Graduate Programs

The History of Women & Gender is offered as a major field of study in the MA and PhD degree programs.   Students in other major fields may select Women & Gender as a minor field.

The W&G program incorporates both rigorous training in the fields of women's and gender history and flexibility to meet individual interests.   All students are encouraged to acquire comparative or trans-national expertise by taking courses and selecting examination fields in more than one geographical area.

Three types of courses are offered: 1) feminist theory and the historiography of women's and gender history; 2) transnational and comparative courses in women's and gender history; and 3) geographically and chronologically based courses in the history of women and gender in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Master of Arts

The MA in Women's and Gender History requires thirty (30) credit hours of course work, including historiography (History 600), the general seminar in feminist theory and gender history (History 608E), readings in women's and gender history (History 618), and two research seminars, at least one of which should be HIST 809. MA students in the Women & Gneder field, including History & Library Science dual-degree students, may choose between the degree-by-thesis and degree-by-examination ("non-thesis') options.

For students who opt for degree-by-thesis, a defense is scheduled before three professors. The student's advisor chairs the examining committee. The degree-by-examination option requires a single, four (4)-hour written examination, based primarily (but not exclusively) on the student's course work in women's and gender history.   The examination committee includes the student's advisor, who will chair the committee, and two other members of the graduate faculty.

The Doctoral Program

The PhD in Women's and Gender history follows the department's general requirements for the doctoral program.   Students who enter the PhD program without a master's degree in women's and gender history are required to take the general seminar in feminist theory and gender history (History 608D); three courses at the 600 and 700 levels, including at least one readings in women's and gender history (History 618); history and contemporary theory (History 601); two 800-level research seminars, at least one of which shall be a research seminar in women's history (History 809); and, after advancement to candidacy, twelve credits or more of dissertation research (History 899).   Students who enter the program with a master's degree in women's and gender history are required to take the general seminar in feminist theory and gender history (History 608D) and meet the department's general requirements for the PhD (one 800-level research seminar, history and contemporary theory (History 601), and 12 credit hours of 899).

PhD students will select four modules (see appendices) on which to be examined for their comprehensive examinations, one of which will be designated the student's special field.   Two of the modules are required and two are optional.   The required modules are 1) feminist theory and 2) the history of the student's major geographical area.   The geographical field will be selected in consultation with the faculty and is expected to cover no less than a century of time.   (See appendix A for a list of geographical fields and time periods.)   Optional modules will be selected from the list in appendix B.   One of these modules, designated the student's special field, will be the student's dissertation field.   Normally the two modules selected from the list in Appendix B should not be based in the same geographic region.   Students may select two different regions or one regional module and one thematic/transnational module.  

Comprehensive examinations include both written and oral components. The examination committee will be composed of at least three professors, including the student's academic advisor.   Students will compile reading lists for the examination with the appropriate faculty. The Director of Graduate Studies will appoint a member of the committee other than the major advisor to chair the examination committee.   Each member of the committee will submit questions for the written examination, which will be graded by the entire committee.   Students who pass the written examinations will proceed to the oral examination which should be scheduled within two weeks of the written exam.  

PhD students are expected to write a dissertation in the history of women and gender.   This may be a comparative or trans-national study, or it may be grounded in a specific time period and region.   As noted above, the choice of the dissertation topic should be reflected in the special field examination.   Students will advance to candidacy when they have written their prospectus and passed a prospectus examination.   Generally speaking, the members of the prospectus committee will continue as the members of the dissertation committee.   Dissertation committees are composed of five professors: the student's advisor, three other members of the department of history, and a representative of the Graduate Dean.   The Dean's representative comes from a department outside of history.  

The Minor Field

PhD students in Women's and Gender History must designate a minor field outside of Women's and Gender history.   The minor field should be framed to provide breadth outside of the major field.   The minor field requirement is typically satisfied by three courses, but it may also be fulfilled by examination.   Minor fields may be selected from 1) an historical field outside of the major field, or 2) a department or program outside of history, such as women's studies, English literature, government and politics, etc.   


In addition to studying with our core faculty, students are encouraged to draw from a wide range of campus and regional resources. The University of Maryland houses nationally renowned departments in Women's Studies, English, and African American Studies. Located inside the Washington, D.C., beltway, the University is within easy reach of many archives and libraries, including the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Scholars from around the world work in these institutions and visit our campus as speakers and scholars-in-residence. Many non-governmental and international women's organizations also are nearby.

Each year the Department offers special fellowships to outstanding candidates and nominates others for university-level fellowships. Some entering students may be offered teaching assistantships. To be eligible for these awards, students must apply to the program no later than December 15. Current students are eligible for a number of teaching assistantships from the Department. We also have an endowment for annual awards to support graduate research expenses.

Potential applicants are encouraged to look at the general description of the History Department's Graduate Programs for further information on requirements and application procedures.

Graduate courses taught by the Department of History that are particularly appropriate for study of women's and gender history include:

  • General Seminar: Women's and Gender History
  • Modern European Women's History
  • U.S. Women's History
  • African American Women's History
  • Gender and Sexuality in Latin America
  • Victorian Women: Britain, France,and the U.S.
  • Gender and Sexuality in East Asia
  • Gender Identities in the U.S.
  • Gender and Conquest in the Americas
  • Gender Identity in History
  • Sexuality in America
  • Women and Society in the Middle East
  • Gender and Nation in Comparative Perspective

Graduate-level courses on women and gender also are taught currently in American Studies, Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, Criminology, English, Family Studies, French, Government and Politics, Journalism, Philosophy, Speech and Communication, Sociology, and Women's Studies. Graduate students may sample these courses or may declare a minor field in one of these programs or departments.

Appendix A:
Geographical Fields and Time Periods

  • Colonial United States
  • 19th-century United States
  • 20th-century United States
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Southern Cone
  • Modern Japan
  • Early Modern China
  • Modern China
  • Britain, 1750-present
  • France, 1750-present
  • Africa Before ca. 1900
  • Africa in the Modern World (ca.1848-present)

Additional fields may be created upon request.

Appendix B:
Comparative, Topical, and Geographic Modules

(Students must choose two)

  • Transnational W&G (this module may be defined in a variety of ways)
  • US W&G, colonial-nineteenth century
  • US W&G, nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • African American W&G
  • British W&G, 1750-present
  • French W&G, 1750-present
  • Social and cultural history of women in Britain and France
  • East European W&G
  • Latin American W&G, colonial-nineteenth century
  • Latin American W&G nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern China
  • Gender and Sexuality in Modern China
  • Women and Gender in Modern Japan
  • African W&G before ca. 1900
  • African W&G and the slave trade, 1450-1900
  • African W&G in the modern world (ca. 1848-present)
  • Modern Middle Eastern W&G
  • Sexualities
  • W&G and Slavery
  • W&G and the African diaspora
  • W&G and Industrialization
  • Women and Politics
  • Women and the Holocaust


Additional fields may be created upon request.