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.

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 booklet.

Students may enroll on either a full- or part-time basis. The degree requirements should be completed within five years. No more than four semester hours of transfer credit for graduate study elsewhere may be allowed toward the master’s degree. Candidates for the Gender and Cultural Studies degree must satisfactorily complete 32 semester hours as follows.

GCS required courses

GCS403 Gender and Cultural Studies: Theory Into Practice 4
GCS420 Race, Gender, and Empire 4

GCS electives

GCS Electives (20 Credits)

AST575 Behind the Veil: Simmons Oral History Project 4
AST588 Black Popular Culture & the Education of Black Youth 4
LTWR508 The Global Novel 4
LTWR512 Three American Writers 4
LTWR527 Psychoanalysis, Race, and Sexuality 4
LTWR554 Studies in Film: Melodrama 4
LTWR598 Feminist Media Studies 4
GCS406 Feminism and Literature 4
GCS410 Issues in International Studies 4
HIST560 Seminar in the History of Women and Gender 4
HIST561 Seminar in World History 4
HIST567 Memory and the Holocaust 4
HIST573 Seminar in Nineteenth-Century American History 4
HIST574 Modern US History: Digital Humanities 4
HIST 582 Insurgency and Revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean 4
MPP501 Policy Analysis & Theory 3
MPP502 Social Policy 3
POLS556 Feminist International Relations 4
POLS590 Senior Seminar 4
SOCI501 Disability and Society 4
SOCI521 Sociology of Food 4
SOCI530 Transnational Studies 4
SOCI539 Qualitative Research Workshop 4
SOCI547 Antiracism and Justice Work 4
SW404 Social Welfare Policy 3
SW409 Dynamics of Racism & Oppression 3
WGST554 Feminist Theories 4
WGST565 Intimate Family Violence: A Multicultural Perspective 4
WGST580 Gender and Queer Theory 4


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

GCS455 GCS Capstone 4
GCS470 Internship 4
GCS480 Gender/Cultural Fieldwork 4

Eighth course plus completing a 30-page paper revision.

Headshot of Suzanne Leonard

Program Director

Suzanne Leonard serves as Director of the Graduate Program in Gender and Cultural Studies.

Suzanne Leonard


Our passionate and dedicated students understand the important framework of a wide-range of social issues. The flexible paths of study prepare graduates to offer impactful solutions and create tangible societal change.


Employment Rate

In a 2019 survey, 96% of graduates surveyed reported that they were employed.

Common Career Paths

Common careers sought by Gender Studies alums include: Education, Social Services, Non-profit, Technology, Public Policy, Consulting

Spotlight on Gender and Cultural Studies Students and Alums

Student Activists protesting

Silicon Valley's Gender Equity Advisor, Femily '00 '02MA, Reflects on Activism at Simmons

The gender and cultural studies major shared stories of her activism while at Simmons and her current work diversifying workplaces in Silicon Valley.

Mothers and children at the Mothers for Adequate Welfare (MAW) sit-in at the Roxbury Crossing welfare office

"Boston's Welfare Rights Movement" An Interview with Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Below is a conversation with historian Tatiana M.F. Cruz , Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies at Simmons University. Talking with Taylor Eubanks, graduate student of Gender and Cultural Studies...

Patchwork Flowers Blue Background Turquoise Purple

"Narrative Practice as Tapestry" An Interview with Hugo Kamya

The following interview between Professor Hugo Kamya from the School of Social Work at Simmons University and Taylor Eubanks, graduate student of Gender and Cultural Studies , discusses Professor Kamya's work on narrative practice and how our stories get told...

Karina Sumano and Delaney Sieber

Ifill Graduate Students’ Thesis Presentations: Abolition, Women’s Social Movements, and Southern Baking

On December 15, 2021, Ifill College students from the Graduate programs in History and Gender & Cultural Studies presented their research at the virtual fall 2021 Colloquia. Thirteen students shared their work in front of peers, faculty, family, and friends...

Headshot of Giavanna Worthy

Giavanna Worthy '20MA: Simmons Helped Me Steer My Interests Into Clear, Feasible Goals

When Giavanna Worthy entered the gender and cultural studies masters program, she wanted to expand on her interests. Now, not only is she an HIV Prevention Instructor with the YWCA, but she also played a key role in diversifying the hit CBS series, "Survivor."

Kaitlyn Soligan Owens behind the bar.

Get Into Trouble: Alum-Owned Bar Lands on Esquire's List of Top 27 in America

Gender and cultural studies alum, Kaitlyn Soligan Owens '12MA tells us about her journey into founding the successful Louisville haunt, Trouble Bar, and why it was important for her to build a safe, inclusive and comfortable space.

Headshot of Jocelyn Leighton

Jocelyn Leighton '21MA Elected to City Council in South Portland, Maine

Jocelyn tells us what inspired her to run for South Portland's City Council and the issues she hopes to tackle while in office.

Professor Jo Trigilio and Matisse DuPont '19MA at the MFA's Gender Bending Fashion Exhibit

Gender Bending Fashion: Matisse DuPont '19MA and Professor Jo Trigilio Contribute to MFA Exhibit

Matisse DuPont '19MA and Professor Jo Trigilio served as consultants on the Museum of Fine Arts Boston's Gender Bending Fashion exhibit interpretation team.