June 26, 2006

Women's studies certificate program growing

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Gender scholars are celebrating the success of the graduate certificate program in women's studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

When the women's studies department started handing out graduate certificates in 2003, one student enrolled in the program. For the upcoming fall, enrollment stands at 22.

"I'm really happy with the progress we've made," said M. Joan McDermott, director of the program. "I'm so proud of this program because it's blossomed and graduate students in so many fields are finding it compatible with their interests and goals."

An SIUC graduate student affiliated with any department can apply for the graduate certificate program in women's studies. To fulfill the requirements, the student must take four mandatory and two elective courses in women's studies.

"It takes students out of their own departments to consider gender from different perspectives," said McDermott. Currently there are participants from the sociology, history, psychology, English and political science departments, to name a few.

Moreover, professors from other departments often teach the courses. "We have exceptionally talented faculty. We thank, in particular, the Departments of Speech Communication, Sociology and Psychology," McDermott said. "Women's studies depends on these departments to deliver the courses and I am most appreciative. "

The graduates will use the certificate to compete for jobs in the marketplace. "They find it enhances their resumes and they'll have this credential when they go out and look for jobs," she said.

The director hopes the program continues to grow so that more students experience women's studies.

Achieving excellence in graduate and professional programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.