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Gender and Sexuality Studies (Cluster and Certificate)

The Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) program brings together dynamic faculty and graduate students conducting research in the theory and history of gender, feminism, and sexuality studies. GSS draws from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, training students in core concepts of gender and sexuality studies while also mentoring students as they incorporate elements of this scholarship into interdisciplinary research projects centered in other departments and programs.

Doctoral candidates from any field are eligible to apply to join this intellectual “home” outside their department. While the majority of our students are pursuing Ph.D.s in programs housed within Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Communication, or the Bienen School of Music, we have also forged connections with MA and MFA programs on campus and, when possible, with students in other colleges at Northwestern.

GSS offers a Cluster and Certificate program, each with specific course requirements.

Programs and events

Many GSS events, such as visiting lecturers and conferences, are open to all members of the University. We encourage all students, faculty and staff of Northwestern to learn more about our research and activities by participating in our public events.

Graduate seminars in GSS are open to graduate students across the University. In addition, GSS students participate in a dedicated graduate colloquium with opportunities to offer and receive feedback on work-in-progress and to meet with visiting scholars. Other GSS events address areas related to professional development, conference planning, honing interdisciplinary approaches to research and teaching, and other topics, in sync with the stated interests of the students involved.

GSS also makes available limited, competitively awarded funds to assist graduate students in the cluster/certificate program who present their research at professional conferences.

Every year, Gender & Sexuality Studies supports four Teaching Assistantships in conjunction with our 200-level courses. The Teaching Assistantships provide an opportunity to teach courses outside students' home disciplines and to supplement their professional training. Teaching Assistantships are competitively awarded on the basis of applications and brief interviews. This TAship includes 3 quarters of stipend (standard rate set by TGS), tuition, and health subsidy. You can also find additional information about the GSS TAship and in the interview process in the GSS graduate student handbook, which you can download here.

How to apply or get started

Prospective graduate students interested in participating in this program should indicate their interest when they apply to their respective graduate programs. Some students will be invited to Northwestern as Mellon-funded “fellows” of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Cluster,

Graduate seminars in GSS are open to graduate students across the University, and any graduate student may pursue the Certificate by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and/or the program administrator of GSS (see below).

In general, students are encouraged to begin their participation in GSS in their first year of graduate study. During that year, students typically will take Advanced Feminist Theory (GNDR_ST 405) and Queer Theory (GNDR_ST 490) or Sociology of Sexuality (GNDR_ST 490). After completing the foundational courses, students should confer with their thesis advisors and their Gender Studies Graduate Advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies to determine the direction of their course work and research or performance project.

For yearly course listings, consult the GSS website here.

Who to contact

Please explore the GSS website for more information.  If you still have questions after reading the site, feel free to contact the DGS or the Program Assistant. Their information is listed below.

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

Cluster

The cluster provides basic training in gender and sexuality studies and is an alternative to Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies (for those students whose schedules do not allow for the completion of certificate requirement). The cluster is open to all interested graduate students.

Prospective graduate students interested in participating in this program should indicate their interest when they apply to their respective graduate programs. Some students will be invited to Northwestern as Mellon-funded fellows of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Cluster. 

Students in established departmental graduate programs can also participate in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Cluster. Note: This credential does not appear on transcripts. Most students proceed to the Certificate. 

  • Two foundational courses: 
    1. Feminist Theory: (GNDR_ST 405-0 Advanced Feminist Theory)
    2. Sexuality Studies: Queer Theory (GNDR_ST 490-0 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies) or Sociology of Sexuality (GNDR_ST 490-0 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies)
  • One additional 400-level course listed or cross-listed in Gender & Sexuality Studies or taught by GSS faculty. You may double-count pertinent courses taken for credit in your home departments. You may substitute independent studies or 300-level courses taken for graduate credit, subject to DGS and instructor approval.

At least two quarters involvement in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Colloquium (GNDR_ST 401-0), a one-credit, two-quarter course meeting every other week. This a forum for the circulation and discussion of work-in-progress by advanced graduate students in GSS, and a workshop for pre-professional activities, meetings with faculty in the program, presentations by recent fellowship recipients, and review of important publications by visiting scholars. Please note that the Colloquium does not count as one of the required three courses for the Cluster credential or as one of the five main courses for the Certificate. Anyone is welcome to attend single sessions of the Colloquium whenever they wish, even when they are not participating throughout a given term. GSS students are invited to participate in the Colloquium as many times as they like over the course of their graduate career.

Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies is designed to give students in Northwestern graduate programs advanced training in gender and sexuality studies. Many students view the Certificate as an important credential as they establish careers in scholarship and teaching positions that combine that combine traditional academic disciplines with interdisciplinary work in gender and sexuality studies. This credential appears on transcripts. 

 

  • Two foundational courses: 
    1. Feminist Theory: (GNDR_ST 405-0 Advanced Feminist Theory)
    2. Sexuality Studies: Queer Theory (GNDR_ST 490-0 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies) or Sociology of Sexuality (GNDR_ST 490-0 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Studies)
  • Three additional 400-level courses listed or cross-listed in Gender & Sexuality Studies or taught by GSS faculty. You may double-count pertinent courses taken for credit in your home departments. You may substitute independent studies or 300-level courses taken for graduate credit, subject to DGS and instructor approval.
  • At least two quarters involvement in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Colloquium (GNDR_ST 401-0 Graduate Colloquium), a one-credit, two-quarter course meeting every other week. This a forum for the circulation and discussion of work-in-progress by advanced graduate students in GSS, and a workshop for pre-professional activities, meetings with faculty in the program, presentations by recent fellowship recipients, and review of important publications by visiting scholars. Please note that the Colloquium does not count as one of the required three courses for the Cluster credential or as one of the five main courses for the Certificate. Anyone is welcome to attend single sessions of the Colloquium whenever they wish, even when they are not participating throughout a given term. GSS students are invited to participate in the Colloquium as many times as they like over the course of their graduate career.
  • One major research project to be submitted to the GSS DGS (gss-graduate@northwestern.edu) any time before petitioning for GSS certificate completion. It is up to the certificate student to choose what to submit to meet this requirement. The project can be a paper written for one of the GSS required courses, a chapter from dissertation work in progress, an article to be submitted for publication or already published during the course of the student’s PhD GSS training, presentation, or performance (subject to approval of adviser). Regardless of the genre of the project submitted, and of other disciplinary fields in which it is situated (e.g., anthropology, sociology, early modern British literature, etc.), this piece needs to be centered in gender-and-sexuality-related topics and/or employing gender-and-sexuality-related methods.  For any further clarifications, contact the GSS DGS directly. Preferred formats for submission are PDF, Word files, or MP4s.
  • Project cover letter to be attached by the student to the major research project, situating the project in its field, explaining its gender and/or sexuality focus, its contribution to the field, and the grounds on which it should be accepted in fulfillment of the certificate requirement. While there is no length requirement for this letter, it needs to clearly articulate the points above, so we recommend a minimum of one page. If need be, the GSS DGS will reach out to the student, and, if necessary, to the student’s adviser, for clarifications and further details.