In fall 2016, we undertook a study of the certificate programs in Women’s and/or Gender Studies at five peer and five peer-aspirant institutions. Of these 10 institutions, six had a certificate in WGST, two had a minor, and two had no program at all. On average, the six institutions that offered certificates required 14.5 hours of coursework. (The minors required an average of 11 hours.)
Currently, our certificate is 18 hours. We propose to change the requirements to 15 hours to bring our certificate in line with those of our peer and peer-aspirant schools. In order to do this, we would eliminate the 3-credit course WGST 702, Feminist Epistemologies and Methodologies. We would also change the content of the WGST 701, currently Feminist Theory, to include both feminist theory and epistemology. No other changes to the certificate would be necessary.
We believe this change will prove beneficial for others reasons. When theory and epistemology are taught in distinct courses, students do not always make the connections between the two. They also can have a tendency to believe that methodologies they do not currently employ in their own research are not valuable to them. But Women’s Studies is an inherently interdisciplinary field, and the students need to become familiar with a wide array of approaches. We believe the combination of theory with epistemology will encourage students to engage with a variety of approaches.
Our certificate is often pursued by students who are concurrently enrolled in another degree program. Our 18-hour requirement is achievable by doctoral students who spend three or more years in residency, but we find that it is more difficult for students who try to complete a master’s degree and a certificate in two years. In addition to three required courses, our 18-hour certificate requires three electives. Since these electives can also count in a concurrent degree program, the reduction of the certificate to 15 hours would require only two additional distinct courses rather than three, which is less forbidding for master’s students. At the same time, we believe 15 hours remains rigorous and thorough enough that a student who pursues a stand-alone certificate will benefit.