Gender and Cultural Studies

Simmons University's Master of Arts in Gender and Cultural Studies (GCS) program examines intersecting systems of power and privilege and the ways in which race, ethnicity, nationality, class, ability, gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation are constructed within the United States and in international contexts. Simmons fosters a supportive, stimulating environment with small class sizes, diverse student cohorts, faculty mentors, and a flexible curriculum. The master’s degree consists of 32 credit hours. Most students complete the degree in four semesters of study over two years. Part-time students may take up to five years to complete the degree

Students sitting in class

Why study Gender and Cultural Studies?

At Simmons, the Gender and Cultural Studies program strives to prepare and inspire the next generation of scholars, educators, activists, entrepreneurs, and professional leaders. We place special emphasis on research-based, action-oriented inquiry. Our students locate themselves in key debates within the fields of feminist studies and critical race studies, take a stand on issues and problems, and publicly offer solutions.

At Simmons, you will learn how to:

  • Engage with research in feminism, critical race studies, queer theory,  and cultural studies.
  • Situate current realities of gender, sexuality, race, ability, class, and culture within broader, intersectional, historical and geopolitical contexts
  • Translate those insights into public settings, and make broadly significant, culturally impactful interventions

What courses will you take?

Gender and Cultural Studies degree candidates take two required courses:

  • Introduction to Gender and Cultural Studies: Theory into Practice
  • Race, Gender, and Empire.

In addition to these courses, most students take five core elective courses and at least 4 credit hours of capstone work. View a sample list of Gender and Cultural Studies elective courses in the Program Requirements section below.

Simmons' Gender and Cultural Studies students gain access to additional elective options through the dynamic team-taught course offerings available to students from the nine member institutions of The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS).

In addition to their coursework, all Gender and Cultural Studies students complete a final capstone project—consisting of at least 4 credit hours —that furthers their individual academic and professional interests. Capstone projects may take the form of an internship, a research project, or a thesis.

Recent Capstone Projects

  • "Self-Care": The Continued Production and Protection of White Femininity
  • Racial Politics, Data Collection, and the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry
  • Who's Got Rights: The Failures of Homonationalism in the Trump Era
  • "You Can't Be What You Can't See": Queering the Canon and Reconstructing Representation in the Secondary Classroom
  • Incriminating Women of Circumstance: The Gendered and Material Implications of the War on Drugs
  • White Noise: How the Media Amplified and Drowned Out Black Political Protest "Post Ferguson"
  • Constructing the Queer Muslim: The Necropolitics of Racialization and Western Exceptionalism in the Lives of LGBTQ Muslims
  • What a Perfect Monster: Gone Girl's Destabilization of Feminine Archetypes in Popular Media
  • Sites of Resistance: Black Femme Sexuality and Alternative Spaces in Sex Work
  • Subversive Masculinity: Cultivating Men's Engagement in Gender Equality
  • Making Time for Social Change: Toward an LGBTQ-Inclusive Care Model for Rape and Domestic Violence Crisis Centers
  • Theorizing Breastfeeding, Conceiving a Coalitional Project of Queer Politics

Students may further tailor their studies by completing a dual degree with our Master in Public Policy, MS in Education, or Master of Arts in Teaching, which leads to initial teaching licensure for elementary education.

What can you do with a Master's Degree in Gender and Cultural Studies?

96% of graduates surveyed in early 2019 reported that they were employed.

Drawing from coursework in the humanities and social sciences, the Gender and Cultural Studies program offers flexible paths of study to prepare graduates to pursue career interests across a variety of sectors. The majority of recent survey respondents work in higher education teaching, higher education administration, social services, and non-profit roles, while others work in secondary education, technology, consulting, and as business owners.

Following graduation, 32% of our alumni/ae enrolled in PhD programs. GCS provides rigorous intellectual preparation and training for students who wish to pursue doctoral studies across a range of disciplines, including Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, English, Gender Studies, Race Studies, Sexuality Studies, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies.

Learn more about our Master's in Gender and Cultural Studies! 

Are you looking for more than just a gender studies degree? The Gender and Cultural Studies program at Simmons University takes a culture-centric approach to women and gender studies. We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you on your way. Learn more about our program in our Gender and Cultural Studies program bookletrequest more information or apply now!

