Best Value Schools' list of the 15 Cheapest Bachelor's Degrees in Gender and Women's Studies includes rewarding research and scholarship opportunities that prepare students for jobs in world-changing fields! Gender and women's studies majors are relative newcomers to colleges across the United States, but the number of degrees in the field, as well as the number of programs offered, have steadily increased over the decades. Gender and women's studies programs started popping up around the mid-1970s when the women's movement was in full swing. At the time, scholars felt that women's voices, as well as those of minorities and people who identified with the LGBTQ+ community, were underrepresented both on campus and within class material.
Gender and women's studies majors, along with related cultural studies programs, have grown over time to focus on feminism, inequality, race, class, and social justice. With these concentrations, it's no wonder that most grads choose high-impact jobs in education, law and social work, and employers seeking experts in diversity and inclusion are particularly drawn to grads from this field. According to government data summarized by Data USA, over 17,000 women's, cultural and gender studies degrees were awarded across the U.S. in 2016, about half of which were bachelors degrees. Grads make on average $77,000 a year, primarily as elementary, middle school and postsecondary teachers, lawyers and other judicial workers, as well as managers. Jobs seeking new talent in these areas are projected to rise at an average pace over the next several years, and most positions in these fields require a master's degree or higher.
A bachelor's degree in gender and women's studies can certainly be useful on its own, however. Employers are drawn to liberal arts majors in general because grads learn a variety of critical thinking, communication, writing, and analytical skills. According to the Pew Research Center, employment in occupations requiring high levels of social and analytical skills has skyrocketed over the last few decades, and pay is rising to meet the demand. Additionally, a majority of Americans support more gender equality and more diversity, making gender and women's studies majors essential in the workforce. Jobs in Human Resources, non-profit advocacy work, and marketing employ four-year grads for this very expertise. Whatever your career path, an affordable Bachelor's degree will certainly get you well on your way!
Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:
- Degree Investment Return (25%)
- Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
- Cost Value (25%)
- Matriculation (10%)
- Academic Success (15%)
No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!
Here are the 15 cheapest Bachelor degrees in gender and women's studies for 2020!
15. Amherst College – Amherst, MA
Bachelor of Arts in Sexuality, Women's & Gender Studies
The Sexuality, Women's & Gender Studies, Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College focuses on gender and sexuality and how they interact with race, class, political structures, history, and more. The major also focuses on the historical, cultural, and political lives of women. SWAGS takes a cross-disciplinary approach to the major, with faculty specializing in literature, anthropology, history, medicine, film, and politics. On top of Amherst's general education requirements, students need to complete nine SWAGS courses and write a thesis or present a portfolio of work to graduate with a SWAGS major. Students looking for a small, rigorous liberal arts school will love Amherst: the university enrolls about 1800 students per year and the student to faculty ratio is 8:1.
Amherst was ranked number three in BVS' 25 Best Value Small Colleges for a Gender Studies Degree 2017, in part for the ease of access students have to courses in each of the schools in the Five College Consortium. The University is additionally recognized for having one of the first LGBTQ+ college support centers in the country. U.S. News & World Report also ranks Amherst College as the number two liberal arts college in the country, as well as the third Best Value School. While there are no special admissions requirements for the SWAGS degree, Amherst is a highly selective school, with a 13 percent acceptance rate as of Fall 2017.
Net Price: $19,519
14. Pomona College – Claremont, CA
Gender & Women's Studies Program
Pomona College's Gender & Women's Studies Program aims to challenge conventional assumptions about women, gender roles, and sexuality. The major explores interpretations of sexual differences in cultural and historical contexts, a wide range of feminist research, and how gender intersects with race, class, colonialism, and sexuality. Students can choose from two different WGS majors: one that focuses specifically on "recent feminist interdisciplinary scholarship," and one that combines feminist theory with another specific liberal arts discipline, including religion, music, English or political science, among others. Students on the first track are required to take six WGS courses and three electives, on top of general education requirements. The second track requires similar WGS courses, along with specific courses in the students' attached discipline or program.
Pomona is another small, focused liberal arts college with a student body of about 1,700 and an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. As Pomona is located about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, students can enjoy warm weather almost year-round. Pomona is one of The Claremont Colleges, the seven-school consortium including five undergraduate and two graduate schools, all located in the same neighborhood. Students have limited access to courses and research centers, as well as extracurricular programs at each of the colleges. Pomona ties for number five in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. The school's Fall 2017 acceptance rate was eight percent.
Net Price: $18,427
#13. Fort Lewis College – Durango, CO
Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Sexuality Studies
Students in Fort Lewis College's Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Sexuality Studies aim to find solutions for inequality through exploring culture, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other subjects, such as masculinity, human sexuality, and women's equality. Credits required for graduation total 120, including two core courses and a choice of four major-specific courses, as well as seven accepted electives. Classes include titles such as Social Construction of Sexuality, Women in Native American Literature, and Gender and Representation. GSS graduates have gone on to become business owners, community organizers, aid workers, and Ph.D. candidates.
