MA Certificate for MSW Students

The MA Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies provides an opportunity for MSW students to gain expertise in topics and issues related to gender and sexuality. Offered through the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program, this MA certificate integrates the study of feminist theories with their application in research, policy, and practice. Many MSW students pursue this certificate, which provides them with excellent preparation and an added credential for working in fields related to gender and sexuality, such as domestic violence, sexual assault prevention and counseling, family services, and LGBTQIA services and advocacy, to name just a few.

How to Apply to the GSWS MA Certificate Program for MSW Students

If you are an MSW student interested in pursuing the Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, please meet with Sara Goodkind, Associate Professor of Social Work, Sociology, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, during your first year in the program to discuss your plans. Email her at to set up an appointment, and use the MA for MSW Students Coursework Advising Form as a guide for this meeting. To apply for the certificate program, each student must complete the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Application for Admission to the Certificate Program and email it to Students are encouraged to stay in touch with Prof. Goodkind during their course of study. The GSWS Program Director is also happy to meet to discuss a plan of study or other aspects of the Program.  

MA Certificate for MSW Students Requirements

The MA CERTIFICATE FOR MSW STUDENTS consists of four courses taken before graduation from the MSW (12 credits) and completion of a research paper.


  • All students must take the required core course, GSWS 2252, "Theories of Gender and Sexuality," usually offered every fall and spring semester by the GSWS Program. This course will count as one of your general electives for social work.
  • GSWS 2058, "Feminist Social Work," usually offered every fall semester.  Another course with a GSWS course number can be substituted for this course.  Certificate students should enroll for the course under the GSWS number so that it will count for the certificate. 
  • Social work courses can meet the requirements for the remaining two courses, if you plan accordingly (although you have the option of taking another course outside of social work). Among the other social work courses which satisfy the certificate requirements are the required MSW course, "Foundations of Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations,"  "Intimate Partner Violence," and "Human Sexuality." Depending on the instructor and the focus of your own work that semester, other courses may meet the requirements. Students also have the option of doing a Directed Study with a willing affiliated faculty member. Students can also petition the GSWS Program Director to count toward the certificate a course that has not been officially cross-listed but that includes substantial study of gender, sexuality, or women.

All courses must be passed with a grade of B or higher.

Research Paper

Students must complete a research paper to be read and approved by the GSWS-affiliated faculty member (as registered on the GSWS list of affiliated faculty members) who has sponsored the paper. The sponsoring faculty member is typically a faculty member who taught the course for which the paper was written, but any GSWS-affiliated faculty member who is competent to assess the paper may play this role.  In order to fulfill this requirement, students must submit a digital version of the research paper plus the digital signature page attesting to the faculty sponsor's approval of the research paper to the Program Director before the deadline for the student's graduation.

The research paper should be chosen to highlight the contributions of this interdisciplinary certificate program to the student’s intellectual repertoire. It must be a paper suitable in length, ambition, and scope for publication as a scholarly article. It should be neither an uncritical review of research nor a survey of GSWS studies.  Rather, it should be a sustained piece of advanced work, prepared under the supervision of a GSWS-affiliated faculty sponsor. The paper may be written explicitly for the certificate requirement or written to satisfy a course or degree requirement. In its content and scope, it must integrate theories, ideas, and implications from several areas of interest within gender/sexuality/women’s studies. It may take the form of empirical research, a critical review of empirical research with a substantial agenda of theoretical or empirical direction for the field, a sustained critical essay, a journal article intended for publication, a multi-media or hyper-media project, or other form approved by the advisor for the certificate program. The paper should make an innovative contribution to knowledge in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary context.

Graduation Procedures

1)  Be sure that you have applied to the certificate program at least one semester in advance of graduation.  Please note that applying to enter the certificate program and applying to graduate with the certificate are two separate processes. 

2)  Apply for graduation through the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, regardless of the graduate school in which you are enrolled.  If you are a student based in DSAS, be sure that you indicate on the graduation paperwork that you intend to graduate with a GSWS MA Certificate as well as with any other degrees or certificates you have earned.  DSAS Graduation information can be found at

3)  Submit your research paper; the signature page signed by your faculty sponsor; and the MA for MSW Students Coursework Advising Form attesting to your having fulfilled all coursework requirements with a grade of B or higher to the GSWS Program Director by the appropriate deadline:

    July 15 for August graduation
    November 15 for December graduation
    March 15 for April graduation