Women's Studies Program: Frequently Asked Questions

What types of courses does Women's Studies offer?

As an interdisciplinary field, women's studies offers courses which: focus on women's experience in the analysis of human culture, examine the contributions and status of women in society, explore the meaning of gender in our lives, investigate the impact of race, ethnicity, age, social class, sexual orientation, and other factors on women's experiences.

The introductory undergraduate core course, Women in Contemporary America (WOMS 230), studies the political, economic, legal, and social status of American women in today's society. The second core course for undergraduate credit, Women Across Cultures and Centuries (WOMS 235), explores the experiences of diverse groups of women through U.S. women's literature studied in historical context. Both WOMS 230 and 235 also fulfill general education credit for the interdisciplinary area. A third core course, WOMS 432, concentrates on feminist theory.

The graduate certificate permits study of gender and its significance by engaging students in feminist theory and criticism, research methods, and scholarship. The graduate-level core courses are Feminist Theory (WOMS 620) and Research in Women's Studies (WOMS 630). These courses examine the theoretical and methodological implications of feminist thought and research, as well as assist students in developing analytical skills for applying feminist critiques to traditional disciplines.

In addition to the core courses, elective courses are offered in a wide range of departments, including anthropology, art, biological sciences, communication, English, foreign languages and literatures, history, human and family resources, management, nursing, physical education, political science, psychology, and sociology.  For example, students may study such topics as communication and the sexes, equal opportunity and employment, women and politics, growing up female, marriages and families, gender and crime, visual images of women, or women in U.S. history.

A popular internship is also offered as an option that gives students practical experience working in women's organizations, government agencies, and other settings.


How can I combine Women's Studies coursework with my undergraduate major?

An undergraduate minor in WS will complement almost every major. For information on combining a WS minor with a major in one of the following areas, please click below.

*The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences also offers students the opportunity to construct an individualized major in Women’s Studies (B.A. or B.S.).

How can I combine Women's Studies coursework with my graduate program?

A certificate in WS will complement almost every graduate program. For information on combining a WS certificate with a program of study in one of the following areas, please click below.


What faculty members can I work with?

Women's Studies Program faculty include: 

  • Dr. Amy Levin, Program Director and Associate Professor of English
  • Dr. Amanda Littauer, Assistant Professor, History and Women's Studies
  • Dr. Diana Swanson, Associate Professor, English and Women's Studies

The program faculty regularly teach the core courses and special topics courses, as well as advising minors and graduate certificate students. In addition, approximately 30 faculty associates  and over 25 faculty affiliates from throughout the university teach courses in their home departments that are available for elective credit in women's studies.  The faculty associates and affiliates provide the program with a wide scope of academic expertise and enable the program to respond to individual student's interests. (top)

How will women's studies benefit my career?

Students have found that a background in Women's Studies has benefited them in other college courses and in their work after college, regardless of career, because women are more than 50% of the population. Students entering the social service fields such as psychology, health sciences, and education find it particularly valuable to have an in-depth knowledge of women's issues. In addition, Women's Studies may provide individuals with a greater awareness of the importance of gender in any workplace. (top)

How can I be involved outside the classroom?

Each year the Women's Studies Program provides a variety of cultural and educational programs for the university and surrounding community.

The program coordinates NIU's annual celebration of Women's History Month in March, sponsoring a wide array of events including speakers, films, concerts, artistic performances, art exhibits, and an essay contest among others. Planning for Women's History Month activities begin in the fall semester. All interested departments, organizations, and individuals are invited to submit program proposals. We particularly encourage students to get involved in our programming by offering ideas for and helping plan events.

The Women's Studies Program also sponsors a student organization called NIU Women's Rights Alliance.  Events and activities of the Women's Rights Alliance have included a letter-writing campaign to fashion magazines, performances of The Vagina Monologues, an educational workshop called "The Vagina Seminar," Take Back the Night March, and organizing fundraisers.  (top)

 Can't find the answer to your question here?

If you have a question that we haven't answered, you may submit it by clicking the button below, or call (815) 753-1038.

Email your question to WOMENST@wpo.cso.niu.edu