Gender, women’s, and sexuality studies (GWSS) is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the perspectives of gender and sexuality along with class, ethnicity, nationality, and race. It examines ideas about women and men that often are taken for granted and encourages critical thinking across many disciplines, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

Iowa’s program also analyzes how gender and sexuality shape people’s daily lives, and it probes the relationship between biological sex differences and the social and cultural roles of women and men.

Why Iowa?

When the Iowa’s Women’s Studies Program was established in 1974, it was one of the first in the nation. Since then, the discipline has evolved and expanded, becoming a multidisciplinary field that includes the study of gender and sexuality.

As a GWSS student, you’ll investigate challenges that women and men encounter because of their gender and/or sexuality in areas such as culture, the economy, health, the media, politics, and violence. You’ll reflect on the political and ethical motivations and consequences of scholarly research in the field, and you’ll consider ways to address issues and solve problems.

Department faculty members hold joint appointments in departments and programs across the university. Faculty outside the department also participate in GWSS, occasionally offering courses and participating in the department’s research, study, and interdisciplinary activities.

GWSS is an ideal major to combine with a second major in a discipline such as English, history, linguistics, sociology, or anthropology.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies
Gender, Health, and Health Care Equity
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

GWSS majors work in research, advocacy, policy and programming, government and nonprofit agencies, human resources, fund raising, counseling, education, publishing, international development, or activist work. With a GWSS major, you also will be well prepared for graduate or professional study. 

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies include these required courses:

  • Introduction to Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies
  • Gender, Race, and Class in the U.S.
  • Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies Practicum
  • Transnational Feminism
  • A GWSS theory course
  • A GWSS course with a comparative/non-U.S. focus
  • A course focusing on race/ethnicity
  • A capstone course involving research

In addition to courses required for this major, students also must complete the general education requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core. 

To learn about required coursework for the major or minor and graduating with honors, view Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies in the UI General Catalog.