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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information

Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences


Women’s Studies

College of Social Sciences
722 Saunders Hall
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7464
Fax: (808) 956-9616


*Graduate Faculty

*M. Chesney-Lind, PhD (Chair)—criminology, sociology of gender
P-B. K. Bovard, MA, AdWS—undergraduate advisor
*M. Das Gupta, PhD—feminist theory and methods, immigration, race relations in the U.S.
*K. Ferguson, PhD—feminist theory and methods, political theory
*S. Hippensteele, PhD, JD—psychology, law, civil rights, dispute resolution
*M. Koikari, PhD—sociology, Asia-Pacific studies
*A. Saraswati, PhD—feminist media and new media studies, race, globalization, and cultural studies of emotion

Affiliate Faculty

H. Aikau—political science
B. Andaya—Asian Studies
B. Aquino—political science
C. Bacchilega—English
C. Browne—social work
J. Brunson—anthropology
E. Colwill—American studies
N. Cooper—anthropology
V. Dalmiya—philosophy
L. Despain—English
P. Flowers—political science
C. Franklin—English
M. Ghosh—librarian
J. Goldberg-Hiller—political science
N. Goodyear-Ka'opua—political science
M. Hara—English
K. Heyer—political science
R. Hsu—English
K. Irwin—sociology
K. Kane—Center for Teaching Excellence
A. Kimura—sociology
M. Kita—sociology
V. Lanzona—history
N. Lewis—East-West Center and geography
L. Lyons—English
N. Mokuau—social work
C. Petersen—Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace and William S. Richardson School of Law
K. Phillips—English
S. Rai—Study Abroad Program
A. Reilly—fashion, design and merchandising
K. Reynolds—Japanese
M. Romaniello—history
L. Santiago—Indo-Pacific languages and literatures
M. Sharma—Asian studies
N. Silva—political science
C. Sinavaiana—English
M. Stark—anthropology
P. Steinhoff—sociology
T. K. Tengan—ethnic studies, anthropology
H. Trask—Hawaiian studies
V. Wayne—English
C. Yano—anthropology
M. Yoshihara—American studies
A. Yap—Study Abroad Program
M. Yue—Chinese literature

Degree and Certificates Offered: Certificate in women’s studies, BA in women’s studies, Graduate Certificate in Advanced Women’s Studies

The Academic Program

The Department of Women’s Studies offers an interdisciplinary transnational feminist approach to the study of women and gender issues. The purpose of the department is to provide a rigorous and integrated academic experience for students interested in feminist research and teaching, giving them a coherent program of study in contemporary scholarship with special emphasis on Asia-Pacific and Hawai‘i. With a faculty trained in a variety of fields, the program investigates gender as it intersects with race, class, sexuality, and other vectors of power in shaping the study of history, psychology, anthropology, economics, sociology, political science, philosophy, literature, language, art, drama, education, law, medicine, and biology.

Women and men from all colleges at UH Manoa take women’s studies courses because of their intellectual rigor, political insight, and interdisciplinary ties to other fields of study. Many courses are cross-listed with other departments. Women’s studies is a uniquely powerful avenue of self-understanding as well as a means of connecting research on women and gender to other academic fields of inquiry. Those who understand the workings of gender in personal lives and social orders can better pursue a variety of careers and life goals. Women’s studies offers a unique opportunity to study racial, economic, ethnic, sexual, regional, and global matters of interest among women in Hawai‘i and around the world, past, present, and future.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

Women’s studies offers two tracks for majors: either a student-designed special concentration within the field of women’s studies, or a general focus on the broad field of women’s studies. Students work in close consultation with faculty to design and develop the academic experience that best fits their interests, goals, and needs. The aim of both tracks is to promote a coherent program of study in contemporary interdisciplinary scholarship in feminist and gender studies. A key purpose of the major is to provide an integrated academic experience for students interested in transnational feminist scholarship and gender issues, while offering flexibility and freedom in planning the degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrated ability to engage in critical and interdisciplinary thinking, analysis, and problem solving through effective written and oral communication.
  2. Evidence of ability to integrate key concepts in Women’s Studies, including the social construction of gender; intersetionalities among gender, sexuality, race, class, and other vectors of power and identify; social stratification; and how these issues manifest in a Pacific-Asia context in written and oral work.
  3. Demonstrated ability to connect the classroom with “real world” feminist issues through active engagement in citizenship and civic participation.


Although students are strongly encouraged to seek department academic advising promptly when considering a major in women’s studies, a summary of undergraduate program information is also available at General and special women’s studies degree requirements are as follows:

General Women’s Studies Degree Focus

Students must complete thirty (30) credit hours of total course work, with a grade of C (not C-) or better, including:

  1. Feminist Theory (WS 439/POLS 339);
  2. Feminist Methods and Research (WS 440);
  3. At least 3 courses from among the WS courses focusing on gender, race and ethnicity in transnational perspective;
  4. A minimum of 9 total credit hours from 300 level WS courses (any 300 level course taken in #3 counts toward this total);
  5. A minimum of 9 credit hours from 400 level WS courses (WS 439, 440, and any 400 level courses from #3 count toward this total);
  6. Additional course work as necessary to complete 30 total hours of course work.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

Special Women’s Studies Degree Focus

Students must complete 30 credit hours of total course work, including:

  1. Feminist Theory (WS 439/POLS 339);
  2. Feminist Methods and Research (WS 440);
  3. At least 3 courses from among the WS courses focusing on gender, race and ethnicity in transnational perspective;
  4. A minimum of 6 total credit hours from 300 level WS courses (any 300 level course taken in #3 counts toward this total);
  5. Up to 15 outside credits at 300 and 400 level, subject to approval by women’s studies’ advisor;
  6. Additional course work as necessary to complete 30 total hours of course work.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to


Students who plan to pursue a women's studies major should meet with the women's studies undergraduate program advisor (currently Penny-Bee Kapilialoha Bovard) for help in choosing classes, defining their area of interest, creating and developing proposals, and finding the faculty advisor most suited to their areas of interest.

