through the e-newsletter produced by the Center.
The University of Delaware can trace its beginnings all the way back to 1743 when Rev. Francis Alison had a desire to open an institution for educating clergy in New London, Pennsylvania. In 1765, the school relocated in Newark, Delaware where it resides today with a student body of over 22,000. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, UD’s official school colors are blue and gold. This choice was no coincidence as Delaware was settled by Swedish colonists. The school mascot is the Fightin’ Blue Hens; a nod to the state’s official bird. The bird is so loved by the school that the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources department breeds and keeps Blue Hen Chickens on campus.
Although the University of Delaware lacks a formal meeting space for women’s issues, they have formed an organization called the Sexual Assault Prevention & Education (SAPE) group which administers programming and makes resources available for both staff and students of UD. Recent highlighted events include speaker series entitled “Yes Means Yes: Battling Rape Culture and Moving Towards a Positive Sexuality” and “Sex(ism), Identity, and Intimacy in a Pornographic Culture.” SAPE is led by a committee of students, staff and volunteers who create programs that prevent gender-based violence and educate the campus community about issues of gender inequality.
Referring to itself as a Lasallian college, the Catholic St. Mary’s College of California “holds that students are given to its care by God and that teachers grow spiritually and personally when their work is motivated by faith and zeal.” With a student body of 4,000 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1, SMC is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The beautiful and historic campus sits just 23 miles to the east of San Francisco in Moraga, CA. The school has been recognized by several organizations for having stellar study abroad programs, quality of education and value of education.
Located on the campus of Saint Mary’s College and open every weekday, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is well-staffed with positions like a Director of Sexual Assault Prevention, Director of Women’s Resources and a Body Positive Coordinator among others. The Center coordinates many events and programs on the school campus that have a high visibility for the student body at large. The mission statement for the WRC states they are “dedicated to creating a campus environment that empowers women and men to envision and engage in a life that maximizes their academic, personal, and spiritual growth.”
While students of all faiths are welcome at the private College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, Minnesota, it is noteworthy that 54% of the 2,000 students identify themselves as being members of the Catholic church. Over 60 fields of study (37 majors and 40 minor programs) are offered at the liberal arts institution that is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. CSB enjoys a high retention rate as 80% of students go onto graduate; 90% of them within 4 years. The school prides itself on being well-connected in technology by having all of its residence halls equipped with high-speed internet access and Wi-Fi throughout the entire campus.
The Sister Hynes Institute for Women’s Leadership began to be constructed on the CSB campus in 2004 and was dedicated to Dr. Sister Nancy Hynes in the fall of 2007. Unlike many campuses featuring staff-directed women’s centers, the Institute for Women’s Leadership is led by a student intern. “Guided by a dynamic advisory board made up of faculty and administrative staff, students are ultimately in charge of the direction that the Institute takes throughout the year—what programs are put on, what themes programs center on, and how to further advance the Institute and its role on campus.” The Institute is open for advisement and support each weekday afternoon.
Located in the epicenter of the nation’s capital is George Washington University, comprised of 25,000 students partaking in everything from associate’s degree programs to doctorates in professional practice. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, GWU was originally established as an act of Congress in 1821. The school is proud to have students from every state in the US enrolled and offer the opportunity to excel in academia just 4 blocks away from the White House. GWU seeks to “provide an environment where knowledge is created and acquired and where creative endeavors seek to enrich the experiences of the global society.”
George Washington University launched the Global Women’s Institute in 2012 as a “university-wide initiative to advance gender equality through interdisciplinary research, education, and policy and outreach.” Working in tandem with GWU’s Women’s Study Programs, the Institute desires to be a catalyst for change and development in women’s issues by coordinating with international and global organizations. Their programs and support networks are in place in order to help women at the local level as well as influencing policies and economies in foreign nations. Being planted in the economic and political center of the country, the Institute boasts an impressive list of events and speakers on a yearly basis.
The 2,000 students enrolled at the small 4-year exclusively undergraduate Spelman College experience a smaller student-to-faculty ratio of only 10 to 1 while no doubt also enjoying the amenities within the context of a larger southern city like Atlanta, Georgia. Originally founded as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in 1881 and currently accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Spelman was ranked as a top 10 women’s college in 2015 by BestColleges.com. The most popular programs at Spelman are Biological and Biomedical Sciences, English, Physical Science, Psychology and Social Sciences.
After being awarded a grant in 1981, Spelman began construction of what became the Women’s Research and Resource Center (WRRC). The purpose of the WRRC is to “provide an academic unit of the College that focused on curriculum development in Women’s Studies, research by and about women of African descent, and community outreach.” Spelman was a trailblazer in women’s issues as the Center was the first to offer a women’s studies major and the first research center at a historically Black college. The WRRC holds regular events, which highlight and advocate for women’s rights and leadership within the context of culture, business, and leadership.
Receiving its accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Southern Methodist University is located in the large metropolitan city of Dallas, Texas. SMU is home to the Mustangs and over 11,000 students; almost 7,000 of which are undergraduates. Originally founded in 1911 by what is now known as the United Methodist Church, the school describes itself as “nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry.” The school’s 9 libraries house the largest private collections of research materials in the Southwest. In addition to other accolades, US News and World Report put Southern Methodist in the top quarter of their “best national universities” in 2015.
In order to give a “voice for women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, with purpose to eliminate barriers, diminish prejudices, and create a supportive climate and space for all,” SMU organized the Women and LGBT Center on their campus as a support and resource center for their students and staff. Although there are regular events held and highlighted through the Women and LGBT Center, it is a greater priority for the organization to offer itself at the more casual and familiar level by holding regularly accessible hours and creating a space for conversations, study and relaxation to take place. One course offered through the Women and LGBT Center is “Discovery: Fitting Into a World of Difference.”
Founded in 1846, the University of Buffalo has a larger student body of almost 30,000 students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school offers over 100 undergraduate degrees, 205 masters and 84 doctoral programs. Located in the city of Buffalo, New York, the school is planted in what’s called the Buffalo Niagara region that advertises affordable living, a four-season climate and a family-friendly community with plenty of activities in an active culture. Named by Times Higher Education as “one of the world’s best universities,” Kiplinger called UB one of the Best Values in public higher education.
In 2017, the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender will celebrate 20 years of serving the staff and students at the University of Buffalo. The Center’s main priority is to provide research and education relevant to the needs of women and the LGBTQ community. Each year the Institute awards scholarships, grants and achievement awards to those who advocate and lead out in women’s and equality issues. Some of the flagship programs offered at the Center include Black/Women’s History Matters, Feminist Research Alliance, and Gender Across Borders.
Home of the Golden Hurricanes, the University of Tulsa has a winning tradition in softball with 8 appearances in the NCAA Championship series. The story of TU began in 1882 when the school was known as Henry Kendall College. Today there is a student body of just over 4,500 on the 200-acre campus and the university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Though known for several well-established and long-standing traditions, none are as fun as the Toilet Bowl celebrated each spring as a flag football game by residents of John Mabee Hall (aka “The John”).
First formed in the 1980’s, the Advocacy Alliance is an “interdisciplinary, interdepartmental committee, which seeks to prevent and intervene with interpersonal violence on The University of Tulsa’s campus.” The Alliance is comprised of representatives from various other school organizations in an effort to promote healthy relationships and to stop violence in its various forms campus-wide. Events held throughout the calendar year include Student Leader trainings, New Student Orientation programming on sexual violence prevention, and required online courses for all students related to sexual violence prevention and education.
In the 1970s when the first few women's studies program formed in colleges and universities across the nation, faculty members had to write their own textbooks and develop wholly new curricula. They basically created a whole new pedagogy. Since then, as the second wave and third waves of feminism brought greater visibility to gender inequity, these women's studies programs have grown, solidified, and have become an irreplaceable facet of a liberal arts education. Below we have reasons why you should consider a major or minor in women's studies, what the best undergraduate programs in the nation are, and what to do after you graduate with the degree.
Five Reasons to Get a Degree in Women's Studies
It's culturally relevant
See our section on STEM for the sad statistics on women's inequality in the workplace, which is only one sector of a woman's life where she experiences discrimination. Currently, our country has laid out very serious battlegrounds over women's reproductive health; trans women are fighting to use the right public bathrooms; female business and political leaders are called bossy, shrill, and even told to smile more. A degree in women's studies arms you to take on any and all exhibitions of inequality, making you an advocate wherever you are, since the fight takes place everywhere.
It's expansive and inclusive
When you become a women's studies major you are not only signing up for classes on feminism and gender theory, but most schools suffuse their curriculum with courses covering race, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and other categories of identities. Additionally, women's studies has historically been marked by its intersectional and global approach to theory and analysis. Women's studies programs encourage students to think independently and critically while simultaneously promoting collaboration across perceived boundaries.
Becoming a women's studies major means you'll get to enroll in a range of classes. You'll have courses on literature, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, biology, politics, and more. Oftentimes you can even design the major yourself, cross-listing it with other concentrations and minors that are of interest. This breadth of academic experience not only benefits you during college, but will prepare you for an assortment of career opportunities. The degree can be applied to innumerable fields, from politics to healthcare, accounting to counseling, and much more.
You'll work closely with diverse faculty
Not only are women's studies classes typically small, intimate, and discussion based, but mentorship plays a principal role in the relationship between women's studies students and faculty. Because many programs are interdisciplinary, students work closely with faculty advisors to develop and implement their course of study. Additionally, due to the nature of cross-listing disciplines within the major, the faculty members usually boast a breadth of background experience and expertise. In addition to working closely with women's studies scholars, you'll also get to work with scholars of literature, culture, history, psychology, and philosophy, among others.
It's extremely marketable
Women's studies students develop many beneficial occupational skills that will serve them for a long time post graduation: they gain the ability to think critically, creatively, and with the goal of problem-solving; they develop highly effective writing skills, since so much of the degree program is based on compelling written communication; women's studies students also cultivate strong research proficiencies, leadership qualities, and a deep understanding of diversity, its intersections and complications. All of these skills make for an excellent job candidate, whatever the position.
The 50 Best Undergraduate Women's Studies Programs
The following fifty colleges and universities vary in student population, environment and location, academic emphasis, political engagement, social involvement, and more, but they all share one thing in common: they offer the best Bachelor in Arts in Women's Studies programs. While some programs combine Women's Studies with gender and sexuality studies, they each introduce students to the cultural, political, and historical considerations of gender and then ask students to draw out the critical, intersectional, and transnational implications. Many of the programs also bring into question the relationship of race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and more, encouraging students to investigate and develop unique concentrations in the broader field of gender.
Methodology: Here at College Choice we've collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average financial aid packages of women's studies programs across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation's fifty best undergraduate programs. We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates-a reflection of student satisfaction-and those with the most economical accessibility, to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges' websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
OverviewOne of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Learning.FeaturesAt Harvard you can major in most fields, including pre-med, and concentrate in Women and Gender Studies (WGS). The WGS concentration is often ranked first in concentration satisfaction among seniors. It has earned this reputation for many reasons:
Most courses operate as seminars with small, intimate classes
Each year, a graduating WGS student receives the Jane C. Grant Senior Prize
Classes can be tailored to meet your career and personal interests
NotablesHarvard’s alumni is made up of over 150 Nobel laureates, over a dozen Field Medalists, hundreds of Rhodes and Marshall Scholars, and much more. It is, of course, top ranked nationally and globally. But what is less known is that Harvard’s large endowment permits generous financial aid packages; the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $44,430.
OverviewYale University has about 12,000 total students, evenly divided among undergraduate and graduate programs. Yale consists of 14 constituent schools, and provides more than 2,000 classes annually.Yale is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools.FeaturesStudents at Yale can receive a B.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a program with dual, partnering focuses: to cultivate analytic skills and to promote broad knowledge of the conversations and themes that mark women, gender, and sexuality studies. The curriculum covers everything from gender in a transnational world to the evolutionary biology of women’s reproduction. Yale brings not just an intersectional and interdisciplinary perspective to gender studies, like most programs, but also uniquely emphasizes four key issues about gender:
Its historical baggage
Contemporary issues and ideas
Representational conflicts and questions
NotablesYale has graduated a number of notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents as well as Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Rhodes Scholars, U.S. Supreme Justices, and more. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, Yale offers the options of a big, public research school with the intimacy of a small liberal arts school.
OverviewPomona College is the founding member of the Claremont College system, which is a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools in Claremont, California. Just under 2,000 students attend the College. Pomona is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesThe Gender and Women Studies major at Pomona consists of four core gender courses, two feminist theory courses, one ethnic studies course, and a senior thesis. The curriculum is decidedly intersectional, and its students, upon graduation, will be able to engage gender theory, perform critical analysis, and generate new research. Majors can also choose to focus on the theoretical, or to engage in interdisciplinary studies with a joint discipline, which includes:
Technology, and much more
NotablesPomona is not just one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation, but Forbes often ranks it first among all undergraduate colleges and universities. With an emphasis on sustainability, Pomona runs an organic farm and a center for community partnerships
OverviewAmherst College is located in Amherst, Massachusetts.Amherst College ranks as one of the best schools in our country by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and The Princeton Review. Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesSWAGS—Sexuality, Women’s, and Gender Studies—promotes an inquiry into the material, cultural, and political lives of women while also investigating gender’s intersection with race, class, and nation. Courses are taught by faculty who specialize in medicine, literature, politics, history, classics, anthropology, film, and rhetoric. Classes cover a range of topics, such as:
Black Feminist Literary Traditions
And much more
NotablesAmherst deviates from some of the other liberal arts colleges on our list in that students at Amherst enroll in the open curriculum program, meaning they are not required to fulfill any distribution requirements and are even given the option to design their own interdisciplinary major. It also means freshmen may take advanced courses and seniors may take intro classes.
