Graduate Certificate in GSWS for Ph.D. Students

The Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Requirements and Procedures for Ph.D. Students

The Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies is designed to enrich students’ traditional disciplinary training. The Certificate provides Ph.D. students with opportunities to think in an integrated fashion about gender, sexuality, and women, and to engage with a variety of approaches including feminist, critical race, queer, and transgender theories as well as various disciplinary methodologies.

Overall Requirements

  • A core curriculum of 5 GSWS courses:
    • 1 feminist theory or sexuality/queer theory seminar
    • 4 courses cross-listed with GSWS, or courses that contain significant content in gender, sexuality, and/or women's studies**


  • A Research Paper
    The paper for the Graduate Certificate should include theory and/or research relevant to current topics in the study of gender, sexuality, and/or women. A student may submit a paper written for a course that fulfills this requirement, or may be asked to expand an existing paper.


  • 5 Pedagogy Seminars (for students who enroll in the GSWS Certificate Program from fall 2011 forward). All GSWS graduate certificate students who have enrolled in the certificate program prior to September 1, 2011 will be grandmothered into the previous requirements, which did not feature a pedagogy seminar series. Nonetheless, we invite and encourage all currently enrolled GSWS graduate certificate students to attend any/all of these seminars. The GSWS Graduate Pedagogy Seminars will be held six times per year and all certificate students are expected to attend at least five of these seminars in order to meet the requirements of the Certificate Program.

** "Grandmother" course credit is available at the discretion of the Graduate Certificate Committee. Credit may be given for courses that were not officially cross-listed with GSWS, but that focused on gender, sexuality, women, and related issues. Students should submit a statement detailing why they believe their course of study at Penn fulfills the requirements of the Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies to the Committee.




  • To Apply to the Program, a student must:
    • Obtain a Graduate Certificate Application form.
    • Select a Faculty Advisor. (See our list of Core Faculty as well as our list of Affiliated Faculty.)
    • Consult with the advisor about a plan of study. Students should meet with their faculty advisor at least once per year.
    • Write a ONE PAGE statement about why she/he wishes to obtain a Certificate. The statement should include a discussion of how the Certificate Program relates to the student’s current scholarly interests. (This may include what work the student has already done in the area of gender, sexuality and women's studies.)
    • Submit the statement and the Graduate Certificate Application form to the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program Graduate Certificate Committee for approval (c/o the GSWS office). The Graduate Certificate Committee, which is composed of faculty members from a variety of disciplines, meets to review proposals three times per year in October, February, and May.


Final Approval

  • The student must submit the signed Graduate Certificate Approval form to the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program Graduate Certificate Committee for final approval. If a student has followed the procedures approval is typically granted. The student is also asked to submit a copy of the paper written for the Certificate to be kept on file in the GSWS Program Office.
  • After final approval for the Certificate, a notation that the student has successfully completed the program will be placed on the student's transcript, and the student will receive the Graduate Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.



Revised 1/10/13

Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania

The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women

411 Cohen Hall, 249 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-8740

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