Master of Arts in Gender and Women’s Studies in the Middle East/North Africa

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The graduate program in Gender and Women’s studies prepares graduates for a wide variety of professional careers. Specialists in gender and women’s studies are being hired as consultants in international development agencies, local NGO’s, national government agencies, all of which hire people that have special training in understanding gender relations. Students wishing to pursue doctoral work will find that interdisciplinary training in gender and women’s studies equips them with theoretical and methodological strengths in most disciplines and applied research fields. Consistent with the mission of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Gender and Women’s. The Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies offers an interdisciplinary two-year Master of Arts degree. 

The MA is divided into three areas of specialization:

Specialization 1: Gendered Political Economies

The specialization in gendered political economies engages with shifts in the gendering of economic and political trajectories of late modernity. It deals with issues relating to poverty, labor politics, political economies of desire, migration, mobility and development histories and practices. The aim is to provide students with a solid grounding in the nexus between gender and modalities for reorganizing the political-economic order in the contemporary world.

Specialization 2: Gender and Women's Studies in the Middle East, North Africa 

The gender and women's studies in the Middle East, North Africa focus offers an interdisciplinary field of analysis that draws its questions and approaches from the social sciences and humanities, by investigating how relations of gender are embedded in social, political and cultural formations. It provides students with an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective, with special emphasis on situating the Middle East and North African region in a comparative Global South perspective.

Specialization 3: Geographies of Gender and Justice

The geographies of gender and justice specialization offers advanced study of contemporary practices and problems of justice, ranging from international justice regimes to national legal cultures to social and economic justice claims, with a particular focus on the Global South.

The primary goal of IGWS is to prepare students for further academic work. IGWS MA graduates are currently pursuing their PhDs at premier educational institutions worldwide including Brown, University of Texas at Austin, CUNY, University of California at Irvine, University of Western Cape and Utrecht University. The MA also provides opportunities for working on gender-related issues in international organizations and NGOs. Currently, Students are working in regional office of Oxford, UN Women and local NGOs across the region.

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    Students Testimonials

    Yasemin Ozer '11

    "Combining theory with hands-on fieldwork, the GMNA program has prepared me for both academic life after the master's degree, should I choose to continue with a PhD, as well as practical applications of my studies if I decide to work in the field. For me, another very important aspect of the GMNA program is that it offers as a truly interdisciplinary curriculum. During my two years in the program, I was able to select a diversity of courses on gender, each taught from the perspective of a different discipline including sociology, anthropology, law and urban studies. Approaching gender from such a multiplicity of disciplines and discourses has enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the fundamental issues that constitute the academic field of gender and women's studies in the MENA region, including in that of my country, Turkey."


    Alexandra Schindler '12

    "My time at the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies at AUC has been a wonderful experience. I have felt, from the moment I entered the program, the full support and guidance of my professors, both inside and outside of the classroom. My professors’ willingness to work closely with students on their projects is really exceptional in my experience. In addition, I found my classes intellectually stimulating, and I felt as though the diverse set of subjects offered an excellent background for students with various interests. My fellow students in the program are all working on exciting projects and it has been a pleasure to also learn from their own academic endeavors. All in all, IGWS has been a very positive academic and intellectual experience."

    Anna Dowell '12

    "I entered AUC’s anthropology masters program to study religious ideology and everyday life and, as I was interested in focusing on gendered subjectivities, I took my electives through IGWS. My research interests quickly moved away from gender analysis and now revolve around public religion, secularism, and the institutionalized discourses that mobilize religious subjectivities toward engagement with the state and civil society. I continued, however, to take courses in IGWS because of the range of critical theory to which I was introduced. I have taken away from my time at AUC, and in my IGWS electives specifically, a greater understanding of both the contemporary moment in Egypt and the greater Middle East and a better grasp of the contemporary state of scholarship on the region.  These broad conceptual apparatuses have allowed me to do more sophisticated work on understanding how religious institutions are implicated in the flow of global finance capital, state regulation, wider political discourses, and the framing of academic writing on the region."

    Sarah Hawas '11

    "The Institute for Gender and Women's Studies is an indispensable center for the study of gender not only in the region but across the global south, offering outstanding graduate training in a post-disciplinary environment that promotes socially engaged and politically committed research. My training at IGWS equipped me with key advanced skills and intellectual frameworks for the synthesis of critical theory, critical political economy and contemporary questions in the social sciences and humanities, and my experiences at IGWS continue to challenge me to contribute to the construction of grassroots knowledge economies. The courses are rigorous and comprehensive, privileging theoretical foundations, local histories and genealogies, as well as empirical studies, with a philosophy of gendering knowledge and disciplines, rather than disciplining or instrumentalizing categories of social inquiry. The South-South focus of the center is grounded in the study of contemporary global conditions and a keen appreciation for historical studies and travelling theory, speaking to structural issues as well as local questions of social change. IGWS is, above all, a unique and exceptionally nurturing community where the process of knowledge production is emphatically collective yet deeply invested in personal growth and a commitment to autonomous intellectual labor. At IGWS, faculty members and students work closely together in classes as well as in fieldwork. Students are guaranteed regular, attentive feedback and unparalleled access to an incredibly rich global network of cutting edge researchers. The world-class facilities of The American University in Cairo are supplemented in IGWS with an international team boasting some of the most passionate and challenging faculty members and researchers, making the center a delightful space where any visit guarantees an exhilarating educational experience."

    Parsa Bastani '14

    "IGWS is an ideal masters program to submerse oneself in intensive graduate instruction, with a strong focus on the global south. There are few other master's programs with accessible and distingushed faculty members that allow for intersectional and theoretical engagements with gender studies. The core courses allow for a firm grounding in gender studies, while the electives allow students to explore coursework in law, history, anthropology, sociology and literature departments. I enjoyed the flexibility of the program to shape my own intellectual trajectory and explore the various disciplinary stakes in concepts of gender, feminism and sexuality. Notable is the program’s emphasis on fieldwork. In the program, we complement our in-class learning with sustained fieldwork that culminates in a master’s thesis. Having chosen Cairo as my field site, I was able to develop the necessary connections, relationships and language skills as I took courses at AUC to carry out original and unique research. Especially for those interested in having the opportunity to understand the dynamism and complexity of Cairo, IGWS provides the expertise and mentorship to situate intellectual interests within exploratory fieldwork. While a focus on urbanism and Egypt are strengths of IGWS, there are many resources for those interested in exploring other parts of the global south, including the Arab world and Iran. I feel completely prepared to enter a PhD program in the fall, and I believe my experience in putting into conversation what I learned from the field, with the literature more broadly, will help me tremendously in producing quality doctoral work."

    Shaza Abdel-Lateef '14

    "My time at IGWS was an exceptional experience that changed my life. It was not only an academic experience, but also an intellectual and human journey that changed the ways in which I perceive the world. The IGWS graduate program introduced me to a diverse body of literature that engaged gender issues from a broad range of interdisciplinary perspectives providing analytical tools that taught me how to think critically. From my first days in the program I was impressed by the support, understanding and encouragement of my professors who work with students,b oth inside and outside the classroom. They left a strong imprint on my life with their solidarity, even after graduation. My experience at IGWS would not have been the same without their generous support. My MA in gender studies was also a turning point in my career as it prepared me to work in an international institution, and furthermore provided me with an excellent theoretical and empirical foundation that will assist me in applying for a PhD program in the near future."