How to Apply

How to Apply

Admission Requirements

We’re delighted that you’re interested in applying to the dual-degree program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies! Everything that you need to know for applying should be listed below but feel free to contact us with further questions.

Prospective candidates for the dual-title program in WGSS must have excellent critical reading, writing, and research skills. In addition, they should be able to demonstrate the following abilities:

  1. To engage and analyze historical and contemporary feminist scholarship;
  2. To carry out research and scholarly activities that engage and contribute to feminist scholarship;
  3. To bring a WGSS perspective effectively to their professional work and workplace, whether through teaching in an interdisciplinary WGSS Department or other professional pathways; and
  4. To represent (or the potential to represent) the Department with a high level of professionalism.

Furthermore, all dual-title applications should clearly explain:

  1. How WGSS and their partner discipline are integrated within their own work; and
  2. Why the dual-title program would enrich their graduate education and career goals.

Requirements for Applicants who are new to Penn State


Applications to the Dual-Title Degree Program in WGSS must be completed online. You can apply for the dual-title program in two ways:

  1. You can apply to your disciplinary major and to the WGSS inter-disciplinary major at the same time. That said, if you do not have a strong background in WGSS or Gender Studies already (at least an undergraduate minor or the equivalent) the Graduate Matters Committee is very likely to recommend that you reapply after having taken at least one, and preferably two, WGSS core classes (i.e., WGSS 502, 507, 508 or 509). Reapplication after a semester or two is not uncommon; in fact it is welcomed, once you have successfully completed graduate coursework in gender/feminist studies. Feel free to discuss applying to WGSS with our director of graduate studies.
  2. You can apply to WGSS after you have matriculated into one of the 13 disciplinary majors that WGSS has a partner agreement with. CRITICAL TIMING NOTE: As a current student at Penn State you must submit a dual-title application and be accepted before taking qualifying examinations in your disciplinary major department. The Graduate School will not accept applications after qualifying exams have been passed.

Students applying to WGSS concurrently with admission to Penn State:

You will be applying online to the Graduate School at Penn State. As you apply to a disciplinary major (which must be of our thirteen partner programs) you will see a list of dual-title degrees that particular department participates in. When you reach that list, mark your intention to apply also to WGSS. The initial admissions decision will come from the disciplinary-major department.

If and when you are admitted into a disciplinary major program (who is also a partner with WGSS), our admissions committee will review your file when it is received from the admitting department. You can use the same materials you submitted in that application. HOWEVER, you must also submit to wgssgradprogram@psu.edu a statement of purpose (up to 500 words). In that statement, please summarize your academic experience in women’s and gender studies (course work, theses, research positions) as well as any gender-centered outreach you may have done. In addition, explain why you wish to enter the dual-title at the outset of your program at Penn State: why are feminist theory and methods essential to your projected thesis project(s)? We are looking for how/why you will be integrating feminist analysis to your work.

Our admissions committee follows the timetable of our partner departments. You will likely receive an acceptance from that major program before receiving our decision. WGSS does try to move as quickly as possible after we receive the partner department’s final list of acceptances. We will communicate our department’s decision to the disciplinary major department’s Director of Graduate Studies, and you will hear from one or both of us at that point.

As noted in the previous section, if the admissions committee does not feel your application is strong enough for entry into the WGSS graduate program at that time, you will be encouraged to take one or two of our core courses and reapply. An optimal time to reapply is in the second semester of your first year, or even early in your second year.

View a list of participating programs.

Requirements for Students Currently Enrolled in a Co-operating Graduate Program at Penn State University

The admissions committee meets once per semester to review internal applications. The application deadlines for current Penn State students are October 15 and February 15. Master’s degree students can apply at any point in their program, provided they are able to fulfill all requirements before graduation.

Timing is critical! PhD students must apply and be admitted before taking their qualifying exams. We strongly recommend that prospective applicants take one of our required courses before applying (or during the semester they plan to apply). If this is not possible, please explain the circumstances in your personal statement.

Students already enrolled in one of our thirteen partner programs may apply by submitting the following via email to wgssgradprogram@psu.edu:

  • A curriculum vitae.
  • A list of in-progress and completed WGSS coursework at Penn
  • A confidential email (sent to wgssgradprogram@psu.edu) from a Penn State WGSS instructor providing a brief overview (a paragraph is fine) of your performance and abilities in that course.
  • A writing sample (ideally from a WGSS-related graduate course).
  • A personal statement that describes how your research and professional goals reflect an interest in interdisciplinary feminist
  • One (1) letter of recommendation from a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and This faculty member can be the same person who assesses your performance in class, but you may prefer to a different faculty member who is able to speak more specifically or differently about your qualifications.

*All applications should clearly explain how your research plans will integrate both your disciplinary major and the interdisciplinary WGSS major; and also, why/how the dual-title program will enrich your graduate education and career goals.

*Any letters of recommendation from faculty should be submitted directly to wgssgradprogram@psu.edu, or to the DGS.

Graduate Staff Assistant
345C Willard Building

Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor
Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and English
Graduate Program Director
339 Willard Building