Graduate Thesis

Kavita Daiya with Bria Johnson (MA '21) and Professor Jameta Barlow
Left to right: Former WGSS Program Director Kavita Daiya, Bria Johnson (MA '21) and Assistant Professor Jameta Barlow

A master’s thesis demonstrates a student’s command of a chosen subject area and ability to apply their academic training. Theses also earn the writer publication in the online GW Libraries archives, and lay the foundation for possible further study and written work.

Graduate students in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program must choose between a practicum and a final thesis. Students should consult their thesis advisors throughout the thesis process for support and feedback.


Requirements and Timeline 

  • Students are advised to set up a project timeline in consultation with their thesis advisors. It should be noted that most faculty are not available during the summer. Most students need about two semesters to complete the thesis.
  • The length of a thesis varies, usually ranging from 50 to 100 pages.
  • Theses should be of publishable quality.
  • After being approved by the reader and advisor, the final thesis should be submitted electronically to the GW Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) website. More detailed information about submissions requirements and process can be found on the ETD website.
  • Once the thesis has been received by ETD, the site will provide a paper approval form that needs to be signed by the thesis advisor and submitted to the Columbian College, with a copy to the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. Accepted theses become the property of the university and are kept on file with Gelman Library.
  • Download the MA Thesis Information Sheet (PDF) for more detailed writing guidelines and a timeline. 

Thesis Extensions

For students who have completed their coursework and six thesis credits but need more time to finish the thesis beyond the spring semester, current CCAS policy permits for a continuous enrollment option. Learn more in the CCAS Graduate Student Handbook.

Read the Graduate Student Handbook


Thesis Advisors

Graduate students invite a faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor. Generally the thesis advisor is someone with whom the student has already worked and established a rapport. After a suitable topic has been agreed upon by advisor and student, the student invites a second faculty member to serve as reader. A Thesis Topic Approval Form should be filled out and submitted to the WGSS Program no later than the end of the first semester of the thesis year. 

Students are free to consult an additional mentor who will serve as a more in-depth source of intellectual and professional guidance, provided they remain in regular contact with their assigned academic advisor. If the proposed advisor or reader is from outside GW, their curriculum vitae must be submitted to the WGSS Program for approval. 

Thesis Topic Approval Form (PDF)

IRB Approval

If a thesis involves research on living individuals — such as interviewing, observing, distributing questionnaires or conducting a focus group — the student must get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. The GW Office of Human Research website provides additional information, including required forms and CITI training. If this research is conducted without approval, the university may require the student to re-gather all data properly and start the thesis from the beginning, as well as pay again for thesis credits.

Visit the Office of Human Research


Sample Program of Study With Thesis 

If a student chose to pursue the MA in WGSS degree and complete the thesis option, the program of study would include a mix of WGSS courses and electives in their chosen discipline. A program of study with an anthropology focus might look like this:


Second Semester

WGSS 6225