Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding the application processes, procedures and specific program requirements for various graduate programs can be quite challenging. This collection of Frequently Asked Questions has been created to help answer the most common inquiries. It contains general program information, as well as information about admission procedures, the application process, and funding.

General Joint PhD Program Information

Is there any information you can send me about your joint Ph.D programs?
The best source of information about our joint PhD Programs is our website. Please feel free to contact us at wsdgradinquiry@umich.edu if you cannot find the information you need.

Can I get a tour of your campus?
While the Women’s Studies Department is unable to provide personal campus tours for prospective graduate students, we encourage you to come for a campus visit. All admitted students are invited to campus for a campus visit weekend before decisions are required. If you are in Ann Arbor, feel free to stop by Lane Hall to say hello and pick up a campus map for a self-directed tour. You can also get much more information from the Campus Information Center.

Is it possible to attend your program part-time?
No. All Women’s Studies students must be enrolled in the full-time program.

Do you offer online courses?
We do not offer any online or distance learning courses.

Are there any courses offered during the spring/summer term?
In general, there are very limited course options during the spring or summer terms. Current students may be able to elect independent study options if they are deemed appropriate to their program of study.

Do I need a Master’s degree to enter the program?
A student can apply to any of our joint programs with either a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree. Those with Master’s degrees are reviewed in the same applicant pool as those with Bachelor’s degrees.

Do I need to have majored in Women’s Studies to be eligible to apply to the PhD program?
Not at all. The admissions review committee will look for relevant exposure to Women’s Studies via coursework, but it is not necessary to have majored or minored in Women’s Studies.

Will I receive any credit for coursework completed at another university?
The Rackham Graduate School and each joint program have requirements regarding transfer of credits. Note that all transfer of credits must be discussed with the Director of Graduate Studies in both Women’s Studies and the other joint department. For information about credit transfer policies specific to each joint program, please see the Individual Program Requirements page on this website.

What do the majority of graduates do with their degrees?
The majority of our joint Women’s Studies PhD graduates have gone on to obtain post-doctoral fellowships or collegiate professorships. You can find updated alumni placement information on our Graduate Student Placement page.

How many students do you enroll in an incoming class? How many applicants do you admit?
We aim for six students per incoming cohort (two from each of the joint programs).

Do you have a Master’s program?
The Women’s Studies Department does not offer a terminal Master’s degree. You can, however, receive an MA in English, History, Psychology, or Sociology on your way to completing the requirements for the joint Women’s Studies PhD. All requirements for the MA as stipulated by the other department must be met in order to do so.

How long does it take to earn a joint PhD at Michigan?
The timeframe for completion of the joint PhD is related to the field of study. Five years is a target goal for some fields, but it may take longer. Five or six years of funding are guaranteed at the time of admission.

What teaching opportunities are available? Do you offer training for new teaching instructors?
All joint PhD students are guaranteed at least one year (two terms) of teaching in their other department and one year (two terms) of teaching as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) in Women’s Studies. Students may apply for additional terms of teaching in both their other department and Women’s Studies.

Does the University have a graduate student union?
Yes, the Graduate Employees Organization is the second oldest graduate employees’ union in the nation. GEO represents Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan. They negotiate the contract that determines the wages, working conditions, health benefits, and tuition waiver.

Are there other U.S. universities that offer PhD programs in Women’s Studies/Gender Studies/Feminist Studies?
Yes, there are at least 15 including: Penn State University, Arizona State University, Emory University, Indiana University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Texas Woman's University, UCLA, University of Arizona, UCSB, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Washington. For an updated list, please visit the National Women's Studies Association.

Do you have a list of Psychology/WS faculty that are admitting students this year?
We do not have such a list. Applicants to the joint WS/Psych program should be sure that their research interests are in the Personality and Social Contexts (P&SC) program area of Psychology. That is the only program area of Psych that is served by the joint program with Women’s Studies, known as Gender & Feminist Psychology (G&FP) within the Psychology Department. All applicants should review the list of jointly appointed faculty and make sure that there are faculty at Michigan who are doing similar types of research. Potential applicant fit with faculty is important in the field of Psychology.

Can I do a joint program with Clinical Psychology and Women's Studies?
Personality and Social Contexts (P&SC) is the only Psychology program area served by the joint program with Women’s Studies. Applicants who are interested in doing clinical psychology practice should apply to the PhD program in Clinical Psychology. Once they are admitted to and enrolled in that program, they can then apply for the Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies.

What about the joint program in Sociology and Women’s Studies? When are you reopening admissions?
The WS/Soc program has not been and will not be reopening admissions for a variety of factors. The primary reason is a lack of jointly-appointed faculty resources between the two departments. Applicants should apply for the PhD program in Sociology, and, once admitted and enrolled at Michigan, apply for the Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies.

