Our Master of Arts in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice is designed to inspire students who are passionate about integrating social justice, ecological healing, 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 online format draws students from across the U.S. and the world and includes both synchronous and asynchronous virtual classrooms.
  • Our Master's degree requires 36 units of coursework and can be completed in two full-time years or three part-time years.
  • Our required 6-day residential Fall and Spring Intensives allows students to meet their faculty and peers while enjoying the treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Students can also connect during optional Spring Retreats and end-of-year Commencement Celebrations.

Course of Study

The master's curriculum consists of 36 units.

I. Required foundational courses (15 units)

  • Writing that Matters: Foundational Skills for Transformative Scholarship (2 units)
  • 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 (12 units)
With consultation of the academic advisor, students take courses that support their primary areas of academic and professional interest.

III. General electives (6 units)
Students take six units from any program at CIIS, depending on availability. 

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.

Painting representing Gloria E. Anzaldua wearing a large brown hat, whose values inspire the MA in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice at California Institutes of Integral Studies "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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