Women's Studies Major

Watch the four minute video about Women's Studies @ U-M 

The Women’s Studies major seeks to:

  • provide majors with an understanding of the interdisciplinary scholarship on women, gender, and sexuality and to train them in interdisciplinary methods
  • offer theoretical and practical approaches to feminist thinking cross the disciplines
  • encourage comparative thinking through coursework that explores the multicultural and global nature of feminist scholarship
  • train majors to think analytically by teaching them to read and write critically.
  • provide supporting skills and contexts for the study of women through the cognate requirement
  • encourage intellectual and academic breadth through a cognate requirement

Major Requirements

Prerequisite to Major:  WS 240 Intro. to Women's Studies

Major Program. 33 credits (including six credits of cognates, which can be a second major).  Only two of the courses (in addition to WS 240) may be at the 200 level.

  1. Courses in Women’s Studies — Majors must complete areas A through E below.
    1. Feminist Thought: WS 330
    2. Courses in thematic areas.
      At least one course from each of four areas must be taken. Only one course may count in two areas. If such a course is double-counted, an additional elective must be chosen to reach the required 33 credits.
      1. LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) and Sexuality Studies offers 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
      2. Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. examines 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, consideration of various diasporas encourages analysis of the links between communities across national borders.
      3. Gender, Culture, and Representation explores ways in which meanings about women and gender are produced through cultural images, artifacts, and performances. It positions 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.
      4. Gender in a Global Context offers a comparative cross-cultural perspective on the construction and meaning of gender, race, class, and sexuality. It examines 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.
    3. Practice Course.
      One course chosen from:
      WS 331 Advanced Gender and the Law (WS 270 Gender and the Law is the prereq.)
      WS 350 Nonprofit Management, Community Engagement & Feminist Practice  (formerly called Women and the Community)
      WS 351 Leading Feminism
      WS 404 Gender Based Violence: From Theory to Practice
      WS 425 Feminist Practice of Oral History
      Soc 225 Project Community (formerly Soc 389) gender related sections,including Femtors and Planned Parenthood.
      Research course related to gender and sexuality, by WS advisor approval
    4. Senior Capstone Seminar.
      WS 440 Women's Studies Senior Capstone (offered winter term only).
    5. Women’s Studies Electives.
      Women's Studies credits to bring the total number of WS courses to 27 (excluding WS 240, Intro. to WS and cognates)

2.  Cognates.
Two courses at the 300 or 400 level, neither in Women’s Studies nor cross-listed, are required. Chemistry 210 and 215 may also be counted as cognates. 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 should not be courses on women but should provide supporting skills or contexts for the study of women. (Cognate courses may be in a second major.)

Worksheet for major requirements

You can find a list of where courses fit in these requirements by term:

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. Questions?  Email wsp.advising@umich.edu

Honors Major

Students who have maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.4 through the first term of their junior year are eligible for Women's Studies honors. Candidates for honors must meet all the requirements described for the Women’s Studies major (as listed above). In addition, they must elect WS 389 during the second term, junior year, and must write an Honors thesis during their senior year (given for credit as WS 490 and 491). The deadline for applications is December 1 of the student's junior year. See Honors Program Guidelines for more information.

Questions and Advising

U-M students may make advising appointment online.  Departmental advisors are Donna Ainsworth, Peggy McCracken and Jocelyn Stitt.

Students may declare the Women's Studies major at any time. There are no prerequisites required to declare.

Questions? Email wsp.advising@umich.edu.