What is gender studies?
Gender studies is a field that examines the social and cultural constructions of gender, analyzing how it shapes our identities, experiences, and relationships. It is an interdisciplinary field by nature as gender identity and representation is present in some way or form in all other domains, from literature to medicine.
Gender studies is becoming more and more relevant to current times and attending a program would be beneficial, particularly if you intend to pursue subjects in the humanities like history, political science, or sociology.
How should you choose a gender studies course?
As with any program, you should choose a gender studies course that aligns with your interests, goals and learning style. It’s best to start by looking at how a gender studies program can support your academics or your career. For example, if you aim to work in the field of social justice and advocacy, it makes sense to study gender through a leadership or law and public policy program. If you’re keener on academia, a research-intensive program is preferable over a seminar one.
A guide to our top ten gender studies program
Since we understand that each individual student’s needs are different, we have prioritized variety while curating this list. We have looked at how gender is approached in the list and offered a comprehensive range. Some explore the topic from the overall lens of sociology while others look at niche subjects like women and rock music. Some are theoretical while others offer practical experience. There’s even one internship on this list!
Here are ten gender studies programs for high school students:
1. Smith College’s Pre-college Program on Women, Gender and Representation
Location: On campus
Financial assistance: Limited financial aid is available
Application deadline: May 15, 2023 or whenever the program reaches capacity, whichever is earlier
Program dates: July 23, 2023 – August 5, 2023
Eligibility: Open to young women, female-identified or gender-nonconforming students entering grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 in fall 2023
Smith College’s course on gender studies is a great way to study it in intersection with other areas of research. This program offers a range of courses to choose from, with each one taking an interdisciplinary approach with a specific subject. Courses explore the role of gender in science fiction, history, sport, rock music, reproductive justice and transnationalism. Being a relatively selective program, the application requires a letter of recommendation, transcript and personal essay.
Location: The program has locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Newark
Stipend: Depending on participation students could receive a stipend
Financial assistance: NA
Application deadline: April 17, 2023, but priority is given to applications received before April 3, 2023
Program dates: July 5, 2023 – August 11, 2023
Eligibility: Open to young women and gender-expansive youth who are living in New York City or Newark, no academic criteria
Primarily a leadership program, you would spend these six weeks attending workshops (on topics like identity and social justice that promote critical thinking), meeting women and gender-expansive leaders from various industries and going on field trips! Previous courses in this program have included an Anthropology of Gender class.
Barnard College’s Young Women’s Leadership Institute also has a Sociology and Gender Studies track that similarly studies gender from a leadership point of view while also studying its role in politics, culture and economics.
Location: On campus
Fee: $5,375 for the pre-college program and anywhere between $3,600–$13,750 for the secondary school program
Financial assistance: Need-based scholarships awards are available.
Application deadline: April 17, 2023, but priority is given to application received before April 3, 2023
Program dates: Three two-week sessions available between June 25, 2023 – August 4, 2023, for the pre-college program and June 17, 2023 - August 5, 2023, for the secondary school program
Eligibility: Open to students between the ages of 16 and 18. Must graduate in 2024 or 2025 for the pre-college program and in 2023, 2024, or 2025 for the secondary school program
Harvard offers gender studies courses in both, its two-week Pre-college Program and its seven-week Secondary School Program. You could consider applying for either of these if you’re keen on learning about gender in a specific context, as opposed to a broad field of study. The course options include ‘Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies’, ‘The Intellectual Economy of Pants: Fashion, Gender, and Power’, and ‘Race, Gender, and Youth Activism in the Struggle for Justice’. The SSP lets you choose multiple courses up to eight credits while you can only cover one for the Pre-college Program.
Location: On campus with commuter and residential options
Fee: $5,025 for the commuter track, $7,624 for the residential track
Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available based on need, qualifications and availability.
Application deadline: March 15, 2023
Program dates: June 20, 2023 – August 4, 2023
Eligibility: Open to 10th and 11th grade students who have a minimum GPA of 3.8 and have attended a minimum of 12 academic semester courses
Itching to do some hands-on research instead of attending lectures? UC Santa Barbara’s Research Mentorship Program will match you with a specific research project and mentor. You will learn to engage in fieldwork and research a topic using a number of different tools. The program includes anthropology and sociology in its areas of research and topics on gender studies have been previously worked on.
