Women and Gender Studies

We believe education should strengthen your dedication to create a better world.

In our Women and Gender Studies program, you will focus on how gender, race, class, disability, religion and other issues can be connected to larger systems of privilege and oppression.

Through academics, civic engagement, and meaningful internships, you'll become a vocal advocate and a world-shaper who thrives – and helps others thrive, too.

Our graduates work at the Child Abuse Council, Next Gen Climate Iowa, SafePath Survivor Resources (part of Family Resources), and many others.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Inspiring and Supportive Learning Community
  • Service and Social Justice Focused Education
  • Become a Vocal Agent of Change


students in beehive

Students on Campus in Fall

Your education goes far beyond simply recognizing injustice. You'll act to thwart it. With supportive and encouraging faculty, you and your peers will work tirelessly to solve problems affecting people here and now. Empowered through education and involvement, our Women and Gender Studies alumni confidently step into careers and graduate studies.

See Our Women and Gender Studies Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information on Women and Gender Studies

What will I learn?

Women and Gender Studies (WGS) majors are generally activists, driven, open-minded, compassionate, feminists, community organizers, and advocates.

Through academics, service, advocacy, and close faculty mentoring, you'll discover your abilities to promote justice and human rights.

You will develop gender sensitive solutions to human rights problems by participating in internships and service projects to raise awareness about injustices and to create positive changes our community and our world.

This major involves several other academic disciplines, so WGS courses satisfy many general education requirements. And, your skills are valued. More than 95% of our alumni work in their field of choice or attend graduate school.

Women and Gender Studies gives you a framework for supporting human rights and social justice advocacy. Similarly, the Bachelor of Social Work at SAU focuses on empowering clients, families, communities, and organizations to be agents of change in the world. Elevate your skills and extend your education in our dual degree program: you can graduate in four years with a degree in Women and Gender Studies and a degree in Social Work.

If you plan to pursue graduate studies, your BSW could lead to advanced standing in our accredited MSW program, which means you could earn your graduate degree in one year, instead of two. It makes your education more accelerated and affordable.

What Are My Unique Learning Opportunities?

We are active on campus and in the community. Women and Gender Studies students organize events about trauma-informed care, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, LGBTQIA, body image, and eating disorders. We promote diversity during Multicultural Week and write letters for the UN Day of Peace and Justice.

We get involved and educate others by attending national conferences such as the prestigious N.E.W. Iowa Leaders seminar which teaches women how to run for public office. We bring performers and speakers from around the world – including Iran, EI Salvador, Russia, and South Africa – to campus. Through the annual Ambrose Women for Social Justice conference, our students meet internationally recognized leader such as Native American activist Winona LaDuke, Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson, author Sheryl WuDunn, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee during the annual Ambrose Women for Social Justice conference

We intern and serve. Work one-on-one with experts in the field. Advocate for survivors of violence at Family Resources; educate pregnant mothers about prenatal care at Edgerton Women's Health Center; listen to the stories of survivors at Winnie's Place shelter; work with students at Annie Wittenmyer School; develop a fitness plan for clients at the Center For Active Seniors (CASI); and be a force in the life of a homeless youth at The Place2B.

We bring you together. If you want to spend time with like minds, join Triota, the Women's Studies Honor Society. Or, get involved with PRISM, SafeZone, Green Dot, or join our Be The Change Learning Community as a first-year student and make an immediate impact on the lives of others.  Our Women's Studies Resource Center offers programs and research resources, including books, journals, and videos. Located in Ambrose Hall, it is available to the entire campus community.

We offer Peace Corps Prep, a program that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs. Most students can earn the certificate – awarded by the Peace Corps – without taking extra courses.

Olivia Bratt '15 was active and involved at SAU. Read this story about her experience and achievements.

