Updated December 13, 2022

By BVS Staff January 2017 Welcome to our ranking of the 25 best small colleges for women's studies majors on a budget. Methodology Each of these top schools offers at least one comprehensive program for students seeking a bachelor's degree in gender studies (including but not limited to women's and gender studies, feminist studies, and ...

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By BVS Staff
July 2020

Welcome to our ranking of the 25 best small colleges for women's studies majors on a budget.


Each of these top schools offers at least one comprehensive program for students seeking a bachelor's degree in gender studies (including but not limited to women's and gender studies, feminist studies, and sexuality studies). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 60%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education - which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $27,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for a gender studies degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!

#1 Berea College Berea, KY
#2 University of Minnesota - Morris Morris, MN
#3 Amherst College Amherst, MA
#4 Pomona College Claremont, CA
#5 Colby College Waterville, ME
#6 Middlebury College Middlebury, VT
#7 Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO
#8 Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
#9 Williams College Williamstown, MA
#10 Colgate University Madison County, NY

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  1. Berea College

    Berea, KY



    Berea makes its mark on this top women's studies undergraduate degrees ranking for a few distinct reasons. First, it's a Christian school with a proud history of providing an interracial and coed education in Kentucky. It's also a "no-tuition" college; a generous endowment and frugal spirit mean that student expenses are practically nonexistent. Like all Berea's majors, the Women's and Gender Studies program reflects the school's guiding principles. This includes participation in the Student Labor Program, an initiative that works doubly to offset tuition costs and uphold the school's strong Christian work ethic. To add to this practical experience, Berea encourages undergrads to participate in internships and directed study courses that help translate theoretical knowledge into real-world skills.

  2. University of Minnesota - Morris

    Morris, MN



    You might find it difficult to analyze gender studies themes objectively. That's why it's notable that Morris acknowledges - and encourages - students to view their studies from a personal perspective. Even the one-credit capstone paper is personal, challenging seniors to write about their own experiences and reflect on their work over the past four years. To pass their senior capstone, undergrads must also deliver a presentation and participate in a panel discussion, which provide ideal preparation for those who intend to attend graduate school. Overall, UMM's embrace of students' personal motivations and interests helps make it one of the best small colleges for women's studies majors who see significant overlap between their past life experiences and their future life goals.

  3. Amherst College

    Amherst, MA



    One significant perk of enrolling in Amherst's top small college gender studies program is the access it affords to each of the other four schools in the Five College Consortium. For example, UMass - Amherst houses the Stonewall Center, one of the first LGBT college support centers in the country. And Hampshire College's Center for Feminism is a progressive anti-sexist organization with a noble agenda of making college campuses inclusive and safe. As you complete your Sexuality, Women's, and Gender Studies major (known as SWAGS on campus), you might appreciate that Amherst doesn't require a senior thesis: You can opt instead to submit a comprehensive portfolio that showcases your work and includes a reflective essay on your studies.

  4. Pomona College

    Claremont, CA



    The affordable feminist studies undergraduate program at Pomona comprises two options for majors. One is a theoretical track and focuses on the theory of feminist scholarship and research. The other is a joint major track, which lets students pair Gender and Women's Studies with another discipline. Faculty encourage degree seekers in both groups to participate in undergraduate research - and in fact, more than 50% of Pomona's undergrads pursue research across a variety of departments and disciplines. Whether you want to conduct fieldwork or take a research deep-dive, Pomona can help you find external funding and a faculty advisor to support your work.

  5. Colby College

    Waterville, ME



    With its idyllic location in Waterville, Maine, Colby offers students a top education in a beautiful New England environment. But Colby has more than just good looks going for it: it's one of the best colleges for a gender studies degree. Faculty encourage students to take their learning beyond the classroom, whether through a service project or other activism. And Colby supports this type of work with Senior Scholars, a program through which students can earn credits for intensive work on a significant project. Working with a tutor, you'll design the project and work on it throughout an entire year to fortify your research skills (while strengthening your resume, too).

  6. Middlebury College

    Middlebury, VT



    Thanks in part to its Queer Studies House, Middlebury stands out as one of the best small colleges for women's studies majors who want to be part of a tight-knit community. This student interest house provides not just a safe gathering space for undergrads of all gender identities and sexualities, but also a hub for academic discussion and engagement. Another great on-campus resource is Chellis House, a center that serves all program members in the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies department. Although this isn't a residential house, it does have a dining room, kitchen, and living room where students can relax and hang out.

  7. Colorado College

    Colorado Springs, CO



    Most schools on this top women's studies undergraduate degrees ranking explore women's and gender issues on a primarily theoretical basis. However, Colorado College has an altogether more concrete commitment to "…eradicat[e] inequality and privilege in our local, national, and global communities whether or not they are explicitly academic." As such, faculty members are committed to helping Feminist and Gender Studies majors find relevant careers after graduation, and students can access a comprehensive list of local organizations where they might find jobs. To prepare for this work and to make connections, students frequently participate in fellowships and internships - some of which receive funding from the school's career center.

  8. Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie, NY



    The affordable feminist studies undergraduate program at Vassar stands out in part because of its flexibility. You can elect to pursue Women's Studies as a comprehensive major (culminating in a senior thesis or project) or as correlate sequence (similar to a minor) to pair with another subject. But for the strongest possible foundation in gender and sexuality issues, undergrads might want to combine their Women's Studies major with an associated correlate in Queer Studies. Thanks to the range of options and clear depth of coursework available through this program, Vassar alumni have gone on to pursue careers in a number of fields relevant to their undergraduate degree, from midwifery to social work.

  9. Williams College

    Williamstown, MA



    At Williams, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies majors must meet a unique "cluster" course requirement. Essentially, this component serves in place of a standard concentration, allowing students instead to piece together a custom focus area as they go. Over the course of your time at this Massachusetts-based top college for a gender studies degree, you'll work with an academic advisor to select at least three electives that share a common theme or disciplinary connection. For example, you could focus on queer studies or look at gender in a particular historical moment. Another bonus of attending Williams? The school boasts the best graduation rate on this list.

  10. Colgate University

    Madison County, NY



    Like many of the other affordable small college gender studies programs on this list, Colgate's degree is interdisciplinary; students use a feminist lens to evaluate and analyze a variety of topics. And if you want to bolster your degree with a relevant minor, Colgate offers an affiliate LGBTQ Studies program that will complement your major coursework with deeper discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation. In between study breaks, you'll find valuable resources at Colgate's Center for Women's Studies, which meets both the social and academic needs of program members. There, you can access media on pertinent issues, peruse the library, or attend the weekly brown bag lunch on gender issues.

Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable small college gender studies programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.


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