Location: On-campus, commuter, and online tracks available
Fee: Between $2,707 - $8,011 depending on the chosen track and length of the course
Financial assistance: Four scholarships available with different eligibility criteria
Application deadline: May 12, 2023
Program dates: June 25, 2023 – July 28, 2023
Eligibility: Open to students completing the 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade before June 18, 2023
‘Gender, Race and Class in Medical Research and Practice’, ‘Fashion, Gender and Textiles in the Modern Age’, ‘Crime and Punishment in the US: How Race, Gender and Class Matter’ — Brown University’s pre-college program has several gender-related courses that explore one facet of it in-depth. Alternatively, you could also opt for the university’s Leadership Institute which has a Women and Leadership option. The course explores gender, feminism, and leadership while also giving students an opportunity to craft an action plan for a solution to a social issue.
Fee: $8,040 for one-course unit and $13,050 for two
Financial assistance: Limited scholarships available for students of the City of Philadelphia public high school or charter high school
Application deadline: May 1, 2023
Program dates: June 29, 2023 – August 4, 2023
Eligibility: Open to students in the 10th and 11th grades
Taking a sociological approach, this online program closely studies sex, gender and sexuality and the impact they have on both, individuals and communities. Perception, freedom, opportunities, and organizations of homes and offices, each bear a mark of this influence. Ideal for those who want to study from home, you will study this course through classes, assignments, and exams. In the end, you will even receive transferable college credit!
Location: Orono, Maine
Financial assistance: NA
Application deadline: None
Dates: TYEF prefers students doing year-long internships over short-term ones
Eligibility: Students who are passionate about transgender rights and activism and have a complex understanding of gender
There’s no better way to expand your knowledge on gender and gender identities than by working within a foundation like TYEF, which provides education, advocacy, and support to transgender youth. As a TYEF intern, you would work closely with all parts of the team and even be given the opportunity to attend conferences like Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and TYEF’s own youth retreat. The foundation promises an overall enriching experience.
Location: On campus at John Hopkins University
Fee: $6,199 for the residential track and $5,399 for the commuter track
Financial assistance: Limited financial aid is available.
Application deadline: May 19, 2023
Program dates: Session 1 from June 25, 2023 – July 14, 2023, Session 2 from July 16, 2023 – August 4, 2023
Eligibility: Open to students between the 9th and 12th grades
If you'd like to hone your critical thinking skills by scrutinizing the gender binary and its implications, then this is an ideal program for you. Hosted by the non-profit organization the Center for Talented Youth, this program offers well-rounded instruction as its curriculum consists of essays, debates and multimedia projects. There is a heavy emphasis on analytical thinking and learning to construct arguments. But keep in mind the program is highly selective and requires specific test results.
Location: University of Southern California
Financial assistance: NA
Application deadline: March 31, 2023
Program dates: June 19, 2023 – July 14, 2023
Eligibility: Open to 9th, 10th, and 11th graders who reside and attend high school in Los Angeles County
USC Annenberg’s prestigious program explores the role of media and journalism in civics, leadership and social issues like race and gender. As part of a 26-student cohort, you will refine your writing, interviewing, ethnography and public speaking skills. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore a career in media/journalism while also meeting innovative scholars in the industry.
Application deadline: There are four cohorts throughout the year. Applications are due in February, May, September, and December, respectively. Apply here!
Program dates: There are four cohorts throughout the year in spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Eligibility: All high school students may apply.
Lumiere was founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Hundreds of ambitious high school students do research through the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs. Each student is paired with a top PhD and works with their mentor 1-1 to produce a university-level research paper.
The programs are entirely virtual and vary in duration based on the student’s end goal with respect to how much of a deep dive they would prefer. The research opportunities range from STEM to non-STEM subjects, AI, and business.
Over a hundred students have already done university-level research in gender studies and working on research questions that explore how the impact of the athletic world on society’s views on gender and sex constructs, and the depiction of gender in global cinema - to name a few.
Also, check out the Lumiere Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.
Additionally, If you’re looking for free and easy online programs then check out this Harvard course that explores women’s lives in the 20th century through the study of ten objects.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.