About The Program

The Penn Program for Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides exciting intellectual opportunities for students to explore a wide variety of issues concerning gender, race, sexuality, and women in society, culture, history, science, and language.  The primary mission of the Program is to provide interdisciplinary training to graduate and undergraduate students on a wide variety of topics.  In close collaboration with the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies (formerly the Alice Paul Center) we seek to integrate research and teaching, believing that the best education is provided by faculty who are engaged in cutting edge research in the field and can share their knowledge and expertise with their students. We thus provide many opportunities for students to learn from courses that integrate faculty research, as well as funding opportunities to support their own independent research.

The Program offers a major, a minor, and a graduate certificate. Reflecting the interdisciplinary mission of our program, the undergraduate major and minor are intended to provide a broad array of options to students interested in understanding the way that gender, sexuality, and race have developed and changed over time in their meaning, practice, and treatment. The conceptual frameworks to come out of the field - for example, intersectionality, queer theory, and transformative justice - help students make sense of our current moment and, more importantly, equip them with the analytical skills to work towards a more just and equitable future.

Our GSWS seniors regularly win campus prizes and national honors. Our graduate and undergraduate alums have pursued careers in law, medicine, nursing, business and finance, nonprofit organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), university professorships, university administration, philanthropy, and politics (check out our Alum Directory).

The Program offers a growing number of undergraduate courses in the field, including Gender and Society (GSWS 0002), Introduction to Queer Studies (GSWS 0003), Trans Method (GSWS 3500), Folklore and Sexuality (GSWS 2700), and Law, Society, and the Politics of Sexual Reproduction (GSWS  1490). In addition, the GSWS curriculum includes over 50 crosslisted courses each year, allowing students to study topics ranging from Queer Studies, to global feminism, disability studies, feminist theory, feminist ethnography, education, nursing, and many others, taught by Core and Affiliated Faculty from twenty different departments and schools around the university.