Combined PhD Program in WGSS


The WGSS Program at Yale is proud to announce our new Combined PhD degree! We are thrilled to work with a new generation of scholars committed to feminist and queer inquiry, and to researching gender and sexuality across axes of difference and inequality. Our faculty work on questions of gender and sexuality from a wide range of theoretical and methodological locations, concentrating our attention on transnational politics and security regimes, public law and sexual violence, reproduction and reproductive technologies, incarceration, social movements and protest, race and racism, neoliberalism, and Islam. We hope you will join us to pursue your WGSS scholarship.

Beginning in 2021, we will welcome our first cohort of students pursuing dual doctoral degrees in WGSS and American Studies, Anthropology, African American Studies, English and Sociology.

Program Requirements


In their first two years of study, students in the Combined PhD program will complete Introduction to Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS 600), Feminist and Queer Theory (WGSS 700), Methods in Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS 800)* and one elective.  Typically, electives taken in the student’s partnering Department will be cross-titled with WGSS or will substantively examine gender and sexuality.  Students will also enroll in the half-credit WGSS 900, Colloquium & Working Group.  The Colloquium and Working Group convene several Monday evenings throughout the semester; faculty and graduate students present works in progress.

*The WGSS DGS will determine, case-by-case, whether or not the methods course offered by the student’s primary department fulfills our methods requirement.

WGSS 600: Introduction to Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (typically offered fall semester)

Introduction to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies as a field of knowledge and to the interdiscipline’s structuring questions and tensions. The course genealogizes feminist and queer knowledge production, and the institutionalization of WGSS, by examining several of our key terms.

WGSS 700: Feminist & Queer Theory (typically offered spring semester)

Survey of feminist and queer theoretic contestations, focusing both on historical foundations and contemporary articulations. Students examine the Marxist, critical race, postcolonial, transnational and liberal philosophical coordinates of feminist and queer theories.

WGSS 800: Methods in Gender & Sexuality Studies (offered alternate years)

A practical forum that explores interdisciplinary methods and modes of analysis and evidence building for research in WGSS. Examines interventions from cultural studies, archive studies, ethnography, STS and media studies. Foci on the historicity of knowledge production, ethical research, and scholarship examining (what’s “feminist” or “queer” about) feminist and queer methods.

Teaching Fellowship

WGSS Combined PhD students will typically teach or serve as a teaching fellow in their third and fourth years in the program, unless their dissertation research plans require other arrangements. The courses will usually be WGSS-titled and undergraduate level.

Dissertation Proposal

Students in their third year of study will undertake a dissertation proposal workshop with faculty from the WGSS program.


Students will typically research and write their dissertations in their final two- to three-years of study. At least one faculty committee member of the student’s dissertation will hold a primary, tenured or tenure-track appointment in WGSS.

How to Apply

Doctoral students enrolled in African American Studies,* American Studies, Anthropology, English or Sociology, and who will be in their first or second year of study in fall 2020, are eligible to apply. 

*For the fall 2022 admissions cycle, students will be able to apply for the Combined Degree in AFAM and WGSS.  Since current AFAM students are already in two degree-granting programs, applicants should contact the DGS ( if they wish to apply for the fall 2021 cycle.

Please email your 2-3 page, double-spaced statement of purpose to by August 1, 2020.  The WGSS graduate admissions committee will review the application file you previously submitted to the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Your statement of purpose should address the following questions:

  • What is your background experience in the study of women, gender, and sexuality?
  • What are your current scholarly interests, and how do those interests resonate with our WGSS Program?
  • Why—intellectually and professionally—would you like to pursue the Combined PhD?