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Graduate Certificate in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies

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Director of Graduate Studies: Asha Bhandary
If you are interested in talking about the GWSS graduate certificate program and how it might amplify your course of study at Iowa, you can email Professor Bhandary or are welcome to make an appointment to meet with her during office hours.

Academic study in gender, women’s and sexuality studies has become a standard part of undergraduate curricula across the United States, and increasingly, graduate students across the disciplines have found their scholarship enhanced by the perspectives this interdisciplinary field of study offers. Graduate students are increasingly interested in pursuing advanced training in the theoretical and methodological issues surrounding questions of gender and sexuality, using these as a grounding for the coursework they will pursue within their major field. The growth of undergraduate programs in this area also makes a strong preparation in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies an important credential for seeking academic employment. Our graduate certificate in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies will serve the needs of these students.

Historically, the fields of Women’s Studies and Sexuality Studies have consisted of scholars trained in one of the traditional disciplines who developed a specialization in the study of women, gender, or sexuality.  Our current faculty configuration reflects this history. In the last generation, however, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies has matured as a discipline in its own right, with its own specialized graduate education, methodologies, theoretical frameworks, and “canon” of scholarly literature. The discipline now engages in deep study of intersectionality: that is, it takes as the center of its investigation the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class. It does so at the domestic and transnational level, thus linking the proposed merger to the goals of both internationalizing and diversifying the curriculum, and to the goal of expanding interdisciplinarity at UI.  

The graduate certificate requires of 16 credit hours of coursework. All students are required to take GWSS:5000 (Foundations for Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies) and 12 additional credit hours of coursework (4 courses), including at least one course with a transnational focus and at least one course that brings an intersectional focus to U.S. cultures. At least one of the electives must be at the 5000-level or above. Students may count up to 6 s.h. of GWSS courses cross-listed with their major department to satisfy these elective requirements. They may count up to 6 s.h. of electives taken via distance learning or the Traveling Scholars Program. No course can fulfill more than one requirement for the GWSS Certificate (or another certificate program). Finally, all students will be required to participate in a specified GWSS conference (GWSS:7400 Grad Research Conference Presentation, a 1-hour capstone course). In the capstone course, students revise an existing research-based project into a dynamic GWSS presentation, which they present at the annual Jakobsen Conference or, in some semesters, at a department-sponsored research celebration event. This curriculum offers structure and support while accommodating individual interest; the capstone course provides a shared experience that highlights the range of students participating in the certificate program.

Graduate students in any Department or College are eligible for the Certificate; non-degree students are not eligible. Applicants for the Certificate are advised to consult with the DGS of GWSS to discuss their interest.  A formal application includes a statement of interest, a proposed plan of study, and a supporting letter from the applicant’s advisor or DGS of the home department. The DGS of GWSS, in conjunction with two other members of the Department, will evaluate applications for the Certificate. The DGS will advise students about Certificate requirements and progress until completion of the degree, and will endorse the completion of the Certificate. Courses will be offered by faculty with partial or full lines in the new unit, by faculty housed in other units who have agreed to have courses cross-listed, or by faculty in other units whose non-cross-listed courses meet the programmatic goals of the Certificate.

Overview of Requirements for Certificate

GWSS:5000 Foundations for GWSS


GWSS:7400 Capstone conference presentation


4 elective courses over the 3000-level