Candidates for the Gender and Cultural Studies master's degree must complete 32 credits (8 courses). Most students complete the degree in four semesters of study over two years. Part-time students may take up to five years to complete the degree. Learn more in the Gender and Cultural Studies Program Booklet.


GCS required courses (8 credits)

Students must take both of the following courses:

GCS 403 Introduction to Gender and Cultural Studies: Theory Into Practice
This course studies contemporary theories of gender, race, indigeneity, class, ability, and sexuality, with a focus on theorists whose works have practical applicability. Scholarly readings drawn from critical race, postcolonial and decolonial, queer and trans, and feminist studies are juxtaposed with a range of concerns, including the killing of Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies, fat activism, reproductive politics, struggles to ensure legal protections for queer and trans people, among other topics. The course will stress understandings of the practical applications of theoretical innovations.

GCS 420 Race, Gender, and Empire
The history of race and racism begins with the history of imperialism and colonialism. Often, scholars of race and racism ignore this history and study race within a specific nation state without making global connections. In this class, we will explore the history of racism that is deeply gendered and a project of empire building. We will examine how race was historically constructed as a result of empire building and how it continues today.

GCS electives (20 credits)

  • AST 529 Race, Culture, Identity and Achievement
  • AST 536 Black Narratives of Oppression, Resistance, and Resiliency
  • AST/SOC/WST 565 Intimate Family Violence: A Multicultural Perspective
  • AST 588 Black Popular Culture and the Education of Black Youth
  • ENGL 508 The Global Novel
  • ENGL 517 Toni Morrison and American Literature
  • ENGL 527 Race and Gender in Psychoanalytic Discourse
  • ENGL 354 Studies in Film Genre: Melodrama
  • ENGL 598 Feminist Media Studies
  • GCS 406 Feminism and Literature
  • GCS 410 Issues in International Studies
  • GCS 415 Feminism and Economic Difference
  • HIST 560 Seminar in the History of Women and Gender
  • HIST 561 Cross Cultural Encounters: Contacts, Connection and Conflict
  • HIST 565 9/11 Narratives
  • HIST 567 Memory and the Holocaust
  • LIS 532Q Museum Studies
  • MPP 501 Policy Analysis and Theory
  • MPP 502 Social Policy
  • POLS 435 Transgender Politics & Freedom
  • POLS/WGST 556 Feminist International Relations
  • POLS 590 Black Political Thought
  • SOCI 521 Sociology of Food
  • SOCI 530 Transnational Studies
  • SOCI 539 Applied Community Research
  • SOCI 547 Antiracism and Justice Work
  • SW 409 Dynamics of Racism & Oppression
  • SW 523 Advocacy & Social Action
  • WGST 554 Feminist Theories
  • WGST 580 Gender and Queer Theory

Capstone (4 credits)

All students must complete at least 4 credit hours of capstone work and will present their work at the GCS colloquium. The capstone options are listed below:

  • GCS 455 Thesis
  • GCS 460 Project
  • GCS 470 Internship
  • GCS 480 Gender and Cultural Fieldwork

Ready to take the next step? We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you started on your way.

Apply Now

Gender and Cultural Studies Graduates

Our graduates further their studies in doctoral programs and law school, and also pursue rewarding careers in a variety of fields including education, non-profits, health care, and social work.

More Student Stories

Our Faculty

Diane Grossman photo

Diane Grossman

  • Professor and Chair; Honors Program Director, Mockler Chair, Faculty Senate President
Val Leiter photo

Valerie Leiter

  • Professor, Chair of Public Health and Undergraduate Program Director
Sarah Leonard photo

Sarah Leonard

  • Associate Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies
Cathryn Mercier photo

Cathryn Mercier

  • Professor, Children's Literature Department Chair, Children's Literature Graduate Programs Director, Center for the Study of Children's Literature Director
Amy Pattee photo

Amy Pattee

  • Associate Professor School of Library and Information Science and Children's Literature
Denise Horn

Denise M. Horn

  • Interim Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations and Department of Women's and Gender Studies
Jyoti Puri photograph

Jyoti Puri

  • Professor and Interdisciplinary Program Director