OverviewWilliams College is a small liberal arts college with approximately 2,000 undergraduates. It is comprised of three academic divisions in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. And Williams College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesThe Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Williams is over thirty years old and emphasizes the intersectionality of sexuality, gender, class, race, ability, nationality, and other identifications. Examples of classes WGSS students can anticipate at Williams includes:
Caribbean Women Writers
Body Politics, and more
NotablesTop ranked by both U.S. News & World Report and Forbes. It models its pedagogy after the tutorial systems at Oxford and Cambridge’s small mentoring groups. So it comes as no surprise that Williams boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1.
OverviewThe history of Swarthmore College can attest to its longstanding advocacy for women’s rights. Not only was it one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the country, but also many of its founders were leaders in the women’s rights movements, as well as abolitionist and other social movements in the nineteenth century and beyond. It is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesAt Swarthmore, the Gender and Sexuality Studies program infuses global perspectives into gender issues, emphasizing the interrelationships between gender, race, class, sexuality, and politics. The objective of the program, as stated by the Swarthmore, is to “bring feminist and queer theory in conversation with new research methodologies in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.” This is clear in the curriculum. Courses offered include:
Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Islam
Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement, and much more
NotablesSwarthmore is often called one of the “Little Ivies,” which reflects the stellar reputation of the school. Swarthmore also has an academic reputation for being one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation. It is nationally and globally ranked by a range of sources, including College Choice.
OverviewMiddlebury College is also one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the U.S. Their student population (of around 2,500) represents all 50 states and 74 countries. The College’s calendar follows a 4–1–4 schedule: two four-course semesters plus a one-course January term. Middlebury is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesWith a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary methodology and intersectional perspective, the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies program at Middlebury brings together classes on social science, natural science, theory, national and transnational contexts, and more. Students have wide-ranging opportunities, including:
Become Student Advisory Council representatives
Win the the Alison G. Fraker and Drue Cortell Gensler prizes, which are solely for students in the department
NotablesKnown not only for their academic reputation, Middlebury was the first American institution of higher learning to grant a bachelor’s degree to an African American, in 1823. It is ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts college as well as one of the most selective.
OverviewBowdoin College is located in Brunswick. It is a small liberal arts college that enrolls under 2,000 students. In addition to the Brunswick campus, Bowdoin owns a 200-acre scientific field station and a 118-acre coastal studies center. Bowdoin is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesThe Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program at Bowdoin explores gender as a cultural construct and how that construct has been implemented to maintain unequal and oppressive power structures. The faculty and staff who comprise the department represent a range of expertise and their corresponding courses similarly represent that diversity of experience. GSWS students can take classes in which gender intersects with topics such as:
Media and gaming
NotablesBowdoin has been called both a “New Ivy” and a “Hidden Ivy,” as it has a renowned academic reputation. It consistently well-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly. And it is home to a number of notable alums, including Alfred Kinsey.
OverviewWellesley College is a member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges. It is a private, women’s, liberal arts college organized into more than 50 departmental and interdepartmental majors. Wellesley is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesWellesley College has been on the forefront of women’s equality, representation, and rights for most of its history. It is home to the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), one of the largest gender-focused research organizations in the United States and a member of the National Council for Research on Women. The Women’s and Gender Studies program further solidifies the college’s commitment to critical cultural analysis of gender at all its crossroads. Graduates from the program have gone on to work in an array of fields, including though not limited to:
Filmmaking, and such much more
NotablesWellesley is especially known for allowing students to cross-register at MIT, Brandeis University, Babson College, and Olin College. Consistently well-ranked, Wellesley is home to a number of notable alumni, including Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright.
OverviewVanderbilt University is located in Nashville, Tennessee. Undergrads at Vanderbilt, of which there are approximately 6,800, choose from 70 majors or they can create their own through their interdisciplinary program. Vanderbilt is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.FeaturesThe Women’s and Gender Studies courses at Vanderbilt are offered in an array of academic settings; classes are held as seminars, specialized lectures, discussions, topic courses, and independent studies. The diversity of methodology reflects Vanderbilt’s emphasis on the complexity of the subject, and it encourages their WGS students (who can choose to either major or minor in WGS studies) to also implement various methods of research with the goal of cultivating a comprehensive, interdisciplinary perspective on gender.NotablesVanderbilt University represents students from all 50 states and from over ninety countries and is home to several research facilities, including the Dyer Observatory, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, and more. Annually well-ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly, Vanderbilt provides the academic opportunities of a large public university at a fraction of its scale.
OverviewLocated in rural Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League university. Get ready to get involved! Students are very active in athletics (approximately 25 percent of students) and the Greek system (approximately 60 percent), as well as a number of other social organizations and traditions. Dartmouth is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesAt Dartmouth students can major or minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, or they can modify the major, combining WGS Studies with courses specific to another discipline and personally designing their program of study. WGS courses at Dartmouth reflect a range of topics, from contemporary issues in feminism to gender in literature. The curriculum also includes perspectives on:
Sociological approaches to gender
Urban influences, and more
NotablesDartmouth makes all the national and global rankings, from U.S. News & World Report to Washington Monthly, Forbes, and Times Higher Education. Student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1 and there are 4,200 enrolled undergrads at Dartmouth College.
OverviewHaverford College is located just ten miles from Philadelphia in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Nearly all students live on campus, which is classified as an arboretum. Haverford is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesThe Gender and Sexuality Program at Haverford is located in the nexus of the college’s relationship with Bryn Mawr College; students take classes at both Haverford and Bryn Mawr, choosing between a minor, a concentration, or the independent major. Courses are a confluence of perspectives from literature, anthropology, political science, media, history, and cultural analysis. Throughout the year the department hosts a number of events, such as:
Social justice-oriented projects
NotablesPart of the Tri-College Consortium, students at Haverford are also allowed to register for courses at both Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore, as well as at the University of Pennsylvania through the college’s membership in the Quaker Consortium. Haverford boasts dozens of Fulbright Scholars, Guggenheim Fellows, MacArthur Fellows, Nobel Prize winners, and more.
OverviewJohns Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland, was founded in the late nineteenth century by philanthropist and abolitionist, Johns Hopkins. Today it offers hundreds of degree opportunities. Johns Hopkins is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesThough many of the schools on our list offer a full major in WGS studies, Johns Hopkins provides only a minor through their Women, Gender, and Sexuality department. However, the minor works in tandem with an internship through the JHU Center for Social Concern and the WGS department offers winter and summer-term research grants for students, culminating in a public presentation on the research, making the minor still very exhaustive. Classes include:
Feminist and Queer Theory
Gender and Sexuality Beyond the Global West
Poetics and Politics of Sex
Health, Medicine, Gender, and Sexuality
NotablesThroughout its history the university has consistently ranked among the best in the country for its research and academics, and has proven its commitment to issues of social justice and change, including its battle for women’s rights led by daughters of the university’s trustees.
