Application to the Program

MA / Ph.D. Program

New generation of activists and academics

Feminist Studies is an interdisciplinary discipline that produces innovative research and fosters effective and creative teaching. Our faculty focus on the ways that relations of gender–intersecting with race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, nation, ability, and other axes of difference–are embedded in social, political, and cultural formations. Our three broad areas of concentration are race and nation, genders and sexualities, and productive and reproductive labors. The Department is among a select group of universities offering a Ph.D. in this field for those interested in research and teaching at the university level.

The graduate program in Feminist Studies offers three areas of emphasis, all from intersectional and transnational perspectives:

  • Race and Nation
  • Genders and Sexualities
  • Productive and Reproductive Labors

More about areas of emphasis:

1) Race and Nation centers the experiences of African American, Latina, Asian American, Native American, and Arab American women—“the Third World within”—in a global context, attending to both the centrality of race and ethnicity and the inextricability of race and ethnicity (including whiteness) from all other categories of identity and difference. Faculty members specializing in this area include Barvosa, Bobo, Boris, DasGupta, Miller-Young, Richardson, Tyburczy.

2) Genders and Sexualities concentrates on an interdisciplinary exploration of the historical and global processes by which desires, sexual acts, relationships, gender and sexual identities, communities, and movements have been constructed, transformed, and challenged. A number of our affiliated faculty members specialize in masculinities and queer sexualities, which are part of this concentration. Faculty members include Barvosa, DasGupta, Miller-Young, Oaks, Richardson, Rupp, Tyburczy and Ward.

3) Productive and reproductive labors focuses on the economic (both paid and unpaid) and reproductive roles and experiences of diverse groups of women globally and historically and the complex relationship between employment and child-bearing and child-rearing. Faculty members include Boris, Miller-Young, Oaks, and Ward.

All three areas of concentration attend to the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, age, religion, ability, and other categories of difference. In addition, all three areas integrate attention to the contemporary United States with historical and global perspectives. Applicants indicate an area of focus upon application to the program, although they may change areas if they so choose once they are enrolled.

Preference in admission is given to applicants who have a strong background in women's, gender, or feminist studies and evidence of potential for excellence in research, analysis, and oral and written communication.

Admission Information

Applications may be submitted online here: Helpful information on applying to Graduate Programs at UCSB may be found at the Graduate Division Admissions and Outreach website:  For more information on the structure of the program, please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook

  • Statement of Purpose: Applicants should put their name on each page of their Statement of Purpose. The statement of purpose (typically 2-5 pages) should clearly indicate why the applicant wishes to pursue graduate studies in the field of Feminist Studies.
  • Personal Achievements/Contributions: Applicants should put their name on each page of their Personal Achievements/Contributions. The essay (typically 2-5 pages) should describe any aspects of the applicant’s personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that will make a significant contribution to the diversity of the department and/or the campus.
  • Résumé or Curriculum Vitae: List your positions of employment or volunteer work/community service since high school, either full or part-time. Include awards, distinctions, and memberships if applicable.
  • Writing Sample: Applicants must submit a research paper or some other piece of writing that best reflects research, analytical, and writing ability. This may be an undergraduate or graduate paper or policy paper. All writing samples must be in English (20 pages approximately).
  • Additional Required Information Form: Download the form, fill it in, and then upload it to your application via the online application portal here. Be sure to chose your intended area of research emphasis from the three department foci described above.
    Additional Required Information Form
  • Three Letters of Recommendation: These letters should reflect the referee's evaluation of the applicant's overall intellectual and critical thinking and academic ability, effectiveness of oral and written communication, and commitment to feminist studies.
  • Official Transcripts:  Transcripts are required from all college-level institutions attended (where 12.0 or more units were earned), including junior college, lower-division, extension, study abroad, and graduate transcripts, regardless of whether or not a degree was awarded. Official documents should be uploaded directly to the application. Documents in any language other than English must be accompanied by certified translations. Official hard copy transcripts are required only upon admission, after signing the Statment of Intent to Register. 
  • International Students Only. Students whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English. TOEFL scores must be at least 550 on the paper-based test (PBT), 213 on the computer-based test (CBT), or 80 on the internet-based test (IBT). On the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), students must have an overall band score of 7 or higher. If accepted to the MA or PhD program, all students whose native language is not English will be required to take the English Language Placement Examination at the beginning of the first quarter in which they are registered. Students must pass the test in order to be eligible for a position as a teaching assistant. International applicants my find helpful information about the Graduate Application process here.

Other information on the admissions process and helpful links are on the Graduate Division's FAQ page: