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


Students considering the major should consult with the CSWGS Undergraduate Adviser, Dr. Emily Houlik-Ritchey.  New majors should also formally declare the degree program with the Registrar's Office.

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

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

  • 30 semester hours of departmental course work (whether first or 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 from three of four categories: Theory, Critical Race, Global South, and Sexuality
  • Either the Seminar and Practicum (SWGS 494; SWGS 496; SWGS 497) OR
    the Senior Thesis (SWGS 498; SWGS 499)

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.

Courses Satisfying Core Requirements


SWGS 101: Introduction to the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality (3) (fall)
An introductory survey of issues in the study of gender, such as women's social, political, and legal status in the US and globally; feminist perspectives on sexuality, race, the body, globalization, labor, culture; and the implications of these perspectives for social and critical theory. The course also introduces the concept of engaged research and the public service components of feminist activity.


SWGS 201: Introduction to LGBT Studies (3) (spring)
Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Studies offers an interdisciplinary examination of sexual desires, sexual orientations, and the concept of sexuality, with a focus on the construction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities. The course looks at how identities interact with other social phenomena such as government, family, popular culture, scientific inquiry, and especially gender, and highlights the complexity and variability of sexualities both across historical periods and in relation to race, class, ethnicity, and nation. The course also introduces the concept of engaged research and the public service component of LGBT activity.

SWGS 494: Pre-Seminar (1) (fall only)
This course prepares students for the Spring semester and practicum sequence (496 and 497) by establishing a baseline of skills in research design and filing paperwork with the Institutional Review Board at Rice and elsewhere as needed.

SWGS 496: Practicum (3) (spring only; formerly Applied Women's and Gender Studies)
An applied research complement to SWGS 497 consisting of six hours/week participating in a research-based project at a local public service agency that addresses the needs of women or is focused on gender and/or sexuality related work. Planning for the Practicum takes place during the previous fall semester in consultation with the CSWGS staff and faculty. Practicum projects are presented to a public audience. Permission of the Instructor and some background in the study of women, gender or sexuality required.

SWGS 497: Seminar (3) (spring only)
Taken in conjunction with SWGS 496, the Seminar develops students' research skills and situates the Practicum project within a range of perspectives on feminist theory and practice, grassroots organizing, and policy-making around issues of women, gender, and sexuality, for example, domestic violence, gender and the prison industry, reproductive freedom, the feminization of AIDS. Permission of the instructor and some background in gender or sexuality studies are required.

Courses Required for the Thesis Option


SWGS 498: Research in Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality (3) (fall)
Research seminar for CSWGS seniors to pursue a thesis. Open to CSWGS majors only.


SWGS 499: Research in Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality (3) (spring)
Research seminar for CSWGS seniors to pursue a thesis. Open to CSWGS majors only.