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Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

CSWGS Undergraduate Major - Requirements

Students considering the major should consult with the CSWGS Undergraduate Adviser, Prof. Cymene Howe. Her office hours for Fall 2016 are by appointment in Sewall Hall 566.  She may be emailed at alyssa.c.howe@rice.edu.

The undergraduate major takes an interdisciplinary approach in its exploration of women's experiences and the role that ideas about sexual differences have played in human societies. Areas of inquiry include women's participation in social and cultural production; the construction of gender roles and sexuality; the relationship between ideas about gender and concepts inherent in other social, political, and legal structures; and the implications of feminist theory for philosophical and epistemological traditions.

Students acquire an understanding of how adopting gender as a significant category of analysis challenges existing disciplines. They also gain proficiency in the methods used to study and compare cultural constructions of gender and sexuality, and they become familiar with the ongoing fundamental debates in women's and gender studies.

The requirements for the major are designed with these expectations in mind.

DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: B.A. in Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements in the current General Announcements.

Students majoring in the Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality must complete:

  • 36 semester hours of departmental course work (30 hours if as a second major)

  • SWGS 101 Introduction to the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality OR
    SWGS 201 Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies

  • At least one course in critical race studies
  • At least one course in non-Western studies
  • At least one approved theory course
  • SWGS 496 Practicum
  • SWGS 497 Seminar

Of the six (6) remaining required courses, no more than four (4) may be from a single department. All students must work out their individual courses of study with their faculty advisors. Each student's planned course of study will be reviewed and approved by the director.

Please refer to the Complete Course Offerings or the current academic year course lists to review those courses that can be used to fulfill requirements for the major. As course offerings may vary from year to year, students are urged to consult with their faculty advisors or with the director at the beginning of each semester.


After it was established in 1991, the SWGS major was revised in 2008 to involve students directly in the feminist effort to integrate theory and practice, both in the introductory required courses and in a Seminar and Practicum that connect research to on-site work in a public service agency or organization outside the university.

Students pursuing the general course of study will take SWGS 496: Practicum and SWGS 497: Seminar in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality in junior or senior year as their required courses.  SWGS 498 and SWGS 499 are now required only of students choosing the Honors track option.