Our MA in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice is designed to inspire students who are passionate about integrating social justice and spiritual transformation. We honor the spiritual impulses that have guided movements for equality and justice across the globe, and we believe that activism can be a form of sacred practice. This MA is best suited to those who are interested in developing a visionary approach to their work as activists, educators, healers, facilitators, artists, and socially conscious entrepreneurs.

Areas of Scholarship

Students are invited to develop an individualized focus of study within these broad areas of scholarship:

  • Ecofeminism/ecology
  • Women in world religions
  • Mysteries, sacred arts, and healing
  • Diversity and social justice 
  • Spiritual activism and Leadership

Personal Inquiry

We also encourage students to engage in a process of deep academic and personal inquiry as they explore questions such as the following:

  • How can we recover the religious and spiritual voices of women and other historically marginalized groups?
  • How do our religious and symbolic systems shape and reflect gendered and racialized hierarchies of power?
  • What role have spirituality and religion played in women's movements and related social justice movements around the world?
  • How do we integrate ecological justice and reverence for the Earth into our spiritual and political practices?

Students are invited to develop their own questions, born of their interests and experiences. For example, an individualized focus of study might be

  • Ecofeminism and the Abrahamic religions
  • Multicultural women's spiritual leadership
  • The role of sacred arts in movements for social justice

Degree Formats

Our MA requires 36 units of coursework.

Our semi-distance learning format offers students from all over the US and the world the opportunity to study with us. In this format, students must earn 19 units of face-to-face credit. The other 17 units of required coursework may be taken online. This option takes five semesters of full-time study.

Students can earn face-to-face credit by attending intensives and by taking residential courses and independent studies. 

To earn the needed face-to-face units, students should plan to travel to campus three to four times a year.

Our program also offers three-unit hybrid courses, in which 1 unit counts as face-to-face credits, and two units are online credits. The student completes the one unit of face-to-face credit in a two-day block and earns the remaining units in the online classroom over the rest of the semester.

Our program offers two intensives each year, one at the beginning of each of the fall and spring semesters. The intensives are six to eight days long, with about eight hours each day spent in class. These intensives are designed especially for semi-distance learning students. During the intensive, students may receive up to three units of in-person classes in one trip to San Francisco.

Accelerated BA to MA Degree Program

The Bachelors Completion program at CIIS offers you the opportunity to complete your Bachelor's degree in two years or less. CIIS also offers an accelerated BA to MA/MFA degree. This track offers students the opportunity to complete their BA while simultaneously completing credits towards their MA/MFA degree. Our MA is one of the options within this track.

Course of Study

The master's curriculum consists of 36 units.

I. Required foundational courses (14 units)

  • Foundational Elements of Academic Research and Writing (1 unit)
  • Critical and Liberatory Methods of Inquiry (2 units)
  • Building Conscious Allyship (1 unit)
  • Sacred Lineages: Goddesses, Foremothers, and Activists (3 units)
  • Spirit, Compassion, and Community Activism (1 unit)
  • Womanist, Feminist, and Decolonial Worldviews (3 units)
  • Spiritual Activism and Transformative Social Change (3 units)

II. Directed electives (13 units)
With consultation of the academic advisor, students take courses in the women's spirituality program that support their primary areas of academic and professional interest.

III. General electives (6 units)
Students take six units from any program at CIIS; up to three of these units can be from Public Programs workshops taken for academic credit.

IV. MA Integrative Seminar (3 units)
In this course, students are mentored in the preparation of a portfolio or advanced research paper. Students draw together the knowledge, insights, and skills of their coursework, and especially of their chosen area of study. They work with the library to refine their research skills. They review relevant methodologies and issues of epistemology in preparation for the completion of the degree.

Course descriptions may be found in the Women's Spirituality section of the Academic Catalog.

MA Learning Outcomes

Goal One: Integrate and apply knowledge in women, gender, spirituality, and social justice to academic scholarship and real-world problems
Students in our program will learn to integrate in-depth knowledge of foundational concepts in a chosen area of focus into scholarly papers and presentations. Students will analyze and articulate a complex and nuanced understanding of the connections among women's studies, gender studies, spiritual traditions and movements, and social justice movements. Students will also conduct interdisciplinary research that values multiple ways of knowing,  and will apply a critical feminist lens to interrogate the construction of knowledge and social systems.

Goal Two: Engage in conscious transformation of self and society
Upon completion of our program, students will be able to critically articulate their positionality within various communities, histories, and cultures, while analyzing relative privilege, power, oppression, and marginalization within various local and global communities. Our program strives to help students examine and articulate their spiritual growth and transformation, integrating a reflection of personal spiritual values with a commitment to social transformation.

Goal Three: Apply learning toward professional and/or community contexts
Before they graduate, students will create and present a culminating body of work that demonstrates the ability to present their knowledge in professional and scholarly contexts. Through this work, students will connect scholarly and theoretical interests with social advocacy and other modes of employment. Lastly, students will be able to (1) demonstrate presentation and facilitation skills in the classroom and through other academic, cultural, or artistic events; (2) demonstrate effective academic writing skills in a style appropriate to the discipline; and (3) demonstrate media literacy.

"I change myself, I change the world." —Gloria E. Anzaldua

Questions about Admissions or Our Program?

Admissions Counselor: Danielle Niakaros
dniakaros@ciis.edu, 415.575.6291

Program Coordinator: Violeta V Krasnic
vkrasnic@ciis.edu 415.575.6255

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