OverviewThe University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia. It is home to undergraduate population of approximately 10,000. Penn is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesStudents at Penn have four options for taking courses in the Gender, Sexuality, Women’s Studies program: enroll in individual courses for elective credit, choose to major or minor, double major, or take part in the dual degree program. Each year a senior is eligible to win the Smith-Rosenberg Prize (named after Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, a founder of the program) for his or her thesis paper in the field of Women’s Studies. There are also four ways to specialize:
Global Gender and Sexuality Studies
Health and Disability
NotablesPenn is widely known for its extensive research endeavors and its community outreach and public service programs. With an acceptance rate of 9 percent, Penn is highly competitive and emphasizes interdisciplinary education, which it operates through its research centers, double degree programs, and its unified campus (that is, students can take classes from any of Penn’s schools).
OverviewVassar College is a small liberal arts school located in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was founded as a women’s college in the mid-nineteenth century but become coeducational in the 1960s. Vassar is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesVassar’s Women’s Studies program investigates the lives and experiences of women in political, social, and historical dimensions, as well as the intersections between gender and other identities. Students work closely with an advisor to plan and execute a course of study. Classes include:
Women in Greek and Roman History and Myth
Arab Women Writers
Transnational Perspectives on Women and Work
Bio-Politics of Breast Cancer, and much more
NotablesVassar offers more than fifty majors but also implements a flexible curriculum that promotes breadth and tractability among the departments. Considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is highly competitive with its acceptance rate of 25.7 percent.
OverviewA private university located in Stanford, California, Stanford has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 7,000 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1. There are over 650 different student organizations and dozens of varsity and intramural sports opportunities. Stanford is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesThe Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program is equally as renowned as the larger university. Offering a major, secondary major, a minor, and an interdisciplinary honors program, Stanford also sets itself apart in that they encourage and support an artistic collaboration with theory, allowing students to produce a creative thesis. Because the program is interdisciplinary, only two courses and a practicum are required, leaving the rest of the course load to be designed by the student:
Introduction to Feminist Studies
Feminist Theories and Methods
Seminar and Practicum
NotablesOne of the most prestigious universities in the world, Stanford makes a number of ranks, from the standard national and global academic measures published by U.S News & World Report to Princeton Review’s ranking: first among dream colleges, for both students and parents. Faculty and alumni are comprised of Nobel Prize laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, Turing Award winners, and much more.
OverviewCarleton College has around 2,000 undergraduates, about average for a liberal arts school the size of Carleton. Though the college offers forty majors, the student-to-faculty ration is 9:1, and there are nearly 240 active student organizations. Carleton is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesCarleton College presents students with the opportunity to either major in Women’s and Gender Studies or to combine it as a concentration with another academic discipline. Students who choose to major in WGS are required to do a senior comprehensive project managed by advisors from two different disciplines. The goal of the project is to build on the skills and passions one has cultivated throughout his or her time at Carleton and in the WGS department. Multiple departments at Carleton have come together to create courses focused on women and/or gender, including:
Asian Languages and Literatures
Anthropology, and more
NotablesAmong its many accolades and awards, Carleton College is one of the largest sources of undergraduate students pursuing doctorates. It was also recently designated as a “Top Producer of Fulbright Awards.” Carleton is a top-ranked liberal arts school
OverviewHamilton College of Clinton, New York offers bachelor of arts degrees in over 50 areas of concentration. Though the College is known for its open curriculum, meaning students are free to create their own course design. Hamilton is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesCombining historical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to the study of gender, Women’s Studies at Hamilton provides an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective. With equal emphasis on creativity and research, Hamilton allows seniors to pursue a semester-long project that takes either the form of a written thesis or a creative performance. Though students work independently on their senior project, they work closely with one or more faculty members in a mentoring relationship. Hamilton graduates have gone on to become:
Teachers and professors
Mental health counselors, and more.
NotablesWith an undergrad enrollment of fewer than 2,000 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, nearly three quarters of classes at Hamilton have fewer than twenty students in them. This has made the academic experience intimate and intentional at Hamilton. The College is nationally ranked as a whole and across several academic areas.
OverviewA member of the Claremont Colleges, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) is an independent, private liberal arts college. It has a renowned curricular emphasis on the social sciences, specifically public affairs, economics, international relations, psychology, and government. Claremont is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.FeaturesClaremont McKenna College’s gender studies program is offered through the Intercollegiate Feminist Center for Teaching, Research, and Engagement of the Claremont Colleges. Students who choose to major in either Gender and Women’s Studies or Gender and Feminist Studies will take classes through other Claremont schools; however, the major is still specifically designed to augment the CMC curriculum with its focus on leadership in business and public affairs. Courses include:
Women and the Law
Women and Politics in America
U.S. Gay and Lesbian History
NotablesCMC offers a range of multi-disciplinary majors that bring together humanities with the sciences. And nearly half of undergraduates study abroad or participate in one of the two domestic study programs in Washington D.C. or Silicon Valley. With low acceptance rates and positive rankings, CMC is highly competitive; less than 10 percent of applicants are accepted.
OverviewThe University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana is home to over 8,000 undergraduates. Though it is a Catholic affiliated University, a diversity of students currently attend. Notre Dame is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesThrough the Gender Studies major (and minor) at Notre Dame, students will learn about the social construction of gender; intersectionality among race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interlocking oppression; gender experience across nations, cultures, time, class, etc.; privilege; and women’s contributions to history, culture, and politics. Notre Dame provides an array of experiences to its students, including:
Internship and research grants
NotablesConsistently ranked among the top 20 universities in the country, Notre Dame is known for its extensive research enterprises and its successful athletic teams. It also makes numerous rankings from Higher Education Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and more, notably for its Law School, MBA program, architecture program, and its high-participating study abroad program.
OverviewColgate University is a private liberal arts college located in Hamilton Village, New York. It offers over 50 undergraduate concentrations to its nearly 3,000 students. Colgate is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesColgate University has made a point to enact theory into college daily living. Colgate offers both a major and minor in Women’s Studies that is interdisciplinary, promoting analytic and critical thinking in addition to social action and justice. The Women’s Studies department has aimed to make the campus a safe place by:
Facilitating a weekly reading group
Offering teaching resources on sexual violence
Raising awareness on sexual violence and the intersectional dimensions of power and violence
NotablesColgate has been named one of America’s “New Ivies” by Newsweek andas having one of the most beautiful campuses, as stated by The Princeton Review. In addition to these accolades, Colgate has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. It also boasts a 90 percent retention and graduation rate among undergraduates.
OverviewA private, independent women’s liberal arts college, Smith College is a member of the Five Colleges consortium, a partnership between institutions that allows students to attend classes at the other schools (Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst). Smith is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesStudents in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender examine the experiences, ideologies, and actions of women throughout histories, cultures, political contexts, and nations. Women and Gender students are also able to apply for a number of grants, fellowships, and prizes. Additionally, students are encouraged to choose a thematic foci and are given six options:
Women, race, and culture
Forms of literary and artistic expression
Forms of political, social, economic thought, and more
NotablesSmith College emphasizes camaraderie among its students. For example, it promotes resident life, community connections, and involvement in social organizations. At Smith there are no typical dorms; instead students live in thirty-six separate houses.
OverviewBrown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island. It is an Ivy League research university with an undergrad enrollment of 6,300. In 1981 the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women was established, which manages various archives and collections on women and feminist history and publishes differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies three times a year. Brown is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesBrown University’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program heavily emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, in both its curricular structure and intellectual framing. Students are asked to focus on a defined topic and collaborate closely with an advisor to develop their trajectory of study. Typical topics include:
Gender, sexuality, and race in American politics
The construction of identities
Contrasts between divergent cultural understandings, and more.
NotablesIn addition to its consistently strong rankings, Brown has produced a number of Nobel Prize winners, Rhode Scholars, and National Humanities medalists among many others. Brown has one of the most competitive admissions rates on our list, with an 8.7 percent acceptance rate and a retention rate of 97.5 percent.
OverviewNorthwestern University is located in Chicago, Illinois and is considered one of the best schools in the Midwest, but also nationwide. Offering over 120 undergraduate degrees, Northwestern enrolls more 8,000 undergraduates. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesStudents can either major or minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University, taking classes that emphasize feminist, queer, trans, and other ways of knowing that are specific to gender and sex. Northwestern provides a number of awards and prizes to eligible students, rewarding both the leadership and academic acumen of its recipients. These prizes have solidified the careers of graduates, who have gone on to secure work in a range of fields, including:
Journalism, and more
NotablesNorthwestern has garnered national and global rankings consistently for years. Included among its many accolades it is listed as one of the top 10 universities for sustainability. Further, the student population is active in both its off-campus community and residential community; in addition to standard dorms, students can opt to live with others who share the same interests (e.g., there are dorms for arts, science and engineering, commerce, etc.).
OverviewKnown for its applied science programs, and ranked first in the world for its material sciences research, Rice University is a private research university located in Houston, Texas. There are just under 4,000 undergraduates enrolled in the 11 residential colleges. Rice University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesThe Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (CSWGS) was established at Rice in 1991 and in the past year became one of only two divisions at the university to pilot a program called Communication in the Disciplines, a project that promotes written, oral, and visual communication skills among its students. The CSWGS major includes a curriculum covering theory, history, and analysis of gender and its intersections as well as a practicum. The practicum allows students to bring theory into practice through work with a local non-profit. Classes include:
Introduction to Feminist Philosophy
Sociology of Gender
Disability and Gender Bodies
NotablesOver 90 percent of classes at Rice have less than fifty students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is notably low at 6:1. Among many sources and publications, including yours truly, Rice is nationally ranked. Indeed, it is often considered among the top 20 best schools in the nation.
OverviewColby College is a small liberal arts college located in Waterville, Maine. With just under 2,000 enrolled undergraduates, Colby offers 54 majors. Colby College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesThe Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Colby dates back to the 1970s when the first courses on Women’s Studies were offered. Then in the 1980s, due to the petitioning from students, Women’s Studies became an official major, the first of its kind in Maine. Students are trained to think “independently, courageously, and boldly” about the world and its intersections, especially about the ways gender is culturally constructed. Classes include:
Gender and Film
Women in Myth and Fairytale
Queer Identity and Politics
Gender and Human Rights
NotablesFounded in 1813, Colby was the first all-male college in New England to accept female students. It is also known for its commitments to green education. Colby’s has proven this through its policies, initiatives, and by achieving campus carbon neutrality.
OverviewEmory University is located in Atlanta, Georgia and enrolls approximately 7,600 undergraduates. Despite the size and scope of the school, classes are notably small, over half having fewer than 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1. Emory is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesHome to one of the best Women’s Studies PhD programs in the world, Emory also offers an undergraduate major and minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Students take four core courses (see below) and then cross-list the rest of the curriculum with courses in other disciplines. Electives cover global perspectives, race and ethnicity, bodies and health, culture, the arts, religion, and more; plus, Emory WGSS students are eligible for study abroad opportunities.
Introduction to Women’s Studies
Introduction to Studies in Sexualities
Contemporary Feminist Theory
NotablesEmory receives accolades for its scientific performances, endowments, and for being one of the best colleges for veterans. It is globally and nationally ranked. And it is known for its elite hospitals, healthcare system, Cancer Institute, and many research and cultural centers.
OverviewThe Berkeley campus within the wider University of California System is world-renowned. It is known for its research centers, its top-ranked academic programs, and much more. Berkeley offers over 100 bachelor’s degrees across many colleges and schools.FeaturesBerkeley offers both an undergraduate major and minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. GWS students take a combination of feminism, transnational identities, theory, and research classes plus electives that cover sexuality, religion, queer identities, and race among others. They can also participate in:
Study abroad programming
Funded research projects
NotablesBerkeley’s renowned reputation is reflected in the hundreds of Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals, Turing Awards, MacArthur Fellowships, and Pulitzer Prizes won by Berkeley faculty, alumni, and researchers. And, of course, the university has a long history of student activism, from environmental to political protests, demonstrating the engaged ethos of the campus
OverviewMacalester College is a private liberal arts college located in St. Paul, Minnesota. It heavily endorses off-campus study through its international and intercultural study abroad programs, and eleven departments even require it. Macalester is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesThe Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at Macalester reflects many of the values of the school: for example, students can study abroad in Mexico for the “Gender and Social Change in Mesoamerica” project or in Mali for the “Gender, Health, and Development” project. The WGSS department also facilitates internships at several dozen different local and national organizations, and they host a Feminisms Today Speaker Series throughout the year. Classes include:
Feminist Sex Wars
Gender and Sport
Women, Health, and Reproduction
Latin America through Women’s Eyes
NotablesMacalester College is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best liberal arts in the country, as well as among the best valued and proffering the best undergraduate teaching at a national liberal arts college. Macalester also emphasizes civic engagement—50 percent of students volunteer every semester, and there are over 100 student clubs and organizations on campus—and is also widely recognized as one of the most LGBTQ friendly colleges in the country.
OverviewGeorgetown University is a private research university founded in 1789. It is located in the historic Washington D.C. neighborhood of the same name, comprised of nine undergraduate and graduate schools, and enrolls approximately 7,000 undergrad students. Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesIn addition to offering a major and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS), students at Georgetown who are enrolled in the School for Foreign Studies can augment their education with a WGS certificate, which holds the same weight as a minor. Whichever route a student takes, Georgetown’s program includes an emphasis on the exploration of multi-race and cross-cultural perspective. The core curriculum is comprised of issues covering:
Labor and class
The politics of sexuality
Gendered analysis on the sciences
The history of gender roles and performances
NotablesGeorgetown is an elite research university that boasts global and national rankings. It brings in students from across all states and more than 130 foreign countries. Admissions to Georgetown are highly selective with an acceptance rate of 17.4 percent and the average freshman retention rate is 96 percent.
