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.
Accredited Online College Programs
Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.
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:
Editors for a range of publishing companies
Directors of university women’s centers
Professors and community college teachers
Managers for nonprofit organizations
And much more
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.
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.
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