Gender and Women's Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The undergraduate program in Gender and Women's Studies (GWS) is designed to introduce students to the intersectional analysis of gender, women, and sexuality, focusing on gender and sexuality as categories of analysis and on the workings of power in social and historical life. The department offers an introduction to feminist theory as well as more advanced courses that seek to expand capacities for critical reflection and analysis and to engage students with varied approaches to feminist research. The curriculum draws students into interdisciplinary and intersectional analysis of specific gender practices through investigating areas such as feminism in a transnational world, the politics of representation, feminist science studies, gender and work, gender and health, and queer visual culture. Students learn to apply methods derived from the social sciences, the humanities, and the interdisciplines to the study of gender. They explore a growing body of feminist and queer theory that revises our understanding of gender, sexuality, society, and culture.

Our students have a unique opportunity to interact with an amazing cadre of GWS faculty. The program allows our students to pursue a broad array of careers and interests after graduation. Gender and Women's Studies students get significant personalized attention. The department is known for its investment in the well-being of its students, and its smaller size produces a supportive community among students, faculty, and staff.

Declaring the Major

To declare the major, students must complete GWS 10 or GWS 20, and have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0. To complete the major, students must take two of the three gateway courses (GWS 10, GWS 20, LGBT 20AC) . For details on how to declare the major, please see the department's website.

Honors Program

Departmental honors in Gender and Women's Studies is awarded to students who have completed GWS 195 and GWS H195, the GWS Senior Honors Program. To receive honors in Gender and Women's Studies students must complete a senior honors thesis in this class with a minimum grade of A- and have maintained a 3.3 overall GPA and a 3.5 GPA in the major. At the GWS commencement ceremony honor students will be awarded a gold honor cord (provided by the department) and the title of their honors thesis will be read as they receive their scroll. The level of honors achieved — Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors — is determined after graduation, and will be noted on the student's diploma and final transcript. For further information, please see the department's website.

The department honors thesis prize is given to the student who has demonstrated excellence in research and writing of the honors thesis. The instructor of the honors thesis class will recommend the student to the faculty committee.

Minor Program

The Department of Gender and Women's Studies offers a minor in Gender and Women's Studies. For further information regarding minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab on this page. To declare the minor, students must fill out the GWS Minor Worksheet, once they have decided to minor in the program. After fulfilling all course requirements, students must complete a Completion of L & S Minor form and submit it to the GWS undergraduate adviser in 608 Barrows Hall.

Other Minor Offered by the Department of Gender and Women's Studies

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies (Minor)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Lower Division Prerequisites

Choose two courses (in order to declare the major you must complete GWS 10 or GWS 20):
GWS 10Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies4
GWS 20Introduction to Feminist Theory4
LGBT 20ACAlternative Sexual Identities and Communities in Contemporary American Society4

Upper Division Requirements 

Core Courses
GWS 101Doing Feminist Research4
GWS 102Transnational Feminism4
GWS 195Gender and Women's Studies Senior Seminar4
Electives
Select five electives:15-20
Three electives must be chosen from GWS/LGBT course offerings.
The other two electives may be fulfilled by courses offered in other departments, on the topics of gender, women, or sexuality.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, but they are not noted on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  2. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  4. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  5. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  6. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

 Requirements

To declare the minor in Gender and Women's Studies students must complete the GWS Minor Worksheet to register the minor with the department once they have decided to minor in the program.   After completion of the minor requirements, students must submit a Completion of L&S Minor form to the department's undergraduate adviser the semester the student plans to graduate. Please see the undergraduate adviser for advising while pursuing the minor program.  All courses to satisfy the minor must be taken in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department.

Lower Division Prerequisite
GWS 10Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies4
or GWS 20 Introduction to Feminist Theory
Upper Division
Core courses, select one from the following:4
Doing Feminist Research [4]
Transnational Feminism [4]
Electives, select four upper division GWS/LGBT courses.15

