Certificate and Cluster Requirements

The interdisciplinary program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern offers two levels of participation open to all graduate students in programs and departments throughout the university.

Interdisciplinary Cluster in Gender and Sexuality Studies

Students in established departmental graduate programs can opt to participate in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Cluster. The cluster provides basic training in gender and sexuality studies and is an alternative to Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies (for those students whose schedules do not allow for the completion of certificate requirement). The cluster is open to all interested graduate students; the Graduate School designates some in-coming graduate students as Interdisciplinary Cluster fellows. This credential does not appear on transcripts. Most students proceed to the Certificate. 

Cluster requirements
  • Two foundational 400-level courses [one in feminist theory and the other in sexuality studies] designed to provide students with broad theoretical and methodological training chosen from the core courses offered by GSS faculty.
  • One additional 400-level course listed or cross-listed in Gender & Sexuality Studies or taught by GSS faculty. Ambiguous cases subject to approval by the DGS.
  • For one of the above, you may substitute a 300-level course taken for graduate credit, pending DGS and instructor approval.
  • At least two quarters participation in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Colloquium, which is a one-credit, two-quarter course meeting every other week in Winter and Spring. Participants may enroll for a grade or formally audit the course.
Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies

The Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies is designed to give students in Northwestern graduate programs advanced training in gender and sexuality studies. Many students view the Certificate as an important credential as they establish careers in scholarship and teaching positions that combine that combine traditional academic disciplines with interdisciplinary work in gender and sexuality studies. This credential does appear on your transcripts. 

Certificate requirements
  • Two foundational classes [one in feminist theory (GSS 405 Advanced Feminist Theory) and the other in sexuality studies (GSS 490 Queer Theory or GSS 490 Sociology of Sexuality)]
  • Three additional 400-level courses listed or cross-listed in Gender & Sexuality Studies or taught by GSS faculty. You may double-count pertinent courses taken for credit in your home departments. You may substitute independent studies or 300-level courses taken for graduate credit, subject to DGS and instructor approval.
  • At least two quarters involvement in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Colloquium, a one-credit, two-quarter course meeting every other week in the Winter and Spring. Participants may enroll for a grade or formally audit the course.
  • One major research project, of article length or longer, centered in gender-and-sexuality-related topics and/or employing gender-and-sexuality-related methods. Examples of suitable research projects include second-year papers or master's theses, doctoral research papers, or any other major research project acceptable to the Graduate Advisor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. 
  • A short but official letter from your mentor on this project--ideally selected from the GSS core faculty or affiliated faculty--confirming it as having satisfied this requirement. 
Program overviews

The two levels of participation offer students flexibility for incorporating interdisciplinary approaches into their graduate education. The program's courses and other graduate activities do not differentiate between Cluster and Certificate students. Most students who entered the program through the Cluster have elected to pursue the more advanced Certificate. The Director of Graduate Studies consults with prospective and current graduate students to discuss how best to integrate gender and sexuality studies into their anticipated and existing programs of study.

In general, students are encouraged to begin either the Cluster or Certificate Program in the first year of graduate study. During that year, students typically will take GSS 405 and GSS 490 Queer Theory or GSS 490 Sociology of Sexuality. After completing the foundational courses, students should confer with their thesis advisors and their Gender Studies Graduate Advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies to determine the direction of their course work and research or performance project.

Core Courses regularly taught by Gender and Sexuality Studies Faculty

Advanced Feminist Theory (GSS 405)

Queer Theory (GSS 406)

Sociology of Sexuality (GSS 407)

Theoretical and Methodological Issues in the History of Women, Gender and Sexuality (GSS 490)

Social Science Approaches to Gender and Sexuality (GSS 490)

For other courses taught by Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty and cross-listed classes, consult our website.

Members of the Graduate Faculty with joint appointments in Gender and Sexuality Studies

Hector Carillo (Sociology and GSS)
Nick Davis (English and GSS)
Mary G. Dietz (Political Science and GSS)
Tessie P. Liu (History and GSS)
Jeffrey Masten (English and GSS)
Ann Orloff (Sociology and GSS)
Mary Weismantel (Anthropology and GSS)

Gender and Sexuality Studies Faculty Affiliates

Many additional Northwestern faculty members teach and advise Gender and Sexuality Studies students. Faculty affiliated with Gender and Sexuality Studies hold appointments in more than twenty departments and in several schools of the university. Please consult our website for a full list of faculty affiliates.

For further information and specific questions email the Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Nicholas Davis at nicholas-davis@northwestern.edu.