M.A./J.D. Program

GWS does not offer a stand alone MA degree. MAs are available only for those who are enrolled in the JD/MA program.

Program Overview

The M.A./J.D. in Gender and Women’s Studies prepares students to practice law with an understanding of feminist theories, feminist and related social movements, and critical race and ethnic studies, as well as the interconnections of gender, law, public policy, and transnational economic and political processes. Students' understanding of feminist praxis is enriched through internships and other practice-oriented activities supervised by core GWS faculty and GWS affiliates in the Law School. The program enables students to build on these foundations while pursuing their own areas of interest by requiring them to produce an original Master's paper. The MA/JD is generally a four-year program.

The M.A./J.D. is generally a four-year program, although several students have accumulated enough units to graduate one semester early. A minimum of 21 units of graduate coursework in Gender and Women’s Studies, plus 15 units of approved law coursework are required for the 36-unit M.A. in Gender and Women’s Studies. Students may transfer up to 15 units of GWS courses and seminars toward the J.D. 

Students attend either Gender and Women’s Studies or The College of Law their first year. The second year is spent in the alternate program. Students would then complete their requirements for both degrees throughout the third and fourth years. Courses taken in Gender and Women’s Studies prior to admission to The College of Law cannot be applied to the J.D. 

Dual degree applicants must meet the application deadlines and testing requirements for each program independently.
For more information, see: The College of Law website: https://law.arizona.edu/apply

Application Requirements

Students applying to The University of Arizona's M.A./J.D. degree program should hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent by the date of entry into the program. An undergraduate major or minor in Women's Studies or a strong background in feminist theory within the undergraduate major is strongly recommended. To be competitive for admissions, applicants must achieve a GPA of at least 3.0.

The Department requires each applicant to have a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation submitted on their behalf.  The letters of recommendation should be written by faculty that can speak about your academic and research ability.

Please provide a statement of up to 1000 words outlining your purpose in undertaking graduate study in Gender & Women’s Studies, and at the UA in particular, including your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans. Include information that documents your preparation for advanced study in this field, such as research projects, internships, or other relevant experiences. If there are particular faculty member with whom you wish to study, please give their names and explain why you want to study with them. Please include your last name and page number in the header section of each page.

Please write a statement of no more than 500 words that identifies the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences that contribute to your decision to pursue graduate education in Gender & Women’s Studies. You may wish to include examples that illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or your commitment to social transformation.  Please include your last name and page number in the header section of each page.

This may be a term paper, a published article or essay, or a substantive research report. Your sample should demonstrate your ability to write clearly, develop a reasoned argument, and engage in innovative thinking. Please limit your writing sample to 25 pages.  Please include your last name and page number in the header section of each page.

Your CV should include:

  • Education (degrees you have received or anticipate);
  • Academic employment (such as teaching or research positions), whether paid or unpaid;
  • Non-academic employment (including internships);
  • Honors, prizes, awards, scholarships, and memberships in honor societies and professional organizations.
  • Published articles, papers presented at professional meetings, screenings or other public presentations of your creative work;
  • Any other activities or accomplishments that you feel are relevant to this application (e.g. extra-curricular activities during college or graduate school or substantial engagement with a non-profit or activist organizations not already listed under employment).

All transcripts uploaded into your application are considered unofficial.  If recommended for admission, then sealed, official paper transcripts or official electronic versions sent from your university or clearing house are acceptable.  Degree certificates, diplomas, and transcripts for international documents will require official English translations.

If you are recommended for admission to our program and you accept, the Graduate College Admissions Office will then and only then require you to submit official transcripts. If you fail to submit those official transcripts or if the official transcripts reveal negative information not previously disclosed to us, we reserve the right to revoke the recommendation for admission and any funding that may have been offered.

English Proficiency is one of the conditions for admission for all applicants whose native language is not English. Acceptable English Proficiency credentials: 

  Please visit the Graduate College website for more information regarding English Proficieny.

Requirements for M.A. in GWS

Course work for the M.A. includes a total minimum of 36 units:

Complete three required courses:

  • GWS 539A Feminist Theories I
  • GWS 539B Feminist Theories II
  • GWS 639 Feminist and Related Social Movements

Complete two additional courses of choice taught by GWS faculty.