Colorado residents are eligible for in-state tuition just above $9,000 a year full-time. The general acceptance rate is high at 83%, and applications are due late-summer. The student population at Fort Lewis comes to about three thousand, and the average class size is 20 students. The student to faculty ratio is 15:1. Students seeking an active outdoor life will love the landscape and climate in Durango and beyond, and the region boasts incredible Puebloan and Spanish artifacts.
Net Price: $18,208
12. University of California-Berkeley – Berkeley, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women's Studies
University of California-Berkeley's Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender and Women's Studies explores the complex relationships between gender, women, and sexuality, as well as power in different social and cultural contexts. The curriculum focuses on the latest and most diverse areas in feminist theory research and explores issues such as "feminism in a transnational world," "the politics of representation," "gender and work" and "queer visual culture," etc. To declare the major, students must complete either a four-unit cluster of courses called GWS 10 Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies, or GWS 20 Introduction to Feminist Theory and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0. The department also has an honors track culminating in a senior thesis.
UC Berkeley houses many award-winning researchers, including seven Nobel Laureates. The WGS department itself hosts three research centers, including a Visiting Scholars Program that collaborates with WGS faculty. The university tied for No. 22 in the U.S News & World Report's best National Universities ranking and maintains its reputation as a highly selective school with a 17 percent acceptance rate. The university is also well-known for its history of student and faculty activism, beginning with anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam war and continuing into the present. Total campus population comes to over 30,000 and in-state tuition is just over $14,000 per full-time year.
Net Price: $18,178
11. Yale University – New Haven, CT
Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Yale University's Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies bases its program on the belief that studies of gender and sexuality help explain our everyday lives on both personal and global scales. The degree is an interdisciplinary study involving history, cultural studies, race studies, literature, and natural sciences to study how gender and sexuality relate to all other aspects of culture. The WGSS degree can either be one's primary major or can be combined with another major. No prerequisites are required to declare the major. Students must complete 12 term courses, including two intermediate courses and five courses in an area of concentration. Examples of concentrations have included Literature and QueeAesthetics; Food, Sexuality, and Lesbian Community; and AIDS Health Policies.
Yale is one of the oldest and most well-known Ivy League universities on this list, having been founded in 1701 and having a long-standing rivalry with Harvard University in the Boston, MA area. Almost 6,000 undergraduates and nearly 7,500 post-grads and professional students make up the student population. All undergrads start at Yale College, its primary liberal arts campus, but 12 professional schools and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are also on scene. U.S. News & World Report ranks Yale at No. 3 for National Universities and number four in Best Value Schools for its financial aid offerings. Prominent grads include George W. Bush and Meryl Streep, as well as both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Net Price: $18,053
10. The Ohio State University-Main Campus – Columbus, OH
Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
An undergraduate major in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) from The Ohio State University emphasizes an "intersectional lens" to understand and critique societal structures that produce inequality. The department aims to train students to enact social change in their professional and personal lives. The major requires one prerequisite course, "Gender, Sex and Power," as well as five required major courses and a choice of four concentration areas. The department offers an honors track, as well the Mildred Munday Scholarship in honor of one of WGSS' founding members, which provides students in excellent academic standing with $3,000 toward tuition and fees. WGSS encourages students to participate in undergraduate research, either as research assistants or by pursuing independent study or an undergraduate thesis.
WGSS also provides small travel grants for students wanting to participate in conferences, colloquia, and workshops, as well as research for a thesis, outside OSU. Some students can also qualify for The Dana Greenblatt Feminist Media Award, up to $3,000 for undergraduate or graduate research. Combined with an in-state tuition of less than $11,000 per year and OSU's commitment to providing accessible financial aid, the WGSS major can be a great option for students looking for affordability and research and travel opportunities outside their immediate program. Additionally, Columbus was ranked as the number one city for recent college grads in a 2018 study based on data about affordability, job opportunity, and local entertainment.
Net Price: $18,042
9. Harvard University – Cambridge, MA
Bachelor of Arts in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Harvard University's Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality undergraduate major combines studies from multiple disciplines, including history, literature, social sciences, LGBT studies, etc. to analyze the way gender and sexuality have shaped public policy, the media and other aspects of culture. About half of WGS students pursue a joint concentration outside the major, and many are eligible to study abroad or write a senior thesis. Harvard offers over two dozen core courses in the WGS major, as well as over 50 more classes on gender and sexuality taught by faculty in other departments. Five required courses and a choice of seven additional WGS courses are required for graduation with the major.
Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university on this list. Over 20k degree candidates pursuing Bachelor's and advanced degrees make up the total student population. Students also study in 12 different degree-granting schools, along with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, all within the Ivy League University. Harvard ranks at number two for both National Universities and Best Value Schools according to U.S. News & World Report. Aside from the five percent acceptance rate and tuition totaling over $50,000 per year, Harvard awards more than $160 million in financial aid to 60 percent of undergrads. Harvard's stellar academic and professional reputation––along with the financial support it offers students––gives the school a perfect 100.0 score in our rankings.
Net Price: $17,030
8. Stanford University – Stanford, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Stanford University's Bachelor program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FEMGEN or FGSS) prepares students to understand the roles of gender and sexuality in all aspects of life. FEMGEN examines gender roles, relationships, and identities in different societies and how they interact with power structures such as race, class, ability, age, etc. The program also aims to prepare students for graduate study in humanities and professional schools. The major requires 12 approved courses for a total of at least 63 units, culminating in a practicum involving field research, internships or relevant community service. Students may choose to declare a subplan in approved areas including Arts & Culture, Health, Global Studies and more, or to develop an individualized thematic focus.
Stanford is an elite university known best for its research, networking, and diverse graduate programs. Additionally, Stanford sits right in the middle of a region that is booming with job opportunities: during the first two months of 2019, the Bay Area accounted for 81% of all job growth in California. Over 7,000 students make up the undergraduate student population, almost half of which qualify for financial aid. And the financial assistance can be significant: students who come from households making less than $125,000 a year qualify for free tuition, and students coming from households making less than $65,000 a year have tuition, room, and board covered. Prominent Stanford grads include Elon Musk, Sandra Day O'Connor and John F. Kennedy.
Net Price: $16,562
7. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor, MI
Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor's Women's Studies program aims to teach students how to apply interdisciplinary methods to their study of women, sexuality, and gender. The program also encourages both a practical and theoretical approach to feminist studies and trains students in critical thinking and communication skills. Students pursuing the major must pass an Introduction to Women's Studies class and complete 33 credits within the major, including two upper-level courses, or cognates, unrelated to women's studies but offering complementing skills to students' work in the major. The university offers an honors track for students with an overall GPA of 3.4 and at least a 3.5 in the Women's Studies major.
According to Data USA, U-M-Ann Arbor awarded the most Women's Studies degrees in the nation in 2016. U-M's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) prides itself on its 95% first-year retention rate, and on the fact that 96% of students are either employed or in graduate school following graduation. LSA also offers many undergraduate research and study abroad opportunities, as well as internships. Ann Arbor is the largest of U-M's three campuses, which also include Dearborn and Flint. Over 29,000 students were enrolled as of 2019, more than half of whom took advantage of in-state tuition of about $15,000 per year. Money.com ranks Ann Arbor among its "Best Places to Live in 2018" for its cultural diversity and employment opportunities.
Net Price: $16,408
6. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, WI
Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women's Studies
The Gender and Women's Studies, B.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison teaches students to analyze gender and other aspects of inequality through literature and culture both in the United States and abroad. The curriculum stresses an interdisciplinary approach to the subject matter, allowing students with any additional degree focus' an opportunity to study gender and women. The major is a 30-credit program, with a B or better in an introductory course as a prerequisite. Seniors must also complete a capstone seminar or thesis. Some classes are offered online or in study abroad programs.
Grads from UW-Madison have gone on to get jobs in health policy, immigration law, medicine, media production, and more. UW-Madison is well-known for its research, maintaining its spot as number six in the nation for volume of work according to a 2016 Higher Education Research and Development Survey. The 936-acre campus with over 32,000 students boasts both an active Greek life community, as well as a fierce athletics culture, with The Wisconsin Badgers competing in 20 NCAA Division 1 sports. UW-Madison ties for number 49 in the National Universities ranking from U.S. News & World Report and had a 54% acceptance rate as of Fall 2017. In-state tuition comes to less than $11,000 a year.
Net Price: $15,910
5. University of California – Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies
The Gender Studies department at the University of California-Los Angeles College of Social Sciences combines feminist thought with UCLA professors' own research to analyze concepts like gender and the body, gender and power, and gender and knowledge across many aspects of modern culture. No prerequisites are required to declare the major, aside from an introductory course in gender studies. Research is a strong emphasis in the program: each student is required to complete a four-unit capstone research seminar prior to graduation. The department also offers awards for conference attendance, excellence in research, and community engagement.
UCLA is popular not only for its sunny location but also for its excellence in both academic and athletic fields. Bruins hold 116 NCAA national championships and a Heisman Trophy, and alumni have gone on to win 261 Olympic medals. Professors hold Nobel prizes, Guggenheim fellowships, Medals of Science and more. Students can enjoy the rigor of a highly-selective school (the 2017 acceptance rate was 16 percent), but also the financial benefits of in-state tuition of just over $13,000 a year, financial aid, and a return on investment that made UCLA Forbes' number four Best Value University in 2019. Prominent UCLA alumni include basketball superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, astronaut and first mother in space Anna Lee Fisher and actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik.