OverviewThe University of California in Los Angeles is one of the nation’s best and brightest schools. There are five undergraduate colleges, though the most popular majors (Social Sciences, Literature, and History) fall under the College of Letters and Science. UCLA is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesWith an emphasis on analytic writing skills and qualitative research methodology, UCLA’s Gender Studies Department offers a major and minor to the undergraduates in the College of Letters and Sciences (though students in other schools may petition). UCLA offers a number of awards and prizes to its Gender Studies students, including research project assistance and community engagement grants. Courses range from history to culture with specific classes on:
African American Women’s History
Gender in Popular Culture, and more
NotablesUCLA boasts one of the largest undergraduate populations on our list with approximately 30,000 enrolled students. It receives high rankings across a number of categories—academic, athletic, social mobility, resources, faculty, and more—and on both national and global scales.
OverviewThe University of North Carolina is one of the oldest public universities in the U.S. Through 14 colleges, including both the professional schools and the College of Arts and Sciences, students can choose from over 70 courses of study. This flagship university is based in Chapel Hill.FeaturesThe University of North Carolina’s Department of Women’s Studies offers both an undergraduate major and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Outside of the classroom the department has applied special efforts to foster extracurricular engagement; their long-standing internship program facilitates opportunities between students and local organizations and their ongoing lecture and discussion series brings together community members and UNC students and faculty. Classes include:
World Literature by Women
Introduction to Sexuality Studies
Women in Contemporary Art
NotablesUNC is one of the country’s few “Public Ivy” schools. Meaning, it is a school that provides an Ivy League experience at a public college price. Not surprising then, admissions is highly selective, especially for out-of-state students. State law requires that at least 82 percent of the freshman class is made up of in-state students.
OverviewThe oldest private college in Ohio, Kenyon College is a liberal arts school with numerous strong rankings from a diverse range of sources, including College Choice. It is designated as being among the “New Ivies.” Kenyon College is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesDistinguished by its innovative pedagogy, Women and Gender Studies at Kenyon College entails coursework defined by its transnational and intersectional insights into gender. Kenyon’s WGS program encourages independent learning, asking students to take responsibility for their own education, culminating in a senior seminar, where students create the content and direction of the course. This encompassing approach dismantles the essentializing categories of identity and examines gender as a cultural phenomenon in manifest areas:
And so much more
NotablesKenyon has a vibrant social climate with dozens of clubs, organizations, athletic teams, and fraternities and sororities and has graduated many notable people, including presidents, Emmy award winners, National Book Award winning novelists, and more. Kenyon has made national news on many occasions, though markedly for hosting David Foster Wallace who delivered his now-famous “This Is Water” commencement speech and in 2004 when students waited thirteen hours to vote in the general election.
OverviewLocated in Medford, Massachusetts, Tufts University is a private research university. It is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate students. And it is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesWith a focus on research and teaching, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Tufts explores the relationship between individual and institutional systems of power across local, national, and global contexts.Outside of classwork, WGSS students are encouraged to take part in the “Beyond the Classroom” forum, where they can share their WGS work with the wider Tufts community. There are four areas of concentration in addition to the option of a self-designed concentration:
Race, Class, and Power
Creative Arts and Media
NotablesTufts is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs as well as emphasizing active citizenship and public service, values threaded through each of the disciplines and their respective curriculum. Tufts has two other campuses in the Boston area and one in the Talloires, in the French Alps,
OverviewOne of the Seven Sisters colleges, Barnard College is private, women’s liberal arts school affiliated with Columbia University and located in Manhattan. Approximately 2,300 undergraduates make up the student population. Barnard is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesIn collaboration with the Barnard Center for Research on Women the school offers a major in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major that investigates human experience in its bodily, political, economic, and cultural dimensions. The department publishes an online journal, called The Scholar and Feminist Online, and works in tandem with Africana Studies and American Studies to collaborate on projects across the fields. Classes include:
Critical Approaches in Social and Cultural Theory
Historical Approaches to Feminist Questions
NotablesBarnard is home to an impressive feminist archives, including over 7,000 zines documenting third-wave feminism and the Riot Grrrl movement, and the college at large has been noted for its sustainability efforts and initiatives. One of the oldest programs on our list, Barnard first offered a Women’s Studies degree in 1977 and in 1988 they enacted a full department.
OverviewDuke University is a private school located in Durham, North Carolina. It is a globally recognized research-centric university. Despite the relative size of Duke (approximately 6,500 undergraduates and 8,500 grad students), class sizes remain small. More than 75 percent have under 20 students to a class.FeaturesThe Program in Women’s Studies at Duke combines intersectional issues of race, sexuality, and class with gender to investigate the social, technological, historical, psychological, economic, political, and scientific dimensions of identity-making. Duke also offers students a wide range of extra curricular opportunities. For example, students can:
Earn research grants and awards
Earn funded conference travel grants
Participate in the Moxie Project, a selective leadership and applied learning experience
Attend an eight week summer internship in New York City
NotablesOne of the most notable research institutes in the world, Duke University boasts an award-winning faculty and alumni base—ten Nobel laureates and three Turing Award winners plus a number of Rhodes, Goldwater, Truman, Marshall, and Udall Scholars to date—and a renowned reputation for its contributions to research in both the sciences and humanities.
OverviewWashington University in St. Louis is comprised of students from all 50 states and more than 120 countries. More than 7,000 students attend Washington, which is both nationally and globally ranked. But don’t be deceived by the size. The student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1 at Washington, indicating an intimate, intentional learning experience.FeaturesAt Washington University the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program has four areas of concentration around which all courses are designed (see below). Furthermore, WGS Studies students are eligible for awards, grants, and internships, including the Global/Transnational Gender Issues and Problems study abroad internship.
Literature, theory, and history
Sexuality, the body, and health
Global and transnational feminist and gender studies
Critical race in gender and sexuality studies
NotablesThe average freshman retention rate (the amount of first-year students who return in their second year, a gauge of student satisfaction) is 96.5 percent. Which isn’t surprising considering the university has over 300 student organizations and the largest student government budget in the country. Even Washington’s resident life makes rank, considered the “Best College Dorms” by The Princeton Review. Washington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
OverviewLafayette College is located in the Lehigh Valley, an hour west of New York City and an hour north of Philadelphia. The undergraduate enrollment is comprised of approximately 2,500 students across thirty-seven academic fields, including the most popular majors: the Social Sciences, English, and Psychology. Lafayette is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesStudents at Lafayette can earn either a major or minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, taking classes on gender and environmentalism, women’s health issues, gender and economics, African and African-American women, gender and science, women and media, feminist theory, black feminism, single motherhood, and women in the U.S. criminal justice system, among others. The WGS Library and Resource Room is a space designated specifically for WGS students to:
Foster connection among peers and faculty
Collaborate on class and extra-curricular projects
Organize campus-wide events
Or to just hang out
NotablesConsidered a “Hidden Ivy,” Lafayette receives strong rankings from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, and more. With over 250 extra-curricular organizations, fraternities and sororities, community service groups, and honor societies, students experience a lively and nourishing social environment.
