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Why Major in GWS?  

What is Gender and Women’s Studies? 

• Gender and Women’s Studies is UK’s department for transnational study of gender, race, class, and sexuality.  

• Gender and Women’s Studies teaches students how to analyze and engage with social inequalities in hopes of contributing to a more just society and worldwide democracy. 

• Gender and Women’s Studies trains people in both quantitative and qualitative reasoning to arrive at productive solutions to contemporary social issues. 

• GWS at UK is one of the most flexible majors that the College of Arts and Sciences offers.  It is perfect for students who want to double major or spend a semester abroad.  

Who takes Gender and Women’s Studies classes at UK?

• Anyone wanting to fulfill UK Core requirements (specifically for intellectual inquiry, social science and humanities; US citizenship; global citizenship) will enroll in GWS classes. 

• GWS courses attract students of all genders from a variety of majors and colleges who want to see immediate application and relevance of what they are studying. 

• Marginalized and underrepresented students – such as students of color, international students, first-generation collegians, Appalachian students, and gay/lesbian/trans/queer students – seek out GWS classes in disproportionate numbers. 

 What do you do with a Gender and Women’s Studies degree?

1.  A GWS degree prepares students for employment in the law, medicine, and health professions; in the nonprofit sector as educators, philanthropists, administrators, and advocates for community development and service; in political life as policy analysts, speechwriters, officials, and international diplomats; in media and design; and in business, as diversity officers and socially conscious entrepreneurs. 

2.  At UK, so far many of our majors have been scholars-in-training who have sought out graduate studies in a variety of fields.  

• More than 50% of our most recent graduating cohort went to their top choice in graduate education, including Indiana University, Ohio State University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Kentucky. 

• Graduate school admissions committees like to see GWS on students’ applications because it signals an outside-the-box thinker with interdisciplinary analytical skills. 

 Who teaches Gender and Women’s Studies? 

• UK’s GWS faculty are award-winning scholars whose research and publication records exceed university standards. GWS also has more than fifty affiliated faculty from numerous colleges and departments. Go to for our impressive list of faculty.

• UK’s GWS faculty is exceptionally diverse in terms of representing a variety of races, ethnicities, sexualities, and nationalities.


Below find the list of courses required for the new GWS major that we launched in Fall Semester 2009. Students must take 39 hours in addition to the pre-major requirements. 24 credit hours must be at the 300 level or above. 

Pre-major Requirements (6 hours)
Core Courses Requirements (12 hours)
GWS and Approved Departmental Electives (15 hours)
Allied Courses (i.e. no GWS prefix) (12 hours)

I. Pre-Major Requirements (6 hours are required)

  1. GWS 200  Sex and Power (offered Fall and Spring semesters)
  2. GWS 201  Gender & Popular Culture (offered Fall and Spring semesters)

II. Major Requirements (27 major credit hours, which includes 12 in core courses and 15 in GWS electives or GWS approved electives)

A. Core Courses (12 hours)

  1. GWS 250 - Gender and Social Movements  OR GWS 340- History of Feminist Thought to 1977
  2. GWS 350 - Introduction to Feminist Theorizing
  3. GWS 400 - Doing Feminist Research
  4. GWS 599 - Senior Seminar 

B. Current GWS Electives

  1. GWS 300 Topics in Gender and Women’s Studies
  2. GWS 301  Crossroads of Gender, Race, and Class
  3. GWS 302  Gender Across the World
  4. GWS 395 Independent Study in GWS
  5. GWS 410 Intro to Queer Theory
  6. GWS 430 Gender, Power and Violence
  7. GWS 595 Issues in Gender and Women’s Studies
  8. GWS 399 Internship in GWS

C. Approved Departmental Electives

The Program creates a list of elective courses that count towards the Major every semester at least two weeks before registration. For the current semester's course offerings, check the course page here.

III. Allied Courses (12 hours)

These course electives must be outside GWS (i.e. without the GWS prefix), but related to your GWS interests. They may include foreign language courses.

To request a course to count as a GWS elective, please email the Director of Undergraduate Studies with the course title, number, and syllabi of the course you would like to be considered. 

To request that a different course counts as a substititute for coursework, please fill out the Petition form to substitute coursework for undergraduate major/minor.

Declaring a major in GWS:
 If you want to major in Gender and Women’s Studies but did not declare a major during the admissions process or at any other time, then you will need to request a Transfer Form from the Undergraduate Studies office (109 Miller Hall).  Bring the completed form to the Advising Office in 202 Patterson Office to be processed.

Changing your major to GWS:

  • If you are changing majors within the College of Arts & Sciences, please go to 202 Patterson Office Tower and use the ‘Change Your Major’ Kiosk.
  • If you are changing majors from another college into A&S, request a Transfer Form from your previous college and bring it to 202 Patterson Office Tower along with your Student ID so the form can be processed.

Declaring a double major in GWS:
Having a double major means you are majoring in two different disciplines – for example, fulfilling the major requirements in both sociology and GWS.  If your primary major is in Arts & Sciences, you can declare a double major in GWS by going to 202 Patterson Office Tower and using the ‘Change Your Major’ Kiosk.

Declaring a dual degree:
Graduating with a dual degree means that you are earning two different bachelors degrees – for example, fulfilling all the degree requirements for a GWS B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in the College of Arts and Sciences and fulfilling all the degree requirements for a Bachelor of Sciences (a B.S.) with a major in biology. If you are an A&S student who wants to declare a dual degree, please come to 202 Patterson Office Tower and fill out paperwork.

** If you are not an A&S student but you want to add GWS as a second major, minor, or dual degree, you must do this through your primary college. Please contact your primary college for instructions on how to declare. 

***If the kiosks are not functioning in 202 POT, please ask the advising staff whether you should fill out paperwork for declaring a minor, major, and or double major and they will advise you of the next steps to take to have this information processed.