Carrie Landau '96, '02 MCJ spoke to St. Ambrose students on the topic of Exploring Gender and women's issues, as well as pursuing careers in the field of criminal justice. A special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in south suburban Chicago, Landau has spent a large part of her working life battling the growing epidemic of human sex trafficking.

Click here to read how first-year WGS students made an impact on the lives of others. 

Study Abroad

You've heard people say it before: "College will be the greatest time of your life!" With Study Abroad, you can add even more to your college years.

You can study in another country in a semester-long or short-term study abroad program (with a few offered during spring and winterim breaks). No matter the duration, these trips deepen your professional education while earning credit toward graduation.

There are also opportunities through an exchange program, an overseas internship, or volunteering. The limits for Study Abroad are only ones you set for yourself! SAU students have studied in Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, Korea, United Kingdom, Spain, Ecuador, Japan, Germany, Peru, Cyprus, Croatia, Belize, Canada, Chile, and more.

SAU students returning from their Study Abroad locations talk about their time away as life-changing – personally, emotionally, culturally, and academically.

Click here to search our Study Abroad programs, and for general information click here.

What are some potential career outcomes?

This major can prepare you for careers in advocacy, social services, community education, and more. Some of our graduates work with immigrants and violence survivors through AmeriCorps, served in the Peace Corps, work in the federal technology sector, and are public school educators.

Our graduates also have landed prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and enrolled in top graduate programs at Washington University in St. Louis, DePaul University, and the St. Ambrose Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. More than 95% of our recent graduates are employed or have been admitted to graduate school.

What have alumni of this program done?
  • Cat Roth '15 paired her WGS degree with a Biology minor. She is a Doula Home Visitor at the Child Abuse Council and provides traditional labor support to clients at the hospital and prenatal and postnatal home visits.
  • Two recent graduates, Bernadette Muloski '12 and Jessica Pera '13, served in Americorps, supporting social justice for immigrants and survivors of violence in the U.S.
  • Emily Block '12 works for the federal government in Maryland.
  • Kyla Hadenfeldt '12 is a Support Services Therapist at Safe Connections in St. Louis, Mo.

Lisa D. Powell, PhD, Professor, Interim Director

Mara Adams, PhD, Professor
Patrick Archer, PhD, Professor
Brett Billman, PhD, Asst. Professor
Sarah Dennis, PhD, Asst. Professor
Sarah Eikleberry, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Marianne Fenn, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Jessica Roisen, PhD, Professor
Julie Jenks Kettman, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Emily Kingery, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Keri Manning, PhD, Professor
John Stachula, PhD, Professor
Katie Trujillo, PhD, Professor
Brittany Tullis, PhD, Assoc. Professor

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies

+WGS 201 Cross-Cultural Introduction to WGS
WGS 325 Feminist Theory
WI-WGS 400 WGS Seminar

Choose 12 credits from these core courses, 6 credits of which must be WGS:
ENGL 222 Women's Literature
+HIST 318 American Women: Topics
KIN 273 Women in Sports
PSYC 312 Women and Aging
+SOC 325 Sex and Gender
+THEO 306 Medieval Women Mystics
+THEO 324 Women Theologians
WGS 210, 210, 320, 330, and 340

9 credits from two departments and the following affiliate courses:
+WI-AH 347 19th Century
+WI-AH 351 20th Century
+COMM 203 Interpersonal Communication
+ENGL 223 Minority Voices
+WI-ENGL 304 Renaissance Literature
+HIST 218 Medieval Women
+KIN 273 Women in Sports
MGMT 315 Women in Business
PSYC 205 Human Sexuality
PSYC 327 Psychology and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
PSYC 328 Psychology and Treatment of the Victim
SVLN 201 Service Learning (1 credit)
+SOC 323 Marriage and Family
THEO 305 Theology of Christian Marriage
+THEO 310 Social Justice
+WI-THEO 321 Theologies of Liberation
WGS 350 Independent Study (1-3 credits)

+=fulfills general education requirement
Click here to read course descriptions in the online course catalog

Minor in Women and Gender Studies

Entry procedure: Approval and planning a course of study with an advisor and WGS program director is required.

