Prospective Students, Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to have a complete application?
You must electroncially submit an application, statement of purpose and research interests, GRE scores, official transcripts from any institutions of higher learning that you attended, three letters of recommendation, a CV or resume, and a writing sample of approximately 10 pages.

What is the deadline for submission?
We admit only once per year, for the following fall semester.  For Fall 2020 matriculation the deadline is December 3, 2019. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you are experiencing any problems as you attempt to upload your application materials. If you have any questions or concerns, contact departmental staff at

I can have everything in by the deadline except [fill in the blank]. Will you review an incomplete application?
We cannot review applications that are missing one or more of the requirements. Once we have received an application, we will periodically contact you to let you know what we are missing and remind you of the deadline.

What role do volunteer activities and extracurricular work play in the admissions process?
Feminist activist and other service work are not requirements, but they may make an application more attractive.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program if I am coming in with a bachelor’s degree?
We receive many more applications than slots available. We have found that the students applying to our program who have already completed an MA are able to present particularly strong applications. We do accept students with an undergraduate degree only. However it is a good idea to apply to both stand-alone MA and Ph.D. programs to keep your options open.

Can I apply to the Ph.D. program if I didn’t major in women’s studies?
You do not need to have a degree in women’s studies. Among the factors that we consider important are an applicant’s knowledge and familiarity with scholarship on women, but this knowledge may have originated in other disciplines.

GRE Scores

What code do I need to report my scores?
The University of Maryland code is 5814. Our department code is WMST.

NOTE: The University of Maryland is different from University of Maryland University College. Please make sure to select the University of Maryland when selecting a destination for your codes, as sending it to University College will not give us access to your scores.

My GRE scores are uneven, or just plain bad. If I have a good GPA, strong letters of recommendation and a solid writing sample, do I still have a chance?
Although we do take GRE scores into account when we review applications, we weigh them less heavily than other parts of the application (GPA, letters, writing sample, and “fit” with our departmental strengths as described in the personal statement). We have found that these tests are often not representative of a candidate, especially among women.

Writing Sample

How long should the writing sample be?
Writing samples should be no more than 10 pages. A writing sample of this length allows the reviewers to better evaluate both analytic and theoretical skills.

Does my writing sample have to be on a women’s studies topic?
The writing sample can be on any topic related to gender, and should be a paper of which you are particularly proud.

I wrote this great paper that I really want to submit, but it is too short. Can I send it anyway?
If there is a piece that you feel represents your writing well, you can submit that as well as an additional sample that meets the length requirement.


What kind of funding is available?
There are several options for funding. Fellowships are available on a competitive basis. We also offer 9.5-month assistantships; these include a stipend and require 20 hours per week of work in the department. Some of our assistantships are for teaching positions, although new graduate students are not assigned teaching positions in their first year. Students may also find assistantships in other departments on campus. For information on funding, including scholarships and student loans, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid.

International Students

Who has to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
The TOEFL is a requirement for all international students who apply for admission to the Graduate School. Non-native speakers of English who have earned a degree from the United States, United Kingdom, English-speaking Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Common wealth Caribbean are exempt from presenting TOEFL scores. Native speakers of English are defined as those who have received all of their education in one of the countries listed above.

Is the TSE (Test of Spoken English) required for international students applying for a teaching assistantship?
Yes, unless you have a degree from a university in an English-speaking country (see above). However, since teaching assistantships are not assigned to first-year students, you will have an opportunity to take the TSE once you arrive on campus.

Where can I get more information about applying as an international student?
International applicants should address any questions to International Student and Scholar Services, 1126 H.J. Patterson Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA (301-314-7740).

Miscellaneous Information

Where can I find out more about the department and about faculty research interests?
Our website lists all of our core and affiliate faculty as well as their research interests and other information.

What if I just want a master’s degree and not a Ph.D.?
We do not have a stand-alone master’s program. Doctoral students may request conferral of a master’s degree upon successfully completing 31 credits of coursework; they must either produce a thesis with an oral exam or pass the general exam. However, we only accept students that intend to go on to complete a Ph.D.

How do I decide between applying to a women’s studies program with a focus on another discipline and applying to another discipline’s program to focus on gender?
With interdisciplinary programs like women’s studies, it can be hard to decide whether, for example, to pursue a women’s studies degree with work in history or a history degree with work in women’s studies. In many cases, the difference is not great. Some programs are harder to gain acceptance into than others, therefore we recommend applying to both and make the decision based on which schools accept you and what they have to offer.

How long will it take to complete my Ph.D.?
Only an estimate is possible since everyone’s program will differ, especially the amount of time for research and writing the dissertation. We estimate about 5-7 years.

What is the job market for Ph.D.’s in women’s studies?
Nationwide, the placement record for WMST PhD graduates is about 60%. We believe that the job market for our graduate students will be good as women’s studies is expanding significantly at this time. “Programs” that once depended on faculty housed in other departments are becoming independent departments and hiring their own faculty. In addition to academic careers, our students will also be able to take jobs at research and policy institutes, in the government, and at other non-profit advocacy and funding agencies.