Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Arts (M.A.), Graduate Certificate
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

Established in 1972, GW’s Master of Arts in Women’s Studies was the first of its kind in the United States. This groundbreaking program emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to the study of women, gender, and sexuality, bridging the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Students learn to analyze structures of power, particularly as they are grounded in gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity and nationality. They develop theories and methods for challenging inequity and imagining social justice. As of June 2016, the program and degree names officially changed to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) to reflect the full range of interests already represented in the curriculum, and in faculty and student work. Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., WGSS at GW is also positioned to provide students unique access to resources and internship opportunities.

Students in this 36-hour MA program are introduced to key issues in gender and sexuality studies, while receiving rigorous interdisciplinary training that enables them to conduct scholarly research and analysis. The program boasts strengths in intersectionality, transnational/global feminisms, public policy, and media and visual culture. Students are empowered to develop a focused specialization in a disciplinary or topical area of their choice. Previous concentrations include topics such as gender and history, sociology, anthropology, international development, media studies and health and the intersection of race, class and gender.

Many graduates go on to apply their knowledge and skills by securing jobs in non-profit and advocacy organizations, in the arts, in government, and in the private sector, as teachers, researchers, advocates, and gender specialists.. Some graduates pursue a doctoral or other professional degree.

The WGSS Program at GW also offers an MA in Public Policy with a Concentration in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Both of the WGSS MA degrees are options for the JD-MA and LLM-MA joint degrees offered by the GW Law School. In addition, a 12-credit graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is available to interested students.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:

Fall – April 1 (February 1 for applicants applying for assistantships/fellowships)

Certificate: July 1

Standardized test scores: 

The GRE general is not required, however, if you feel as though submitting scores will strengthen your application, you are welcome to submit them. (Institution Code: 5246)

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 

Minimum scores for the M.A. program are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual score below 6.0; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 68

Recommendations required:

M.A. Applicants - Two (2) recommendations. Three (3) recommendations are welcome for those applying for fellowships.

Certificate Applicants - One (1) recommendation.

Prior academic records:

Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.

If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.

Statement of purpose:

In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans.  Discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application. If you are applying for a teaching assistantship or fellowship, also describe any teaching experience you have had.

Writing Sample:

A 10-15 page writing sample is required (MA applicants only).

International applicants only: 

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 215
Washington DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) ~ 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday