Top 25 Master’s in Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation Counseling

A Master’s degree in Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation Counseling is a relatively new field of study. It has been designed to meet the demands of the new generation of patients who need support and guidance as they continue to learn about who they are. Gender studies provide students with a focus on problems that beset women, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The programs look at the knowledge gap that counselors have and fulfill them to treat their patients effectively Professional counselors need to understand the needs of LGBTQ communities. They must learn how to see the whole person, including gender identity and sexuality, to counsel them effectively.

Students in sexual orientation and gender identity classes need coursework and clinical opportunities. They need better knowledge and training to work with LGBTQ communities to be competitive and successful.

This article has explored the top master’s degree programs that offer gender and sexual orientation studies. The courses provide insight to understand historical implications while working toward greater equality. Students gain an understanding of the ideologies and frameworks behind LGBT movements. They also study the oppression, emancipation, and challenges women face in various contexts.

The diverse topics include pressing social issues that affect the most vulnerable individuals:

  • Areas of power movements
  • Gender within race identity
  • Gender theory
  • Discrimination
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Legal, physical, and mental health care needs
  • Social service and educational needs

Students engage in the scholarly study of history, theory, policy, and professional practice relating to gender identity and sexuality.

Learning outcomes for a master’s degree in women’s, gender, and sexual orientation
A master’s degree prepares students to be effective counselors for the new generation. They learn to create a confidential and safe place for their patients. They encourage them to talk about personal concerns in an accepting and nonjudgmental environment. They provide strong support for patients to deal with social challenges and break the glass ceiling.

Graduates work as:

  • Researchers
  • Advocates
  • Politicians 
  • Counselors 
  • Grassroots campaign managers
  • Non-profit administrators
  • Journalists
  • Educators

During our research, we have used data from APA, ACA, Niche, Payscale.com, College Factual, and U.S. News & World Report. We have ranked the schools based on their resident tuition affordability. We have studied the curriculum, school accreditation, formats and flexibility, the faculty experience, nature of clinical experience within the programs. 

Methodology:

Tuition 
Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points 
Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points 
Net Price Below $20,000: 2 points 
Net Price Below $25,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio 
Less than 20:1: 1 point 
Less than 15: 1: 2 points 
Less than 10: 1: 3 points 

Return on Investment (ROI) – According to Payscale.com
Top 500: 1 point 
Top 300: 2 points 
Top 150: 3 points

Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, writing/technology support, etc.)— 1 point per item

Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item

Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item

“Wow” Factor – 1 point (anything that would mark a program as unique. Special qualities that make a program “stand out from the crowd”)

#25 New York University Steinhardt 

New York, NY

MA, Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness/Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate, LGBT

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Points: 6

NYU Steinhardt offers a Master of Arts in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness and Post-Master’s Advanced Certificate in LGBT Health, Education, and Social Services. Key features of the dual degree:

  • Combines course work and clinical training to prepare students to apply for New York State licensure
  • Trains students to practice as licensed mental health professionals 
  • Teach how to treat mental illness and help clients reach their potential
  • Helps expand knowledge of the issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people

Graduates work in a broad spectrum of settings. They focus on working with LGBT populations and the organizations that serve them. 

Fast facts:

  • 66 credits
  • Offered through: Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: MPCAC; Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per credit: $1,867

#24 The George Washington University 

Washington, DC

MA in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies

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Points: 7

George Washington University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. Students have the option to create an individualized program of study. They combine course work with practical experience at top agencies and organizations. Coursework includes:

  • Fundamentals of Feminist Theory     
  • Research Issues in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Contemporary Feminist Theory        
  • Capstone Research Seminar  
  • Practicum in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies         
  • Thesis Research

Graduates gain the professional skills needed to excel in varied areas like public policy, nonprofit leadership, business, law, and social work. 

Fast facts:

  • 36 credits
  • Offered through: Columbian College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition per credit: $1,765

#23 Simmons University

Boston, MA

MA in Gender and Cultural Studies 

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Points: 8

Simmons University offers a Master of Arts in Gender and Cultural Studies. The program examines intersecting systems of power, privilege, gender, and sexual orientation. Students learn to:

  • Articulate the core concepts in intersectional feminist studies and critical race studies
  • Test, compare, and critique theories and methodologies of gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, and culture.
  • Show in-depth understandings of a specific topic aligned with their future professional work

Most students complete the degree in four semesters of study over two years. Part-time students may take up to five years to complete the degree.

Fast facts:

  • 32 semester hours
  • Offered through: The Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition per credit: $1,120 

#22 Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, IL

MA in WSGS

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Points: 9

Loyola University Chicago offers a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies. It draws from a variety of topics to analyze how power shapes knowledge. Coursework includes:

  • History of Feminist Thought
  • Feminist Research Methods
  • A course in “Global Feminisms.”
  • Capstone and electives

Students choose one of the following concentration tracks for at least three of their electives:

  • Global and Transnational 
  • Expressive Arts 
  • Bodies and Sexualities
  • Gender and Violence
  • Religion and Ethics 
  • Self-designed concentration 

Students explore the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race in this program. They also learn to create new pathways for promoting social justice. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Tuition per credit: $1,033

#21 Northcentral University

San Diego, CA

M.A. Psy.-Gender and Sexual Fluidity

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Points: 10

Northcentral University offers a Master of Arts in Psychology with an option to specialize in Gender and Sexual Fluidity. Students learn to:

  • Examine social, cultural, and biological foundations that influence gender diversity
  • Examine diversity issues in professional contexts
  • Develop ways to apply their learning about gender diversity in their own communities
  • Tackle the myriad issues, challenges, and changes related to mental health, gender, and healthy sexuality
  • Analyze theories and principles in psychology to inform professional contexts

Graduates work in varied social and organizational settings that need expertise in gender identities. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based/Online
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per credit: $856

#20 Antioch University

Los Angeles, CA

MA in Clinical Psychology, LGBT-Affirmative Psychology

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Points: 10

Antioch University offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, LGBT-Affirmative Psychology. It trains students to empower LGBTQ people and help them lead healthy lives. They graduate to become practitioner-advocates in the LGBT community. The program allows students to:

  • Explore the intersections between social justice and LGBT resilience and liberation
  • Prepare to serve the LGBT community with new competencies and qualifications
  • Address the causes of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other challenges in LGBTQ people

Students can complete the program in two years. The curriculum meets the requirements for licensure in California.

Fast facts:

  • 90 units 
  • Offered through: Department of Psychology
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Tuition per unit: $808 

#19 University of Wisconsin–Madison 

Madison, WI

M.A. in Gender & Women’s Studies

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Points: 10

The University of Wisconsin–Madison offers a Master of Arts in Gender & Women’s Studies. It provides advanced feminist training in gender analysis for students with a variety of backgrounds. It has a wide-ranging and multidisciplinary approach. Students explore areas like: 

  • Queer studies
  • Transgender studies
  • Race and ethnicity studies
  • Area and global studies
  • Disability studies
  • Cultural studies
  • Postcolonial and transnational studies

The curriculum incorporates local, cross-cultural, and transnational emphases. It helps students expand their knowledge of gender in global, local, and historical contexts. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: Department of Gender & Women’s Studies
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: CACREP; Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per year: $12,200.00

#18 Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ

MA in Women and Gender Studies

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Points: 10

Arizona State University offers a Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies. Students learn in a collaborative and transdisciplinary learning environment. Key features of the program:

  • Employs an intersectional, transdisciplinary approach
  • Trains students to find practical solutions for real-world problems in varied non-academic careers
  • Helps students gain a deeper understanding of gender issues 
  • Provides advanced training in gender-related research
  • Provides students with access to a wealth of resources to support diverse career goals

