Gender, women’s, and sexuality studies 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 Study at 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.

Gender, women’s, and sexuality studies (GWSS) is an intensive major that encourages involvement in issues. It also is relatively small, so you’ll have the chance to get to know your professors and fellow students.

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.

In the practicum course, you might earn credit for volunteer work, and you’ll complete the major with a capstone course that lets you work with a professor and apply all you’ve learned to a research project.

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.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in gender, women's, and sexuality studies (GWSS) 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. 

See Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.

Minor in Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies

See Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more.

Admission Requirements

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

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having nearly 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

GWSS majors can work in numerous settings, such as research, advocacy, policy and programming, government and nonprofit agencies, human resources, fundraising, counseling, education, publishing, international development, or activist work.

With a GWSS major, you can continue your studies in numerous academic programs or professional schools, such as women's and gender studies, history, anthropology, area studies, and schools of law, public health, business, and journalism.


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies (BA)
Gender, Health, and Healthcare Equity
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan