Feminist Studies is an interdisciplinary area of inquiry that has been producing cutting-edge research and fostering innovative teaching for over thirty years. It is interdisciplinary because it draws from and contributes to theories and methodologies central to disciplines throughout the social sciences and humanities. At the same time, like other disciplines that emerged from existing areas of study, it has developed a research tradition, an approach to methodology, a body of theory, journals, a professional association, conferences, curricula, graduate programs, and the other institutional accoutrements of an autonomous discipline.
The roots of Feminist Studies lie in the study of women’s experiences and a critique of their neglect in knowledge production. But the name “Feminist Studies” reflects the fact that the subject matter includes more than women: research and teaching focus on the ways that relations of gender, intersecting with race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, age, religion, ability, and other categories of difference, are embedded in social, political, and cultural formations. Feminist Studies encompasses teaching and research interests in men and masculinities and sexualities, as well as women.
The Department of Feminist Studies offers a doctoral emphasis (designed for students pursuing doctoral degrees in other disciplines), an independent M.A., and a Ph.D.
The independent M.A. meets the needs of students interested in careers outside the university in areas such as secondary teaching, community college teaching, public policy, non-governmental organizations, and other forms of advocacy, as well as students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in another discipline but first want solid grounding in feminist studies. Students in the independent M.A. program may tailor their work to their particular goals—for example, secondary school teachers might develop a curriculum plan for their final project, and students interested in public policy might conduct research on the impact of a particular issue—but the program would focus on providing skills in feminist research, analysis, and writing.
The Ph.D. degree offers rigorous interdisciplinary training to potential scholars and teachers of feminist, women’s, and gender studies. Increasingly universities and colleges seeking to fill positions in women’s studies expect an interdisciplinary degree, not just a concentration on women and gender within another discipline.
In addition, Feminist Studies Ph.D. students can pursue an optional emphasis in Global and International Studies. For more information, please visit the Global Studies website.
The Feminist Studies Doctoral Emphasis is designed for students who are pursuing doctoral studies in one of the UCSB departments participating in the emphasis. Students in the doctoral emphasis complete a pattern of four required courses and include an affiliated faculty member on their committees.