Graduates of this program pursue positions in private, public, and corporate fields. They are also well-prepared for doctoral studies. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: School of Social Transformation
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Tuition per year: $11,720

#17 Goddard College 

Plainfield, VT 

MA in Psychology/CMHC-Sexual Orientation

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Points: 11

Goddard College offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Master of Arts in Psychology with a Sexual Orientation Concentration. It meets the need for counselors to have specialized knowledge of the issues of sexual orientation. The purpose of the Sexual Orientation Concentration is to:

  • Prepare students to research and analyze issues of sexual orientation
  • Prepare students to work on them in clinical settings
  • Examine the principles and concepts of sexual orientations and identities 
  • Offer training in the counseling skills in related areas

The Concentration aligns with the guidelines of the ACA and APA

Fast facts:

  • 48-60 credits
  • Format: Campus-based/Low residency
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education 
  • Tuition per year: $10,316

#16 University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (MA)

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Points: 11

The University of Louisville offers a Master of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Students can complete their degree in four semesters (fall/spring). There is also an accelerated option to take a maximum of nine (9) credit hours for graduate credit. The interdisciplinary program includes:

  • 19 core courses
  • Introductory seminars
  • A one-credit research/writing course
  • Nine courses in the thesis area or culminating project

Most courses are offered in the late afternoon or evening, making it a flexible option for working adults. Limited summer offerings are also available. Graduates go on to impact social change and address the problem of gender inequality and injustice.

Fast facts:

  • 37 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts and Sciences (GA)
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per semester: $6,630

#15 University of Maryland, College Park 

College Park, MD 

M.A. in Women’s Studies (WMST)

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Points: 11

The University of Maryland, College Park, offers a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies. It is interdisciplinary, which integrates theory with practice to train students. Students in this program:

  • Develop a thorough grounding in women, gender, and sexuality studies 
  • Get an understanding of gender, race, and sexuality as categories of analysis
  • Analyze and assess theories about the role of gender in systems of hierarchy
  • Learn to differentiate between race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality
  • Learn research methods and pedagogy

Students can specialize in a selected area to customize their degree.

Fast facts:

  • 31 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts and Humanities
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per credit: $731

#14 DePaul University

Chicago, IL

MA in Women’s and Gender Studies

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Points: 11

DePaul University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies. Students take a critical look at how gender, race, class, and other power systems are constructed in society. The curriculum:

  • Addresses issues of power, resistance, and social transformation
  • Focuses on the interconnectedness of local and global and feminist theories
  • Connects feminist theories to activism and social justice
  • Helps students develop advocacy skills with local community-based organizations

Courses are offered in the evenings, and the program can be completed in two years.

Fast facts:

  • 20 quarter hours
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per quarter-hour: $715

#13 Southern Methodist University

Dallas, TX 

MS in Counseling-CMHC-Affirmative Therapy with LGBT Clients

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Points: 11

Southern Methodist University offers a Master of Science in Counseling with a Clinical Mental Health Specialty. Students can choose from various electives, including Affirmative Therapy with LGBT Clients. It addresses the knowledge gap of counselors who work with LGBT individuals, couples, and families. They need more care than their heterosexual counterparts. The program focuses on:

  • Current understandings in the field; 
  • Evidence-based social science;
  • LGBT competency guidelines;
  • Challenges heteronormative bias in the therapy room
  • Shows why the LGBT population face greater behavioral health disparities

Graduates provide guidance and increase protective factors for LGBT clients in practice settings.

Fast facts:

  • 63 credits
  • Offered through: Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development 
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: CACREP; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 
  • Tuition per credit: $700

#12 Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

MA in Counseling Psychology

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Points: 12

Santa Clara University offers a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. It trains students to become effective agents of change in the lives of their clients. Students choose from four optional emphasis areas in their degree. These include Correctional Psychology, Health Psychology, Latino Counseling, and LGBT Counseling. 

