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I'm looking to apply to PhD programs in Women's/Gender/Feminist studies and enroll starting in Fall of 2022––it seems like a ways away, but this is the soonest I can go if I apply in the next admission cycle, for which apps are due in Dec./Jan.

Here's my question: Which universities would people recommend I apply to? I've been surprised by how many major institutions do not offer PhDs in Women's/Gender/Feminist studies. Some of the places I'm considering applying to are University of Washington, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, Emory, University of Maryland, UCSB, and Ohio State University. I'd love to learn what other universities people know of that offer PhDs in Women's/Gender/Feminist studies! Also, if people have opinions/thoughts about particular universities, I'd be glad to hear them.

Also, which universities are considered most prestigious? (This won't necessarily dictate where I apply, lol, I'm just trying to get a better feel for the world of graduate Women's/Gender/Feminist studies.)

In case you need more info...

  • I'm not at all picky in terms of location, though I would like to be in the U.S.
  • On a (very) broad level, my primary interests are 1) how feminism/gender intersects with popular culture, media and fandom, especially in the music industry as well as on family YouTube channels; and 2) public policy and using legislation to mitigate/fix systemic inequities and injustice

Thank you!

PS - This is my first post in this site; I hope I did everything correctly! :)

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I'd recommend also looking into more traditional disciplines who might also offer a graduate certificate in Women/Gender/Feminist studies. If I'm remembering correctly, the majority of people hired to be WGSS professors have their degree from a different discipline. There is no official ranking of prestige nor is it the only department which doesn't consider prestige. Due to the very limited jobs, I'd really recommend choosing a place which will cover your expenses enough so that you won't have to take out additional loans nor work an additional job. Your best work will occur when you don't have to worry about how your day to day expenses.

Some programs that have graduate certificates in WGSS:






When looking at programs, I'd consider who is working on areas you're interested, what other courses from both departments you're interested in, the funding and support they can provide (a degree is useless if one can't complete the degree), and what opportunities/resources are available.

Good luck!

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Adding a few unis to this list

1) Rutgers
2) UC Berkeley (Their Rhetoric department offers a PhD and I think they have a gender studies track)
4) Yale (im not entirely sure about this but I think their Sociology department allows candidates to do a combined PhD in WGSS and in the near future the WGSS PhD might be established so I'd suggest looking into it)

In UK and Europe in case you're interested: 

1) LSE 
2) Cambridge
3) CEU
4) York (UK, not Canada)
5) Sussex
6) Lund 
7) Utrecht 

There are a few more that I can't think of right now but I can let you know later if you're interested. 

As far as prestige or notoriety are concerned, it might be a little bit of a gamble. If you want to continue on in academia, your best bet would be to focus on a department that other academics know of and not specifically focus on a university. If you want to go into an "industry" job (not sure what that would be for gender studies grads), then maybe the reputation of the university is more important. But regardless, most of the universities I've mentioned above have a few profs in their department who are very well-known in their field. Berkeley has Judith Butler (although she's not a full-time prof), Rutgers has Jasbir Puar, etc etc. and that is probably one of the factors that adds to the departments reputation. I'd suggest picking a university based on which sub-field of gender studies you'd want to work in or which professor you'd want to work with specifically. 

I sort of agree with the poster above about pursuing a PhD in a broader field but I think if you really want to, you should apply to a gender studies programme. I have an undergraduate degree in law, a masters degree in gender studies and am starting my PhD at a WGSS department this fall. I don't really know what's going to happen in the future and whether my PhD will turn out to be futile or not but I do know this is something I'm extremely interested in and would love to pursue. A few of my graduate school professors (who, as the poster above rightfully mentioned, did get their PhD's in a separate field and now teach in a gender studies department) did encourage me to apply for gender studies programme for a few reasons. A lot of these programmes have been established more recently/ have gained their reputation recently as well which is possibly why people working in the field currently, did not pursue these degrees. I think many academic sub-fields have emerged in the last few years that were not as prominent a few years ago. Also, most importantly, WGSS programme's are broader than most people might assume. Apart from the basics of feminist histories and epistomolgies, there's a strong focus on philosophy, psychoanalysis etc etc. My favorite courses at graduate school were on nationalism, affect theory and biopolitics and I hope to do my PhD in something related to nationalism and legal jurisprudence. The reason I'm attending a WGSS programme is because it's far more interdisciplinary and in a way, discipline-neutral than most traditional departments are. 

Lastly, I don't know much about the intersection of popular culture and gender studies but I think UC Berkeley's Rhetoric department might be able to support that kind of research because its very interdisciplinary. In fact, I remember coming across a rhetoric grad's thesis on stand up comedy (not sure what the context was). As far as legislation and public policy are concerned, I think a lot of departments would support that kind of research because many of these departments have legal scholars/law professors. Just a caveat, if you are interested in purely legal research that analyses the impact of laws on women (and does not consider theory) then a law department with a WGSS track might be a better idea. 

I hope this helps, I really didn't intend to write 3 whole paragraphs but had fun doing it! Let me know if there's anything else you might need help with. 

Edited by Undeuxtrois
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16 hours ago, Regimentations said:

I'd recommend also looking into more traditional disciplines who might also offer a graduate certificate in Women/Gender/Feminist studies.

Second this. Maybe someone in the field of sociology could confirm (I'm more an econ person), but it seems like what you want to study might fit in some sociology departments. It may be worth checking out some sociology departments to see if there are researchers working in areas that are relevant to your interests.

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