Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is designed to enrich students' traditional disciplinary training and broaden their perspectives on the study of gender and sexuality. The Graduate Certificate facilitates learning from a variety of methodological approaches, including: critical feminist, race, and legal theory, cultural studies, queer theory, and trans studies, as well as traditional disciplinary methodologies. The Certificate is open to students currently enrolled in graduate programs at the University of Pennsylvania (masters and doctoral level), including students from the Graduate School of Education, SP2, Annenberg, the Law School and the Nursing School.

**Applications to the Graduate Certificate Program are accepted on Nov 15th in the fall semester and March 15th in the spring semester.**

 Please reach out to Gwendolyn Beetham with any questions: (


1- Coursework 

Four graduate-level seminars (numbered 500 or above) with a significant focus on GSWS topics, issues, theories, methods, or research. In order for a course to count toward the certificate, it should meet at least one of the specified criteria:

  • a) it is offered by or cross-listed with GSWS;
  • b) it contains significant GSWS content; a syllabus should be submitted to the Curriculum Committee for approval to count courses that are not cross-listed but have this content;
  • c) the student’s final research project or paper is significantly focused on GSWS topics, even if the course is not; the paper must be submitted to the student’s GSWS Faculty Advisor for approval.
  • d) undergraduate GSWS courses may count toward the certificate if the student works out a plan with the professor for a graduate-level component and has permission to register for the course as a graduate level independent study.

2- Professional Development

Students should participate in four GSWS-sponsored activities, such as:

  • a) attending GSWS Graduate Research Colloquia;
  • b) attending GSWS Pedagogy Seminars;
  • c) presenting a paper at one of the workshops or colloquia offered by GSWS (counts for two);
  • d) working as a teaching assistant or graduate instructor for a GSWS course (counts for two);
  • e) working with a GSWS Graduate Working Group to organize a GSWS event of interest, such as a conference, lecture, or roundtable (this may count for two of the four required activities, depending on degree of involvement). Working groups are periodically formed for upcoming initiatives or events at the behest of the GSWS Director or Associate Director. As a student, you may reach out at any time to the Graduate Associate if you would like to become more involved.

3- Research Paper

Students should submit an article, essay, or dissertation chapter that engages substantially with GSWS topics, methods, or theories. The paper will be reviewed by the student’s GSWS Faculty Advisor for approval.

4- Syllabus or Project Description

As a practicum to cap the work students have done toward both their degree and the certificate, students can either create their own syllabus for a GSWS course or write a two-page post-degree project proposal.


First steps & Online Application Form:
**Applications to the Graduate Certificate Program are accepted on Nov 15th in the fall semester and March 15th in the spring semester.**

Please reach out to Gwendolyn Beetham with any questions (

  • Contact a GSWS Core or Affiliated Faculty member to be your GSWS Faculty Advisor. (Please feel free to contact Dr. Beetham if you need assistance identifying someone.) 

  • Fill out the online application form here.   

  • Please note: at this stage you do *not* need to have all of your requirements completed. 

Final Approval
**Applications and final approval documents are accepted on Nov 15th in the fall semester and March 15th in the spring semester.**

  • Send all materials to faculty advisor for review.

  • Fill out the final approval application form here.

  • 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.


Do I need to have all of my requirements completed before I fill out the online application form?
Students do not need to have any of the requirements completed before applying to the certificate, though many do. If you have already fulfilled all of the requirements, we suggest instead filling out the final approval form, and bypassing the initial application. (This will be especially true for those in professional degree programs -- i.e. Law School students, masters students, etc.)

When do I need to have my requirements completed?
The certificate is designed so that students can work on completing the requirements at their own pace. Some students fulfill all requirements in one year. Some students fulfill the requirements over several years. Once you have completed all the requirements you should first send all materials to your faculty advisor for review and then fill out the final approval form here.

I am graduating and/or going on the market and need to fast-track through this process - who do I contact?
Students who need to fast -track through the process at any stage because of graduation, job market concerns, etc, should contact Gwendolyn Beetham (

I am a law student. What are some courses at the law school that have been used to count toward the certificate?
Here is a (non-exaustive) list of courses that have recently counted toward the certificate from the law school:

  • Women, Law, and Leadership
  • Interdisciplinary Perspective of Law and Family
  • Workplace Equality
  • History and Theory of Contract Law
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Reproductive Justice Law & Policy
  • Law & Sexuality
  • Policing Marginalized Communities

How do I get on the FQT/GSWS mailing list to be notified of news and events?
You can sign up to the graduate email list here