The LGBT Counseling emphasis trains students to address the issues of:

  • Gender
  • Diversity in sexual identity and expression
  • Oppression
  • Discrimination
  • Acculturation

The curriculum meets the requirements for licensure in California. Graduates become licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) or a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

Fast facts:

  • 90 units
  • Offered through: School of Education & Counseling Psychology
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Tuition per quarter unit: $679

#11 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ 

MA in Women’s and Gender Studies

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Points: 12

Rutgers University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It prepares students to become active practitioners in a wide range of areas related to this rapidly expanding field of study. Key features of the program:

  • Draws on the strengths of a core faculty who have made major scholarly contributions to the field
  • Part of the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) – A consortium of nine units dedicated to the study of women and gender
  • Promotes advocacy on behalf of gender equity
  • Promotes women’s leadership locally, nationally, and globally

Full-time students can complete the program in one year. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: School of Arts and Sciences 
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) 
  • Tuition per year: $9588

#10 San Diego State University

San Diego, CA

MA in Women’s Studies

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Points: 12

San Diego State University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies. It allows students to pursue advanced interdisciplinary work in Women’s Studies. It also enables them to become active practitioners in this unique field of study. Uniques features of the program:

  • Preparation for students to become both scholars and activists
  • World-renowned faculty
  • Opportunity to publish book reviews 
  • Opportunities to teach in your second year
  • Funding for most first-year students
  • Choice of thesis, exam, or project
  • Part-time options

The department hosts a monthly Feminist Research Colloquium that provides a platform for discussion and research in Women’s Studies scholarship. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 units
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Letters
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges 
  • Tuition per year: $9,154

#9 Oregon State University 

Corvallis, OR 

M.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

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Points: 13

Oregon State University offers a Master of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It emphasizes academic excellence, the use of feminist and anti-racist teaching methods. The program focuses on:

  • Women of color feminisms
  • Transnational feminisms
  • Queer feminist studies
  • Critical foundations in both theory and practice
  • Intellectual and applied skills to serve as activist-scholars and global citizens,
  • Matters of social justice within public, private, and academic spheres

The program relies on multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of gender and sexuality. It encourages creative, innovative, and collaborative frameworks of study. 

Fast facts:

  • 43 credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts
  • Format: Campus-based/Online
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 
  • Tuition per credit: $491

#8 CUNY-City University of New York 

New York, NY 

M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies

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Points: 13

The City University of New York offers a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies. The interdisciplinary program combines theory and practice to study women’s and gender issues. Students learn to:

  • Look at gender and sexuality issues from an academic perspective
  • Think critically and creatively about women’s and gender issues
  • Understand gender and sexuality theories, writing, and movements, 
  • Develop special competence in their particular area of interest through specializations

Graduates work in a wide range of government or private organizations that need gender expertise. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: Center for the Study of Women and Society
  • Format: Campus-based- Full-time/part-time options
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition per credit: $470

#7 Minnesota State University, Mankato

Mankato, MN

MA in Women and Gender Studies

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Points: 13

Minnesota State University, Mankato offers a Master of Arts in Gender & Women’s Studies. The program combines interdisciplinary course work, internships, and individual and cooperative research projects. Coursework includes: 

  • Feminist Teaching and Learning 
  • Collective Action 
  • Graduate Seminar 
  • Transnational Feminism
  • Feminist Theories
  • Feminist Research
  • Electives
  • Individual Study 
  • Internship
  • A capstone of either thesis or alternate plan paper (APP)

The internationally known program attracts students from throughout the U.S. and abroad. It provides students an applied learning environment with an emphasis on real-world situations.

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences 
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission 
  • Tuition per credit: $444.10

#6 University of Colorado Denver

Denver, CO

Master of Humanities/ Master of Social Science 

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Points: 14

The University of Colorado Denver offers a Master of Humanities/ Master of Social Science Program – Women’s and Gender Studies Track (WGST). They focus on a variety of social sciences and cultural studies. The interdisciplinary program focuses on:

  • Feminist theory
  • Queer theory
  • Post-colonial and ethnic studies
  • Social theory
  • Gender studies emphasizing critical thinking about the condition of women 
  • Role of gender in both historical and in contemporary experience

Students focus on the issues of sex and gender as they manifest in societies. They explore these issues through culture, language, politics, visual representation, and history. 

