Women's Interdisciplinary Studies Advising Guide

The women's interdisciplinary studies graduate and undergraduate program was designed to help students:

  • Explore academic disciplines from a feminist perspective.
  • Develop an appreciation of the historic and contemporary contributions of women of all cultures.
  • Understand the ideological assumptions regarding women implicit in social institutions.
  • Acquire knowledge and skills necessary for physical, social, and emotional well-being.

As an advisor for Women's Studies students, your responsibility is to:

  • Help them understand the benefits of pursuing a minor/concentration/graduate certificate.
  • Connect them to appropriate resources related to their academic and other personal interests.
  • Explain the requirements of the undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • Explore ideas for independent studies - including topics and faculty who might be able to assist them in that pursuit.

Fit with Academic Majors

For undergraduate students, the minor is 21 credit hours. The program is interdisciplinary in nature, meaning that the classes are in economics, anthropology, music, ethnic studies, art, etc. Only two courses with a WS prefix are required - the Introduction to Women's Studies, or WS200 and the Seminar, or WS472. Most students find that the minor fits nicely with their major because they are taking electives for their major anyway - doing a minor just means that most of those electives have a gendered focus. If they are concerned about the fit, have them take the check sheet with them to an appointment with the academic advisor from their major and look at how it fits together with what is required for their major.

Undergraduate students who are pursuing a major in Ethnic Studies have the opportunity to pursue a concentration in Women's Studies. Ethnic Studies majors are required to pursue a minor anyway, so the Women's Studies concentration fits in nicely.

For graduate students, the Certificate is 9 credit hours, and is designed to help a student develop a concentration on women or gender in their graduate program. The graduate certificate is very flexible, and allows the student to create her or his own experience, based on her or his interests. Most graduate students find that it fits nicely with a two year master's program, though they may have to take one to two more classes than other members of their cohorts.

Advising Undergraduate Minor Students

  • Give the student two copies of check sheet. One will be kept in their file in the Ethnic Studies department; the second sheet is for them to keep track of the requirements on their own, if they wish to do so. Review the requirements with them:
    • Required Courses: Each student is required to take WS 200: Introduction to Women's Studies (offered every semester), and WS 472: Women's Studies Seminar (offered every spring). Additionally, they are required to take ETST 405: Ethnicity, Class, and Gender in the U.S.
    • Intersectionality Course: In addition, students must take 3 credits with an intersectional focus. They may choose from: ANTH 338: Gender and Anthropology; ETST 254: La Chicana in Society; or ETST/ SOWK 352: Indigenous Women, Children, and Tribes
    • Elective Courses: Students must also take 9 elective credits in Women's Studies. There are currently 16 course options, listed on the Women's Studies Minor Check sheet.
    • Students may petition to have a course count towards their Women's Studies minor if they can show that gender is a major focus of the course and it is taught from a feminist perspective (see below).
  • Students must earn a "C" or better in each of their courses to earn the minor.
  • Courses may not be "double counted"

Advising Undergraduate Concentration Students

  • The Ethnic Studies major/ Women's Studies concentration is a new degree offering with very specific requirements. Please view these requirements on the Ethnic Studies Major - Women's Studies Concentration document and work with the student's Ethnic Studies adviser to co-advise.
  • A minor is recommended but not required for students pursuing this option.
  • Students must earn a "C" or better in each of their courses.
  • Courses may not be "double counted"

Advising Graduate Students:

  • Graduate Students must meet certain requirements to be admitted into the Certificate program. Requirements include:
    • Completed a certificate, minor, or bachelor's degree in Women's Studies;
    • Taken Women's Studies courses;
    • Read a significant body of literature in Women's Studies; or
    • Completed either paid or volunteer work in a Women's Studies applied area.
  • To be admitted to the program, students should complete the Application Form, and attach appropriate documentation for the requirement that she or he meets listed above.
  • If none of these requirements are met, the student may still be admitted to the program by:
    • Reading an introductory text in Women's Studies and one feminist theory text, and
    • Reading a feminist text related to the student's academic or career preparation field, and
    • Writing a 3-5 page paper on what she or he believes a feminist perspective to be and its relevance to the process of inquiry and interpretation in the student's field.
  • Graduate Students must complete 12 credits and attend at least 2 colloquia to complete a certificate.
    • Core Courses: Students must complete a minimum of six core credits, including the Graduate Seminar, WS692 and an Independent Study, WS672, or Thesis, WS699. It is rare that a student would choose to do a Thesis for the Women's Studies requirement, because the thesis must be completely independent from the thesis requirement for the requirements for that person's primary degree. For graduate students, an independent study can include serving as a GTA for a course with women or gender as a focus.
    • Supporting Courses: Students must also take a minimum of three credits of supporting courses which can be chosen from the list of supporting courses on the website, or petitioned for through the Supporting Course Form and reviewed by the Board.
    • Women's Studies Colloquia: The OWPS sponsors three to four Colloquia each semester, designed to provide students and faculty a chance to interact in an academic setting, outside the classroom. Colloquia allow faculty the opportunity to share her or his research, and students the opportunity to explore areas of interest outside her or his academic discipline.

Independent Study

If a student chooses to pursue an independent studies, explore with that student what area they would like to pursue for an independent study, and help direct that student to a faculty member who might be a good match for supervising that independent study. (Consult your affiliated faculty list for names of faculty in each department.) Explain to the student that it is her or his responsibility to approach that faculty member and to work out the specifics of the independent study requirements. The student and faculty member should complete the Independent Study Form together and drop the completed form off at CWSGR with all required signature.

It is important that the student understands that the Independent Study is a contract between them and the faculty member, and not CWSGR. Staff in CWSGR take the grade assigned by the faculty member, and do not intervene when a student is not satisfied with the relationship with the faculty member.


Students may petition to the board to include courses that they believe fits into the core because it was taught from a feminist perspective, and had women or gender as a focus. Petitioning to use other classes for WS200 or WS472 has strict requirements, but can be done under special circumstances such as transfer credits. Students should complete a letter and appropriate documentation (i.e. copies of syllabi, papers complete for the course, etc.), and ask the board to review. A student can substitute Psychology of Gender for PY327 Psychological Perspectives on Female Experience, but cannot use BOTH classes as core courses, as the intent of the certificate is to be interdisciplinary.

Transfer and Study Abroad:

If a course transfers in to CSU as one of the courses listed in our core, it can be used toward the requirements of the certificate.

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