Multidisciplinary Training in Gender, Sexuality, and Health

Background | Program | Admission | Advisement | Application | Financial Support | Contact

The nation’s first multidisciplinary doctoral training program in gender, sexuality, and health, the Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health fellowship leads to a PhD degree awarded by Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). This unique program prepares students for research and teaching careers focusing on the role of gender and sexuality in shaping reproductive and sexual health, both in the United States and abroad. The program is funded by the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Fellowships cover tuition and stipend and include support for professional meeting travel and academic supplies. Funding is guaranteed for up to five years (although students are encouraged to seek outside funding for their dissertation research). Applicants must apply to and be accepted by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and approved by the Columbia Deparment in their chosen discipline before a training fellowship can be offered.

Background

The Department of Sociomedical Sciences has long been a pioneer in research on the social dimensions of gender and sexuality. As early as the 1980s, with the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, social scientists at Columbia had already begun to make important contributions to the field. Studies involving sex and gender were developed (e.g., the late John Martin's pioneering cohort study of the effect of HIV/AIDS on gay men in New York City; Richard Parker's groundbreaking ethnographic study of the construction of sexualities in Brazil; Ronald Bayer's comparative work on AIDS in the industrialized democracies) along with a range of relevant courses. These activities catalyzed research around questions of gender and sexuality during the early and mid-1980s and the 1990s.

The Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality and Health reflects the Department's substantial concentration of faculty and global intellectual leadership in gender, sexuality and health. Distinguished faculty whose research falls in this area include Jennifer S. Hirsch, Mark Hatzenbuehler, Peter Messeri, Constance A. Nathanson, Richard G. Parker, Karolynn Siegel, Marni Sommer, Patrick Wilson and Gina Wingood, all internationally-recognized scholars in the field. The program draws as well on important institutional resources and faculty on the Morningside Campus (e.g., the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality), the CUMC campus (the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies), and the newly created cross-campus Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Council.

PROGRAM OF STUDY

Predoctoral fellows must apply and be to the PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and must fulfill the general requirements for this degree program as well as requirements specific to the fellowship program. At the time of application, candidates select a concentration in one of five social sciences: anthropology history, political science, psychology or sociology.

Students entering the program with a BA complete 60 credits during the first three years of residency. Half the courses are taken within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' disciplinary department of their choice, the other half in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and other Mailman School departments. Students entering with an MPH or social science MA apply for advanced standing for up to 30 credits that may be distributed between public health and social science courses.

Predoctoral Fellows complete both general requirements for all SMS PhD students and those specific to the Fellowship Program.

REQUIREMENTS

The requirements specific to the Fellowship Program are:

  1. P9719 Critical Perspectives on Research in Gender, Sexuality, and Health.
  2. One of two courses in conceptual and research approaches to sexuality:
    P8709 Seminar in Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights
    P8736 Theories and Perspectives on Sexuality and Health *
  3. A course in research ethics (usually POPF P9630 Research Ethics & Public Health)*
  4. Attendance at the ongoing faculty-trainee Seminar in Gender, Sexuality and Health.
  5. Either an annual presentation at the Seminar or written commentary on one or more seminar presentations.
  6. A research apprenticeship supervised by program faculty
  7. Doctoral research and dissertation focused on a topic in gender, sexuality and health.

*Courses required for the Predoctoral Fellowship program are counted towards the sequence of 30 public health credits.

Like the doctoral program, the Predoctoral Fellowship admits students for only full-time enrollment. Students entering with a BA normally enroll for four or five courses per semester for the first two years of graduate studies, or for the first year in the case of students entering with an MA. Summer months are devoted primarily to research activity. Students entering with a BA are expected to complete their course work and comprehensive examination during the first three years of residency. Students entering with an MA are expected to complete these requirements in two years. The dissertation usually takes between two and three more years.

Admission Qualifications

Applicants must meet requirements for admission to Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from which they will be awarded the PhD degree upon successful completion of study. Applications are reviewed initially by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences' doctoral committee and then independently by the graduate department of their disciplinary choice (e.g., anthropology, history, psychology or sociology).

Only applicants acceptable to both departments will be considered for the Predoctoral Fellowship program. Prior experience in one or more social or behavioral sciences or history is strongly preferred. Students with a master’s degree in public health or a social science discipline may apply for advanced standing equivalent to up to a year of course work.

In selecting the fellows, the Department of Sociomedical Sciences will consider performance in undergraduate and/or graduate courses; standardized exam performance (Graduate Record Examination scores taken within the previous five years); letters of recommendation; research or published papers; fit with departmental areas of scientific strength; and other relevant experience. In their personal statement, applicants should clearly state their interest in gender and sexuality and briefly outline a prospective area of research for their doctoral dissertation.

Application Process

Students should visit the Apply page for additional information on the application process. Applicants should be sure to note on the application an interest in the Predoctoral Fellowship and to discuss this interest in the personal statement. Admission applications must be submitted by December 1. Columbia University does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, race, gender, or any other characteristic. Minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Advisement

The Predoctoral Fellowship brings together distinguished scholars in the fields of gender and sexuality from the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and from other academic departments at both the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Fellows will be assigned a faculty advisor who matches their research interests and who will oversee their fellowship progress. Many students will collaborate with more than one faculty member over the course of their training.

Student Financial Support

The Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality and Health covers: tuition, plus an annual stipend of approximately $21,000 (readjusted yearly by the funder); health insurance; computer fees; and limited professional meeting travel. Although support is guaranteed for five years, fellows are encouraged to and provided assistance with applying for additional funding to cover dissertation research and writing.

Contact

For further information about the fellowship program email:

Constance A. Nathanson
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC
212-305-1593
can2003@columbia.edu

Peter Messeri
Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at CUMC
212-305-1549
pam9@columbia.edu

Jennifer S. Hirsch
Professor and Deputy Chair of Doctoral Studies, Sociomedical Sciences
212 305-1185
jsh2124@columbia.edu

Andrea Constancio
Academic Program Coordinator
212-342-0287
ac995@columbia.edu