Since 1972, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program has brought together an international community of students, scholars and activists. From rigorous courses and hands-on research opportunities to practical career experience and engaged networking events, the WGSS Program prepares graduates to be successful and productive global citizens.

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WGSS Program History



Professor Ruth Osborn founded the Continuing Education for Women (CEW) project at GW in 1965. The CEW students demonstrated demand for a graduate program focused on helping women, and Osborn worked with the administration to create a new interdisciplinary master’s degree.


GW launched the first graduate women’s studies degree program in the United States in 1972 and began enrolling students the following year.


In 1977, the program introduced a new public policy focus and hired Virginia Allan, former chair of President Richard Nixon’s Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities, Phyllis Palmer, women’s historian, and Charlotte Conable, 1976 graduate of the then-new master’s program.


An additional master’s degrees in public policy with a concentration in women's studies was added in 1982.





In 2016, the program was renamed the GW Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program to better reflect its breadth of study.