The Undergraduate Certificate

The Certificate in Women’s Studies is designed to encourage all undergraduates to acquire a more thorough background in contemporary interdisciplinary scholarship in feminist and gender studies, and to incorporate feminist perspectives and issues into their major fields of specialization. Through this interdisciplinary option, students from various majors can study the specific achievements of women, examine the many factors that determine the status of women across cultures and through time, and analyze theories and assumptions about women that particularly relate to their majors.

The certificate’s practical value includes the enhancement of knowledge that develops students’ abilities to think critically and constructively about their world and their lives. Further, it offers a credential that is applicable to a wide range of careers including medicine, law, business, education, counseling, and social work. The certificate can also provide the groundwork for advanced study of gender and feminism and the graduate level application of feminist theories.

All registered students in good academic standing who are working towards a baccalaureate degree other than Women’s Studies at UH Manoa may apply for a Women’s Studies Certificate.


  • Students must complete 15 credits in Women’s Studies with a grade of C (not C-) or better.
  • The 15 credits must include the following two requirements: a course in Feminist Theory (WS 439/POLS 339), and at least one course in gender, race, and ethnicity in transnational perspectives (list of courses available from the program).
  • At least 9 credits must be at the 300 level or higher. .

For administrative purposes, any cross-listed course will be counted as a women’s studies course regardless of the departmental designation under which students register for the course.

Graduate Study

Women’s studies offers a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Women’s Studies (AdWS Certificate). This certificate program provides a rigorous, integrated, and relevant educational experience for students whose education and career objectives will be enhanced through creative and scholarly transnational feminist analysis of women’s lives and visions. The program guides students to examine the factors that affect the status of women across cultures and through time, analyze theories and assumptions about women in various disciplines, contribute to the reformulation of social knowledge, explore institutionalizing social change that highlights and supports the achievements of women locally and internationally, and understand the usefulness of gender as an analytical tool in many fields.

Graduate studies leading to the AdWS Certificate are focused in four broad areas under the general rubric of gender studies.

  • Feminist methods of inquiry and theoretical analyses. Students will explore sex/gender as an analytical category, asking what this category means, what purposes are served by the prevailing binary notions of gender, and how gender is constituted in past, current, and future biological, sociopolitical, cultural, and economic contexts.
  • Feminist knowledge. Students will learn about the pervasive impact of gender relations on thoughts, actions, and prevailing constructions of reality. They also will become acquainted with an array of feminist theories and arguments about issues including coalition practices, nationalism and imperialism, and social policy.
  • Sex/gender and sociopolitical categories of power and privilege. Students will examine the interaction of sex/gender with race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and other vectors of power and privilege as relevant to nearly all domains of human experience. They will have opportunities to explore the dynamics of these interactions with emphasis on the evolving multicultural milieu of Hawai‘i and the Asia/Pacific region.

Recipients of the AdWS Certificate must be classified graduate students, and normally will be pursuing graduate degrees in other academic departments. The AdWS Certificate will help students learn to apply feminist methodologies, analysis and problem-solving to their other academic fields, and to integrate the rigors of the scholarship on gender into their chosen professions as a means of enhancing their professional lives and opportunities for advancement.

The department website lists research interests and publications of the members of the women’s studies graduate faculty, and describes admissions and program requirements (see The following sections summarize the admissions and program requirements, but the program website should be consulted for complete details.


Students are admitted to the AdWS Certificate program in the fall and spring semesters. Applicants to the AdWS Certificate program must be classified graduate students at UH Manoa. Candidates are required to submit their current and complete transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and the names of and full contact information for three additional references. Applicants also must submit a 4-5 page essay outlining their personal and professional goals as they relate to the AdWS Certificate program, and identifying potential research and/or community involvement projects they may wish to pursue as part of their AdWS Certificate work.


The AdWS Certificate program consists of a minimum of 18 credits, at least 12 of which must be at the 600 level or higher. Nine of these credits must come from the following four WS courses: WS 610 (1 cr), Faculty Seminar Series; WS 613 (3 cr), Feminist Research and Methods of Inquiry; WS 615 (3 cr), Feminist Theory; WS 650 (2 cr), Research in Feminist Studies: Capstone Experience.

Remaining credits will be drawn from a list of courses approved by the women’s studies graduate advisor (currently Dr. Ayu Saraswati). All students will work with a specific advisor to develop an AdWS Certificate curriculum based on their academic majors that best supports their academic and professional goals and objectives. Up to 6 credits towards the certificate may be taken in the student’s home department provided that department’s curriculum includes courses approved by women’s studies.

Each student enrolled in the AdWS Certificate program will design, develop, and complete a research and/or community involvement project to culminate in a publishable-quality work or comparable product, and a professional quality seminar presentation given in the student's final semester of the program.

WS Courses