Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

Where is GWS located?

The Department of Gender & Women’s Studies is located on the 6th floor of the Social Sciences Building. View the staff and faculty directories for specific office locations. General Office Hours: Monday – Friday 9:30am – 4pm

I want to declare as a GWS major. What do I need to do?

To declare as a GWS major, first review the prerequisites. After determining your eligibility, you will need to visit the GWS Student Advisor to complete your paperwork.

I want to audit a GWS course. Is this possible?

Any non-UC Berkeley student may apply to UC Extension’s Concurrent Enrollment program if wishing to attend classes without going through the UC Berkeley admissions process. Concurrent enrollment in GWS courses, whether undergraduate or graduate, is encouraged and gives you the same rights and access to the GWS faculty member teaching the class as regular students enjoy.

Where can I find out about the latest research and happenings in GWS?

For news on a particular GWS faculty member, visit the news and events sections on our homepage. Check out the research being conducted by our visiting scholars in the Visiting Scholar Directory.

What are the three biggest misconceptions about Gender and Women's Studies?

1.  That Gender and Women’s Studies is only for people who identify as women.  There is an important political part of the history of the department that has to do with recognizing and fighting for the legal, political, and economic rights of women that the department’s name acknowledges, and the gendered, racialized lives of particular women are the focus of several amazing scholars on this campus.  But gender is a system we all live within, and includes all genders; understanding and changing hierarchies in which gender and sexuality play a part requires the participation of everyone, including straight white men!  Everyone should take at least one gender and sexuality class at Cal to understand the ways masculinities and femininities, desire and sexuality, work as systems of power as well as – potentially – empowerment.

2.  That Gender and Women’s Studies is concerned only with middle class white women.  Again, there is an important part of the history of feminist thought that has been complicit with white privilege and class privilege, and has focused on gender equality as if it could be considered apart from socioeconomic inequality, racializations, citizenship status, decolonization, sexualities, disability, national context in a transnational world.  In our department, we try both to come to grips with that legacy of white privilege – not pretend it never happened and doesn’t haunt us still – and teach all our classes from within a deep commitment to intersectionality (thinking about how different aspects of power are related) and a transnational awareness of the connections across internal borders within our own divided societies and with other parts of the world’s labor, migration restrictions, and natural resources that sustain our global privilege within the United States.

3.  That Gender and Women’s Studies is bad for you on the job market.  Quite to the contrary, majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies, whether as a double major or alone, is extremely attractive to employers and graduate school admissions, from medical school and law school to NGOs, teaching, and business.  Employers like to see students who have taken classes that indicate sustained critical thinking and writing, as well as a commitment to social justice.

I am writing an article on a topic related to gender and women’s studies and am interested in interviewing a GWS faculty member. How should I proceed?

We recommend that you first browse through the research areas of our faculty to find the appropriate person for your topic and contact them via email. [link here] You can also search the full UC Berkeley Faculty Expertise databasehere. Or try the Faculty Experts listcompiled by the Media Relations Office.

How can I reach a GWS professor?

Our faculty members can be reached via email.

How can I become a visiting scholar or visiting graduate student in the department?

If you have had your Ph.D. in hand for at least five years, you are eligible to apply to the visiting scholar programs in the The Institute for Gender and Sexuality Research. Prospective visiting graduate students may apply through concurrent enrollment if wishing to attend classes at UC Berkeley while conducting research. Concurrent enrollment in GWS courses, whether undergraduate or graduate, is encouraged and gives you the same rights and access to the GWS faculty member teaching the class as regular students enjoy. Details on concurrent enrollment can be found here. If you are simply looking for visiting status at UC Berkeley in order to access library resources or to conduct independent research, you should contact a research unit in your field which is set up for such things. Unfortunately we as a department cannot accommodate this, due to our small size and limited resources.

Does GWS have a PhD Program?

The department does not currently have a PhD program. We are in the process of developing a Ph.D - granting Graduate Group in Critical Gender and Sexuality Studies, which will involve faculty from a range of departments. Check our news section for periodic updates. UC Berkeley graduate students conducting research on topics related to gender, women, and sexuality should consider applying to the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.


What courses do I need to take in order to declare the GWS major?

To declare the Gender and Women’s Studies major, the student must have completed GWS 10 with at least a C grade. To complete the major, students must take two of the three gateway courses (GWS 10, GWS 14, LGBT 20AC).

What kind of G.P.A. must I have to get into the GWS major?

Students must have a 2.0 cumulative G.P.A. to declare the major. This is a C average and is considered as good academic standing in the College of Letters and Science (L&S).

When should I declare?

If a student has decided that this is what they want to major in, we recommend they officially declare as soon as they are prepared, which means they have taken, or are enrolled in, their prerequisites. Declared majors will have priority consideration for enrollment in upper division GWS courses, so it is to their advantage to declare as early as possible.

What must I do to declare the GWS major?

Students who are ready to declare should make an appointment to see the Undergraduate Advisor in 608 Social Sciences Building.  Visit the Undergraduate Advising page for more details.

How many courses and units must I complete in Gender and Women Studies?

There are 8 courses required in the major, totaling between 30-32 upper division units.

What kind of courses will count as GWS electives?

Any upper division GWS course in the department numbered above 100 (or graduate courses) and that are not already being used to satisfy another requirement may be used towards your elective.

Can upper division major courses be taken elsewhere?

YES!! The department will accept one course outside the department to fulfill the major elective requirements and they can be taken in another department or at another four-year institution, including EAP courses. However, the focus of these courses must be on gender, women or sexuality.  Community college courses arenotupper division level courses.

Can I take any of the GWS course requirements for a P/NP grade?

All GWS courses must be taken for a letter grade if they are to be used towards satisfying the major requirements.

Are there any minimum grade requirements that I must achieve in any GWS courses?

No, but your major G.P.A. must stay at or above 2.0.

Do I have to take the Honors program?

No! Students are not required to take the GWS Honors Program.

How often are the GWS courses offered?

The department offers each core class once a year. We try to offer as many electives as possible depending on the teaching resources available. We often rotate our elective course offerings, but some courses are only taught once every 3-4 semesters.

Do you have any papers from last semester?

YES! The GWS department keeps students’final and exampapers on file for one year, so if you take a course in the fall semester you will be able to pick it up the following fall semester.  All other papers should be retrieved from the instructor.

What do you do if you want to contest a GWS grade?

First, check your final exam, available in the departmental office at 608 Social Sciences Building for instructor comments. If you want to contest your grade after reviewing your exam, contact the instructor of the class and try to resolve it.  If the two of you cannot solve the problem, write a formal complaint to the chair of GWS.  The chair will review your complaint, speak with the instructor and make a final decision.  If the student is unsatisfied with the chair’s final decision, the student can file a formal grade grievance with the Academic Senate.

If a mistake has been made, the instructor will submit a grade change with the Registrar’s Office.Grade changes cannot be made based on reassessment of coursework but only because of a clerical error.