Gender & Women’s Studies

What Is It?:

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies offers a rigorous and encouraging intellectual environment in which to pursue an undergraduate GWS major or minors in GWS or Queer Studies. We teach interdisciplinary perspectives on gender in our philosophical, political, aesthetic, economic, social, and scientific worlds, and on gender as foundation for those worlds.  In doing so, we also illustrate and investigate gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, race, indigeneity, class, nationality, religion, and ability.

GWS classes draw on a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, and literary studies, among others.  Students learn to identify limitations and expand possibilities for how these disciplines study and speak about knowledges, communities, institutions, populations, movements, and cultures in our world.  As a student in our department, you will develop skills in critical thinking, analytical research, writing and other forms of communication; and you will contribute to intellectual and creative inquiry and social change. In Gender and Women’s Studies, we give students the knowledge and the tools to transform the world.

Whether a GWS major, minor, or a learner in one of our innovative and challenging courses, GWS students develop the knowledge and language to dismantle taken-for-granted assumptions about the world around us, and acquire a deeper understanding of social justice.

For more information, please visit the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • GWS 100—Intro Gender and Women's Studies
  • GWS 201—Race, Gender and Power
  • GWS 202—Sexualities
  • GWS 250—Gender and Representation

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

GWS Graduates have a high rate of acceptance into graduate or professional school, including Law, Social Work, Library Science, Public Health and Medicine.  Other graduates find jobs with a variety of non-profit organizations and community agencies addressing issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault, homelessness, children and family services, public health, and human rights.  Still others find more traditional jobs in business or government in areas such as human resources and market analysis. 

  • Artist/Designer
  • Attorney
  • Counselor/Therapist
  • Digital Media Specialist
  • Diversity and Inclusion Educator
  • Documentary Filmmaker
  • Fundraiser
  • Health Services Administrator
  • Journalist
  • Librarian
  • Non-Profit Administrator
  • Peace Corps or Vista Worker
  • Physician
  • Professor
  • Psychologist
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Sexual Health Educator
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Victim Advocate
  • Union Organizer
  • Writer/Editor

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Enroll in a GWS Internship
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Gender and Women’s Studies Student Association- The purpose of the GWS RSO is to connect students interested in Gender and Sexuality Studies and create a forum for both social involvement and academic collaboration
    • National Organization for Women Campus Affiliate Group (NOW)- acts to bring women into the mainstream of American society, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof, in truly equal partnership with men
    • Women of Color- The purpose of Women of Color is to educate, uplift, and unite minority women on the University of Illinois campus and in the greater Champaign-Urbana community
    • Women of Pride- is a student group made for queer women and their allies as a safe place to gather. We informally educate the campus community of cultural, political, and other social issues related to LGBTQ+ folks of all identities

Related Skills:

  • Ability to understand and interact with diverse populations
  • Ability to read, summarize, analyze
  • Ability to generate new knowledge and ideas
  • Effective writing, speaking, and listening skills
  • Ability to build and sustain relationships across social and political differences
  • Critical awareness of past and contemporary movements and events
  • Ability to digest complex theoretical knowledge, and to translate theory into action

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Gender and Women's Studies, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Gender and Women's Studies.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Gender and Women's Studies.  These organizations include National Women's Studies Association and Association for Gender Research, Education, Academia and Action.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Gender and Women's Studies, visit Undergraduate Programs.