Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Five College Programs & Certificates

Five College Programs & Certificates


Five College Queer and Sexuality Studies Certificate Program

The Five College Queer and Sexuality Studies certificate provides an opportunity to pursue a course of study that examines critically the relationship between queer sexual and gender identities, experiences, cultures, and communities in a wide range of historical and political contexts. Working across disciplines, students will take courses in a variety of fields, such as Women’s and Gender Studies, Black Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, Latin American Studies, Art and the History of Art, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Film and Media Studies, Law, and language studies. The certificate will also lead students to investigate how non-normative and normative genders and sexualities intersect with other social categories, such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and nationality.

To obtain a Five College certificate in Queer and Sexuality Studies, students must successfully complete a total of seven courses, including one introductory course, at least one critical race and transnational studies course, and five other courses. The five courses must include at least two courses in the arts/humanities and two courses in the social/natural sciences, and at least one of the five courses must be an upper-level (300 or above) course.

Introductory Courses: Queer studies as an academic field grew in dialogue with women’s and gender studies. Both address the intersections among gender, race, class and sexuality in multiple contexts. Taking an introductory course assures that students are solidly grounded in an understanding of the (political, intellectual and institutional) genealogies of these overlapping fields and the debates within, and sometimes between, them.

Introductory Courses (choose one of the following)

  • Introduction to Gender Studies (GNDST 101, Mount Holyoke)
  • Introduction to Sexuality Studies (WOMENSST 294D, UMass)
  • Introduction to the Study of Women and Gender (SWG 150, Smith)
  • Issues in Queer Studies (SWG 100, Smith)
  • Introduction to Queer Studies (SWG 220, Smith)

Critical Race and Transnational Studies: Queer studies scholars challenge the isolation of sexuality from other aspects of social life and examine the boundaries not only of sexuality and gender, but also of race and nation. Queer approaches emphasize the variability of sexual meanings, categories and identities across social groups, cultures and histories. Taking at least one course in which queer studies is combined with critical race and ethnic studies or addresses transnational perspectives ensures that students’ understandings of queer studies are not parochial or narrowly confined to dominant (U.S., white) cultural queer lives, communities and expressions.

Critical Race and Transnational Studies Courses (choose at least one of the following)

  • Anti-Humanism and Gay Writing (ROMLG 375/GNDST 333, Mount Holyoke)
  • Asian Homosexualities (JAPANESE 197N, UMass)
  • Black Sexualities (WAGS 330/BLST 236, Amherst)
  • Queer Black Studies: An Introduction (SWG 201, Smith)
  • Queer Kinship in Asian North America (GNDST 334/ENGL 334/AMST 301, Mount Holyoke)
  • The Dao of Sex: Sexuality in China, Past and Present (WAGS 205/ASLC 328, Amherst)
  • The Middle Ages Today: Queer Iberia and North Africa (SPN 332, Smith)

Queering the Humanities: Queer studies has broadened the questions posed in the humanities by examining the cultural expressions of openly queer-identified people, as well as addressing how queer sexualities and lives are (and have been) represented in literature, theater, film and the visual arts. Students taking two courses in this area are able to pursue such themes as representations of sexuality in novels before and after the emergence of LGBTQ movements; the emergence of life writing or memoir as a way for marginalized groups to claim the “right to write”; and the queering of time through sex, art, ritual and kinship. They encounter such questions as: What do we gain and lose by recruiting earlier authors into identities that they would not have recognized or admitted? How can artistic productions constitute political interventions?

Other Courses—Arts/Humanities (choose at least two of the following)

  • Contemporary Novel: Sexuality and History (ENG 314, Amherst)
  • Cultural Work of Memoir (SWG 260, Smith)
  • Documenting Lesbian Lives (SWG 270, Smith)
  • Fem/Queer Theory through Film (FLMST 290, Mount Holyoke)
  • Queer Canons (WAGS 331, Amherst)
  • Queering the Curriculum: A Critical Approach to Teaching LGBTQ Topics in K-12 Schools (X.EDUC-222, Mount Holyoke)
  • Sexuality and Women’s Writing (GNDST 204/ENGL 286, Mount Holyoke)
  • Victorian Sexualities (ENG 284, Smith)
  • Video I: Queer Looks (HACU 0209, Hampshire)

Queering the Social Sciences: Within this rubric, students explore the history, legal status, politics and sociology of queer lives and communities. They have the opportunity to examine gender and sexuality, intertwined with race, as subjects of theoretical investigation and historically constructed in ways that have made possible various forms of regulation and scrutiny today. Students are also able to explore forms of resistance (and backlash) that have emerged to challenge (or reinforce) the normative assumptions of state control over sexuality and gender expression, asking such questions as: Why do traditional views of gender and sexuality still resonate in the modern world, helping to shape legislation and public opinion and creating substantial barriers to cultural and political change? They are invited to explore constructions of queer collective identities, communities and activism.

Other Courses—Social/Natural Sciences (choose at least two of the following)

  • Anthropology of Sexualities (ANTHRO 331, Mount Holyoke)
  • Gender and Sexuality in South Asia (WOMENSST 397C, UMass)
  • GLBT History and Politics (SWG 205, Smith)
  • Politics of Gender and Sexuality (GOV 269, Smith)
  • Psychology of the GLB Experience (PSYCH 391ZZ, UMass)
  • Queer Cases (SS 0116, Hampshire)
  • Queer Resistances: Identities, Communities and Social Movements (SWG 312, Smith)
  • Seminar in Political Theory: Queer Theory (GOV 367, Smith)
  • Sex and Gender in American Society (SOC 229, Smith)
  • Sex, Science, and Politics (SOCIOL 391A, UMass)
  • Sexuality and Society (SOCIOL 387, UMass)
  • Special Topics in the Study of Women and Gender: Unruly Bodies (SWG 300, Smith)
  • Independent Study: Supervised research in any relevant discipline.

In addition to the courses listed above, other classes may be accepted at the discretion of the Five College Queer and Sexuality Studies Steering Committee.

For the application form and other particulars, including the courses that will count toward the certificate, go to

For 2020-21 the Amherst faculty advisor will be Professor Khary Polk of the Departments of Black Studies and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies.

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