Department of Gender Studies

Department of Gender Studies
Department of Gender Studies

PhD Program

Graduate student working in her office

The four-year Gender Studies PhD program sustains our program focus on critical race, gender, and sexuality studies while offering advanced training in applications of gender studies research within work for social change.
Gender Studies MA graduates may apply to be admitted with advanced standing in the Gender Studies PhD program.

Professional applicants with the BAH/BA may apply to receive direct entry to the PhD program who demonstrate exceptional and relevant professional experience and achievement in an appropriate field.

View the Grad Map for the Gender Studies PhD



Fall Year 1
  • GNDS 801 (3.0)
  • GNDS 802 (3.0)
  • GNDS 815 (0.0)
Winter Year 1
  • GNDS 815 (0.0)
  • GNDS 903 (3.0)
  • Elective Course (3.0)
Fall Year 2
  • GNDS 950 (3.0)

Supervision and Committee

At Admission
  • Supervisor assigned
Spring Year 1
  • With the Supervisor, discuss, contact, and confirm members of the Supervisory Committee


Winter Year 1
  • Complete a preliminary draft of the Syllabus as part of regular coursework in GNDS 903.
  • Present the complete draft Syllabus to the supervisor for review.
Spring Year 1
  • Revise in response to supervisor feedback.
  • Submit final Syllabus to the supervisor by June 30. The supervisor forwards the final Syllabus to the Graduate Chair for review and approval.
  • If upon reviewing the syllabus, the graduate chair requests revisions, the supervisor and student are contacted, revisions are suggested, and the syllabus is resubmitted for final approval by August 15.

GNDS 950 Research, Proposal, and Proposal Defence

Fall Year 1
  • With the supervisor, investigate and plan the doctoral research and the nature and modes of its applications within work for social change
Winter Year 1
  • With the supervisor and instructor of GNDS 903, draft a plan for research and its applications, both in GNDS 950 and post-candidacy
By April Year 1
  • Formally notify the Graduate Chair of the planned research for GNDS 950
Spring/Summer Year 1
  • Obtain all permissions to begin research in GNDS 950. These may include:
    • Permissions from Queen’s GREB (General Research Ethics Board)
    • Permissions from Queen’s OCASP (Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy)
    • Permissions from the site of research or the research participants
  • Present a GNDS 950 Proposal to the supervisor on August 1, cc’d to the Graduate Chair.
  • Hold the first Supervisory Committee meeting to discuss the doctoral project. Two weeks prior to the meeting, deliver to all committee members the final approved Syllabus, the final approved GNDS 950 Proposal, and the Research to Applications Plan written in GNDS 903. (may occur in early fall)
Fall Year 2
  • If not held already, hold the first Supervisory Committee meeting to discuss the doctoral project. Two weeks prior to the meeting, deliver to all committee members the final approved Syllabus, the final approved GNDS 950 Proposal, and the Research to Applications Plan written in GNDS 903. Meeting must take place by September 30.
  • Conduct GNDS 950
  • Draft the Proposal
Winter Year 2
  • Submit a complete draft Proposal to supervisor January 1
  • Revise Proposal and resubmit to the supervisor
Spring/Summer Year 2
  • Hold Proposal Defence no later than May 15
  • After successfully defending the Proposal, begin research


Fall Year 3
  • Conduct Research
  • Present doctoral research project at the Gender Studies Colloquium
Winter Year 3
  • Conduct Research
  • Students completing Manuscript / Portfolio Dissertations submit first chapter / component for supervisory review
Spring/Summer Year 3
  • Conduct Research
  • Students completing Manuscript / Portfolio Dissertations submit first chapter / component for supervisory review
Fall Year 4
  • Conduct Research
  • Students completing Manuscript / Portfolio Dissertations submit third chapter / component for supervisory review
  • Students completing Monograph Dissertation submit rough draft for supervisory review
Winter Year 4
  • Submit complete draft of dissertation for Supervisory Committee review
  • Revise dissertation
Spring/Summer Year 4
  • Submit revised dissertation for examination

Students are assigned a supervisor at the time of admission. Prior to submitting an application, PhD applicants should consult with department faculty to seek out and identify a potential supervisor.

Both core and cross-appointed faculty in Gender Studies are eligible to serve as supervisors. Students may request, or may be assigned co-supervisors, of whom one must be a core faculty member.

The Supervisory Committee forms in spring of the first year of study. Potential committee members are recommended at the time of admission. Students should consult with their supervisor/s to secure two additional faculty members who would be appropriate members of the committee. Committee members normally will be core or cross-appointed faculty in Gender Studies. With permission of the supervisor and Graduate Chair, one committee member may be from outside the department. The committee should be confirmed no later than June 30 of the first year of study.

