A women, men, and gender studies degree teaches students to identify and challenge societal inequities based on gender.
Gender studies majors explore historical views on femininity and masculinity, learn about women's history, and analyze society through the lens of gender. Enrollees strengthen their critical thinking and analytical abilities through papers, assignments, and projects.
Also known as women's studies, masculinity studies, or women, gender, and sexuality studies, the field emphasizes gender equality while breaking down barriers and critiquing stereotypes.
In this guide, we look at the different types of women's studies, men's studies, and gender study degrees. We also explore career paths and earning potential for women and gender studies graduates.
What Kinds of Women, Men, and Gender Studies Degrees Are There?
In women, men, and gender studies, degree-seekers typically pursue degrees at the undergraduate or graduate levels, then go on to careers in social work or human services fields.
Many entry-level positions in human services and social work require at least an associate or bachelor's degree. A master's degree leads to roles with greater responsibilities, such as social worker, women's center director, or diversity officer. Academic and research roles, like gender studies professor, typically require a doctorate.
This page explores the different types of women, men, and gender studies degrees, including coursework, requirements, and career paths for each level.
Certificate Program in Women, Men, and Gender Studies
Certificate programs in women, men, and gender studies consider the impact of gender on history and society. Enrollees take introductory courses in gender studies and feminist theory while learning to critically analyze texts and materials. Depending on the program, learners may choose electives to focus their studies on topics such as global feminism, ecofeminism, or masculinity studies.
Most certificate programs require 15-30 credits and take around one year to complete. After earning a certificate, professionals work in social services, diversity centers, and nonprofit settings. After a certificate, some students go on to pursue gender studies degrees.
Associate Degree in Women, Men, and Gender Studies
An associate degree in women, men, and gender studies covers foundational topics like women's history and feminist philosophy. Students learn about the differences between sex and gender, the evolution of gender roles, and the relationship between gender, culture, and society. Degree-seekers also take general education courses in English, communication, mathematics, and natural science.
Earning an associate degree generally takes two years. With an associate degree, graduates qualify for roles such as administrative assistant, paralegal, and human services worker. Graduates can also transfer into four-year colleges and universities to earn a bachelor's degree. At many schools, an accredited associate degree meets the general education requirements for a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Women, Men, and Gender Studies
A bachelor's degree in women's studies, men's studies, or gender studies introduces undergraduates to concepts like intersectionality, feminist theory, and gender analysis. Majors also take classes in research methods and complete general education requirements in humanities and social studies. These courses strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills.
Seniors may need to complete capstone projects or papers to culminate the degree. Some programs also incorporate an internship to provide practical experience. Earning a bachelor's degree typically takes four years for full-time students. Graduates can pursue entry-level roles in nonprofit organizations, human services organizations, education, business, and the public sector.
Master's Degree in Women, Men, and Gender Studies
Master's-level gender programs provide graduate-level education in sexuality, women's studies, and men's studies. Degree-seekers take classes in feminist theory, women's history, and gender in politics. Some programs offer concentrations in areas like labor history, political theory, and literature. A master's student may also complete a practicum or internship.
After meeting coursework requirements, learners often take master's exams or complete thesis projects. Earning a master's in women, men, and gender studies typically takes two years, though some programs offer an accelerated schedule that may take as little as one year. Graduates can work as educators, diversity officers, women's center directors, and program coordinators.
Doctoral Degree in Women, Men, and Gender Studies
At the doctoral level, graduate students in women, men, and gender studies specialize in areas such as gender in a global context, gender and the healthcare system, or media representations of masculinity and femininity.
Doctoral candidates must complete several years of coursework before taking examinations and moving into the dissertation phase. During this stage, each doctoral enrollee conducts research and writes an original dissertation under the supervision of a faculty committee.
Earning a Ph.D. in women, men, and gender studies typically takes 4-6 years. The degree trains graduates to work in academia as gender studies professors.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Women, Men, and Gender Studies?
A degree in gender studies builds strong research and analytical skills. It is a versatile liberal arts degree, and graduates can pursue careers in diverse fields. For example, they can work in social services roles as social workers or as mental health counselors. They can also work in business and education, or in public and nonprofit sectors.
The following explores common careers for women, men, and gender studies graduates.
Associate or Bachelor's Degree Required
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
Social and Community Service Managers
Human Resources Managers
|Median Salary: $116,720||Projected Job Growth: 6%|
A human resources manager oversees an organization's administrative functions, including hiring and recruiting new staff. They work with executives to meet staffing needs, along with managing compensation and benefits programs. They also mediate conflicts between employees.
Master's or Doctoral Degree Required
Marriage and Family Therapists
|Median Salary: $49,610||Projected Job Growth: 22%|
Marriage and family therapists help clients build stronger relationships within their families. They meet with clients to discuss their needs, identify challenges in their relationships, and build strategies to help them cope with difficult situations.
School and Career Counselors
|Median Salary: $57,040||Projected Job Growth: 8%|
School and career counselors advise children and young adults on their educational options and potential careers. For example, career counselors might help people identify skills for particular pathways and encourage them to pursue programs that build those skills.
- National Women's Studies Association NWSA has supported women's and gender studies in academic and non-academic settings since opening in 1977. The association hosts annual conferences and events to connect scholars. Students can apply for NWSA awards.
- Southeastern Women's Studies Association This regional organization encourages scholarship and activism around women's rights and eliminating discrimination. SEWSA also hosts a conference with networking opportunities, awards grants for women's and gender studies students, and offers a student discount on membership.
- American Association of University Women AAUW was founded in 1881 to encourage women's involvement in higher education. Today, the organization advocates for women through professional development tools, career resources, and funding opportunities. For example, AAUW hosts salary negotiation classes and offers one of the largest women's scholarship programs in the world.
- American Men's Studies Association AMSA promotes scholarly exploration of masculinities. The association's members include teachers, researchers, and students who attend AMSA conferences, share research, and collaborate on teaching practices. AMSA encourages an interdisciplinarity, feminist-informed approach to men's studies. The association supports young scholars through mentorship opportunities and scholarships.
- National Organization for Women Founded in 1966, NOW is a grassroots organization connected to the women's movement. NOW operates chapters in every state, promoting policies to protect women's rights. The organization runs a national action campaign, hosts a conference, and coordinates campaigns around proposed legislation.
Accreditation for Women, Men, and Gender Studies Programs
Prospective women and gender studies majors should research institutional accreditation before applying to programs. Regional accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards for educating students and granting degrees that meet the requirements for professional licenses and certifications. Most graduate programs require an accredited degree for admission.
Regional accreditation is the gold standard for liberal arts programs, including women, men, and gender studies programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Women's and Gender Studies?
These fields analyze the history and impacts of gender on society, including how they affect current policies. Students explore women's roles throughout history and the evolution of gender ideologies.
What Is the Difference Between Women's Studies and Gender Studies?
Women's studies and gender studies both examine gender roles and the dynamics between men and women throughout history. Women's studies focuses more on women's history, while gender studies offers a more holistic examination of gender roles and expressions. Both fields build strong analytical and research skills and prepare graduates for diverse career paths.
What Is the Purpose of Gender Studies?
Gender studies analyzes the intersection between gender roles and society. It is an interdisciplinary field that explores the historical construction of masculine and feminine identities, the evolution of gender norms, and the cultural impacts of gender. Gender studies majors learn about feminism, queer studies, and the relationship between gender and the body.
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