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Chairperson and Graduate Director: Professor Utz McKnight, Office: 104 Manly Hall


The Department of Gender and Race Studies (called Women's Studies until November 2009) offers a course of study leading to the master of arts degree in Women's Studies. The MA in Women's Studies is designed to support feminist research. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural methodology. It provides a conceptual framework, analytical training, and bibliography and research tools for feminist studies. The program is designed for students from a variety of humanities and social science backgrounds with interest in gender studies and the status and roles of women in society, past and present.


Graduates of the MA program will have the skills to continue graduate work toward a PhD in a humanities or social science discipline. Training in feminist studies and research methods will also enable graduates of the MA program to enhance their work in other careers, such as law, health care, criminology, social work, public welfare, and education.


Graduate work in Women's Studies and African American Studies is also available to students whose degree programs permit them to select courses in other programs and divisions. A master of arts concentration in Women's Studies may be taken through the Department of American Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences and through other cooperating departments and programs. Admission and programs of study are subject to the guidelines presented by the appropriate department or program.



Admission Requirements

The requirements for admission to the Graduate School are detailed in the Admission Criteria section of this catalog. All applicants to the Department of Gender and Race Studies must submit test scores from either the Graduate Record Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in support of the application. International students must submit results of the TOEFL as well. It is preferred that each applicant to the MA program have an undergraduate major or minor in Women's Studies, or the equivalent, and a major in a humanities or social science discipline. Each applicant should have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and satisfy minimum requirements for admission to the Graduate School. Students with deficiencies in undergraduate preparation may be required to take additional credit hours. Financial assistance is available in the form of research/teaching assistantships and fellowships for qualified students. Applicants who wish to be considered for research or teaching assistantships or fellowships should file their applications by February 15.



Degree Requirements for the MA in Womenís Studies


Students must meet all requirements in the Degree Requirements section of this catalog. 


Students complete a minimum of at least 30 hours in courses numbered 500 or above. All MA students will successfully complete a 9-hour core program consisting of WS 530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary or WS 535 Black Feminism; WS 532 Issues and Problems in Womenís Studies Research; and WS 570 Gender, Race, and Class: Cross-Cultural Approaches. Students have the option of writing a thesis (Plan I) or passing a comprehensive exam described below (Plan II). A grade of ďBĒ or better must be earned in all courses. 


Plan I (thesis plan) requires at least 30 hours of coursework which will include 9 hours of core courses, 15 hours of elective courses, and 6 hours of thesis research. Students must submit a proposal before writing the thesis and defend the thesis before a committee of three graduate faculty, including at least one from outside the department.


Plan II (comprehensive exam) requires 30 hours of coursework which will include 9 hours of core courses and a comprehensive exam. The masterís comprehensive exam is an oral defense of a portfolio of three exemplary research papers written during the studentís program. The papers should be selected by the student and be prefaced by an original 10-page essay introducing the portfolio. The 10-page preface should explain how the three are reflective of the studentís program of study. To pass the exam, the student will defend the portfolio and preface before a three-member graduate faculty committee.



Core course requirement

WS 530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary or WS 535 Black Feminism


WS 532 Issues and Problems in Gender and Race Studies Research


WS 570 Gender, Race, and Class: Cross-Cultural Approaches



Additional requirements


WS 599 Thesis Research


WS Elective


Electives (departmentally approved)




Course Descriptions

WS 500: Independent Study in Gender and Race Studies. One to six hours.
Independent study on any subject pertaining to women. Projects are conducted under the supervision of a professor in the chosen field and must be approved in advance by the program director.

WS 503: Seminar in Teaching Gender and Race Studies. Three hours.
The student attends a section of WS 200 and works with one group. Meetings with other discussion leaders and supervisors are required in addition to written work.

WS 510 Special Topics. Three hours.
Seminar format. The course offers an interdisciplinary approach to topics, which vary by semester. Active student engagement, such as conducting an interview, is required. Sample topic: women in the world.

WS 520 Women and Work. Three hours.
A study of women and various work relationships, through autobiographies of working women, novels, and essays.

WS 521 Gender and Race Studies Practicum. Three hours.
The class meets for seven weeks to discuss theoretical and methodological issues concerning contemporary women, in preparation for an eight-week internship with either an organization or individual in the community.

WS 525 Feminist Theory: Major Texts. Three hours.
Seminar consists of close readings in feminist theory, with an emphasis on primary texts. Intellectual, cultural, and political theory.

WS 530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary. Three hours.
Considers major economic, social, psychological, and philosophical approaches to the study of women. Emphasis is on the formulation of theories and mastery of primary works in the field.

WS 532 Issues and Problems in Gender and Race Studies Research. Three hours.
This seminar focuses on interdisciplinary research and problems in methodology in Gender and Race Studies.

WS 535 Black Feminism.  Three Hours. This seminar exposes students to the key figures, texts, and concepts that constitute Black feminist thought.

WS 540/WS 541 Seminar in Gender and Race Studies. Three hours.
Topics vary each semester. Graduate students are required to conduct original research. The courses focus on such topics as language and gender, Southern women's culture.

WS 550 Women in America. Three hours.
The cultural roles and experiences of American women; how they have been perceived and how they have perceived themselves within American life.

WS 560 Women and Public Policy. Three hours.
The systematic analysis of public policy formation at the federal, state, and local levels as it relates to the status of women. Strategies for change and the impact of the women's movement are examined. Team and individual research projects.

WS 570 Gender, Race, and Class: Cross-Cultural Approaches. Three hours.
Prerequisite: WS 530, WS 532, WS 535 or equivalent.
The major focus of this seminar is a cross-cultural approach to the study of gender, race, and class. Emphasis is placed on theories of and research on gender, race, and class.

WS 590 Women and Law. Three hours.
This seminar's major focus is the impact of the law on the status and lives of women.

WS 592 Women in the Labor Force. Three hours.
The historic and demographic changes of women's labor force participation from colonial times to the present, and the economic and social impact of their changing work roles.

WS 594 Sex Discrimination. Three hours.
This seminar is designed to survey sex discrimination law and issues related to marriage and family life, employment, and educational opportunity.

WS 599 Thesis Research. Three to six hours.
The focus of this research may involve traditional or community-related research on the student's approved thesis topic in Gender and Race Studies.

WS 635 Seminar in Feminist Literary Criticism. Three hours.
Intensive study in the writings of one critic, or exploration of the theory and practice of feminist criticism involving works by several critics. This course is the same as EN 635 Seminar in Literary Criticism, when its subject is feminist literary criticism.



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