Program Requirements

The online master’s in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice at CIIS requires 36 units of coursework and can be completed in two full-time years or three part-time years. 

Our online format draws students from across the U.S. and the world and includes both synchronous and asynchronous virtual classrooms.

We value our community of Women’s Spirituality scholars. Students attend our mandatory six-day residential intensive at the beginning of the fall semesters 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 (16 units)

  • Writing that Matters: Foundational Skills for Transformative Scholarship
  • Critical Thinking and Liberatory Methods
  • Building Conscious Allyship
  • Sacred Lineages: Goddesses, Foremothers, and Activists
  • Spirit, Compassion, and Community Activism
  • Womanist, Feminist, and Decolonial Worldviews
  • Spiritual Activism and Transformative Social Change

II. Directed electives (11 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. M.A. 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.

Curriculum Highlights 

PARW 6286 Building Conscious Allyship
This course introduces students to some of the basic frameworks that support engagement with diversity in respectful and transformative ways. We will provide a safe space in which students will have the opportunity to review their own social/historical location and explore the connections between spirituality, liberation, and knowledge. Using a diversity of tools and techniques, we will create a forum in which students will deepen their ability to effectively dialogue across differences and begin the process of building meaningful alliances. 

PARW 6421 Animal Ethics: Ecofeminist/Ecowomanist Perspectives
Ancient spiritual wisdom and contemporary scientific findings both refute Descartes’ assertion that nonhuman animals are automatons devoid of consciousness or feeling. Nonetheless, the view of animals as machines undergirds many of our modern practices, such as factory farming and animal experimentation. How have Western philosophical trajectories, economic systems, and linguistic practices led to our ethical myopia concerning animals? What resources do our philosophical and spiritual traditions have to offer as we reconsider our ethical stance toward animals? In addition to exploring these questions, this course will highlight the emergence of veganism as an ethical response to animal exploitation and food injustice. Particular attention will be paid to ecofeminist and ecowomanist analyses of the links among sexism, racism, and speciesism. 

PARW 6425 Gender, Power, and Spirit in Indigenous Cultures
This class will explore the legacy of Indigenous women throughout the world on a path of power (leaders, healers, shamans, ceremonialists) and the spiritual images and stories of the cultural contexts in which they exist. A unique opportunity presents itself to understand the sacred through their spirituality, leadership, practices, and activism. The emphasis of the class will be on exploring Indigenous women’s lives, worldviews, transformations, narratives, and values to uncover recurring Indigenous themes that have global relevance today for our planet and all living beings. These themes will be elucidated didactically and experientially, and there will be opportunities to dialogue and relate in a manner consistent with Indigenous oral traditions and kinship paradigms.

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