How to Declare a GWSS Major

At Grinnell College, students usually declare a major in their second year of coursework.

Deciding whether to declare in the fall or spring semester is up to you. Sometimes having already declared the gender, women's, and sexuality studies major can be a benefit when trying to enroll in high demand courses, but this is not always the case.

Ideally, students should have successfully completed GWS 111, GWS 249, and at least one other 200-level elective course before declaring. Note that this is a recommendation, not a requirement. We want to ensure that students have had the opportunity to work with various faculty before selecting an adviser. 

Once students have made the decision to declare, they should review the requirements for the major in the course catalog. Then they should schedule an appointment with one of the GWSS advisers, preferably someone with whom they have taken a course. Students should come to this meeting with a tentative four-year plan as well as a clear idea of why they want to pursue the GWSS major. If the faculty member agrees to assume the role of major adviser, then the student should move forward with completing the necessary paperwork and scheduling an appointment with the chair. 

When creating the tentative four-year plan, students should consider whether they plan to spend a semester of Off Campus Study . This semester can be labeled “OCS” on the four-year plan sheet. Students do not have to decide where to study at this time or feel that they have definitively committed to doing so. We just want to make sure we plan for this possibility. Students also should remember that making plans several semesters out is always a tentative process. Faculty don’t necessarily know what they will be teaching or when. It’s okay to leave some of the later courses as “GWSS 200-level elective, A” or “GWSS 300-level, C” to indicate your intention to look for a course that will fulfill a particular requirement without knowing now which courses will be offered then. Students should keep in mind that GWS 249 is only offered in the fall semester, and GWS 495 is only offered in the spring. 

List of GWSS Major Advisers

Declaration or Change of Majors Form

Importance of a Liberal Arts Education

This photograph of GWS students protesting is taken from “Reworlding: Life Writings/Our Writings,” the final capstone project completed by GWS 495 in 1991.

Image courtesy of Grinnell College Libraries Special Collections and Archives.

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