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

Knowledge About the Field

  1. Intersectionality: Analyze gender as it intersects with other relations of power such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, nationality, religion, geography, ability, and age; distinguish universalist understandings of gender, women, and sexuality from multi-dimensional analyses that recognize interconnectivity and mutual constitution of categories.
  2. Gender issues: Recognize the social, political, economic, national, and cultural dimensions of gender as these relate to disparities in power and privilege. Become familiar with a range of past and present major issues pertaining to gender, such as race and citizenship, reproductive and sexual politics, media representation, understandings of masculinities and femininities, racialization of gender and sexuality, women's enfranchisement, gender and violence, identity politics, immigration, sex discrimination, changing families, gender and environment, labor, language, health disparities, gender and science, histories of colonialism, nation-state formations.
  3. Feminisms, Feminist Theories and Feminist Research: Describe and distinguish a broad range of feminist theories and practices in their specific cultural and historical contexts both nationally and internationally; identify the contributions and limits of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdiciplinary feminist research and scholarship.
  4. Historicization and contextualization: Articulate differences in sociopolitical contexts that inform opinions, theories, identities, subcultures and politics pertaining to gender and sexuality. Discuss issues of gender and sexuality in the context of their specific histories, knowledge frames, and politics. Work flexibly with a variety of epistemological approaches, recognizing each as culturally specific and inherently limited.

Ways of Communicating

  1. Visual Media and New Technologies: Evaluate, interpret, and generate information from a variety of sources, including print and electronic media, film and video, and internet technologies.
  2. Written and Verbal Communication: Express ideas effectively, both verbally and in written form, tailoring arguments and presentation styles to audience and context.

Critical Practice

  1. Creativity: Bring together a variety of texts, ideas, theoretical, political, empirical, aesthetic, and rhetorical approaches in order to respond imaginatively to social, political, and intellectual issues.
  2. Collaboration: Work collectively, take initiative, offer and receive constructive criticism, exchange ideas and creatively work together toward a common endeavor.
  3. Engaged Practices: Engage in a variety of feminist approaches, linking theory with practice. Learn how to be an effective advocate informed by transnational, political, sociocultural, and philosophical contexts.
  4. Knowledge production: Understand that social, cultural, and scientific knowledges are rarely pre-given, but produced. Demonstrate ways in which various cultural practices, including cultural traditions, academic practices, and information genres participate in and shape specific productions of knowledge, considering roles played by aesthetic forms, scientific journals, popular fiction, news media, the internet, and practices of citation.
  5. Ethics: Articulate ethical positions of scholarly and activist theories of gender; that is, consider what approaches inform value judgments on specific gendered or feminist practices. Understand other ethical research concerns such as human subjects and plagiarism.
  6. Critical self-awareness: Demonstrate self-reflexivity about one's ideas and social and political positions.

Skills

Critical Thinking

  1. Critical analysis: Identify and evaluate arguments, rhetorical styles, synthesize ideas, and develop well-substantiated, coherent, and concise arguments.
  2. Logical reasoning: Identify and follow a logical sequence or argument through to its end; recognize faulty reasoning or premature closure.
  3. Abstract thinking: Generalize for a specific purpose and/or in a way that clarifies and heightens understanding of major issues at stake; identify the essential or most relevant elements of a concept, event, object, text, etc.
  4. Argumentation: Marshal appropriate and relevant evidence in order to develop a clear claim or stance using specific rhetorical approaches.

Doing Research

  1. Problem solving: Identify important historical and contemporary issues relating to gender and women's studies, evaluate various responses to them, and adapt the knowledge gained through this process to everyday situations.
  2. Research Skills: Produce or locate resources and learn to build a research agenda. Read broadly in order to develop well-focused projects, using primary and secondary sources. Delineate key points in scholarly articles and respond to them. Use different modes of research, including empirical methods, scholarly literature, and theoretical and artistic engagement. Develop advanced library skills tailored to specific research projects, including facility with electronic databases, bibliographic reference materials, archival documents, and image and sound repositories.
  3. Interdisciplinarity: Draw from multiple fields of study or define new fields; grasp means and significance of expanding, crossing, transgressing, or bridging disciplinary boundaries.

Advising

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies Undergraduate Advising office provides students with support and assistance to help guide them through the academic bureaucracy and ensure that they have a successful undergraduate experience at Berkeley:

  • Counseling regarding their education and GWS courses
  • Declaring the major
  • Assessing their progress in the major
  • Administrative concerns (i.e., course enrollment, add/drops, L&S policy)
  • Graduation
  • Major information, courses, independent studies, Honors Program, GWS student group
  • Graduate programs and career information and referrals

The department strives to and is committed to providing a safe, inclusive environment for students. Students are welcome, feel supported, respected and valued and receive the ultimate advising experience to ensure academic advancement through the program.

The undergraduate adviser (UA), Althea Grannum Cummings, is located in 608 Barrows Hall and her email address is cummings@berkeley.edu. Her regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Do not hesitate to contact her if some assistance is needed.

Academic Opportunities

GWS Honors Program

GWS majors can pursue an honors thesis by successfully completing GWS195 and electing to move forward to GWS H195. To be eligible for the GWS honors program, students must have an overall 3.3 GPA and a 3.5 GPA in the major. Students must have a 3.6 for honors, a 3.8 for high honors, and a 3.9 for highest honors. In addition, the student must receive a minimum of an A- in GWS H195.

Honors Thesis Prize

The department Honors Thesis Prize is given to the student who has demonstrated excellence in research and writing of the honors thesis. The instructor of the honors thesis class will recommend the student to the faculty committee.

Departmental Citation

The Departmental Citation is an award recognizing undergraduate excellence in the UC Berkeley Gender and Women's Studies Department. Each year the department selects one graduating senior to receive this award for his/her outstanding accomplishments in GWS. A faculty committee reviews the materials of students who meet the following criteria:

  1. Officially graduating in spring or summer of the current year, or who have finished their degree in summer or fall of the prior year and haven't previously applied.
  2. Students are awarded the citation on the basis of scholarship with the criteria of an overall 3.5 GPA or higher and a 3.8 major GPA. The GPA includes the prerequisite courses taken for the major. All seniors can qualify to be considered for the Departmental Citation. When determining their selection, the faculty committee takes into consideration the overall GWS record and activities of qualified students, but it also focuses particular attention on the student's GWS research or project.

Excellence in Action Award

The department's Excellence in Action Award is given to the student who has demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to community service. The faculty and staff will make recommendations to the faculty committee and the committee will review and select the student from the recommended candidates.

David Getman Memorial Award in LGBT Studies

The Getman Award is awarded to the student who achieves the highest academic excellence in the LGBT Minor.  Prospective recipients will be identified, screened, and selected by a committee of faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies appointed by the Chair. 

David Getman Memorial Award in Global Women's Issues

The Getman Award in Global Women's Issues is awarded to a student who demonstrates a concrete commitment to the advancement of women’s rights and issues worldwide.  Prospective recipients will be identified, screened, and selected by a committee of faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies appointed by the Chair. 

Research Funding for Majors

Majors can apply for funding to help support the costs of GWS-related research or of presenting a GWS-related paper at a conference. Individual awards can be up to $250 for domestic travel or $300-$500 for international travel. Funding levels for other costs (e.g., copying, small payments for interview subjects, etc.,) will depend on the budget presented, but will generally range between $50 and $200. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the year’s funds are exhausted. Each major can receive funding up to two times over the course of their undergraduate career, although priority will be given to applicants who have not yet received funding. Recipients will be asked to write a very brief report summarizing how they used the funding. To apply, download the application from our website and email the completed form to the student services adviser.

Center for Race and Gender Undergraduate Student Grants Program

The Center for Race and Gender (CRG) at the University of California Berkeley, announces the availability of grants of $100 to $1,000 to fund undergraduates for research or creative projects that address issues of race and gender. Topics should be consonant with CRG’s mandate to support critical student research on race, gender, and their intersections in a wide variety of social, cultural, and institutional contexts, especially on the Berkeley campus and its neighboring communities, but also in California, the nation, or the world.

Study Abroad

Gender and Women’s Studies supports students interested in studying aboard, both through the Berkeley Study Abroad Program  or through a non-BSAP program. The department will work with students to ensure they have a productive and expansive experience, whether they are interested in taking courses for the major, in completing general education requirements, or in living/studying in another country and immersing themselves into that culture.

Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP)

UC Berkeley is well known for its dynamic research environment. As an undergraduate student there are many ways to participate in research on campus. One such program is URAP, which provides opportunities for students to work with faculty on cutting-edge research. By working closely with faculty, students can cultivate professional relationships, enhance their research skills, and deepen their knowledge and skills in areas of special interest. Applications are online. For a complete listing and description of research projects, visit the URAP website.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship/L&S

This program (SURF/L&S) allows UC Berkeley undergraduates in the College of Letters & Science to spend the summer doing concentrated research in preparation for a senior thesis. Application deadline generally is in the spring. See surf.berkeley.edu for more information.

Haas Scholars Program

The Robert & Colleen Haas Scholars Program funds financial aid eligible, academically talented undergraduates to engage in a sustained research, field study, or creative project in the summer before and during their senior year at UC Berkeley. Each year, twenty Haas Scholars are selected from all disciplines and departments across the University on the basis of the merit and originality of their project proposals. For more information, call 510-643-5374, consult the website, or visit the program office in 5 Durant Hall.

Ronald McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program prepares selected UC Berkeley undergraduates for graduate study at the doctoral level. Twenty to thirty McNair Scholars are selected each year to participate in both academic and summer activities. The McNair Scholars Program aims to increase the number of students in underrepresented doctoral programs. For further information, please see the program's website.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at Berkeley

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program at UC Berkeley targets students with exceptional academic promise and potential for careers that will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in the academy. The program supports fellows by providing guidance, role models and the environment and resources to strive for the highest academic goals. Fellows will realize their greatest potential as graduate students to later become extraordinarily successful faculty members and emerge as role models for future generations. For further information, please see the program's website.

Courses

Select a subject to view courses

Gender and Women's Studies

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

Faculty and Instructors

Faculty

Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor. Ethnicity, postcolonial theory, transnational feminist and queer of color theories, theories of the inseparability of gender, theories of the inseparability of sexuality, theories of the inseparability of, theories of the inseparability of class, theories of the inseparability of nation, theories of the inseparability of religion, global political and religious conflict (especially Hindu nationalism and racializations of Muslims and Islam), theories of resistance and transgression, right-wing movements, geographic areas of specialization outside the U.S- India and France.
Research Profile

Mel Y. Chen, Associate Professor. Queer and feminist theory, Disability theory, Critical animal studies, Materiality studies, Cultural politics of race, sexuality, ability, and immigration, Critical linguistics, Paradigms of inter- and transdisciplinarity.

Minoo Moallem, Professor. Transnational and Postcolonial Feminist Studies, cultural studies, Visual and Material Cultures of Religion, Immigration and Diaspora Studies, Middle East Studies, and Iranian Studies.
Research Profile

Laura C. Nelson, Associate Professor. Gender, medicine, and politics, Cultural, political, and experiential aspects of breast cancer in South Korea, How, why, and to what effect constructions of gender, class, and race are mobilized and manipulated in South Korea, Structures of cultural temporality (future, present, or past orientation) and anti-poverty policies (US and South Korea).

Juana Maria Rodriguez, Professor. Sexual politics, LGBTQ communities, Latino issues, women of color feminisms, ethnic studies, queer activism, transgender studies, queer kinship.
Research Profile

Leslie Salzinger, Associate Professor. Political economy, feminist theory, finance, sociology of gender, Gender and Work, gendering of transnational processes.
Research Profile

Charis M. Thompson, Professor. Science and technology studies, environmental ethics, feminist theory, reproductive technology, genetics, stem cell and cloning technology, personalized medicine, biodiversity conservation, transnational studies of reproduction and population, ethnography.
Research Profile

Minh-Ha Trinh, Professor. Gender and sexuality, womens studies, rhetoric, feminist postcolonial theory, film theory and production, music composition, ethnomusicology, contemporary critical theory and the arts.
Research Profile

Lecturers

Ayse Agis, Lecturer.

Barbara A. Barnes, Lecturer.

Laura Fantone, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Professor Emeritus. Labor, citizenship, undocumented students, caring work, settler colonialism, skin color bias.
Research Profile

Barrie Thorne, Professor Emeritus. Feminist theory, gender theory, ethnography, qualitative methods, sociology, women, sociology of gender, sociology of age relations.
Research Profile

Irene Tinker, Professor Emeritus. International development and women, Electoral quotas in legislatures for women.

Contact Information

Department of Gender and Women's Studies

680 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-2767

Fax: 510-642-0246

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Laura C. Nelson, PhD

618 Barrows Hall

lcnelson@berkeley.edu

Vice Chair for Pedagogy

Leslie Salzinger, PhD

616 Barrows Hall

lsalzinger@berkeley.edu

Vice Chair for Research

Minoo Moallem, PhD

628 Barrows Hall

mmoallem@berkeley.edu

Student Services Adviser

Althea Grannum-Cummings

608 Barrows Hall

Phone: 510-642-8513

Fax: 510-642-0246

cummings@berkeley.edu

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