As an interdisciplinary Ph.D. with 60 graduate faculty who work in a wide array of departments and schools across the university, the Ph.D. program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies provides advanced and systematic course work investigating the multidimensional aspects of gender and sexuality. Approaching feminist knowledge production from multi-cultural and multi-racial perspectives, the program emphasizes the ways in which gender and sexuality have produced--and continue to produce—decisive and oftentimes unjust social and cultural effects in diverse historical and geographical contexts, The graduate course offerings are designed to explore the intricate connections between feminist theory and practice in order to illuminate how genders and sexualities intersect with other socially and culturally produced identities in both local and global contexts. The program requirements include 21 hours of core courses taken within the WGSS department and 18 hours of course work that can be located in units across the university, as well as in the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium ( In addition to course work, the Ph.D. requires the successful completion of a written qualifying and a comprehensive oral examination, as well as a doctoral dissertation. Core courses include Feminist Genealogies, Feminist Theory, Feminist Methodologies, Feminist Knowledge Production, Feminist Pedagogies, and two proseminars from the areas of concentration.

Learn more about the Ph.D. Learning Goals.

See below for more information on:

Ph.D. Requirements: An Overview

Consult the current pdfGraduate Student Handbook for detailed requirements.

72 Credits total

  • 39 Course Credits (13 courses)

  • Remaining credits may include transfer credits, dissertation research credits, additional course credits.

Proficiency in a second language

  • Students without second language proficiency are recommended to begin acquisition as soon as possible.

Qualifying Examinations: Written and Oral Dissertation Proposal and Defense

See below for information on Exams and Dissertation

Required Courses

Core Courses:

  • 988:582 Feminist Genealogies
  • 988:587 Feminist Pedagogies
  • 988:603 Feminist Knowledge Production
  • An additional course in Feminist Theory, chosen from designated 988 courses *
  • An additional course in Feminist Methods, chosen from designated 988 courses *

* Students may substitute a colloquium (988:525) for their additional theory course or for their additional methodology course.

Proseminars—two of the following:

  • 988:510 Technologies and Poetics of Gender and Sexuality
  • 988:520 Agency, Subjectivity and Social Change
  • 988:530 Gendered Borders/Changing Boundaries

Remaining courses must be selected in consultation with the advisor to form an area of concentration. Transfer credits may be accepted toward meeting the required 39 course credits.

Course Descriptions

Click here for all Graduate Course Descriptions.

Areas of Concentration

Feminist scholars at Rutgers have identified three innovative areas of focus to shape the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies. These areas are designed to stimulate original scholarship addressing new research questions and fostering the growth of feminist inquiry and practice. Each area of concentration is introduced through a proseminar that presents key questions, theories, methodologies, and empirical case studies.

Agency, Subjectivity, and Social Change

This concentration investigates women's mobilizations to transform social and political institutions, which also transform women activists themselves. Examining global feminist movements in the past as well as in the contemporary world, this concentration seeks to explicate how women's activism and agency continue to challenge dominant discourses on agency, subjectivity, culture, politics, authority, religion, and society.

Suggested Cognate Courses:

  • Women's Movements in Comparative Perspective
  • Third World Feminism: Critique or New Paradigm
  • Literary Criticism and Social Critique: Feminist Theory, Science, and Epistemology
  • Gender and Public Policy
  • Urban Poverty, Theory, and Policy
  • Proseminar in Women and Politics
  • Gender and the Self
  • Gender and Mass Politics
  • Sociological Perspectives on Feminist Theory
  • Colloquium in History of Women
  • Colloquium in African American History
  • Comparative Labor Movements
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Fiction and Narrative Theory: Life Narratives
  • Psychological Approaches to Literature: Self, Psychopathology and the Modern Age

Technologies and Poetics of Gender and Sexuality

This concentration investigates the hierarchical production of cultural differences. Technologies of gender and sexuality refer to the manifold practices through which categories of difference are produced and deployed to structure relationships and institutions in particular social and historical contexts. The poetics of gender and sexuality involve the creative and symbolic work of the imagination that reifies and naturalizes difference as a central factor of human relationships and cultural meaning.

Suggested Cognate Courses:

  • Sociology of Gender
  • Race, Class, Gender
  • Anthropology of Gender
  • Conceptualizing Gender
  • Recent Advances in Gender Scholarship
  • Sexuality in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Economic Anthropology: Culture and Capitalism
  • Black History and the Fictive Imagination
  • Literature and Politics: Textuality, Embodiment, Community
  • Women and Work
  • Women Writers of Modernism
  • The Sixties and Postmodernism
  • Theater of the 20th Century
  • Literature and Social Commentary
  • Problems in 20th Century Art: Constructions of the Female Body
  • Topics in Comparative Literature: Genre and Gender
  • Topics in Comparative Literature: The Body in Literature
  • Literature and Social Order: Literature and Class

Gendered Borders/Changing Boundaries

Feminist scholarship has sought to challenge and de-center many traditional boundaries by cultivating voices “from the margin” and exploring dimensions of women’s experiences that defy these boundaries. This concentration examines how feminist scholarship can illuminate phenomena such as fluctuating national borders, shifting contours of sovereignty, displacement, immigration, and diaspora, uncertain global economies, hybrid identities, and changing sexualities.

Suggested Cognate Courses:

  • Anthropology of Industrial Society: Transnationalism
  • Gender and Comparative Politics
  • American Literary Women: Black Literature and Migration
  • Postcolonial Literature and Theory
  • Postcolonial Writers, Postmodern Conditions
  • 20th Century Black Women Writers: Imagining the Diaspora
  • Japanese Literature/Queer Theory
  • US Latino/a Theater and Performance: From Rural and Urban Roots to Queer and Feminist
  • Border Mappings
  • Women in African Diaspora
  • Black Diaspora

Exams and Dissertation

Ph.D. Students in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies must complete Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations within 12 months of the completion of course work (minimum 39 credit hours) and prior to admission to candidacy status. Qualifying exams include a written component and an oral component to demonstrate mastery of the field of Women’s and Gender Studies, expertise in a specific area of interest, and preparation for independent research in the dissertation. Written examinations may be taken in the first week of September or the first week of March of each academic year. Oral examinations are scheduled on an individual basis no more than 3 months later. Students are expected to submit and defend a Dissertation Proposal within 7 months of passing the Qualifying Exams.