PhD Program

Located in the Humanities, Feminist Studies Ph.D. program is an interdisciplinary program investigates how relations of gender are embedded in social, political, racial, and cultural formations. The program emphasizes feminist modes of inquiry and is designed to provide advanced training in feminist theories and methods.  Approaching feminist engagement as relevant to the broadening and reassessment of a full range of areas of academic inquiry, the program’s focus is on challenging existing disciplinary boundaries and fostering a reconsideration of the relationships between knowledge, power, and expertise. We work with problem-based research methodologies that acknowledge and go beyond conventional notions of international and comparative studies.  An ongoing concern with epistemology is balanced with an emphasis on problem-based research areas that nourish both intellectual and social transformation.  As a collaborative, cross-divisional enterprise, the Feminist Studies Ph.D. draws on the strengths of a range of feminist scholars, departments, and programs across the University.

The course of study has two objectives: first, to train scholars and teachers; and second, to serve the needs of professionals for careers in areas such as public policy and human rights research and advocacy.  This approach to graduate training is designed to attract students with various types of career goals who will benefit from exposure to and collaboration with each other in a vigorous intellectual environment.

The curriculum of the Ph.D. in Feminist Studies is designed to facilitate the production of new knowledge clustered around a larger issue or problem that is epistemological, methodological, and conceptual in nature. The program builds on a longstanding history of structurally-integrated interdisciplinarity and multi-departmental participation.  Affiliated faculty participate in the curricular offerings and governance of the Feminist Studies Department.

Conceived as a collaborative, cross-divisional enterprise, the Department's inaugural cohort started in Fall 2013.  This graduate program draws upon the strengths of a range of feminist scholars and their departments and programs across the University. The department maintains longstanding relationships with the Departments of Anthropology, Art, History, History of Art and Visual Culture, History of Consciousness, Latin American and Latino Studies, Literature, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology, and is affiliated with the Science and Justice Research Center on campus. It also has one of the largest Feminist Studies (formerly Women’s Studies) undergraduate degree programs in the nation and is an internationally recognized center for feminist scholarship.

Ph.D. students will complete most of their coursework during their first two years, including the three required courses on Feminist Theories, Feminist Methodologies, and Disciplining Knowledge.  Students focus on preparing their problem-based areas of research and their dissertation prospectus during their third year. Students normally take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination in their third or fourth year; at this time, they also must demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Six years is the normative time toward completion of the degree.

Please visit our website faculty page to read more about the faculty.  For further reading about graduate training at UCSC and to apply for the program, visit the graduate website at

Through the UCSC FMST Designated Emphasis, it is also possible to enter a program in a another field and specialize in women/gender/feminist studies. 

Social Justice | Sexuality Studies | Postcolonial Theory | Transnational Feminism | Science & Technology Studies | Critical Race Theory | Feminist Critical Race Studies | Film Studies | Cultural Studies | Transgender Studies | Critical Prison Studies | Post-Socialism