Students may repeat GWS539A and GWS539B one time each for credit that is applicable to a GWS PhD major, PhD minor, MA, or Concentration, on the condition that the syllabus for the course is substantially different from the earlier offering. Course eligibility will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies or, if a conflict of interest, the Department Head.  Repeat enrollment will be treated as a normal GWS elective course. Repeat enrollment will have no bearing on PhD Qualifying procedures tied to these courses.

Satisfactory progress is based on separate evaluations of the GWS GPA (minimum 3.0) and the College of Law GPA (minimum 2.0). 

Students will be responsible for paying differential tuition for the College of Law and regular tuition.

Other Requirements

No more than 20% of the minimum number of units required for a Master’s degree can be transferred from other accredited institutions (e.g., if a Master’s degree requires 30 units, then no more than 6 units can be transferred from another university). Such transfer credit can be applied to an advanced degree only upon satisfactory completion of deficiencies as prescribed by the head of the major department in which the student seeks a degree. Transfer of credit toward an advanced degree will not be made unless the grade earned was A or B, and unless it was awarded graduate credit at the institution where the work was completed. Grades of transfer work will not be used in computing the student's grade point average. Credit for correspondence courses or extension work from other institutions will not be accepted for graduate credit.

A student admitted to a Master’s or Educational Specialist degree program must register each Fall and Spring semester for a minimum of 3 graduate units from original matriculation until all degree requirements are met. If the degree program requirements are to be completed in the Summer, the student must register for a minimum of 1 unit of graduate credit in either Summer I or Summer II. If not graduating in the Summer term, Master’s and Educational Specialist candidates do not have to register for graduate units during Summer sessions unless they plan to make use of faculty time. If they do plan to use faculty time, they must enroll for a minimum of 1 unit of graduate credit in the term(s) in which they are using faculty time. Summer-Only students are required to enroll continuously for a minimum of 3 units during consecutive summers until all degree requirements are met.

In conjunction with the student’s major professor, each student is responsible for developing a Plan of Study as early as possible during the first few months in residence, to be submitted to the Graduate College no later than the second semester in residence. 

The Plan of Study identifies (1) courses the student intends to transfer from other institutions; (2) courses already completed at The University of Arizona which the student intends to apply toward the graduate degree; and (3) additional course work to be completed to fulfill degree requirements. The Student must complete the Master’s Plan of Study form (in GradPath). There is a Plan of Study fee.

In addition to fulfilling the Course Requirements, all M.A./J.D. students must complete and defend a Master’s Paper. This paper (max. 40pp, exclusive of bibliography) should contain significant scholarly research, demonstrate rigorous theoretical analysis, and display fluency with the chosen methodology. It should be well written and logically organized. In the interest of time, we recommend that students build on an existing piece of writing, rather than start from scratch. 

The student shall organize a Master’s Paper Committee (and select a Committee Chair), which will oversee and advise in the writing of the Master’s Paper. The committee should be composed of at least one core GWS faculty member. The other two members may be any tenured or tenure-track UA faculty members. Should a student want more than three committee members, those members may be tenured or tenure-track UA faculty or special members approved by the GWS Department and the Graduate College. Students will need to declare their M.A. Paper Committee by filling out the GWS Master’s Paper Committee Membership Form and the Master's/Specialist Committee Appointment Form (in GradPath). 

Before the defense is scheduled, the M.A. Paper must be complete, carefully proofread, and appropriately formatted. It is customary for the Master’s Paper Committee to receive the M.A. Paper two weeks in advance of the meeting. At the meeting, the student will give a brief initial presentation (5 minutes) and then respond to questions posed by committee members. The committee will then (without the student present) deliberate and determine the student’s eligibility to receive the MA. The meeting (including the committee deliberation) should be no less than one hour, no more than two hours. The Committee Chair will report results to the student, the DGS and Academic Coordinator.

The student must submit a copy of the final M.A. Paper to the GWS Graduate Coordinator. The student must also present a version of their M.A. Paper at a GWS Graduate Student Colloquium.

For dates by which requirements must be met to graduate in a particular semester, refer to the Deadline Sheets, available in departments, in the Graduate Degree Certification Office, and online at the Graduate College website. All outstanding fees must be cleared before the final completion date. Any financial encumbrances will delay mailing of the diploma and transcripts. Contact the Bursar's office, Room 208, Administration Building or 621-3232. All grades must be submitted for Incompletes and current semester coursework must be received before the degree is considered completed. A student must be in good academic standing at the time of completing degree requirements.

The University of Arizona Department of Gender & Women's Studies is a member of the WICHE Western Regional Graduate Program.