MA Certificate For MSW Students | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

MA Certificate For MSW Students

The Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies provides an opportunity for MSW students to gain expertise in topics and issues related to gender and sexuality. Offered through the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program, this MA certificate integrates the study of feminist theories with their application in research, policy, and practice. Many MSW students pursue this certificate, which provides them with excellent preparation and an added credential for working in fields related to gender and sexuality, such as domestic violence, sexual assault prevention and counseling, family services, and LGBTQIA services and advocacy, to name just a few.

The MASTER'S CERTIFICATE consists of four courses taken before graduation from the MSW (12 credits) and completion of a research paper and a concept statement:

  • All students must take the required core course, GSWS2252, Theories of Gender and Sexuality, offered every year by the GSWS Program. This course is sometimes offered in the fall semester and sometimes in the spring, so please plan ahead so that you can take this essential course, which will count as one of your general electives for social work.
  • GSWS2058, Feminist Social Work, usually offered every fall semester. This course must be taken with the GSWS course number to count. Another course with a GSWS course number can be substituted for this course.
  • Social work courses can meet the requirements for the remaining two courses, if you plan accordingly (although you have the option of taking another course outside of social work). Among the other social work courses which satisfy the certificate requirements are the required MSW foundation course, Foundations of Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations, Intimate Partner Violence, and Human Sexuality. Depending on the instructor and the focus of your own work that semester, other courses may meet the requirements. Students also have the option of doing a directed study with a willing affiliated faculty member. Students can petition to have accepted unlisted graduate courses with a substantial gender, sexuality, or women's studies component.

All courses must be passed with at least a “B” grade.

Students must complete a research paper to be read and approved by the affiliated faculty member who has sponsored the paper and a brief concept statement explaining how interdisciplinary scholarship in gender and sexuality studies contributed to this project.  Students must submit their paper, concept statement, and the signature page to the affiliated faculty member (who must be officially listed on the GSWS AF faculty page) and then deliver the signature page along with a hard-copy of the approved paper to the GSWS Office for inclusion in the student's file.  These materials must be turned in to the program for the Director’s review at least 10 days before the graduate paperwork is due.

A copy of the research paper with signature page must be received by the appropriate deadline:

    June 15 for August graduation
    November 15 for December graduation
    March 15 for April graduation

For instructions on the content of the required research paper, see:


If you are an MSW student interested in pursuing the Certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, please meet with Sara Goodkind, Associate Professor of Social Work, Sociology, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies during your first year in the program to discuss your plans. Email her at to set up an appointment. Each student must complete the Arts and Sciences Application for Admission to the Certificate Program, the Admissions Credentials Evaluation, and the GSWS Advising Form. A file will be kept in the GSWS main office. The GSWS Program Director is also happy to meet to discuss a plan of study or other aspects of the Program.

Graduate Certificate Procedures (Graduation)

All GSWS Certificates are issued through the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, regardless of the graduate school you are enrolled in. You must follow Arts and Sciences Graduate School deadlines for applying for degrees to receive your Certificate. *Students must apply to the A&S Graduate School to receive the Certificate at graduation, and certificates cannot be issued after a student graduates. Please contact the A&S office early in the semester you will be graduating. A late fee is assessed if you miss the deadline. Please note that applying to do the Certificate and applying to graduate with the Certificate are two separate processes.

Applying to graduate in the School of Social Work will not automatically include applying for the GSWS Certificate.

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF of these requirements.

Click here for the certificate application form.

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