Commonly Asked Questions

What is GSWS | What's in it for me? | What will I learn in GSWS class? | What are the classes like? | Do I have to be a feminist to take a GSWS class? | Will there be people like me in GSWS classes? | What if I already have a major? | Does the GSWS program have Internships?

What is GSWS?
We are the Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies (GSWS) Program.

· Our program offers courses that focus on women in many subjects where they have previously been invisible or underrepresented (Women in American History, Women’s Health, Psychology of Women, etc.)
· A critical focus on gender allows us to examine a broad range of gender and sexual identities and expressions as well as power dynamics.
· Our goal is to give you a deeper understanding of the way society works by exploring how sex, race, class, sexuality and nationality—among other factors—shape our world, experiences and ways of thinking.
· The program offers courses in many different subjects including GSWS, History, English, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Family and Child Studies, Justice Studies, Education, and Health. This variety allows you to develop a strong interdisciplinary lens of analysis.
· In our classes, topics include: eco-feminism; domestic violence; immigration; feminization of poverty; GLBTQ history and activism; globalization; women’s human rights; responses to trafficking in women and children; overlapping of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia; plus many more!
· With GSWS, you will find connections between personal and political concerns enabling you to use your knowledge to create social change. Gender and sexuality make a difference in our lives—so can you!

What’s in it for me?
A degree in GSWS looks great on a resume since many employers are looking for those who are knowledgeable about issues of race, class, sexuality and gender. You gain personal strength and empowerment as you learn to think about the world in a different way.

Also, GSWS makes a great concentration for your other interests. For example, GSWS students interested in Criminal Justice can pursue sexual assault, human trafficking, and hate crime cases. GSWS students interested in biology can pursue reproductive technologies or breast cancer research. GSWS students interested in English can focus on LGBTQ or feminist literature.


What will I learn in a GSWS class?
You will learn about ideas and strategies for changing systems and institutions that disenfranchise people and how to make our world a better place for everyone. You will learn about the hidden inequities that marginalize those around us, and ourselves, and navigate social systems to create new solutions that will leave a lasting effect on our lives and the lives of others.


What are the classes like?
Most students agree that WMGS classes are fun, interactive, and eye-opening. Our small class sizes have lively discussions and interesting lectures. But don't take our word for it...hear from some of our students!

Jessica McCabe graduated as a major in both Sociology and WMGS in Spring 2013. She says that “choosing to take part in the Women and  Gender Studies program was one of the best decisions that I have made in college.” She plans to pursue her Women’s and Gender Studies  education post-graduation. “I couldn't have chosen a better program to be a part of. It is truly like no other!”

Whitney Shields graduated from the WMGS and Theatre programs in 2010 , and has been immersed in social activism ever since. She is an RPCV from Togo, West Africa where she implemented projects on Food Security and Women’s Empowerment. She recently has been  accepted into the D&F Academy’s Fellowship program where she will be living in Hamburg, Germany for 10 weeks to focus on how to create a project on theater and social change. With her return, she will execute this project in the U.S.

Alex Horowitz graduated as a WMGS major and GLBTQ minor in Spring 2013. When faced with the question, “Why study women?” he replies, “I don't take courses about women. I take courses about feminism. I study justice and inequality; how sexism,  racism, homophobia, and  other forms of  ‘ignorance + power’ still exist today.” He currently runs a facebook page dedicated to renouncing the offensive phrase “that’s so gay” which is approaching 7.000 likes. (  After he finished getting his degree, he wants to get his Master's in social work, and become a counselor for LGBTQ teens and young adults.

Arianna D'Amato will be graduating with a degree in Women’s & Gender Studies and a minor in LGBTQ Studies this spring 2015. "The WMGS program allows students to take a real look at the issues that we are all facing. The WMGS and the LGBTQ programs are not exclusive, they are inclusive. Both of these programs possess forward thinking and through the power of the mind we can change the world. I am what a feminist looks like.”

Lauren Matasker states why she loves the WMGS program, “I'm a sophomore in the WMGS major and fell in love with the program ever since I started. It has strengthened my critical thinking skills and is a platform for some truly incredible discussion. I hope to one day become an educator and open up a safe space for at risk young girls by giving them a place where they can be creative as well as being able to freely open discussion.”

Amena Khan will be graduating in May 2015. When she was asked how the WMGS program has helped her with her future career goals she said, “Having been to three colleges before arriving at Montclair State and joining the Women's and Gender Studies program, I think just the fact that Dr. Khan and her amazing staff, both those who work in the office and in the classrooms, have gotten me to stay at MSU is commendable. Through the intensive, and often enlightening, classroom instruction, and one-on-one advising that I have been receiving from the WMGS department for the past two years I have been given the opportunity to grow and heal as an individual. I can honestly say that it is because I joined the WMGS department, and they accepted me with open arms, that I have learned so much about myself and gained the confidence necessary to tackle subject matter and challenges that I was previously too afraid to even approach. I don't think I can express how thankful I am for the people that I have met and the knowledge that I have gained through the department. I am excited to graduate from MSU and use my Feminist outlook in my future work as a writer, human rights activist, and medical doctor.”

Maria Roumiantseva graduated in 2010 with a degree in WMGS and English. She says,  “the program allowed me to be both an intellectual and activist.” Today, she is attending law school and is focused on advocating for LGBT homeless youth.


Do I have to be a feminist to take a GSWS class?
No, but you need to have an open mind and a willingness to learn about perspectives not often represented in mainstream society. All of our students come in with their own perspectives and ideas; what we do is help to shape those perspectives and open students' eyes to different possibilities. We then give them the tools to put their new ideas to work in ways that they consider feminist.


Will there be people like me in GSWS classes?
Yes, we encourage and welcome students from different religious, economic, and ethnic backgrounds as well as all sexual orientations, and genders. It is important that the critical thinking on the subject of women and gender be done by a diversity of thinkers to enrich the education of all students in the GSWS classroom.


What if I already have a major?
Because our classes overlap with some of the courses in other majors, it’s easy to double major in Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies; or you can have a Women's & Gender Studies minor or GLBTQ Studies minor to complement your major. Some of our most popular double majors are English, History, Justice Studies, Education, and Sociology.


Does the GSWS program have Internships?
Yes! Through Cooperative Education Placement, you can work with organizations that deal with a wide range of women’s, sexuality and gender issues. Just check our website.