PHD Program


 We regret to announce that the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Kentucky will not be accepting applications during 2020-2021 for admission to doctoral program for the 2021-2022 academic year. Given the many impacts and continuing uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe it is important to prioritize the training of current students.  Because we do not anticipate having any additional funding available for incoming students for next year, as a graduate faculty we have voted to suspend admissions for one year.  We look forward to resuming admissions in the fall of 2021, for students who would begin the program in 2022. 

 Please note: This decision does NOT apply to the Gender and Women's Studies Graduate Certificate.  The Graduate Certificate is available to graduate students enrolled in any program at UK, and as a stand-alone program certificate.  For more information:


We welcome your interest in our GWS PhD program and our interdisciplinary GWS certificate program. Our PhD program is enjoying its fifth year of existence and our GWS certificate is over twenty years old. Students in our PhD program and GWS certificate program have a wide range of professional goals and research interests. The PhD program in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky aims to train cutting-edge scholars of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. We are deeply committed to the academic innovations in both women’s studies, in which lived experiences of women worldwide are honored and used to expand traditional disciplinary knowledges, and gender studies, which examines how we ascribe gendered meanings to everyday objects, experiences, and relationships across space and time. Our curriculum is shaped by an intellectually and culturally diverse faculty whose areas of expertise complement each other in ways to ensure that students gain a variety of knowledge and skills. These include the areas of transnational perspectives, critical theory, affect theory, social justice frameworks, and interdisciplinary methodologies. Our faculty actively publish and teach across a broad range of topical area including studies of violence, social movements and activism, the law, reproductive justice, education, disability, masculinities, migration, body, popular culture, sexualities, queer theory, science and health. In addition, to offering required courses in feminist theory, the history of feminist thought, and feminist research methodologies, we offer a broad range of GWS topical seminars and crossed listed courses including “Gendered Migration,” “Gender and Science,” “Gender, the Courts, and Law,” “Queer Theory and Identity,” “Bodies, Representations, and Histories,” “Queer of Color in the Global Context,” “Women and Gender in Lain America,” “Feminist Pedagogies,” “Pregnancy and Prisons in Literature and Law,” “Diaspora and Gender Performance,” “Black Feminist Theory,” and “Ferguson and Race in a Historical Perspective” among others (See the link to graduate courses on this website for further information about course offerings). We also offer graduate seminars through the Social Theory Program (“Transnational Lives,” “Justice,” and “Affect”); cross-listed courses with affiliated GWS faculty; and programming in conjunction with the African American and Africana Studies Program, and the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino/a Studies Program.    

From the start of their graduate study, students work closely with departmental faculty to plan their advisory committees and coursework as well as applying and participating in national conference and working towards career goals. GWS graduate students are integral members of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky and the department is strongly committed to continuing to offer numerous opportunities for interaction, intellectual exchanges, networking, mentoring, and collaboration with a wide variety of scholars, venues, and professional associations. Our graduate students not only work closely with GWS core faculty, affiliated faculty, and GWS certificate students but are active participants in interdisciplinary programs and centers at the University of Kentucky including the Office of LGBTQ Resources, Center for Equality and Social Justice, Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women, Appalachian Center, Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, Women Writers Conference, Black Women’s Conference, Inclusive Pedagogies Graduate Learning Community, Black Women’s Conference, and the Social Theory Program. The department’s faculty and students are also highly visible presenters at national conferences and professional associations including the National Women’s Studies Conference, American Studies Association, Appalachian Studies Association, Popular Culture Association, American Anthropology Association, Association for Asian Studies, American Men Studies, Latin American Studies, International Conference on Narrative,  and the Berkshire Women’s History Conference among others.  

Our department recently served as an institutional sponsor of the 12th annual Duke University’s Feminist Theory Workshop and three of our graduate students were selected to participate in this prestigious gathering of established scholars and aspiring graduate students. Our graduate students saw their doctoral curriculum directly reflected in the discussions at Duke. As Ruwen Chang, one of our doctoral students explains:

What I have read from GWS 650 Feminist theory resonates with Jennifer Nash's talk about intersectionality. Silvia Federici's discussion about capitalism and gender violence reminds me of the importance of studying both social and sexual reproduction. All those academic connections between the workshop and my doctoral training further assure me that the GWS department at UK is in conversation with outside scholars from various fields.

Participating in the workshop allowed our students to rub elbows and share ideas with leaders in the field who are charting its path forward. We support such opportunities since they are crucial to the graduate students’ academic development as well as to their career readiness and marketability.

GWS graduate students continue to be recognized for their many achievements. The College of Arts and Sciences recently recognized two of our doctoral students, Miles Feroli and Ashley Ruderman, for their brilliant teaching; both received highly competitive Outstanding Teaching Awards. Ashley also won a dissertation travel grant to examine archives at the Schlesinger Library of Harvard University, as well as a fully funded fellowship from the Office for Policy Studies of Violence Against Women to support the writing of her dissertation on gender, sexuality, and prisons.  In December, the Provost’s Office recognized Lauren Copeland as an excellent teacher by awarding her the 2018 University of Kentucky Outstanding Teaching Award. Lauren also received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Competitive Graduate Fellowship to support her dissertation research on LGBTQ activists in the Middle East. Shawna Felkins was chosen as a fellow for the Inclusive Pedagogies Learning Community. Mel Lesch was selected as the LGBTQ Resource Graduate Assistant for the UKY Office of LGBTQ Resources and Adriana Sisko as an interviewer for the OutSouth LGBTQ Oral History Project. In addition, we are pleased to announce that GWS doctoral candidate Billy Korinko will be teaching at Berea College this academic year to teach and overseeing its  “Peanut Butter and Gender Speaker Series.” We are incredibly proud of our graduate students’ accomplishments!

Information on the PhD program, the requirements for application and admission, funding and assistantships, and the requirements for the degree are available on this website. If you have questions about the program after reading these materials, please contact Michelle Del Toro, GWS Department Manager at and/or Dr. Jenn Hunt, Director of Graduate Studies at 

We look forward to hearing from you!


Jenn Hunt, Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Gender and Women's Studies

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