You are here

You are here

Women's Studies

For more information contact

Director of Graduate Studies
Women's Studies
Duke University
Box 90760
Durham, NC 27708-0760
(919) 684-3655


General Information

Degree offered:
Faculty working with students:
100 affiliated with Women's Studies
50 enrolled
Online Application

Program Description

Women's Studies at Duke is a focal point within the University for the study of women, gender, and feminist theories.  Women's Studies has, since its inception, been an interdisciplinary field that allows graduate students to address complex issues beyond their traditional disciplinary and classroom boundaries and to explore problems in ways that connect theories and approaches of different disciplines.  Women's Studies students gain the opportunity to understand how social, historical, and psychological forces, organized by the central concept of gender, shape the world, and become conversant in critical and analytical skills of women's, feminist, and/or gender and sexuality studies broadly conceived.

Two primary intellectual impulses structure the Certificate in Feminist Studies:  the genealogy of Women's Studies as an interdiscipline that marshals multiple disciplinary approaches to examine the constitution of gender and feminist critical practices; and the emergence of feminist theory as a field of inquiry that critically engages the project of knowledge production itself.  In order to train students to engage the most sophisticated scholarship, the Certificate in Feminist Studies is organized around three major components:  a foundations course serves as a prerequisite to work in the certificate; a requirement that the majority of courses originate in Women's Studies; and that a member of the Women's Studies Graduate Faculty serve on the student's preliminary and dissertation committees.  The intellectual range and depth of the Certificate helps students articulate the core knowledge project of the field as a discrete academic enterprise, and link the study of women, gender, sexuality, race, and feminism in the disciplines together.  Although all students are welcome to take Women's Studies graduate courses, the certificate is a formal statement of the interdisciplinary coursework a student has completed, and is a useful professional credential for students seeking positions after graduation. Students who have earned the certificate have priority for the teaching and research assistant positions available through Women's Studies, and are credentialed by the Program for academic appointments in Women's Studies.

Duke has a large and distinguished faculty in feminist scholarship, with particular strengths in literature, history, English, romance studies, cultural anthropology, and religion.  Because Duke employs a full-time archivist in women's studies, graduate students have remarkable assistance in their research.  Graduate students can earn a Certificate in Feminist Studies (requirements below), become members of the Graduate Scholars Colloquium, a scholarly society that deepens their knowledge of the field of Women's Studies and provides a cohesive, supportive community, and are encouraged to teach introductory or special topics courses.  Women's Studies offers graduate students opportunities for teaching and research assistantships, travel and research awards, and dissertation fellowships.

Professional students and doctoral candidates may join the Graduate Scholars Colloquium and our Graduate Scholars listserv.  All affiliated students on this listserv receive newsletters, lecture notices, invitations to special events, conference, and job announcements.  For additional information, visit the program website at:  

Requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies:
[Note:  Audited courses do not count toward the certificate; nor does previously taken MA coursework at Duke or elsewhere.]

  • One required course:  Women's Studies 701 - Foundations in Feminist Theory
  • Two additional (600-level or above) graduate-level courses in or cross-listed with Women's Studies at Duke (tutorials do not fulfill this requirement).
  • A fourth graduate-level course or tutorial (500-level or above) offered by Women's Studies or another academic unit focusing on women, gender, or an intersectional approach to the study of race and/or sexuality. (Courses must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.)
  • Women, gender, sexuality, or feminism must be a significant aspect of the preliminary examination or dissertation project.
  • A member of the Women's Studies Core, Secondary, or Graduate Faculty must be on the preliminary examination and dissertation committees. (A complete listing of our Graduate Faculty can be found on our website at:

Spring Application