+WGS 201 Cross-Cultural Introduction to WGS
WGS 325 Feminist Theory
WI-WGS 400 WGS Seminar

At least 6 credits from all courses listed below must be taken from at least two departments other than WGS.

6 credits from:
+COMM 203 Interpersonal Communication
+ENGL 223 Minority Voices
+WI-ENGL 304 Renaissance Literature
+HIST 218 Medieval Women
KIN 273 Women in Sport
MGMT 315 Women in Business
PSYC 305 Human Sexuality
PSYC 327 Psychology and Treatment of the Juvenile Offender
PSYC 328 Psychology and Treatment of the Victim
SVLN 201 Service Learning (1 credit)
+SOC 323 Marriage and Family
+SOC 340 Race and Ethnicity
+THEO 305 Theology of Christian Marriage
+THEO 321 Contemporary Theological Issues
WGS 350 Independent Study (1-3 credits)

At least 3 credits from:
+ENGL 222 Women's Literature
+HIST 318 American Women
PSYC 312 Women and Aging
SOC 325 Sociology of Gender
+THEO 324 Women Theologians
+WGS 210 US Latina Literature and Culture
+WGS 310 Topics
+WGS 320 Women and Irish Film
+WGS 330 Practicum
+WGS 340 Women and Madness

+=fulfills general education requirement

Click here to read course descriptions in the online course catalog

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Women and Gender Studies.

This plan assumes the student has taken three years of foreign language in high school.

Year One

WGS 201 3 WGS 210 3
COMM 203 or ENGL 101 3 KIN 273 3
SOC 101 or PSYC 105 3 SOC 101 or PSYC 105 3
PHIL or THEO 101 3 PHIL or THEO 3
InfoLit (if needed) and NSS 2 NATURAL SCI 3
KIN 149 1
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 14

Year Two

PSYC 203 OR PSYC 205 3 SOC 325 or 323 3
SOC 325 OR 323 3 PSYC 203* or 205 3
Creative Arts 3 THEO 305, 310 or 324 3
MATH (STATS if possible) 3 KIN Activity 1-2
ENGL 222 3 SVL - Service learning 1
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 14-15

Study Abroad
Students are encouraged to study abroad during the Spring semester of their 2nd or 3rd year. Please see your advisor for suggestions.

Year Three

WGS 325 3 PSYC 312# or Elective 3
THEO 324 or 321 3 WGS 310 3
HIST 318 or CRJU 487 3 Electives 6
Elective or Foreign language 3 Elective or Foreign language 3
Elective 3
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

Year Four

WGS 405# 3 WGS 330 or WGS 310 3
WGS 330 or WGS 310 3 Elective or PSYC 312 3
Electives 9 Electives 9
Total Credits 15 Total Credits 15

#=must be taken at SAU to satisfy writing intensive

Mikka Mills '16

At St. Ambrose, Mikka discovered her deep passion for social justice. She hosted events to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and programs to promote self-confidence and self-actualization. For all of that, and so much more, she was awarded the Undergraduate Social Action Award from the Sociologists for Women in Society. SAU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion enhanced her own sense of empowerment, Mikka said. "The space provided by St. Ambrose and the support for our programs is amazing.”

Read Mikka's Story
Shannon Werhane mobile headshot Shannon Werhane headshot

Shannon Werhane

Master of Social Work,Clinical Therapist,Class of 2016

Shannon's education was about so much more than book-learning. It was about personal discovery, finding her niche, and how she can have the biggest impact. In our MSW program, you can learn how to empower people to improve their lives through their strengths and how to spark stronger communities. It is an education that can have a deep personal impact, too. Shannon calls it "eternal optimism."

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Lisa Powell, PhD, Interim Director

Women and Gender Studies
WGS Center: AH 224
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.