Masters in Women's Studies & Gender Studies PhD Programs
While pursuing a masters in womens studies, you could learn about feminist theory, social change, the history of important women and much more. This type of degree could prepare you for a variety of different career paths.
Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies?
Within the greater umbrella of cultural studies and humanities, there are a number of specific focus areas students may pursue. One of these is women’s studies.
The issues tackled by gender studies programs may be of increasing importance in today’s world, as companies are faced with questions and issues such as the gender wage gap, Family and Medical Leave Act concerns and issues of gender identity and non-binarism, just to name a few. Students who cultivate a keen understanding and perspective through women’s studies programs may acquire skills useful in addressing these common workplace concerns.
Women’s Studies Master’s Degree Curriculum
Women’s studies is a humanities-based subject. As such, students could expect to be exposed to courses prominent in other areas of liberal arts, such as literature, philosophy and sociology. However, the main difference is that women’s studies programs approach these topics from the perspective of women’s effect on such topics, as well as the ways that popular schools of thought have affected women as a population.
Many programs may include courses on feminist theory, which can comprise studies in literature, philosophy, art, technology and history. As a liberal arts field, women’s studies tends to be more research-focused, and students should expect to complete a dissertation or similar research project to complete the degree.
In recent years, some programs have begun adapting their women’s studies courses to include a broader range, including studies in gender and sexuality, as well as placing increased emphasis on smaller populations such as transgender or non-binary individuals.
Potential Career Paths for Women’s Studies Majors
Unlike some other degrees, women’s studies programs don’t prepare graduates for a specific field, but rather impart to them skills that may be applied across a broad range of professions. For example, graduates may wish to apply their knowledge of women’s studies to a health care setting, offering advice and care in issues of women’s and reproductive health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, community health workers earned a 2012 median annual salary of $34,620, with jobs in the field expected to grow by 21 percent through 2022.1
Many graduates may also wish to pursue a career in politics or public policy. The BLS reported that political scientists earned a 2012 median annual salary of $102,000, with an expected 21 percent growth in jobs through 2022.2
Is Earning a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies Right for You?
If the first decade of the 21st century is any indication, women’s issues may continue to grow in prominence in the coming years, especially as they influence areas such as corporate policy or even state and federal legislation governing issues such as pay equity and reproductive health. Students who complete a women’s studies program may be well-equipped to approach these topics and any others that surface as the corporate, legal and government landscape continues to change.
Simon Fraser University
University of Northern British Columbia