Required Work

Full-time students in the PhD program complete five required courses:

  • three required core courses, GNDS 801/3.0 “Theories in Gender Studies,” GNDS 802/3.0 “Methodologies in Gender Studies,” and GNDS 903/3.0 “Applications in Gender Studies”
  • one (3.0) elective course, selected from graduate courses in Gender Studies or other departments
  • GNDS 950/3.0 (see below)

Students advance to candidacy for the PhD after completing all required coursework, the Syllabus, and the Proposal.

Students receive the PhD for completing the Dissertation, which may be written in one of three formats: Monograph; Manuscript; or Portfolio. (See below, “Dissertation”)

Steps to PhD Candidacy

In addition to taking the three core courses and one elective course, PhD students advance to candidacy by completing the following steps.

Step 1: Syllabus


To be completed by June 30 of Year 1.


  • Skills in syllabus preparation and pedagogy will be delivered within GNDS 903: Applications of Gender Studies, in the winter term, and the student will complete a preliminary draft of the syllabus as part of their work for this course.

  • The student presents a first draft to their supervisor and then completes any required revisions.

  • The supervisor reviews the final version and sends it to the graduate chair for approval.

  • If upon reviewing the syllabus, the graduate chair requests revisions, the supervisor and student are contacted, revisions are suggested, and the syllabus is resubmitted for final approval by August 15.


The student creates a syllabus that is relevant to their course of study and research program. Exceptions to this guideline must be requested by the student and approved by their supervisor and the graduate chair. The syllabus must demonstrate command of an area of study within the field of gender studies and the capacity to communicate and apply this knowledge in an instructional setting. The syllabus may be designed as an undergraduate academic course or as an equivalent teaching activity in a non-academic instructional setting. The supervisor may require the student to access additional resources during Syllabus preparation (for instance, Center for Teaching and Learning or School of Graduate Studies courses or workshops).

The syllabus will be evaluated by the supervisor and the graduate chair according to the following criteria:

  • The relevance of its topic to the student’s course of study and research programme.
  • The level of topical knowledge demonstrated by the course design.
  • The appropriateness of the course content, pedagogy, and learning outcomes for the target audience and level of instruction.

The student must write a narrative rationale (3-5 single spaced pages) addressing these factors, which is submitted alongside the syllabus to complete the assignment.

Step 2: GNDS 950 Practicum


To be completed during fall term of Year 2.


  • A plan for GNDS 950 research is prepared during winter of Year 1 as part of coursework in GNDS 903, forming a key component of the Research to Applications Plan.
  • The GNDS 903 research plan is revised during spring / summer of Year 1 as a GNDS 950 Proposal, and submitted in final form to the supervisor (copied to the Graduate Chair) no later than August 1.
  • If the GNDS 950 Proposal received approval from both the supervisor and the graduate program, the student will be enrolled in GNDS 950 and will begin preparatory research in fall of Year 2.
  • No student will be enrolled in GNDS 950 or be allowed to begin preparatory research until receiving approval to do so from the supervisor and graduate program.
  • After conducting a planned course of research, GNDS 950 concludes with submission of a Report to the supervisor.


In GNDS 950, students complete preparatory doctoral research that explores or initiates applications of their project within work for social change. Research conducted in GNDS 950 focuses on seeking and initiating relationships with research subjects or research partners – drawn from communities under study, scholars, activists, or cultural workers (among other contexts) –– that may enable specific applications of the project within work for social change.

The GNDS 950 Proposal will plan research to be conducted during at least a 12-week period corresponding to the period of enrollment. If the research proposed for GNDS 950 bridges with research previously undertaken, or with research that will continue after enrollment, the GNDS 950 Proposal should clarify what new research the student will conduct during the 12-week enrollment period, and the Report should focus on learning gained from research conducted during the enrollment period.

While completing GNDS 950 the student simultaneously prepares a first draft of the Proposal (see Step 3, below). Experience gained, and new activities or relationships formed during GNDS 950 will allow the student to augment or alter prior research plans, and thus will inform the writing of the Proposal.

Students complete GNDS 950 after conducting the planned course of research and submitting a Report to the supervisor. The Report explains:

  • what research was completed or left incomplete, and what was learned from these efforts;
  • what research relationships or research applications were explored or formed; and,
  • how has the research experience newly informed the student’s understanding of the substance, theories, methods and applications of their doctoral project, as they are presented in the Proposal.

If the student conducts the planned course of research and submits a Report, both of which the supervisor evaluates as satisfactory, the student is assured of being assigned a passing grade. Starting in 2021-22, GNDS 950 will be graded Pass / Fail. This method will emphasize that the purpose of GNDS 950 is to provide students experience with research and its applications, in order to productively inform the preparation of the Proposal and their plans for full-time doctoral research.

