What students say about NIU Women's Studies:

Women's Studies courses and activities "present opportunities that meaningfully challenge and change the way you think about and interact with the world." -Alex (undergraduate student)


Women's Studies is "tremendously valuable to both male and female students alike as it involves the study of issues that have relevance and resonance to all of us." -Ashley (graduate student)


"Women’s Studies...has given me a voice. I feel comfortable expressing my views, and calling myself a feminist because of the support I have received from the wonderful people in Women’s Studies at NIU.” -Heather (undergraduate student)


"Taking classes in Women's Studies has been one of the best parts of my experience at NIU." -Jillian(graduate student)


Contract Major in Women's Studies

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences offers students the opportunity to construct an individualized major in Women’s Studies (B.A. or B.S.). This option allows a student with a well defined interest in Women’s Studies to design a major with the advice of a faculty sponsor. The major in Women’s Studies is recommended for students who are interested in examining historical and contemporary roles, perceptions, and contributions of women and in exploring other gender-related issues. The major is particularly appropriate for students preparing for graduate school in Women’s Studies or planning advanced study or careers in such disciplines as communications, education, health, humanities, and human services.

Faculty members from a wide variety of departments participate in the core and special topics courses of the major.

Students interested in declaring this interdisciplinary major should contact the Women’s Studies Program, Reavis Hall 103, early in their college careers for information and advisement. Members of the Women’s Studies faculty will provide assistance in preparing an application for admission to the program, which must be filed with the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (application forms can be obtained from the Advising Office of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences). Completed proposals must be approved by the College’s Contract Major Committee.

A student must select a faculty sponsor from the Women’s Studies faculty and formulate a major program of study in consultation with this sponsor. The program must be logically structured around a meaningful and interesting theme or topic, and must utilize existing courses. Examples of topics or themes include Women's Health, Women and Literature, and Women and Social Policy. Sample proposals are available in the Women’s Studies Program office.

The student who wishes to propose a contract major must:

  • have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.50.
  • have at least sophomore standing.
  • justify the course of study and define the goal to be achieved.
  • design a multidisciplinary program that may be accommodated within existing university resources and facilities. (The program may include internships, independent study, or special projects on or off campus, but no more than 12 semester hours of course work for these kinds of activities will be permitted in the contract.)
  • include in the program at least 50 semester hours of credit in courses basic to the area of study. These semester hours may not be used to fulfill general education requirements,
    • must include at least 15 semester hours of course work offered by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences,
    • must include at least 30 semester hours of course work at the 300-400 level, and
    • must not include more than 24 semester hours from offerings of a single department.
    • complete either the university foreign language requirement for the B.A. degree or the college requirement for the B.S. degree.

Students may enroll in a variety of internships combining their professional interests with their preparation in Women’s Studies. Past interns have worked with the Cook County victims’ assistance program, the local shelter for battered women, the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, a medical school research grant on women's wellness, a high school girl's leadership project, and other organizations and activities.

Independent study and topics courses in a variety of departments may meet the major requirements, with the approval of the director of the Women’s Studies program, when substantial treatment of Women’s Studies is included in the course.

Coursework (50 hours):

Required (9 hours)

WOMS 230, Women, Sex, and Gender Today (3)
WOMS 235, Women Across Cultures and Centuries (3)
WOMS 4321, Feminist Theory (3)

Recommended Courses for Women’s Studies Contract Majors:

WOMS 3322, Growing Up Female (3)
WOMS 3903, Internship in Women’s Studies (3)
WOMS 4304, Special Topics in Women’s Studies (3)
WOMS 434, Women, Men and Language (3)
WOMS 436, Current Debates Seminar: Women and Gender (3)
WOMS 4395, Independent Study in Women’s Studies (3)
ANTH 361, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women (3)
ANTH 468, Anthropology of Gender (3)
ARTH 485D, Topics in Art History: Images of Women (3)
*BIOS 493, Topics in Biology (1-3)
COMS 410, Communication and Gender (3)
*ENGL 381, American Ethnic Literature (3) OR *ENGL 399H, Topics in American Literature, Honors (3)

OR *ENGL 400, Literary Topics (3)
OR *ENGL 499H, Topics in English Literature, Honors (3)

ENGL 382, Women Writers: The Tradition in English (3)
ENGL 383, Gay and Lesbian Literature (3)
FCNS 406, Global Food and Nutrition Issues (3)
FCNS 464, Social Psychology of Dress and Appearance (3)
FLFR 445, French Women Writers (3)
FLSP 445, Latin American Women Writers (3)
*FLST 481, Special Topics in Literature (3)
HIST 322, Women in Modern Europe (3)
HIST 346, Women in Asian History (3)
HIST 353, Women in African History (3)
HIST 360, Race, Class, and Gender in American History (3)
HIST 369, Women in United States History (3)
HIST 402, Gender and Sexuality in History (3)
HIST 413, Family, Sexuality, and Society since 1400 (3)
HIST 473, Topics in Women's History (3)
IDSP 402, The Africana Woman (3)
LGBT 350, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies (3)
MGMT 498, Equal Opportunity and Employment (3)
NURS 380, Nursing Care of Women (3)
PHHE 306, Human Sexuality (3)
PHIL 365, Feminism and Philosophy (3)
POLS 373, Women and Politics (3)
PSYC 424, Adolescent Development (3)
SOCI 450, Social Inequality (3)
SOCI 354, Families and Social Change (3)
SOCI 357, The Sociology of Gender (3)
SOCI 358, Racial and Ethnic Minority Families (3)

Additional courses may be selected from departmental offerings if they are relevant to the proposed major focus.

*May meet the major requirements, with the approval of the director of the Women’s Studies program, when substantial treatment of Women’s Studies is included in the course

1 PRQ: WOMS 230 or WOMS 235 or consent of the program.

2 PRQ: sophomore standing; WOMS 230, WOMS 235, SOCI 357, ANTH 361 or consent of the program.

3 Work as an intern in activities related to Women’s Studies. Reading and paper preparation under the supervision of a faculty member in the university. May be repeated once. S/U grading. PRQ: Consent of program director; junior or senior standing.

4 PRQ: junior or senior standing or by permission of the program director.

5 PRQ: 9 hours in the major, including WOMS 230 and WOMS 235.


Download the WOMS 390: Internship in Women's Studies approval form (Approval required at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the semester)

Download the WOMS 439: Independent Study in Women's Studies approval form (Approval required at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the semester)


To become a WOMS major, you need to fill out the Proposed Contract Major form (PDF 29 KB)

Find out What You Can Do With Your Women's Studies Degree.

Wanting to transfer a course? You will need to fill out this Course transfer form (PDF 69 KB).

More information for transfer students is available at the Transfer Center.

You may also want to visit the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) website.

For more information, contact
Women's Studies Program
Reavis Hall, Room 103
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115