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!

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

Apply Now

Success Stories

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.

Headshot of Giavanna Worthy
Alumnae/i Feature

Giavanna Worthy '20MA

HIV Prevention Instructor at the YWCA of Western Massachusetts
Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have been hired if it wasn’t for the tools Simmons gave me to prepare for the interview and the job itself.
Read the Story
Kaitlyn Soligan Owens behind the bar.
Alumnae/i Feature

Kaitlyn Soligan Owens '12MA

owner of Trouble Bar in Louisville, KY recently rated one of the best taverns in America by Esquire Magazine
...we wanted every person who walked in to know that they were welcome and that this bar could be a home if they wanted it to be one, and we just keep aiming for that goal every day.
Read the Story
Professor Jo Trigilio and Matisse DuPont '19MA at the MFA's Gender Bending Fashion Exhibit
Campus & Community

Matisse DuPont '19MA

Artist, educator, and gender consultant
Read the Story

of graduates surveyed in 2019 reported that they were employed.

Headshot of Jocelyn Leighton
Student Story

Jocelyn Leighton '21MA

City Council Member for South Portland, Maine
Read the Story

Common Career Paths


Social Services



Public Policy 


Headshot of Suzanne Leonard

Program Director

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

Suzanne Leonard

Our Faculty

Diane Grossman photo

Diane Grossman

  • Interim Dean, Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities and Director of the Honors Program
Amy Pattee photo

Amy Pattee

  • Professor and Department Chair of Children's Literature
Saher Selod photo

Saher Selod

  • Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology and Chair of Public Health
Lena Zuckerwise photo

Lena Zuckerwise

  • Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science and International Relations
Photo of Kelly Hager

Kelly Hager

  • Associate Provost, Curriculum, Assessment, and Accreditation
Dawna Thomas speaking at podium

Dawna Thomas

  • Professor and Chair of Critical Race, Gender and Cultural Studies
Photo of Tatiana M.F. Cruz

Tatiana M.F. Cruz

  • Assistant Professor and Interdisciplinary Program Director of Africana Studies and Women's and Gender Studies