Women Studies

College of Humanities
Dean: Paul Sherwin

Department of Women Studies
HUM 315
E-mail: woms@sfsu.edu
Web Site: www.sfsu.edu/~woms
Chair: Minoo Moallem

Undergraduate Advisers: M. A. Jaimes-Guerrero, Minoo Moallem, J. Sandell
Graduate Advisers: Deborah Cohler, Minoo Moallem, Parama Roy



Associate Professors—Jaimes-Guerrero, Roy

Assistant Professors—Cohler, Sandell


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. The department emphasizes interdisciplinary and multicultural scholarship and offers students the opportunity to learn about theories and methods produced by various academic disciplines as well as feminist studies with its rich spectrum of theoretical and methodological approaches in studying women and gender in a variety of cultural, national, and transnational arenas. 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 U.S. 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.

In consultation with an adviser, each student develops a major program including electives in women studies and in other departments. 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 nine units of requirements, six units of stipulated electives, and three units of free electives provide a grounding in feminist perspectives and theory. It also provides an opportunity to acquire background on feminist issues in a number of given disciplinary and interdisciplinary 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 department 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 U.S. ethnicity and race issues and using a transnational perspective connecting U.S. concerns with those elsewhere, 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 the production of gender.

Career Outlook

The B.A. is a liberal arts 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 including non-governmental 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, journalism, law, social work, health, administration, and advocacy.

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


The major requires at least 39 units, of which 30 must be at the upper division level. Twelve units must be completed in the women studies core courses. Twenty-one units of electives must be taken in women studies courses and six units of electives may be taken in other departments upon advisement for a total of 27 elective units.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Courses Units
WOMS 200 Introduction to Women and Gender Studies 3
WOMS 201 The Politics of Gender, Race, and Nation 3
WOMS 690 Senior Seminar 3
WOMS 698 Work Study in Feminist Projects 3
  Total for core 12
Elective Courses  
Electives in women studies courses (6 units can be taken in other departments on issues, topics, or skills based upon academic interests and goals. Approval by Women Studies adviser is mandatory.) 27
Total for major 39


Program Units
WOMS 200 Introduction to Women and Gender Studies 3
WOMS 201 The Politics of Gender, Race, and Nation 3
Any WOMS 500-level course 3
Electives in women studies 6
Electives outside the department upon advisement 3
Total for minor 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. Once the GAP is approved, the student is advanced to candidacy.

On-line 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 Feminist Approaches to Sexual Identities and Cultures 3
WOMS 713 Issues in Feminist Theory 3
WOMS 820 Feminist Research Methods 3
Total for core 15
Units selected from 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
Units selected from 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

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