Major/Minor Requirements

Spring Break 2018 in Standing Rock: Esa Tilija '19, LaDonna Bravebird Allard, Teena Pugliese, Elena Creef, and Irina Chen '18 with 
"Not Afraid to Look" sculpture at Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Women's and Gender Studies

Women’s and Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary field that places gender and its intersections with race, social class, sexuality, and ethnicity at the center of rigorous academic inquiry. These structural forces shape the individual and collective lives of all persons across diverse cultures and times, as well as provide analytical categories for critically examining the worlds in which we live in historical, contemporary, and transnational contexts. The Women’s and Gender Studies major draws particular attention to the lives and experiences of women and girls via the critical scholarship of the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Department faculty endeavor to provide intellectually rich, student-centered learning environments via limited class sizes, collaborative research opportunities, and summer internship support.

Our research and teaching cover a variety of theoretical and empirical scholarship both within traditional disciplines and in interdisciplinary frames in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences, as well as combinations of the three. The Department is committed to providing a rigorous intellectual experience for undergraduate students who choose to study gender and sexuality in a women’s college.

Women’s and Gender Studies Major

Learning Objectives for the Women’s & Gender Studies Major

By their senior year, students majoring in Women’s & Gender Studies will:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the social and historical constructions of sex and gender, shifting definitions of the meaning of “woman,” and why debates about definitions matter
  • Use gender as a category of analysis in their own writing
  • Be able to explain the intersectionality of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality and the interlocking systems of privilege, oppression, and opportunities. They will also be able to explain how structural changes and historical moments intersect with individual lives
  • Demonstrate understanding of common theories used in Women’s and Gender Studies, such as the social construction of gender, the importance of location and of situated knowledge
  • Cultivate cross-cultural awareness and apply insights to “big questions” about women and gender globally
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the history of women’s activism and of strategies for social change
  • Demonstrate understanding of methodologies used by scholars in Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Construct arguments with evidence obtained from research and scholarship
  • Think and write critically, engage in critical self-reflection and self- awareness, and compare different perspectives on issues
  • Connect knowledge and experience, theory and activism, and learning from Women’s & Gender Studies courses with other courses 

Requirements for the Women’s and Gender Studies Major 

Student entering in Fall 2019 and beyond 

Minimum major is 9 units; one unit must be taken at the 100 level (120 or 102). In addition, two units must be taken at the 300 level.  

Of these 9 course units: 

  • A minimum of 6 units must be taken in the Women’s and Gender Studies department
  • A maximum of 3 units may be taken outside the department (including the list of courses for credit toward the Women’s and Gender Studies Major and Minor, transfer courses taken at other institutions and pre-approved by the Chair and other Wellesley courses not included in the list of courses for credit and pre-approved by the major advisor) 
  • A minimum of 4 units must be approved to count within the student’s selected area of concentration.  

WGST Concentrations and the courses that fulfill them are listed below:

Students may select from the following concentrations: 

  • Representations, Media, and Race
  • Feminist Science, Health and Technology
  • Labor, Families, and the State
  • Transnational Feminism(s) in Global Contexts
  • Self-designed concentration (in consultation with and approved by the advisor.

2 300-level courses are required. One course must be a capstone selected from the following list of options:

Option 1: WGST 312 Seminar. Feminist Inquiry (offered for the last time in Spring 2022) 

Option 2: WGST 313 (Fieldwork in Women’s and Gender Studies). 

Option 3: WGST 360/WGST 370 (Senior Thesis) 

Option 4: A 300-level taken within the Women’s and Gender Studies department that is approved to count toward the student’s area of concentration (courses pre-approved to count toward the concentration as detailed on the department’s website). 

  • (Required) Students who are interested in either 313 or 360/370 must have taken 1 course that includes a focus on methodologies and analytic techniques including data analysis prior to the start of their independent projects (selected in consultation with the advisor). 

About Courses: 

Courses at the 100 level are introductions to topics in Women’s and Gender Studies. They are taught from the perspective of each faculty member’s specialty. Courses at the 200 level are overviews of substantive areas. Courses at the 300 level provide in-depth examination of material covered in 200-level courses. 

Methods: 

Women’s and Gender Studies scholars use a broad range of methodologies and analytic techniques in their work. Majors may meet the “methodologies” learning objective through one or more courses in the Women’s and Gender Studies department; consult with your advisor about recommendations for specific courses

Honors in Women’s and Gender Studies 

There are two routes to honors in the major. Under Program I, a student completes two semesters of independent research (WGST 360 and 370) culminating in an honors thesis. Under Program II, a student completes one semester of fieldwork or independent research (WGST 313) related to previous 300-level course work, and then submits to an examination Includes both topics covered in the general area of Women’s and Gender Studies and also one that is related to the 313 project. Honors may only be undertaken in the senior year. To be admitted to the WGST honors program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on the student's behalf if the student's GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions. 

If a student is a rising junior and is interested in either a WGST 360/WGST 370 (senior thesis) or in a WGST 313 honors they must have their paperwork, including a proposal, into the department by April 20. 

Advanced Placement Policy in Women’s and Gender Studies 

Women’s and Gender Studies does not allow students to count AP credits toward the fulfillment of the major or minor.

The Minor

Requirements for the Women’s and Gender Studies Minor
A minor in Women’s and Gender Studies consists of five courses, of which one must be chosen from among WGST 100, WGST 102, WGST 108 or WGST 120 and of which one must be a 300-level course (not WGST 350 or WGST 350H) offered within the department. A total of at least three courses must be taken within the Women’s and Gender Studies department.

What is it like to major in Women's and Gender Studies? Click here for stories from WGST majors.