Bachelor's in Women's Studies Programs Guide

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Earn a versatile degree with one of the nation's best Bachelor's in Women's Studies programs.

Want a degree with indispensable cultural relevance, is widely applicable and highly marketable? Do you want to show future employers that you developed critical thinking and research skills as an undergraduate?

Then a Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies is just for you!

What kind of Women's Studies degree should you get?

All of these degrees signify leadership ability, compelling communication, and a deep understanding of diversity. However, he following 50 colleges and universities vary in student population, environment and location, academic emphasis, political engagement, social involvement, and more. We've been sure to note all the differences!

Find the program that not only offers the best curricular fit, but the opportunities you desire as a student, be that study abroad or working in the university's Women's Center. And know that 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.

You may also want to consider distance education. Studying online is one of the most affordable, flexible ways to earn a degree and advance your career. So be sure to check out College Choice's 50 Best Online Colleges and Universities.

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How much money does one make with a Women's Studies degree?

Because this is such a versatile degree, you can find yourself working in any industry with any job title. The demand for one with cultural competency and writing abilities who is also justice-oriented is high. That said, it is difficult to determine the average salary range.

However, whatever the position, these qualities make for an excellent job candidate. Which makes for a sturdy income. From higher education to healthcare, nonprofits to publishing, the options are many. PayScale averages these options together to find that those with one of these degrees makes approximately $52,000 a year.

What can you do with a degree in Women's Studies?

As we hinted to above (and actually just directly stated!), you can do a lot with one of these degrees. Though people, parents especially, place emphasis on "practical degrees," don't overlook what one of these programs will give you: a broad, well-rounded education.

You'll graduate ready for any job that requires excellent written and oral communication, experience in advocacy, and more. Indeed, graduates from these programs have gone on to become:

What are the requirements for a Women's Studies degree?

All of these programs require four years of full-time study. In your first couple years you will complete your general education courses, including math and sciences classes. You'll also take an Introduction to Women's Studies class in one of your first years too.

Then, after those are behind you, you'll spend your final years taking a range of unique electives on women's studies. This includes classes on everything from international feminism to queer studies, activism to critical race theory.

In addition to your course load, you'll also be required to complete an internship. And you will be encouraged to participate in a range of research and extra-curricular activities. Take advantage of these, because there is a lot of learning to be done outside the classroom as well.


What are the Best Women's Studies programs?

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 50 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.

Be sure to check out our new rankings of the Best Women's Colleges and the Best Colleges and Universities for Women.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA



    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.

  2. Yale University

    New Haven, CT



    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
    • Transnational  experiences
    • 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.

  3. Pomona College

    Claremont, CA



    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:

    • Media studies
    • Art history
    • Psychology
    • 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

  4. Amherst College

    Amherst, MA



    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:

    • Greek Drama
    • 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.

  5. Williams College

    Williamstown, MA



    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:

    • American Girlhoods
    • Caribbean Women Writers
    • Sexual Economies
    • 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.

  6. Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore, PA



    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:

    • Queering God
    • Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Islam
    • Chinese Feminism
    • 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.

  7. Middlebury College

    Middlebury, VT



    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:

    • Conference attendance
    • Become Student Advisory Council representatives
    • Win the the Alison G. Fraker and Drue Cortell Gensler prizes, which are solely for students in the department
    • And more
    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.

  8. Bowdoin College

    Brunswick, ME



    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:

    • Ethics
    • Hip hop
    • Sports
    • 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.

  9. Wellesley College

    Wellesley, MA



    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:

    • Political lobbying
    • Journalism
    • Public health
    • 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.

  10. Vanderbilt University

    Nashville, TN



    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.

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