Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies - Public Policy

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

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

Program Overview

In 1982, the George Washington University made history by pioneering the first Master of Arts in Public Policy with a concentration in Women’s Studies. Students in this program learn to critically analyze contemporary policy issues concerning gender and sexuality, and to apply a gender lens to a broad range of policy questions. The program leverages its Washington, D.C., location and robust professional network to provide an unmatched learning environment for students interested in combining women’s, gender, and sexuality studies with public policy.  As of June, 2016, the degree name officially changed to MA in Public Policy with a concentration in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies to reflect the full range of interests already represented in the curriculum and in faculty and student work.

Along with courses grounded in feminist theory and empirical knowledge about the condition of women in the United States and around the world, students in this 36-hour program take at least four policy courses in the GW Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Through the program’s interdisciplinary curriculum, students learn to analyze structures of power, particularly as they are grounded in gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity and nationality, and develop theories and methods for challenging inequity and imagining social justice.

Graduates typically find jobs in policy or advocacy oriented nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Some students choose to apply coursework for this degree to a PhD in public policy and public administration at GW.

The WGSS Program also offers an MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Both of the WGS MA degrees are options for the JD-MA and LLM-MA joint degrees offered by the GW Law School. In addition, a 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)

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. (Institutional 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:

Two (2) recommendations. Three (3) recommendations are welcome for those applying for fellowships.

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. Also 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 an teaching experience you have had.

Writing Sample:

A 10-15 page writing sample is required.

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