Women Studies

College of Humanities
Dean: Nancy McDermid

Department of Women Studies
HUM 315
Chair: Inderpal Grewal

Undergraduate Advisers: I. Grewal, M. A. Jaimes-Guerrero, M. Moallem
Graduate Coordinators: I. Grewal, M. Moallem



Associate Professors—Chinosole, Jaimes-Guerrero

Assistant Professor—Moallem


B.A. in Women Studies
Minor in Women Studies
M.A. in Women Studies

Program Scope

Women Studies provides a framework for examining women and gender in relation to race, class, sexuality, colonialism, multiculturalism, and globalization. Students examine the ways in which women are gendered in diverse societies and discuss their lives, roles, and contributions. The course of study places gender in specific cultural and historical contexts in relation to families, communities, and nations. Especially at the upper division and graduate levels, courses cover analysis and debate of recent exciting work by feminists in various institutions and arenas, including academia, non-profit organizations, global non-governmental organizations, community groups, arts, media, and popular culture. Because the department's purview is transnational, feminists of US multi-ethnic communities are studied along with those from the rest of the world. The goals of the department include: the development of conceptual, analytic, and critical thinking skills in relation to gender in a transnational framework; the ability to use knowledge for self-expression and reflection; the capacity for creativity and understanding in the job market; the potential to formulate and implement theoretically informed political action.

Courses which fulfill major requirements are offered by the Women Studies Department as well as by other departments. For women studies variant topic courses and focus-on-women courses in other departments, the Class Schedule must be consulted each semester.

In consultation with an adviser, each student will develop a major program utilizing both women studies and other departmental courses. The emphasis on choice of courses beyond the required core and to some extent within the core will depend upon the focus of the major and the student's career or graduate study objectives. Majors must confer with the department chair in the early stages of their B.A. work for referral to an appropriate adviser.

The Women Studies minor is an 18-unit sequence well-adapted for combination with many existing majors. The twelve units of requirements and stipulated electives and six units of free electives provide a grounding in feminist perspectives and theory, and the opportunity to acquire background on feminist issues in a number of given disciplinary fields (e.g., history, psychology, sociology, literature, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and so on). Students interested in pursuing this minor should see the Women Studies chair who will direct them to the appropriate adviser.

The Master of Arts in Women Studies is interdisciplinary, enabling students to combine core and elective courses in women studies with electives in other departments and programs across the campus. The program, focusing on international and U.S. women of color issues, enables students to pursue advanced study of the history, status, and contributions of women in different cultures, and of the relationships among feminist theories, social/global structures, and women's lives.

Career Outlook

The B.A. is a liberal arts/humanities degree that focuses on women's issues in literature, history, sociology, anthropology, cultural and ethnic studies. The major provides the incentive, knowledge, and skills that prepare students for a variety of graduate programs; and for careers in traditional and alternative social and educational institutions, as well as in national and international organizations that require expertise in women's issues. Some students have used the degree as a foundation for graduate work in professional degree programs such as teaching, counseling, social work, law, public health, administration, and advocacy.

The M.A. in Women Studies enhances students' ability to participate professionally in a range of organizations in the public and private sector, particularly those addressing women's issues. It has also been a preparatory degree for students interested in teaching or in pursuing doctoral degrees in related fields.


Online course descriptions are available.

The major requires at least 39 units, of which 30 must be at the upper division level. Eighteen units must be chosen from women studies core courses as follows:

Program Units
WOMS 200 Women: The Basic Questions 3
WOMS 301 Women in Groups or 3
WOMS 302 Translating Women's Experience or
WOMS 303 Woman as Creative Agent
WOMS 400 Critical Analysis and Feminist Research 3
Any approved course focusing on third world women 3
Courses presently available:
WOMS 544 Contemporary Asian Women Writers
WOMS 548 Literature of U.S. Women of Color
WOMS 561 Women of Color in the U.S.
WOMS 562 History of African-American Women
WOMS 564 Women Writers and Colonialism
WOMS 565 Women in the Muslim and Arab Worlds
AAS 603 Seminar on Asian American Women
AIS 420 American Indian Women: A Heritage of Equality
ETHS 571 Women, Class, and Race
LARA 410 La Raza Women
WOMS 611 Female Sexuality: Social and Theoretical Perspectives or 3
WOMS 621 Feminist Thought
WOMS 698 Work Study in Feminist Projects 3
Electives in women studies, or focus-on-women courses in departments, or disciplinary courses to focus on a particular theme, issue, or set of skills based upon each student's academic interests and goals. Approval by a Women Studies adviser is mandatory. 21
Total 39


Program Units
WOMS 200 Women: The Basic Questions 3
One of the following 3
WOMS 301 Women in Groups
WOMS 302 Translating Women's Experience
WOMS 303 Woman as Creative Agent
WOMS 400 Critical Analysis and Feminist Research
Any approved course focusing on third world women. (For courses presently available, see listing under B.A. in Women Studies) 3
WOMS 611 Female Sexuality: Social and Theoretical Perspectives or 3
WOMS 621 Feminist Thought
Electives in women studies or focus-on-women courses 6
Total 18


Admission to Program

In order to be admitted to the program, students must meet all general university requirements. They must also possess at least a minor in women studies, or the equivalent, with background in U.S. women of color, third world women, and theories of sexuality. Students are expected to possess a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the last 60 semester units attempted for the bachelor's degree.

Applicants must provide the Women Studies Department Graduate Admissions Committee with the following items: (1) transcripts of all previous course work; (2) a written statement of background, intentions, and goals, including experience in women studies and with women's issues, rationale for pursuing the M.A., and relation of the M.A. in Women Studies to prior academic work and to career objectives; (3) two letters of reference from individuals with direct knowledge of the applicant's scholarly ability. For admission, applications are due February 1.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: satisfactory performance in final research paper in WOMS 700. Level Two: successful completion of WOMS 894, 895, or 898.

Advancement to Candidacy

The Graduate Approved Program (GAP) is filed after the student has completed a minimum of twelve units, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better, and before completing 27 units of work applicable to the M.A. degree. Once the GAP is approved, the student is advanced to candidacy.

Online course descriptions are available.

Core Requirements Units
WOMS 700 Introduction to Graduate Studies 3
WOMS 710 Women's Consciousness and Resistance in Cross-Cultural Perspectives 3
WOMS 712 Lesbians and Women-Identified Women: An International Perspective 3
WOMS 713 Issues in Feminist Theory 3
WOMS 820 Feminist Perspectives to Social Research 3
Total for core 15
One of the following on advisement 3
WOMS 750 Issues in Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality
WOMS 760 Issues in Women's Literature and Culture
WOMS 770 Issues in Women and Public Policy
One of the following on advisement 3
WOMS 894 Creative Work Project
WOMS 895 Field Study Project
WOMS 898 Master's Thesis
Related Field Units (upon approval of major adviser) 9
Minimum total 30

SFSU Home   Search   Need Help?  

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111

Last modified July 05, 2012 by bulletin@sfsu.edu