OverviewPrimarily an undergraduate, residential university, the University of Richmond enrolls approximately 4,300 students in its five schools. Richmond’s emphasis on research extends across all disciplines, including the arts, and enables numerous research opportunities for students. The University of Richmond is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.FeaturesThe University of Richmond offers both a major and minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The curriculum is broken into introductory and advanced courses, the former covering the historical, political, and social dimensions of gender and the latter enabling competency in contemporary social critique in the students. There are a number of internships, research fellowships, and grants available to WGS students, as well as study abroad opportunities in:
The United Kingdom
Switzerland or Sweden
Jamaica, and many more
NotablesThe University of Richmond is certainly known for its academic excellence. But in addition to its academic reputation, the university offers one of the best financial packages in the country. It even guarantees to meet 100 percent of an admitted domestic student’s demonstrated need.
OverviewBoth the official state university of Wisconsin and the flagship campus in the University of Wisconsin system, the University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of the largest campuses on our list. It has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 30,000 students. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesFounded in 1975, the Women’s Studies Program at UW–Madison originated out of a time of activism and grew to become a full department with a major, opening the Center for Research on Women and Gender a couple years later, and currently offering over 100 courses. The faculty is comprised of numerous award winners and experts in diverse fields of study, and each year the department brings in scholars from around the world to speak on gender and its intersections with:
NotablesWith a long history of social activism on campus, including radical protests in the 1960s and 70s, there remains a progressive political ethos campus wide. The University of Wisconsin–Madison is nationally and globally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, and Times Higher Education.
OverviewBrandeis University is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, just west of Boston. It is home to approximately 3,500 undergraduates and offers nearly 50 distinct majors. Brandeis is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesBrandeis University offers a major and minor in Women’s Studies as well as a Sexuality and Queer Studies minor. Majors in Women’s Studies must take two defined courses (see below). Then students can then choose the rest of their courses from an extensive list of history, literature, anthropology, sexuality, and queer studies classes. Brandeis gives their WGS honor students the opportunity to become peer assistants, in which students help professors develop courses and even teach a few classes themselves.
Women, Genders, and Sexualities
Feminisms: History, Theory, and Practice
NotablesThough technically a research university, Brandeis has a strong liberal arts emphasis and is ranked as first among the top colleges for student engagement in community service, according to The Princeton Review. Since it is part of the Boston Consortium, students are allowed to take classes at Boston College, M.I.T., and Tufts University.
OverviewThe University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor in the southeast part of the state, is considered one of the top research universities in the world. With nearly 30,000 enrolled undergraduates, the University of Michigan student population is one of the largest on our list. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesThe University of Michigan’s Women’s Studies Department is the oldest on our list, having been founded in 1973. It is now home to one of the best Gender Studies doctoral programs in the country, which is also reflected in the undergraduate program. Not only does the University of Michigan offer a Women’s Studies major, students can receive a B.A. in Gender and Health. The Gender and Health major promotes a critical, feminist analysis of research, practice, and policies concerning gender and health, and is the only one of its kind. Classes in that track include:
Women and Health
Psychology of Human Sexuality
Global Perspective on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Critical Theory in Medicine and Healing
NotablesThe University of Michigan is especially renowned for its research in health and STEM fields, as well as in the humanities and social sciences. It receives global and national rankings as a whole and in these specific fields. Additionally, the University is renowned for its vibrant campus. There are approximately 1,500 student organizations, including a vibrant Greek scene
OverviewThe largest campus on our list with nearly 45,000 enrolled undergraduates, Ohio State University has a vibrant social life and a renowned academic platform. The school is located in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesOhio State’s Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies offers a major and minor that are designed to prepare students to critically examine the social, cultural, political, scientific, and economical assumptions about gender. While the major stands alone, the minor can complement most programs at Ohio State. There are many reasons to consider OSU:
The department grants five writing awards and scholarships each year
You can participate in internship, study abroad, and leadership opportunities
There are at least a half dozen feminist student organizations at OSU
There is a gender and sexuality film series each year
NotablesAs an institution, Ohio State is nationally and globally ranked, as are several of its schools and colleges. In addition to its academic rankings, Ohio State also receives accolades for the racial and socio-economic diversity of its student body and is considered one of best campuses in the country for LGBTQ students.
OverviewBucknell University is private liberal arts college located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It may only have an undergraduate population of 3,600 but the school offers over 50 majors and seventy minors through its three schools. Bucknell is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.FeaturesStudents at Bucknell can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies or combine the minor with other disciplines or concentrations. At Bucknell, students also take part in education abroad, undergrad research, and local and national internships. In addition to the traditional gender course offerings, Bucknell augments their curriculum with many unique class options, such as:
Mating and Marrying in America
Queering Christian Theology
NotablesBucknell is ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the nation by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. Because of Bucknell’s rural location, there is a lively social life on campus with nearly 200 student organizations and an active Greek presence.
Overview The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of the ten campuses in the UC system. It has an undergraduate enrollment around 20,000 and is notably politically active with numerous organizations and political parties on campus. USCB is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.FeaturesUSCB is home to the Center for Research on Women & Social Justice as well as a Feminist Studies department made up of ten core faculty members. The Feminist Studies major infuses justice into the curriculum, encouraging students to explore varying perspectives and aspects of gender-related issues while committed to diverse approaches to social justice. USCB is also home to a prodigious MA and PhD Feminist Studies program. Classes include:
Introduction to Feminist Studies
And much more
NotablesUCSB is one of the nation’s “Public Ivy” universities. With an emphasis on research, UCSB is home to twelve national research centers and its faculty includes Nobel Prize laureates and Fields Medalists. The University of California is an elite system of schools, the Santa Barbara campus no exception. It is nationally ranked.
OverviewOberlin College is located in the Ohioan town of the same name. It is a private liberal arts school with nearly 3,000 undergraduates enrolled. Oberlin is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Colleges.FeaturesThe Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Oberlin offers a major that is interdisciplinary in methodology and transnational in scope. Students explore gender by investigating its crossroads with race, sexuality, class, ethnicity, politics, and other categories of human identity and experience. Oberlin grants two merit-based awards each year specifically designated for students majoring in Feminist Studies. Students take classes across departments, including in: S
Political theory, and much more
NotablesOberlin College was one of the first colleges in the country to regularly admit women and black students. The school is still known for its political and social activism, as well as its LGBTQ advocacy and inclusion, the Student Cooperation Association, and its good grades on the annual College Sustainability Report Card.
