Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS) doctor of philosophy (PhD) program offers interdisciplinary study and research leading to a doctorate. The program provides a strong academic approach, with core courses on feminist theory and methodology and a blend of advanced studies in specific fields, as well as directed readings for more individualized study. Students develop and demonstrate intellectual and analytical skills, in accordance with the particular criteria of the level of study, and in consultation with their senior supervisor and supervisory committee.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. Applicants must satisfy the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies graduate program committee that they are prepared academically to undertake doctoral work in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies.

Program Requirements

This program consists of courses, comprehensive exams, and a thesis for a minimum of 33 units. The graduate committee, in consultation with the student's supervisory committee, may require a student to complete additional courses, either to obtain breadth of background in gender, sexuality, and women's studies, participate in the professional development colloquia or to acquire specific preparation in the topic of the student's proposed thesis.

Students must complete

and an additional three graduate courses*

and comprehensive examinations

and a thesis

*Two of these courses may be from gender, sexuality, and women's studies courses at the universities under the Western Deans' Agreement or relevant offerings in other Simon Fraser University departments, with the approval of the student's supervisory committee. Students who have completed the SFU or UBC Master of Arts program before admission to the doctoral program will not be permitted to duplicate graduate courses that they completed during their MA programs.

Application Procedure

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has recently implemented an online application procedure.

Apply using the online application system. Note that there is an application fee.

It is important to understand that this online application is only one part of the requirements for the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies PhD application package. 

Application Package

  1. Letters of reference from three people who are familiar with you and qualifes to evaluate your capacity for graduate academic work. Note that we do not provide reference forms, so the letters of reference must include complete contact information for the referees.
  2. Applicants are required to upload digital transcripts (e.g. scanned copy, photocopy etc) showing course titles and grading scales as part of the online application. Please note that all transcripts uploaded by applicants are considered unofficial. Official transcripts are required only after an offer of admission is made and they should be sent directly to Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows. Official transcripts showing degree completion are required prior to enrolling at SFU. We recommend submitting your transcripts approximately 2 months prior to your first term (If you previously attended SFU, you do not need to submit official SFU transcripts.) For more details about the requirements for official transcripts via mail or email, please see:
  3. 750 to 1200 word statement of your proposed area of study. This should include a proposed topic, and a description of the approach you wish to take, including main academic fields of study.
  4. short curriculum vita showing relevant course work, employment and volunteer work.
  5. sample of your scholarly work, such as a graduate level essay, an essay prepared especially for this application, a substantive portion of your honours thesis (if applicable) or samples of any academic publications.
  6. If your first language is not English then an original TOEFL certificate or IELTS is required.  International applicants will not be required to complete an English-language test if they have completed a degree at an institution where the language of instruction and examination was in English in a country where English is the primary language. Please see:

For a list of SFU Graduate Awards and Entrance Scholarships, please see

Please Note

Unless you are a Canadian Citizen or Landed Immigrant, your work opportunities as a graduate student will be limited to employment on campus. We cannot, and will not in the future be able to, provide support for all our students.

Important Notice

Application deadline:
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
(Fall 2024 start)

Applications Open:
Thursday, November 2, 2023

For information on how to submit transcripts, please visit the Dean of Graduate Studies website
click here

Please submit supporting documents as per online application instructions.


Chair of the GSWS Graduate Program Committee: Dr. Jen Marchbank -
Department Contact: Department Secretary -