Fast facts:

  • 36 credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $377

#5 Southern Connecticut State University

New Haven, CT

MA in Women’s & Gender Studies

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Points: 14

Southern Connecticut State University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s & Gender Studies. It emphasizes interdisciplinary and intersectional analyses within the complex discipline. The multidisciplinary program teaches students advanced concepts that they apply in their work. The five core courses are:

  • Feminist Theories and Practices
  • Research Methods in Women’s Studies
  • History of Feminist Thought
  • Global Women’s Issues
  • Field Experience 

Students can take additional interdisciplinary Women’s & Gender Studies courses as their elective options. The program prepares students for professional credentialing. It allows them to achieve competence in their field and work in diverse settings. 

Fast facts:

  • 36 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based/Hybrid/Online
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Tuition per year: $6,599

#4 Ohio State University

Columbus, OH 

MA in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

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Points: 14

Ohio State University offers a Master of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It prepares students for careers in agencies and institutions that serve underrepresented populations. They are trained to use their training and insights to make a real difference. Coursework includes:

  • Feminist Inquiry 
  • Research & Writing Workshop 
  • Feminist Pedagogy 
  • Teaching Practicum 
  • Electives 

The two-year program also prepares students for advanced professional training in such fields as law and public policy. Graduates go on to pursue doctoral studies or work as editors, researchers, non-profit organizers, and TV producers.

Fast facts:

  • 36 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $361.25

#3 San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA

M.A. in Women and Gender Studies

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Points: 14

San Francisco State University offers a Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies. The program focuses on women, gender, and feminism in transnational and multicultural contexts. It prepares students to:

  • Study global structures of power and histories of racism concerning feminist practices
  • Analyze and engage critically in every area of their study
  • Study gender, race, sexuality, nation, class, labor, and able-bodiedness in varied contexts
  • Study how bodies, families, communities are gendered in specific cultural and historical locations

Students can combine core and elective courses with electives in other departments and programs. 

Fast facts:

  • 30 units
  • Offered through: College of Liberal and Creative Arts
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition per 6.0 or less Units: $2,082

#2 University of North Texas

Denton, TX

Women’s & Gender Studies, M.A. 

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Points: 15

The University of North Texas offers a Master of Arts in Women’s & Gender Studies. It promotes teaching, research, and outreach with a critical analytical focus. Students study the various gender-related stereotypes in the course of the program. They explore how our identities intersect with sexuality, race, and ethnicity in a global context. The program focuses on areas like:

  • Gender & Globalization
  • Feminist approaches
  • Feminist Theory
  • Women’s social movements
  • Feminist activism
  • Gender & Human Trafficking

They also explore the connections between gender, class, ethnicity, and race in social and cultural aspects.

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Offered through: College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per credit: $277.79

#1 Texas Woman’s University

Denton, TX

MA in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies

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Points: 16

Texas Woman’s University offers a Master of Arts in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies. The program helps students understand the difference, identity, and power across a variety of contexts. They learn to investigate the ways gender and other identity categories function in society. They use these insights to help people as professionals later in their lives. 

Graduates work in a range of careers and fields such as: 

  • Law and public policy
  • Agencies and organizations that serve minoritized communities
  • Creative and arts-based projects 
  • Businesses and corporations

The rigorous curriculum combines social-justice issues with multicultural studies. 

Fast facts:

  • 36 credits
  • Offered through: College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Campus-based/Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition per year: $4,973

Related Rankings:

Sources:

American Psychological Association
American Counseling Association
Payscale.com
Niche
College Factual
U.S. News & World Report