OverviewLocated in Northfield, Minnesota, St. Olaf College is a private liberal arts college. It is home to approximately 3,000 undergraduate students. St. Olaf is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesSt. Olaf College offers both a major and a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies. The major has a four-tier core (see below) which also allows an elective workload that can be allocated to a concentration within the major. Those courses cover culture, race, sociology, sexuality, ethics, family, and much more. An internship is also a required part of the curriculum, and is facilitated by the department.
NotablesThe curriculum at St. Olaf is comprised of foundation studies. This includes course work in writing, math, a second language, and communication. The curriculum also includes core studies in the humanities, Western culture, theology and biblical studies, arts and literature, and natural science.
OverviewCase Western is a private university based in Cleveland, Ohio. The most popular majors at Case Western fall mostly under the sciences and technology but the humanities and social sciences also boast strong rankings and notable faculty and alumni. Case Western is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.FeaturesWith and emphasis on critical thinking and creativity, the Women’s and Gender Studies at Case Western is an interdisciplinary program. This program culminates in a capstone, independent project chosen by the student. One thing to note is that while a Case Western student may earn a Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies, the major can only be elected as a second major. Though a student will have to double major to earn this BA, it this does allow for a dynamic interdisciplinary experience.
Women and Religion
Sociology of Sexulity
Women in the Ancient World
Language and Gender
NotablesThe undergraduate program at Case Western is considered one of the best in the country, ranked 37th by U.S. News & World Report. The University is also is among the top fifty most LGBTQ friendly schools in the country.
OverviewThe University of Florida (UF) is located in Gainesville, Florida. It has one of the largest campuses on our list with over 32,000 enrolled undergraduates, sixteen academic colleges, and more than 150 research centers and institutes. UF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.FeaturesThe Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research offers a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies with an emphasis on the intersection of gender, race, and class. In addition to a couple of scholarships offered each year, students can also engage in internships, feminist reading groups, the UF Women’s Student Association, and more. Students who choose the major are then encouraged to choose from one of three concentrations
A general concentration
Theories and politics of sexuality
Gender and international development
NotablesThe University of Florida is ranked 14th among best public universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, it boasts dozens of other rankings spread across its many schools and departments. It is classified a top research university by the Carnegie Foundation.
Overview One of the ten campuses in the UC system, the University of California Davis is a public research university. It is the third largest enrollment among the UC schools with over 28,000 undergraduates. UC Davis offers over 100 undergraduate majors through four schools.FeaturesThe Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies major at UC Davis is split between preparatory subject matter—introduction classes, namely—and a mix of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary courses. The WSG faculty bring diverse areas of focus and expertise to the major, with backgrounds in sociology, media studies, literature, Asian American studies, African American studies, and more. Students can augment the major with a thematic track from any school or college at Davis, or they can specialize in:
Social and Ethnic Relationships
NotablesAs a UC school, Davis is known for its academic rigor and cultural vibrancy. The community is comprised of faculty and alumni who have won Nobel Peace Prizes, Pulitzers, MacArthur Fellowships, and more. It is nationally and globally ranked.
After Graduation: What to Do with a Degree in Women's Studies
So you've graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies degree and augmented it with a minor or a concentration in another area. Now what? Your degree does not set you on a predictable career track, this is true, but rather than fret in this fact you should see it as a huge benefit to your future vocation. Your knowledge of the intersection of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, and other forms of hegemony is of interest to many sectors of employment: non-profit organizations, community centers, local and national government, civil and public services, health services, educational organizations, social services, and much more. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary nature of the degree prepares you for work in media, education, law, marketing and pr, academia, and business, among other fields. Finally, and not to be understated, a degree in women's studies reflects your passion and advocacy for equality across identities and experience, a respected quality you'll surely bring to any career, including:
Grad student, women's resource center representative, higher education administrative assistant, librarian, or career services advisor
Civil rights attorney, organizer for public interest groups, aid for women's advocacy organization, lobbyist for women's equity, or domestic violence counselor
Media and Publishing
Book or magazine editor, copywriter, marketer, public relations manager, or grant writer
Financial Planner, human resources manager, advertising rep, sales associate, or equity and diversity consultant
Behavioral health counselor, women's residential program counselor or director, women's clinic administrator, organizer for women's health nonprofit, or social worker
Top National Scholarships for Women
Not only are women paid less annually than their male colleagues, but this inequity begins in college, where women receive less federal and nonfederal aid and graduate with more student debt than their male classmates. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of scholarships for women, awarded by advocacy groups, professional organizations, corporate sponsors, colleges and universities, government groups, and more, each simultaneously illuminating the economic gap between genders and combating that disparity through awards and grants. We've also included some of the higher-awarding scholarships; while some have general eligibility requirements, others seek specific qualities and focus.
The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
To promote leadership in technology and computing among women, Google honors the legacy of Anita Borg through this national scholarship. Eligibility requirements include being women at an accredited undergraduate university who are majoring in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related technical field.
Category: STEM majors
Application deadline: December
Award range: $10,000 plus a retreat at Google headquarters
The Society of women Engineers supports women pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering or computer science. They offer dozens of scholarships with varying eligibility requirements and regional restrictions. In 2015, they awarded over two hundred new and renewed scholarships valued at over half a million dollars.
For women who are returning to school later in life, the Jeannette Rankin Scholarship awards varying amounts to varying applicants who are thirty-five and older and enrolled in an accredited undergraduate, graduate, or vocational school.
American Association of University Women Fellowships and Grants
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is a nonprofit organization that promotes equality form women through advocacy, charity, education, and research. They offer a number of fellowships and grants (with award ranges from $2,000 to $30,000) to women in an array of academic fields. To see if you are eligible for any, head over to their website.
With the goal of encourage undergraduate women to enter careers in business and become leaders in their fields, the Jane M. Klausmen scholarship (sponsored by Zonta International) has awarded nearly three hundred national and international scholarships in its lifetime. Applicants must be pursuing a business degree and in at least their second year of undergraduate study.
The Alliance for Women in Media works to bring talented and dedicated women in media together. Through a few different scholarships, they provide funding for undergraduate women studying media each year. While some of the scholarships support students with disabilities, others aim to promote leadership. To see if you are eligible for any, head over to their website.
Sponsored by the College Success Foundation, the O Wines Opportunity for Success fellowship supports low-income young women who have been accepted or are enrolled at an accredited university or college. Applicants must have at least a 3.2 GPA and maintain it.
Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy Memorial Scholarship Award
Awarded by the National Medical Fellowships, the Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy Memorial Scholarship honors the legacy of three slaves who are now recognized as the Mothers of Gynecology. Eligibility thus requires that the applicant be a known descendant of an American slave, as well as a woman who is studying medicine.
The Betty Rendel Scholarship is awarded by the National Federation of Republican Women each year in an effort to promote government leadership among women. Applicants must be students of political science, economics, government, or a related field, and must be at least a junior.
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