Undergraduate Program

The degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia College, taught in cooperation with Barnard College’s Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, provides students with a culturally and historically situated, theoretically diverse, and transnational understanding of feminist and queer scholarship as it engages multiple disciplines. Undergraduates are able to Major, Concentrate, or Special Concentrate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and may craft a focus of their choosing to reflect the most contemporary or historically oriented interests.

The program introduces students to key feminist and queer debates about the cultural and historical representation of nature, power, and social differences such as those based on race, class, and religion. Students graduate with critical reading, writing, and analytical skills and gain the tools they need to analyze systems of power operating at personal, national, and international levels

The undergraduate program introduces students to the long arcs of feminist history and theory, LGBTQ studies, and queer theory. Students learn to think about gender and sexuality in relation to the cultural and historical representations of nature and power, and as part of the way we produce social constructions like race, class, ability, and other markers of social difference. Our courses encourage students to think about the body as a central site for the staging of social dramas about meaning, and also to engage with wide-ranging debates on topics such as equality, social justice, power, pleasure, governance, legal structures, science, and technology.

Through sequentially organized coursework in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as approved elective courses in a wide range of departments, the degree provides a thoroughly interdisciplinary framework, methodological training, and substantive guidance in specialized areas of research. Small classes taught by our core faculty members and mentored thesis writing give students an education that is both comprehensive and tailored to individual needs. Graduates leave the program with critical reading, writing, and analytical skills and gain the tools they need to analyze systems of power operating at personal, national, and international levels. While this prepares some for future scholarly work in the field of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies, others take these skills and apply them to careers and future training in a variety of fields, including: law, public policy, social work, community organizing, public health, film, journalism, medicine, and other professions where gender and sexuality are currently being reimagined there is a need for critical and creative interdisciplinary thought.

Degree Requirements

The undergraduate major requires the completion of the following course requirements:

  • WMST UN1001 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies or WMST UN3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies
  • WMST UN3311 Feminist Theory
  • WMST UN3514 Historical Approaches to Feminist Questions
  • WMST UN3915 Gender and Power in Transnational Perspectives
  • WMST UN3521 Senior Seminar I
  • Six approved Elective Courses on women, gender, and/or sexuality in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.
    • Electives will be selected in coordination with the director of undergraduate studies to best suit students' specific interests and to provide them with the appropriate range of courses, whether their focus is ethnic studies, pre-med, pre-law, sociology, public healthy, queer studies, visual culture, literature, or another area of interest. Students are encouraged to take a broad interdisciplinary approach. The director of undergraduate studies will help students fine-tune their academic program in conjunction with IRWGS courses, cross-listed courses, and other courses offered at Columbia.

The undergraduate concentration requires the completion of the following course requirements:

  • WMST UN1001 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies or WMST UN3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies
  • WMST UN3311 Feminist Theory
  • WMST UN3514 Historical Approaches to Feminist Questions
  • WMST UN3915 Gender and Power in Transnational Perspectives
  • Six approved Elective Courses on women, gender, and/or sexuality in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.
    • Electives will be selected in coordination with the director of undergraduate studies to best suit students' specific interests and to provide them with the appropriate range of courses, whether their focus is ethnic studies, pre-med, pre-law, sociology, public healthy, queer studies, visual culture, literature, or another area of interest. Students are encouraged to take a broad interdisciplinary approach. The director of undergraduate studies will help students fine-tune their academic program in conjunction with IRWGS courses, cross-listed courses, and other courses offered at Columbia.

The undergraduate special concentration requires the completion of the following course requirements:

  • WMST UN1001 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies or WMST UN3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies
  • Four approved Elective Courses on women, gender, and/or sexuality in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.

Typically, honors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies will be awarded to students with (1) a grade point average of at least 3.6 or higher in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies or related courses, (2) a senior thesis that has been recommended for honors by the professor of the senior seminar and the student’s faculty advisor, and (3) approval by the College.

A limited number of students are granted this standing, and final approval originates from the Dean’s Office. However, the Undergraduate Director, in consultation with the senior seminar professor and the student’s faculty advisor, may propose honors for an extraordinary academic performance, with final approval resting with the College.