Ph.D. Program

The interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Women's and Gender Studies provides advanced and systematic course work investigating gender in society and culture in historical and contemporary contexts from multi-cultural and multi-racial perspectives. The graduate course offerings are designed to explore the intricate connections between feminist theory and practice, to illuminate the centrality of the intersection of gender identities with other socially and culturally produced identities, and to investigate women's issues and gender issues in a global context. The program includes 21 hours of core courses and 18 hours of course work, in addition to the successful completion of qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and 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

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 methodolgy 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.

Core Course Descriptions

Click here for a description of all the core courses in the graduate program.

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 and Gender 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.