Feminist Studies

2017-18 General Catalog

416 Humanities 1
(831) 459-2461 or 459-2757

Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

Feminist studies is an interdisciplinary field of analysis that investigates how relations of gender are embedded in social, political, and cultural formations. The undergraduate program in feminist studies provides students with a unique interdisciplinary and transnational perspective. The department emphasizes theories and practices derived from multiracial and multicultural contexts.

Feminist studies prepares undergraduates for a variety of careers. The bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree in feminist studies provides excellent grounding for undergraduates who have career aspirations in, for example, law, health, public administration, community organizations, and social services. Students wishing to pursue doctoral work will also find that interdisciplinary training in feminist studies equips them with theoretical and methodological strengths in most disciplines and applied research fields. Specialists in feminist studies are employed as consultants in industry, higher education, and human resources. State and federal government agencies employ people who have special training in understanding gender relations. Educational institutions need specialists to develop and administer feminist studies programs, women’s centers, and other institutional structures designed specifically to study and assist women.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Feminist Studies major should emerge with the following skills, competencies, and knowledge:

Outcome 1: Feminist Epistemology

  • Develop a substantive understanding of feminist theories

  • Develop the ability to form epistemological questions in a variety of contexts

  • Be able to place divergent epistemological frameworks in dialogue

Outcome 2:  Writing, Reading, and Critical Thought

  • Develop writing skills and proficiency

  • Perform close reading of texts

  • Develop an ability to formulate and defend arguments

  • Develop a critical understanding of inequities, ethics, racial and gender formations, and social justice issues

Outcome 3:  Scope and Thematics

Develop a concentration in one of the areas listed below:

  • Culture, power and representation

  • Law, politics, and social change

  • Science and technology

  • Sexuality studies

Outcome 4: Feminist Methods

The lower-division classes focus on “understanding” and the upper-division courses, especially the senior seminars, focus on “application.”

  • Develop an understanding of feminist interdisciplinary methodology

  • Apply interdisciplinary methodology to Research and Writing.

Requirements of the Major

Feminist studies majors must complete 11 courses including a senior comprehensive exit requirement in the feminist studies program. Students must choose one of the following concentrations within the major: Culture, Power, and Representation; Law, Politics, and Social Change; Science, Technology, and Medicine; or Sexuality Studies. Courses appropriate for each concentration are listed at http://feministstudies.ucsc.edu/courses/index.php.

A proposal for an independent concentration will be approved only when a student presents a clear, coherent, and rigorous plan of study that does not fit the existing concentrations. Both the student’s adviser and the Feminist Studies Department chair must approve a proposal for an independent concentration.

Required courses include Feminist Studies 1, Feminist Studies: An Introduction;  one Feminist Studies 10-, 20-, 30-, or 40-level course; Feminist Studies 100, Feminist Theories (these three core courses must be taken at UCSC); five upper-division, 5-credit courses in the concentration; two upper-division, 5-credit electives; and an upper-division exit (comprehensive) requirement course. One independent study (course 199) may count toward the concentration or toward the elective requirements. Course 193 or 198 (internship) may be used to count toward the elective requirements.

Feminist studies is an interdisciplinary major that includes courses taught by affiliated faculty in other departments. However, feminist studies majors must take a minimum of five courses at UCSC taught directly in the Feminist Studies Department, i.e., courses designated FMST, not including course 193, 198, or 199. Two Education Abroad Program (EAP) courses may count towards the major; three transfer courses may count towards the major; and the total combined number of EAP and transfer courses that may count towards the major is a maximum of three.

Exit requirement options include a senior seminar (course 194) taught by core faculty, a senior thesis, or a senior project (course 195). Course 1, a lower-division 10-49 course, 100, and the composition (general education code C) requirement are prerequisites to course 194 and 195.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major’s upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in feminist studies is satisfied by completing one course: 194A, 194D, 194E, 194F, 194G, 194H, 194I, 194J, 194K, 194M, 194N, 194O, 194P, 194Q, 194T, or 195.


Feminist studies awards honors and highest honors in the major. At the end of each quarter, a faculty committee meets to review graduating students’ files. Students are considered for honors and highest honors based on  their cumulative GPA, calculated from grades earned in coursework and the senior exit requirement undertaken for completion of the major. For honors, students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.70 in the relevant courses, while for highest honors, the GPA must be 3.90 or higher. Writing a thesis is not a requirement for receiving honors or highest honors.

Letter Grade Requirement

Letter grades are required for 10 of the 11 courses applied toward the feminist studies major. However, course 100 and the senior comprehensive course(s) (194 or 195) must be taken for a letter grade.

Transfer Students

Transfer students are encouraged to declare the major as soon as possible to be assured entrance into the required core courses. The Feminist Studies Department will consider, upon petition, which UC-transferrable courses from other institutions are acceptable. Course 1, one 10-49 lower-division course, and 100 must be completed in the junior year so that the exit requirement may be completed in the senior year.

Graduate Studies

Feminist Studies Ph.D.

The Department of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz welcomed its inaugural class of students who began studies toward a doctor of philosophy degree (Ph.D.) in feminist studies in fall 2013. The Ph.D. in feminist studies at UC Santa Cruz is an interdisciplinary program that investigates how relations of gender are embedded in social, political, racial, and cultural formations. The program emphasizes feminist modes of inquiry and provides students with advanced training in feminist methods. It fosters a rethinking of the relationships between knowledge, power, and expertise. Conceived as a collaborative, cross-divisional enterprise, this graduate program draws upon the strengths of a range of feminist scholars and their departments and programs across the University.

Ph.D. students will complete most of their coursework during their first two years, including the three required courses on Feminist Theories, Feminist Methodologies, and Disciplining Knowledge (FMST 200, 201, 202). Students focus on preparing their problem-based areas of research and their dissertation prospectus during their third year. Students normally take the Ph.D. qualifying examination in their third year or early in their fourth year, when they also must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Students write a dissertation that is approved by the dissertation committee to finish the program. Six years is the normative time toward completion of the Ph.D. degree.

Requirements for Ph. D. Students by the End of the Fourth Year, or Sooner

Ph.D. students must complete a total of 12 courses including at least 9 elective courses. In addition, students must enroll in three, 2-credit courses. They will satisfy their language requirement by the end of the third year, and take their qualifying examination no later than their fourth year.

  • Feminist Studies requires courses 200, 201, and 202 to be taken consecutively the fall, winter, and spring quarters of the first year;

  • Feminist Studies 290, Teaching Assistant Training, to be taken prior to or in conjunction with the first teaching assistant appointment;

  • Twelve courses (of 5 credits each) and three 2-credit courses.

  • Graduate Summer Language program or equivalent to pass the language examination.

  • Qualifying examination passed and dissertation prospectus approved.

  • After completion of the qualifying examination, students take courses in the 290 sequence until the dissertation is submitted.

  • Students must teach three courses in feminist studies, or equivalent, as instructor or research assistant. This requirement may be waived.

  • After completion of the qualifying examination (with written and oral components), students take courses in the 290 sequence until the dissertation is submitted.

  • A prospectus outlining and defining the dissertation project.

  • A dissertation project.

Language Requirement

Fulfillment of the language requirement in feminist studies can be documented in several ways. The documentation should demonstrate current ability to use the language in an appropriate way in scholarship. The language appropriate to research could be oral, gestural, or written, or a combination of these. Depending on the specific language and on the research needs of the student, functional language competence could include the ability to read the scholarly literature or other written material needed in research, the ability to conduct fieldwork in the language, or the ability to produce written work in the language. According to Graduate Division policy, proficiency should be demonstrated before the qualifying examination committee can be appointed and at least one month prior to taking the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination Requirements

Advancement to candidacy depends on the general quality of a student’s work; demonstration of proficiency in a foreign language relevant to the student’s area of work, either by passing a written examination administered by the department or successfully completing a language course approved by the department; success in the qualifying examination; and proposal of an acceptable dissertation topic. The qualifying examination consists of two field statements in consultation with committee members; one 25-30 page paper (either a dissertation chapter or a publishable paper); as well as a dissertation prospectus (10-15 pages). A revised prospectus will be due to the committee no later than three months after the qualifying examination. The examination focuses on the student’s research project and on the fields of scholarship it presupposes. After advancement to candidacy, required by the end of the third year, students concentrate on dissertation writing. The current normative time to degree limit of seven years means that a student usually has at least three to four years after advancement to candidacy for completion of the dissertation. Students also have the option of doing advanced work in a traditional discipline and receiving a designated emphasis of this specialization. In such cases, students must satisfy the appropriate department’s criteria (see the departmental web site for information). Students are expected to complete at least one year of supervised teaching as part of the degree requirements.

Elective Courses

Students may take elective courses in feminist studies as well as in other departments. Some elective courses in the department include: Feminist Pedagogy; Black Feminisms; Feminist Science Studies; De-colonial Feminisms; Comparative Empires; Transgender and Queer Studies; and Sexuality, Race, and Migration in the Americas.

[See the Feminist Studies web site to learn more about the graduate program.]

Feminist Studies Designated Emphasis

Graduate students may work toward a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree that notes a designated emphasis in feminist studies on the graduation documents. Students wishing to pursue this option should consult with the chair of their respective Ph.D. program and are encouraged to apply in the first or second year of graduate study. The application and an annually updated list of regularly offered, approved graduate courses are available at http://feministstudies.ucsc.edu.

The following are required for the designated emphasis:

Committee composition. The student must have a designated graduate adviser from the feminist studies core or associate faculty who serves on the qualifying examination committee or in some other appropriate capacity.

Writing. The student must prepare a significant piece of writing in the area of feminist studies. This writing must be a master’s essay or a chapter of the doctoral dissertation.

Course requirements. The student must take four graduate courses in feminist studies, two of which must be taught directly in the department. Two courses can be selected from among the graduate offerings of any UCSC department, as long as they are taught by core or affiliated feminist studies faculty.

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Revised: 09/01/17