Admissions Procedures

Do you accept students for the Winter term?
The Women’s Studies Departments accepts doctoral applications for students in the Fall term only. Applications and all supporting documents should be submitted by the application deadline (December 1 for WS/Psychology and WS/History; December 15 for WS/English).

What is the institution code for the University of Michigan?
Our institution code is 1839.

Is it possible to be accepted into your program without taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) for U.S. students or the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for international students?
The Women’s Studies Department requires the GRE for all students and the TOEFL for some international students. International students who have studied in the U.S. and/or who have received a degree from an English-speaking university should take the GRE but are not required to take the TOEFL. The Admissions Committee will be unable to consider your application unless these test scores are received. More information on required tests can be obtained on the Rackham website.

When will admissions decisions be made?
We strive to review all applications as quickly as possible, while ensuring that each file is read with all appropriate care and deliberation. This can be a time-consuming process, and your patience is appreciated. In a typical year, all applicants will have received notification by early March, if not earlier, as to their status. In all programs, admitted students are invited for a campus visit before student decisions are required.

If accepted, can I defer enrollment?
Deferment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Students must submit a request to the Director of Graduate Studies explaining why they wish to defer enrollment. The request will be evaluated and the student will be notified of the decision as quickly as possible.

Application Process

The online application asks me to upload my "unofficial" transcripts but then it says I still have to mail a copy of my transcripts to Rackham. I don’t understand.
All applications require complete transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. As a placeholder, applicants should upload a copy of their transcript (deemed "unofficial") into the online application. But official transcripts also need to be sent from the applicant’s universities to the Rackham Graduate School, and those are designated as the official copies that will be matched to the applicant’s file.

How does the application process work?
Rackham Graduate School provides step-by-step information on the application process. Please visit the Rackham website for additional information.

Is there a separate application or supplementary form for admission to the Women’s Studies PhD Program, or is it sufficient to complete the online application to Rackham?
There is no separate application that needs to be completed for the Women’s Studies Department. Just be sure to select the appropriate degree program to which you are applying and include all of the required application materials (i.e. academic statement of purpose, personal statement, curriculum vitae/resume, writing sample, letters of recommendation). Once you submit your Rackham application online, our admissions committee will have access to your submitted materials.

When writing the academic statement of purpose, what type of information should be included?
The academic statement of purpose should explain why you are interested in attending graduate school at the University of Michigan. Describe why you are interested in the joint program, provide a clear and concise representation of your specific interests, and include any faculty members with whom you are interested in working. Faculty are looking for focused statements that touch briefly on your background, but even more so address your plan to integrate your research interests.

When writing the personal statement, what type of information should be included?
As you write your personal statement, try to answer the following question: How have your personal background and life experiences (including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges) motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? This is not an academic statement of purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree.

How will I know if my application and supporting documents have reached the department?
A confirmation email will be automatically generated after your online application is received. Applicants can use Wolverine Access to check the Web Application Status feature to monitor the receipt of credentials, including official transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Would it be acceptable to submit letters of recommendation through my university’s Graduate Letter Service? The forms completed by the recommenders would be similar, but not identical, to those accompanying the application.
Yes, you may submit your letters of recommendation through your university’s Graduate Letter Service or Interfolio.

What are the criteria for being admitted into your program?
There are no specific criteria. The admissions committee will look holistically at all of an applicant’s qualifications, including GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, academic and personal statements, previous research experience (if applicable), professional experience, volunteer experience, etc. The way in which this information is weighted varies across programs, from year to year, and from admissions committee to admissions committee. There are always applicants who, undoubtedly, could perform well in a graduate program whom we may have to turn away because we have too many applicants for a limited number of spots.

What is the minimum GRE and/or GPA?
The Women’s Studies Department does not have a set minimum GRE or GPA. All applications are reviewed, and all are reviewed holistically.

The application deadline is Dec. 1 (or 15), but I can’t take the GRE until later that month. Can I still apply if my test scores will be late?
GRE scores are a required part of the application. All applicants must submit the required materials by the application deadline. That said, if U-M receives GRE scores late after that deadline, they will still be added to the applicant's record. But the disclaimer is that the admissions committees may have already reviewed (or passed over) the incomplete application until the scores are received. In most cases, if the GRE scores arrive at U-M before the end of December, they will be added to the application and reviewed. The U-M GRE code is 1839. There is no department code required.

Are any advanced GRE subject tests required to apply to the joint programs?
No, the Women's Studies Department does not require subject tests for those students who are only applying to one of our joint PhD programs. (Please note that if you are also applying to a stand-alone PhD (e.g. a PhD in English Language and Literature), then an additional subject test may be required.)

What type of writing sample are you looking for?
The writing sample should demonstrate your research interests and academic capabilities. A term paper or an excerpt from a thesis is acceptable. The average submission is 10–20 pages. All writing samples should be no more than 25 pages total.

