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First-Year Focus

Welcome, class of 2027!

GSS Virtual Academic Directions Fair - Q&A
(2023 date and time to be announced soon)

An informal chat and Q&A about our program, course offerings, and what you can do with gender and sexuality studies frameworks!

What is Gender & Sexuality Studies?

In GSS, we ask questions about gender and sexuality in the U.S., transnationally, and in history, and answer them using research tools from across the humanities and social sciences, as well as from feminist, masculinity, LGBT and queer studies. Read more about our frameworks and topics of inquiry. 

Students majoring or minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies have gone onto rewarding careers in law, medicine, education, journalism, business, advocacy work, and the arts. Many of our students have won prestigious Coro Fellowships in Public Affairs, secured teaching placements through the Teach for America program, or gone onto graduate school, law school, or medical school upon completing their B.A. at Northwestern. 

First-Year Advising in the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

If you are interested in issues of gender and sexuality, want to know about our course offerings, or are interested in the major or minor, the information below should be of use to you. If you want to know more, please feel free to get in touch or make an appointment with our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Tessie Liu.

Good Classes for First-Years

Courses offered through the Gender & Sexuality Studies Program are open to all undergraduates at Northwestern (regardless of whether you've declared a major/minor or not), and we offer several introductory courses intended for first-years each year. Each of these courses will introduce you to key terms, issues, and approaches to the study of gender and sexuality in the humanities and social sciences. 

All of our 200-level courses are suited to first-year students and sophomores and each fulfills one or more of the Weinberg College degree requirements. For example, GNDR ST 220 “Sexual Subjects” and GNDR ST 230 “Traditions in Feminist Thought” both count as Foundational Discipline in Historical Studies classes.  They also both satisfy the requirement for a class offering U.S. Perspectives on Power, Justice, and Equality, as does GNDR ST 235 “Beyond the Binary: Transgender and Race.”

Almost all of our 300-level seminar courses are also open to first-years, but we encourage first-year students to begin by taking one or more of our 200-level introductory courses. Check out our full list of our courses offered in 2023-24.

Fall 2023 Winter 2024 Spring 2024

Sexual Subjects: Introduction to Sexuality Studies (GNDR_ST 220)

Sex & Cults (GNDR_101-6-20)


Traditions in Feminist Thought (GNDR_ST 230)

Race, Gender & Sexuality in Science & Anti-Science (GNDR_ST 250)

Beyond Porn: Sexuality, Health, and Pleasure (GNDR_ST 221)

Beyond the Binary (GNDR_ST 235)

Language and Gender (GNDR_ST 234)

Intro to Feminist Philosophy (GNDR_ST 233)


US Gay and Lesbian History (GNDR_ST 324)

Getting Started in the Major or Minor

Majors and minors are required to take our two core classes, 220 “Sexual Subjects” and 230 “Traditions in Feminist Thought,” in their first-year or sophomore year. Majors are also required to take both of our theory courses, 381 “Queer Theory” and 397 “Feminist Theory,” in their junior or senior year.

In addition to these courses, majors will take another 7 courses in gender & sexuality studies of their choosing at the 200 or 300-level, plus 4 related courses in other departments or programs. Majors are also required to complete a research project or paper by their senior year and may decide to pursue a senior thesis as well. Minors will take another 5 courses in gender & sexuality of their choosing.

Click here for more information about the major and minor requirements.

Students in our program often double-major in another Weinberg College department or count their minor in Gender & Sexuality Studies towards the "related courses" requirement in their major. In addition, a number of our courses are regularly co-listed in other departments and programs, including African-American Studies, Global Health, History, Sociology, and English. Thus, they can be taken for credit in either department or program.

If your particular interest is in how issues of gender and sexuality intersect with science and medicine, public health or the law you might also be interested in these programs: Science in Human CultureGlobal Health Studies, or the Center for Legal Studies.


For further advising help, the Weinberg College Advising Office and the Academic Support and Learning Advancement Office can be of assistance. 

Anyone who is interested in issues in gender and sexuality studies may want to join these student groups:

Other campus resources include: