Catholic Women’s
& Gender Studies

"The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are." Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

 St. Hildegard of Bingen 500x330Human identity is fundamentally theological, as we are made in the image and likeness of God, and it is biological: "male and female He created them." The Master of Arts in Catholic Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of St. Thomas grounds students in a Catholic understanding of human personhood and then explores its meaning and application to contemporary circumstances.

This program is unlike any other Women's and Gender Studies degree. It will bring the depths of the Catholic intellectual tradition to bear in examining the effects secular feminist theories have had on women's health care practices, law, education, family policy, and the culture at large. Through a grounding in Catholic anthropology, history, and science, students will learn to cut through modern ideologies, to identify good arguments, and to craft pastoral and policy strategies to promote the full flourishing of men, women and children. Implementing Pope John Paul II’s call for a “new feminism,” (Evangelium Vitae, n.99, 1995), this program explores the rich historical contributions of Catholic women and proposes an alternative to the secular model for understanding sex and gender.

Proposing this Catholic alternative will require a robust understanding of modern feminism and gender theory as a multi-faceted international force affecting politics, religion, healthcare, and family structures. The MA in CWGS will unite the Church's theological, philosophical and bioethical dimensions to form a coherent Catholic vision of our lives as men and women. Students will gain a deeply and distinctly Catholic understanding of human identity through formation in the Church’s rich understanding of anthropology and human flourishing. 

Let us always invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he may inspire in the Church holy and courageous women, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who, developing the gifts they have received from God, make their own special and valuable contribution to the spiritual development of our communities and of the Church in our time.

Pope Benedict XVI

First of its kind

MA CWGS 3UST’s Master of Arts in Catholic Women’s and Gender Studies begins with a sound understanding of philosophical and theological anthropology – the nature of human personhood – from the depths of the Catholic intellectual tradition, including Scripture, writings of the saints such as John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," and noted contemporary Catholic philosophers and theologians. This program highlights the importance of the physical body, the biological reality of sex, and the body's role in revealing deep spiritual truths about human identity.

At a moment when cultural discourse is focused so heavily on identity, this program trains a keen eye on the premises and promises of feminism and asks if the movement has been successful. If not, how might an alternative understanding explain the failures and propose a different way? Is this what John Paul II had in mind when he invoked a “new feminist” way of navigating sex differences?

The MA CWGS prepares students for careers in human services, healthcare, law, business, community organizing, education, the media, as well as those who work for various Church entities, among many possibilities. Any professional working in an environment where the differences between men and women matter would benefit from this rich exploration of all the Catholic intellectual tradition can teach us about flourishing as men and women.

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St. Catherine of Siena

If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!

St. Catherine of Siena

Graduate Certificates

You may apply directly to the Master of Arts in Catholic Women’s and Gender Studies (the full 30 credit hours) OR you can start with any one of four graduate certificate programs (each is 12 credit hours). If you need specialization in just one area, start with a certificate. Then, if you decide to pursue the full master's degree, ALL your credit hours will apply. This gives students maximum flexibility and choice. 

The certificate programs and specialization areas include: Catholic Feminism, Women’s Health and Wellness, Gender and Family Policy, and Sexuality and Gender.

Classes will be taught live online so that students can be anywhere and still participate. To enhance the personal aspect and networking opportunities, the final capstone course includes an in-person experience with fellow students, faculty, and leading speakers.

Students may apply for up to two NCFC graduate certificates independently without applying for the full MA program.

In the Graduate Certificate in Catholic Feminism, learners will participate in robust discussion and deep historical and theological study from Feminist thinkers such as 18th century philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, 19th century thinkers Lucricia Mott and Sarah Grimke, 20th century philosopher Edith Stein, and 21st century Catholic thinkers Erika Bachiochi, Abigail Favale, and Helen Alvare. Contrasting writings from contemporary Feminist writers such as Judith Butler, Betty Friedan, and Ruth Bader-Ginsburg show the necessity for the roadmap our program provides for learners to cut through popular rhetoric about women’s roles and gender identity in the modern world.

apply now about the Graduate Certificate in Catholic Feminism degree plan - Graduate Certificate in Catholic Feminism

The Graduate Certificate in Gender and Family Policy will address head on the major issues of today with regard to sexuality and gender and how policy affects society in all areas; professionally, spiritually, personally. With the richness of the Catholic Church’s understanding of human flourishing as a backdrop, students will engage in examination and evaluation of policies around the world and their effects on family structures, divorce rates, and human wellness.

apply now about the Graduate Certificate in Gender and Family Policy degree plan - Graduate Certificate in Gender and Family Policy

As an interdisciplinary degree program, the MA in Catholic Women’s and Gender Studies also goes where few other Women’s and Gender Studies programs go in exploring the intersection of feminist and gender theory with changes in women’s healthcare practices and treatment of the body. The Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health and Wellness helps students gain an understanding of why it is necessary to anchor any feminist thought or activism in the natural female body. With courses that tie authentic female experience to the natural female body, learners will understand how healthcare policy has shifted with the waves of Feminism and how women’s bodies became the scapegoats and dispensable variable for Feminist progress.

apply now about the Grad Cert Women’s Health and Wellness degree plan - Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health and Wellness

The Graduate Certificate in Sexuality and Gender program will answer a strong need from professionals for the knowledge, tools, and skills required to communicate the Church’s understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman.

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Requirements Disclaimer:
International students who wish to maintain or obtain an I-20 form and F-1 student visa or status should participate in the in-person program option.