Requirements: Gender and Sexuality Studies


The major and concentration in gender and sexuality studies offer students an opportunity to engage in two important and interrelated areas of study. Students examine aspects of experiences that have traditionally been underrepresented in academic studies. For example, the lives and works of women and the experiences of gay, lesbian and trans individuals. Students examine gender as a cultural phenomenon and as a system of ideas defining "masculinity" and "femininity" and delineating differences between "the sexes" as well as "normal" expressions of sexuality. In the process, students encounter some fundamental methodologies of gender and sexuality studies and work toward an increasingly rich understanding of gender as a social construction, one that intersects with class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation and sexual identity. Students also explore the methods and concepts of gender and sexuality studies in a variety of academic disciplines, integrating, for instance, sociology, psychology, literature, the biological sciences and art history. Students come to understand how questions of gender are deeply embedded in the liberal arts tradition.

The Kenyon College faculty voted to change from Kenyon units to semester hours. This change will go into effect for all students who start at the College in the fall of 2024. Both systems will be used throughout the course catalog with the Kenyon units being listed first.

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The Major and Concentration

The major and concentration encourage and enable students to take responsibility for their own learning. Toward this end, courses invite students to participate in a range of collaborative work. This culminates in the senior colloquium, where students determine the content and intellectual direction of the course as a whole. Ultimately, students are encouraged to acquire a sophisticated insight into the consequences of the social construction of gender for both women and men, an insight that empowers them to engage and question the pervasive role of gender in their own lives and communities. Students construct their major by choosing courses from the offerings of both the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and more than 15 other departments and programs across the College.

First-year and New Students

GSS 111 (Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies) is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary course designed to help students develop a critical framework for thinking about questions relating to gender. Students examine the historical development of gendered public and private spheres, the relation of biological sex to sociological gender, and the difference between sex roles and sexual stereotypes. They attempt to understand how racism, heterosexism and homophobia intersect with the cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity, and consider ways to promote more egalitarian gender relations. Students also are encouraged to explore more specialized areas of gender studies in courses specifically designed for students at all levels, including first-year students. These include GSS 121, 221 and 232. Students completing GSS 111 can enroll in GSS 242 to explore gender studies in a more global context.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 11 courses is required for the major:

Introductory requirement- one course

  • Any 100-level GSS course

Mid-level requirements- two courses

  • GSS 330: Feminist Theory
  • GSS 331: Gender, Power, and Knowledge: Research Practices

Diversity and globalization

  • Two courses that focus on the social and cultural issues of U.S. and/or world peripheral communities. Consult the chair for a list of courses that may be applied to this requirement.


  • Four elective courses that must be drawn from at least two departments (including GSS). Students should consult the four-year listing of all approved courses. A required major areas form(pdf) must be completed and submitted to the Registrar's Office, indicating these elective courses. For approval of transfer credit and study-abroad courses, students should consult the chair of the department.

Senior Colloquium- two courses

  • GSS 480 (Senior Colloquium Planning) during the fall semester, a course meeting once a week to design the colloquium.
  • GSS 481 (Senior Colloquium) during the spring semester, examines a topic central to feminist thought. It includes current feminist texts and incorporates multidisciplinary analyses of race, class and sexuality, in addition to gender. The course culminates in a public presentation by colloquium members.

Senior Capstone

  • Majors give a public presentation on a topic related to the senior colloquium for their Senior Capstone.

Requirements for the Concentration

Six courses in women's and gender studies:

  • GSS 330: Feminist Theory or GSS 331: Gender, Power and Knowledge: Research Practices
  • GSS 480: Senior Colloquium Planning
  • GSS 481: Senior Colloquium
  • Four approved elective courses, which must be spread over at least two divisions of the College. No more than two courses in a single department may count toward this requirement.


The major who wishes to participate in the Honors Program must have a GPA of 3.33 overall and of 3.5 in the GSS major. The candidate in honors completes all requirements for the major as well as the Senior Capstone. The candidate takes two semesters of independent study and designs and completes a research project. This project should integrate feminist theory and methodologies, as well as the student's chosen disciplinary or interdisciplinary cluster. Honors students prepare an annotated bibliography on their chosen project during the fall term. After approval, the senior honors project is undertaken in consultation with a project advisor.

We encourage students to think boldly and innovatively about the kinds of projects they undertake and about how those projects interact with and benefit their communities. Senior honors projects might include gender-focused sociological or historical studies undertaken locally; exhibitions, productions or installations of gender-exploratory art, music or theater; or political, social and/or environmental service-oriented or activist work. Students are closely mentored throughout their projects and, in the spring, are evaluated by an external evaluator and by faculty in the program and in relevant disciplines. The evaluators assess the strength of the students' overall work, as well as the strength of their self-designed, project-appropriate public presentations of that work.

Transfer Credit Policy

The Gender and Sexuality Studies Program typically accepts transfer credits from other colleges and universities for courses that meet Kenyon's requirements for transfer credit. We especially encourage students to take courses that are not regularly offered in our curriculum. We do not permit students to earn transfer credits through online evaluation or two-week special courses offered during winter breaks. All transfer credit must be pre-approved by the department chair.

GSS Courses and Diversification Requirements

Any two GSS courses paired will satisfy the social sciences diversification requirement.

Additional courses that meet requirements for this major/concentration

Complete listing of courses that count toward the GSS major or concentration can be found on the GSS department page.