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Women's Studies

Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies

Designed for students already enrolled in a terminal degree program at the University of Michigan, the Certificate in Women’s Studies consists of graduate course work totaling 15 credit hours. The Certificate, which can be combined with either a masters or a doctoral degree, aims to provide:

  • Analyses of contemporary feminist theoretical frameworks and methodologies, and their implications for academic disciplines and professional practices
  • An inclusive approach that examines the intersection of gender and other social identities and categories of analysis
  • An opportunity to broaden and enrich analytical skills in one or more disciplines while drawing on the interdisciplinary perspectives of Women’s Studies
  • A challenge to the traditional separation of academic theory from political and professional practice

Coursework for the Certificate in Women’s Studies (established in 1982) involves core courses in feminist theory and methodology and advanced courses on women and gender in the discipline. It culminates in an advanced research project designed to incorporate a feminist perspective.


15 credits:

  • WS 530 (3 credits)
  • WS 601 or 602 or 603 or 604 or 606 (3 credits)
  • WS 890 (3 credits)
  • Two electives (3 credits each); one elective should fall outside the primary discipline

Core Courses

WS530 (3 credits) Theories of Feminism: Explores various schools of feminist thought covering the last thirty years and examines how knowledge is produced in gendered ways from an interdisciplinary perspective.

One of the following: (These courses can also be taken as electives.)

  • WS 601 (3 credits) Approaches to Feminist Scholarship in the Humanities: Explores how feminist scholars conduct research in the humanities by investigating questions of authority, evidence and argument in terms of the uses of history and the role of theory.
  • WS 602 (3 credits) Approaches to Feminist Scholarship in the Social Sciences: Aims to examine critically quantitative and qualitative methods by which social scientists study women, sex, and gender, including feminist empiricism and standpoint epistemologies.
  • WS 603 (3 credits) Feminist Scholarship on Women of Color: Exposes students to methodological strategies in feminist scholarship on women of color, ensuring knowledge of work written by women of color and an understanding of how even feminist paradigms have excluded them.
  • WS 604 (3 credits) Feminist Practice: Explores a number of approaches to feminist, anti-racist, and multicultural praxis by studying the relationship between theory and practice in different disciplines and professional settings.
  • WS 606 (3 credits) Transnational & Multicultural Feminisms: Brings "women of color" and "transnational" feminisms into dialogue by charting the development of U.S./third world feminist thought and action.

WS 890 (3 credits) Advanced Research: Every student will carry out a culminating scholarly project that demonstrates how the student has integrated feminist perspectives with the student's discipline(s). The final project can be one of the following (or another format to be approved by the Certificate Advisory Committee in the Women’s Studies Department): a dissertation chapter, prelim, master’s thesis, independent study focused on research, applied project, written component of a professional practicum, portfolio that integrates work in Women’s Studies with professional work, or an audio, visual, or textual project from the creative arts. In addition to submitting the final project, the student should submit an abstract and framing statement. These will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary committee, so the student should elaborate on any disciplinary conventions, terminologies, or practices that may not be readily accessible to an audience outside of the student’s specific area or discipline. The faculty advisor should also submit a statement. The deadline for these materials is November 1 for Fall term graduates and March 1 for Winter term graduates. All components of the WS 890 should be submitted to the Women’s Studies Graduate Office.

WS 890 Guidelines

The scholarly project should fall into one of the following categories (formats not falling into any of these categories require approval from the WS Certificate Advisory Committee):

  • an original piece of research developed specifically for the 890
  • a redeveloped/expanded/revised dissertation chapter, a prelim exam response, a master’s thesis, an independent study focused on a research project
  • an applied project, professional portfolio, or written component of a professional practicum
  • a product that represents culminating work in the creative arts (for example, an audio, visual, or multi-media portfolio, with accompanying text or program notes if appropriate)

In addition to submitting the final project, the student should submit:

  • A 250 word abstract of the project
  • A Framing Statement of 3-5 single-spaced pages which addresses the following questions:
    • What is this project, how is it significant, and how does it fit into your work in graduate school
    • How does this project draw on feminist perspectives or methodologies?
    • How has this project been informed by coursework completed for the Women’s Studies Certificate?
    • How does this project expand the reach of feminist scholarship into your discipline?
    • How does this project contribute to the larger field of feminist studies?
  • Optional: Students may include a description of how they intend to circulate the work to their intended disciplinary audience(s). This might include a description of a relevant conference, journal, edited volume, performance, or exhibit to which the student might submit the work.

WS890 Faculty Advisor Statement Guidelines

In addition to the final project and
accompanying documents, students should submit a statement from their faculty advisor with their 890 submission. This advisor statement should include at minimum the following components (one to two pages is typically sufficient, but faculty are free to write more if they wish):

  1. Comment on the context(s), quality, and importance of the student’s project;
  2. Explain the impact of the Women’s Studies certificate program on the student as a scholar;
  3. Explain the impact of the student’s work on the student’s field(s) of study;
  4. Approve this final project as the culmination of the Women’s Studies Certificate.