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Women's Studies Major Requirements

Students majoring in Women's Studies are encouraged to develop individualized programs of study in consultation with a department advisor. Major requirements ensure that students are exposed to a wide variety of disciplines and practices important to feminist thought. 

The Women's Studies major requires a total of 33 credits. 27 credits must be taken in Women's Studies courses, while the remaining 6 are to be taken in cognate courses that provide complementary skills but are housed in a different department. Women's Studies 240: Introduction to Women's Studies, is a prerequisite for the major, and only two additional courses may be taken at the 200 level. Students should consult the worksheet for major requirements when planning their program. 

Feminist Thought

All majors are required to take Women's Studies 330: Feminist Thought, which introduces them to some of the major debates and intellectual conversations in the field of feminist theory. The seminar is organized around a set of texts that are engaged with questions about race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, (trans)nationalism or globalization, with an acute attention to the historical construction of their ideologies and practices, and to their relevance to individual and collective experience.

Practicum

The practicum ensures that majors gain exposure to and participate in hands-on research or community service internships in which feminist approaches are materially relevant.

Students choose one of the following to fulfull this requirement:

  • Women's Studies 331: Advanced Gender and the Law (WS 270 Gender and the Law is a prerequisite)
  • Women's Studies 350: Nonprofit Management, Community Engagement & Feminist Practice
  • Women's Studies 351: Leading Feminism
  • Women's Studies 404: Gender Based Violence: From Theory to Practice
  • Women's Studies 425: Feminist Practice of Oral History
  • Sociology 225: Project Community (gender related sections, listed on the WS course chart each term)
  • Research course related to gender and sexuality, by approval of WS advisor

Thematic Areas

Students are required to take at least one course from each of the following four areas. Only one course may count toward two areas. If such a course is double-counted, an additional elective must be chosen to reach the required 27 credits of Women's Studies classes (see more on electives below). 

Please consult the links to the right for information about which courses count towards each area.

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) and Sexuality Studies

These courses offer an interdisciplinary approach to sexuality that includes topics such as religious beliefs, legal codes, medical constructions, and social movements, and recognizes them as historically variable and culturally specific. With the contributions of empirical research, feminist scholarship, and queer theory, courses in this area acquaint students with the history of sexuality and understanding the formation of sexual identities and sexuality. 

Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the United States 

These courses examine the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity in order to consider differences among women and men, as well as the impact of multiple categories of identity on experience and on the formation and contestation of gender itself. Interracial and interethnic relations, the mutual influence of social movements, and racialized genders are also explored. Although the U.S. is the primary focus of these courses, consideration of various diasporas encourages analysis of the links between communities across national borders.

Gender, Culture, and Representation 

These courses explore ways in which meanings about women and gender are produced through cultural images, artifacts, and performances. They position students as readers, viewers, and interpreters of culture, as well as creators of it, especially in the domains of literature, the visual and performing arts, mass media (including film), and their histories. Courses introduce students to feminist analyses of culture and encourage them to consider processes of viewing, writing, and producing knowledge.

Gender in a Global Context

These courses offer a comparative cross-cultural perspective on the construction and meaning of gender, race, class, and sexuality. They examine current forces of globalization and empire, the histories of imperialism and colonialism, and postcolonial resistance and theory. Courses decenter the U.S. while placing it in a geopolitical context, including global feminisms.

Senior Capstone

Women's Studies 440: Senior Capstone is offered in the winter term for students with senior standing. The course is designed to help graduating seniors look back, synthesizing what they have learned in Women’s Studies, and look ahead, envisioning how they might apply their knowledge and experience in post-graduate lives and careers. This topic is explored through readings, discussions, arts-based work, writing assignments, and guest speakers from the university and larger community. This course serves as an opportunity for students to learn how to best use their Women's Studies education to make a life that reflects their values and has an impact on their community. 

Electives

Electives include any Women's Studies course at the 200 level or above, and can be used to bring the total credits of Women's Studies classes to 27. 

Cognate Requirement

Students are required to take two courses at the 300 or 400 level that are neither in Women's Studies nor cross-listed, but provide supporting skills or contexts for the study of women and gender. These courses should not, however, focus primarily on women. In order to ensure that the interdisciplinary Women's Studies major is complemented by training in a single discipline, these courses will normally be in the same department. Cognate courses may be in a second major. 

Please consult with a Women's Studies advisor if you have questions about courses that will fulfill the cognate requirement. 

A Note Regarding LSA Distribution Requirements

If you have two majors, you may choose one of the majors to count for LSA distribution (HU, SS, ID credit). If Women's Studies is your single major, you may not count any of those courses toward distribution. However the upper level writing requirement may be done in a single major. Courses in a single major may count for University requirements (R&E and upper level writing). Questions? Email wsp.advising@umich.edu.