Step 3: Dissertation Proposal

Timeline & Overview

  • Your proposal is drafted September to December Year Two.
  • You submit a draft of your proposal to your supervisor January Year Two
  • You revise your proposal January-April Year Two
  • You defend your proposal May-July Year Two

Your dissertation proposal should be approximately 30 double spaced pages. It should include a working bibliography with a minimum of 30 sources (articles, monographs). Normally, the dissertation proposal has seven sections: a research overview that summarizes your proposed program; problem statement and key questions that will be framing your dissertation; a comprehensive review of research and debates that inform your research topic (this can be divided into 3-4 sections with headings); methodology or methodologies; ethical considerations; breakdown of research program; timeline.

NB: These guidelines apply to monograph, manuscript, or portfolio options of the dissertation except where noted. 

Research Overview

A 1-page summary of your proposed research program. Think of this as an abstract.

Problem Statement and Key Questions

A statement of an issue or a problem that delineates why the research topic is important to explore. The problem may be theoretical (e.g. extending or complementing to specific concepts and theoretical questions) and/or methodological (e.g. attending to key methods in gender studies that clarify, extend, or complement your area of study). This section includes 3-4 key questions that will inform your dissertation research. Your problem statement and your key questions delineate the significance of your study. This section should be about 1-page.

Review of Research and Debates

This is your literature review. You present the key themes and ideas that inform your research. You must demonstrate that you are familiar with your area of research and also show how your literature relates to key themes in gender studies. Put plainly: what body or bodies of theory speak to your dissertation? What theoretical questions are guiding your project? You are welcome to present your review of research in sections. Imagine you are studying urban gardens in Detroit. Your literature review might have three sections: studies of race and transnationalism; key debates in food studies; overview of literatures on urban gardens and activism.

This section can extend the key texts that informed your syllabus and/or practicum.

Your literature review should be 15+ pages.

Methodology or Methodologies

This section will outline your methodology or methodologies: interviews, data collection, discourse analysis, textual analysis, and so on. You may combine methods and, for example, do interviews and a close analysis of media sources or a discourse analysis of poetry combined with a Foucauldian study of films. If you are uncertain about your methodology discuss it with your supervisor.

It is recommended that you clearly outline your analytical sites in this section: what (where) are you analyzing? If we return to the example of urban gardens you might include a paragraph that points to your interviewees, two garden sites in Detroit, media narratives that have focussed on urban gardening in Michigan, and Jamaica Kincaid’s discussion of gardens in her novel Lucy.  

You can include an abridged portion of your GREB application in your methods section.

Your methodology-methodologies section can also be divided into sections and it should be about 5+ pages long.

Ethical Considerations

Does your dissertation have any ethical issues to consider? Here, too, you can include an abridged version of your GREB application. Depending on your method, this section can run from one line (“no ethical considerations”) to about 1-page. 

Breakdown of Research Program

If you are writing a monograph, provide a chapter breakdown. If you are writing publishable essays, provide 2-3 sentences about each article. If you are writing a portfolio, provide details about each component of your research program.


Provide a timeline that spans from “writing proposal” (Fall Year Two) to “dissertation defense” (Spring/Summer Year Four). This section should be about 1-page and can include research trips, conferences, and other potential sites that will complement your dissertation studies.

NB: If you are struggling, remember to check in with your supervisor. There are several reference books on “How to Write a Dissertation Proposal” at Stauffer Library that are really helpful, too.

Doctoral Research and Evaluation

After successfully completing all coursework, including GNDS 950, and the Syllabus, Proposal and Proposal Defence, students are advanced to candidacy for the PhD and begin doctoral research.

During years three and four, students conduct original research and prepare written components of the dissertation under the guidance of the supervisor.

Students preparing a Manuscript or Portfolio Dissertation submit the first chapter / component for supervisory review in Winter Year 3, the second in Spring/Summer Year 3, the third in Fall Year 4, and the complete dissertation in Winter Year 4.

Students preparing a Monograph Dissertation submit a rough draft of the complete dissertation in Fall Year 4, and the complete dissertation in Winter Year 4.

The dissertation moves to defence in Spring / Summer term of the Year 4. The PhD examination follows the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation Examining Committee

After the student advances to candidacy and before a completed dissertation is submitted, the student in consultation with the supervisor begin to plan the composition of the Dissertation Examining Committee. Normally the supervisory committee members continue onto this committee, but they may withdraw or the student and supervisor may choose to ask additional faculty members to serve.

In final form, the Dissertation Examining Committee consists of the supervisor, two faculty from Gender Studies (unless an exception was previously approved), an Internal/External Examiner (from Queen’s University, but outside of Gender Studies) and an External Examiner (from outside of Queen’s University).