BA paper write-in

Gender and Sexuality Studies fourth-years Nia Sotto, Amber Sollenberger Matthews, Jennifer Wells-Qu, and Ellen Kladky (behind the camera) at a weekend BA paper write-in in January.

Undergraduate Major in Gender and Sexuality Studies

The Gender and Sexuality Studies major welcomes students for whom sexuality or gender is a crucial category of analysis working in all world areas and time periods and with a variety of methodologies. In the past 20 years, majors have written their BA papers on topics that include the transnational regulation of gender and sexuality by religious or governmental entities; gender construction and queer subtexts in literature and film; queer interventions in labor organizations; the ambiguous outcomes of empowerment movements and reconciliation efforts; the status of reproductive rights and capabilities across time and space. Much work has been intersectional, examining historical and contemporary instances of “othering” and oppression through the lenses of critical race and disability theory. Several projects have come from the fine arts, including poetry and short story series, memoirs, art installations, and graphic fiction. The GSS major comprises coursework and BA supervision by faculty members and preceptors to support the development of ideas, methodologies, and research that result in an important piece of scholarly or creative work.

A major in Gender and Sexuality Studies covers a broad range of topics under the eleven course requirements, the BA Essay Seminar and the BA research project or essay. We recognize two main paths by which students can develop their undergraduate concentration. Each path consists of the required course “Theories of Gender and Sexuality” or its approved substitute, a group of ten electives chosen in consultation with the student's Gender and Sexuality Studies Adviser, a BA Seminar for fourth-year students, and a BA paper written under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member (students may register for GNSE 29900, BA Essay, during any quarter of their fourth year).

Summary of Requirements for majors:

  • 1 course -- Theories of Gender and Sexuality (GNSE 10310) -- or approved substitute
  • 10 Elective courses distributed according to the requirements of Path A or Path B (two of these courses may be GNSE 15002-15003 if another civilization sequence is used for general education requirements)
  • 1 BA Essay Seminar (GNSE 29800)
  • 1 BA Essay (GNSE 29900)

Total requirements: 13

General Education Requirements

It is recommended but not required that GSS majors complete their civilization requirement by taking GNSE 15002-15003, “Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations 1 and 2.” Students who take another civilization sequence to fulfill the general education requirement may count GNSE 15002-15003 in the major.

Path A Elective Requirements

Path A is for students whose central interest lies in the interdisciplinary study of gender and sexuality. It is designed to provide students with a range of conceptual and historical resources to pursue such study with creativity and rigor. For Path A, the 11 (9 if GNSE 15002-15003 are counted in the major) electives must meet the following chronological, geographical, and methodological distribution guidelines:

At least one of each:

  • Course with a main chronological focus that is pre-1900
  • Course with a main chronological focus that is post-1900
  • Course with a main focus that is North America or Europe
  • Course with a main focus that is Latin America, Africa, or Asia

At least two of each:

  • Courses in the Humanities
  • Courses in the Social Sciences

Any given course may fulfill more than one distribution requirement; for instance, a course on gender in Shakespeare would count as fulfilling one course requirement in pre-1900, Europe, and Humanities.

Path B Elective Requirements

Path B is for students whose interest in gender and sexuality is primarily organized around another discipline or field such as History, English, or Political Science. It is designed to provide students with the conceptual and methodological resources to pursue Gender and Sexuality Studies within such a field. For Path B, the ten electives must meet the following guidelines:

  • 6 Gender and Sexuality Studies courses in a primary field
  • 4 supporting-field courses

Courses in the primary field focus on gender and sexuality in a single discipline or in closely related disciplines and develop a gender track within that discipline. Supporting field courses provide training in the methodological, technical, or scholarly skills needed to pursue research in the student's primary field.

Research Project or Essay

Students in their fourth year will complete an essay or research project under the supervision of a Gender and Sexuality Studies Adviser who is a member of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Affiliated Faculty in the student's primary field of interest. Typically, students submit the essay by May 1 of their fourth year or by fifth week of their quarter of graduation. This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program chair. Approval from both program chairs is required.

Students should consult with the chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, when neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available online at It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.


Two of the supporting field courses may be taken P/F under Path B. All other courses must be taken for a quality grade.


Students with a 3.0 or higher overall GPA and a 3.5 or higher GPA in the major are eligible for honors. Students must also receive a grade of A on their BA project or essay with a recommendation for honors from their faculty adviser.


Each student will design a program of study with the assistance of the Student Affairs Administrator, Bonnie Kanter, and/or the Faculty Director of Studies, Jennifer Wild. If you are contemplating a GSS major or have begun work on it already, please arrange to meet with Bonnie Kanter, Student Affairs Administrator, by calling 773-702-2365 or emailing