Funding

How do I get an application for financial aid?
There is no separate application for financial aid for our joint PhD programs. All admitted students will receive a full funding package that is explained in detail with the admission offer.

What type of fellowship aid is available?
Typically, students receive five to six years of funding. The first year is funded through a departmental fellowship. Subsequent funding differs from program to program; generally support comes from two to three years of teaching and then an additional one to two years of fellowship. Women’s Studies doctoral students have been very successful in receiving internal (e.g. Rackham Predoctoral, Institute for the Humanities, Barbour) and external (e.g. Ford, NSF, AAUW) fellowships. Summer funding opportunities vary from program to program. Women’s Studies doctoral students have been successful in finding funding through the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG), annual Women’s Studies summer funding opportunities, Sweetland Dissertation Writing Institute, etc. We work with each student to identify summer funding sources. See the Rackham Fellowships page for additional information about funding opportunities.

Are international students eligible for fellowship aid?
Yes, all students admitted to our program will receive a full funding package, regardless of citizenship. No extra forms need to be completed at the time of application to the program.

Are there funds available outside the standard funding package?
Both the Rackham Graduate School and the Women’s Studies Department have funds available for purposes such as travel to a conference, research, or emergency expenses. Students apply for this funding as needed.

How does one find out about Women’s Studies conferences?
The National Women’s Studies Association hosts an annual conference every November. The University of Michigan is well-represented at this conference every year. If you do attend, please be sure to stop by the PhD Programs Reception which is usually held on the Saturday of the conference.

Is there any research funding available for pursuing gender topics?
Some good places to look include:

FAQ: Graduate Certificates in Women’s Studies and LGBTQ Studies

When should I apply?
We encourage students to apply as early as possible in their graduate program, but Rackham requires that students wait to enroll until they have completed one full term of graduate study at U-M.

How do I register for WS 890/892?
Students should contact the Women’s Studies Graduate Program Coordinator to get an override. Once the override is issued, the student can register through Wolverine Access. Students enroll under the section number assigned to their primary advisor.

Does my current certificate advisor need to be my advisor for my WS 890/892 project?
No; as long as another relevant faculty member agrees to advise you, it can be somebody different. Please let the Women’s Studies Graduate Program Office know if you choose to change advisors.

Can I switch either my certificate or my 890/892 advisor?
You can switch advisors at any time with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

How long does the WS 890/892 project need to be?
Both the type and length of the final project will vary depending on the discipline of the student. Students preparing to begin work on the WS 890/892 project should review the specific guidelines for each certificate.

Can I complete my 890/892 project before I complete the other certificate coursework?
The 890/892 is meant to be a capstone experience and therefore should be informed by the other certificate coursework.

Are there any guidelines for the electives? What type of course is allowed to satisfy the elective requirements?
Women’s Studies courses, courses in your discipline that focus on women/gender/sexuality, or courses not primarily focused on women and gender, but where a paper or other product is produced that focuses on women/gender/sexuality may satisfy the elective coursework requirements. Coursework outside of the Women's Studies Department needs prior approval from the Director of Graduate Studies.

I am enrolled in a non-Rackham graduate or professional program (e.g., Social Work, Public Health, etc.). Is there anything special I need to do or keep in mind?
Yes, there are two things that you need to keep in mind:

  • The application process is a bit different for students enrolled in a non-Rackham program. In addition to the Women’s Studies Certificate application, you must complete a Rackham application (including submitting official final undergraduate transcripts/credentials) and pay the Rackham application fee. Note that new test scores are not required.
  • Any course that a student is using to fulfill requirements for a Rackham certificate must be registered through Rackham. Dual enrollment is permitted for students in a non-Rackham program concurrently pursuing a Rackham certificate.

Once I have completed all of the requirements, is there any paperwork I need to complete in order to receive my certificate?
All certificate students must apply for graduation via Wolverine Access in order to receive their certificate. (under Student Business—Apply for Graduation). If a certificate student is in a Master’s degree program or has received an embedded Master’s along the way to their PhD, they must also complete a dual/joint degree course election form. This form is used to verify that not more than one-sixth of the credit given for any master’s or intermediate degree is double-counted between the certificate and that master’s or intermediate degree program. Double-counted credits also may not exceed one-half of the certificate requirements. Such credit may not be counted toward the fulfillment of any further degrees or certificates.

Is there a time limit (i.e. maximum number of years allowed) to complete the certificate requirements?
Rackham’s Graduate Student Handbook states that students must complete all work for a Certificate and file the diploma application within four consecutive years of admission to the certificate program. Any requests for exceptions would need to be approved by the Rackham Graduate School.

When were the Certificate programs established?
The Certificate in Women’s Studies was established in 1982 as an 18 credits program and changed to 15 credits in 1996. The Certificate in LGBTQ studies was established in 2006.