Net Price: $14,760
4. State University of New York at New Paltz – New Paltz, NY
Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz centers its program around envisioning a more just and positive future—by improving the position of women locally and beyond and by thinking critically about violence and injustice to envision a better world. Students are required to take a practicum course, which gives them experience working with local organizations that empower women, and in their senior year, they can pursue independent research. Along with 39 required core credits, students must complete an additional history requirement apart from the elective requirement.
SUNY New Paltz is a small public university made up of just under 7,000 undergraduates. The 257-acre campus is 90 miles north of New York City and set in the beautiful Hudson River Valley. The small school has an average 16:1 student-to-teacher ratio. SUNY New Paltz strongly promotes diversity and inclusion on campus: the university has policies protecting undocumented students, including allowing qualified undocumented students to pay resident tuition, and in May 2019 the university hosted its inaugural Lavender Celebration honoring the successes of LGBTQ+ identifying members of the class of 2019. Honorees accepted lavender graduation cords to wear to their commencement.
Net Price: $14,496
3. Iowa State University – Ames, IA
Bachelor of Arts/Science in Women's and Gender Studies
Iowa State University's Women's and Gender Studies program aims to improve students' critical thinking and communication skills to question common assumptions about gender, power structures, and other aspects of culture that produce inequality. The program strongly emphasizes social justice and inclusion so that students' voices and experiences feel heard. Students must complete 34 core and cross-listed credits, 18 of which must come from an area of concentration, along with a Communication Proficiency Grade Requirement. Areas of concentration are Communication and Cultural Representation, Identities and Sexualities, Leadership and Social Justice, and General Women's and Gender Studies. Students can choose a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science track. During their senior year, students choose either a three-credit internship or thesis course.
Iowa State students live large in the small community of Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones compete in the NCAA Division I Big 12 Conference against fierce rival University of Iowa Hawkeyes, and the university offers more than 850 student clubs and organizations, as well as an active Greek life with over 60 fraternities and sororities. Through the Soar in 4: Four-Year Graduation Guarantee initiative, students can develop a careful plan with academic advisers to complete their bachelor's degree in four years, saving themselves both time and money. With a rolling application deadline and 89% acceptance rate, Iowa State can be a great option for students wanting to get right into a four-year degree track.
Net Price: $13,949
2. San Diego State University – San Diego, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies
San Diego State University's Department of Women's Studies in the College of Arts and Letters takes an action-based approach to challenge inequality. The department's goals are not just to recognize and analyze forms of oppression in the world, but to combine theory and action and imagine a society without privilege based on identity politics. As with many women's and gender studies programs, SDSU takes an interdisciplinary approach to its curriculum. The major requires two introductory courses along with nine upper-division courses. All majors must complete a three-credit internship or approved study abroad program to graduate. Typical internship placements are in the law, social service, public service, and health fields.
As expensive as living in Southern California can be, SDSU offers significant financial aid for students. In-state tuition comes to about $7500 a year, and out-of-state tuition is still a bargain at under $19,000. Additionally, in Spring 2020, the university will offer a state-of-the-art scholarship matching program to ease the process for students looking for more scholarship opportunities. SDSU receives significant research funding as it is classified as a high-research university, and many undergraduates can participate in research with a mentor. SDSU is also a very diverse campus, with more than half of its 36,000 students identifying as people of color. U.S. News & World Report ranks SDSU as number 127 in National Universities, with a 35 percent acceptance rate and 89 percent freshman retention rate.
Net Price: $13,363
1. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC
Bachelor of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Women's and Gender Studies Major introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of feminist work, as well as concepts and research of gender, sexuality, race, class, and other areas, as well as feminist history in the United States, and beyond. Apart from UNC's general education requirements, majors must complete 24 credits, including a senior seminar or honor's course, as well as courses are chosen from at least two of four interdisciplinary perspectives areas. These areas include Minority/Third World/Non-Western Women or Gender; Historical Studies; Humanities and Fine Arts; and Social Sciences. Many courses are cross-listed in other programs within the university, affording students dozens of options with which to fulfill their major requirements.
UNC-Chapel Hill awarded the second largest number of degrees in Cultural & Gender Studies in 2016, according to Data USA. Earning a coveted spot at No. 30 for U.S. News & World Report's National Universities ranking, UNC's in-state tuition costs less than $9,000 a year, and 75 percent of students report their college financial needs are fully met. Undergraduate enrollment is close to 19,000, and about 20 percent of students participate in Greek life. The North Carolina Tar Heels, known best for their men's basketball team, participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Guardian ranked Chapel Hill as one of its "Best towns and small cities in the US," partly for its diversity of ideology, beauty, and cultural landmarks.