PhD Program

The PhD in Comparative Gender Studies is a 4-6 year program for students with substantial MA-level background in gender studies theory and methodologies who wish to specialize in interdisciplinary research and teaching in an academic setting. Accredited in both the US and Austria, the program combines elements of North American and European style degrees with coursework, research proposal development, and a Comprehensive Exam in the first year, followed by research and dissertation writing alongside professional development in subsequent years. The program is geared towards preparation for the academic job market, but skills and knowledge attained are also transferable to a number of non-academic careers. This page elaborates on the program's approach and overview. For application information, please see PhD program application information 2024-25the CEU Admissions page, or contact the staff Coordinator for the program: Natalia Versegi, External Programs and Ph.D. Coordinator. For academic inquiries, please contact the Director of the Doctoral Program: Elissa Helms.

Program Objectives

The rationale and design of the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender Studies are theoretical, methodological and practical. 

The program aims to combine theoretical and empirical inquiry into a wide range of gender issues. Its activities and courses facilitate the examination of diversified patterns of gendered social and cultural change. While the program has long supported research on Central and Eastern Europe we have been steadily expanding our areas to places outside of Europe; research projects may address any geographical or theoretical area that is supported by faculty expertise. Whatever regional, methodological, or topical focus students choose, the program helps them understand gender along continua of local and global or national and transnational, through both material and symbolic relations and always with an eye to cross-cutting hierarchies of power. In general, the program trains students to critically analyze gender as historically and culturally contextualized, with thorough consideration of salient institutions, epistemological reference points, and social, cultural, political, and economic processes. The program also strives to constantly attend to gender in intersection with other significant social categories such as race, nation, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, ability, and so on.

Understanding the way gender works in symbolic and social orders requires new epistemologies and methodologies. The Ph.D. Program in Comparative Gender Studies aims to empower students to combine competence in traditional disciplinary skills in the social sciences and humanities (e.g. archival research, textual analysis, qualitative interviewing, participant observation, theoretical inquiry, discourse analysis, etc.) with the formulation of new questions and techniques arising from emerging or marginalized perspectives and areas of study. Students receive methodological training that encourages them to broaden the range of material and information they consider and the scope of questions they ask in their research, while maintaining the highest standards of scholarly quality.

PhD Program Overview

In the first year, students learn from each other and gain a strong foundation in potential research strategies by taking the required course, “Methodological Practice in Gender Studies” and the year-long “Ph.D. Preparation Seminar,” which provides intensive and focused guidance in formulating dissertation proposals in preparation for the Comprehensive Exam. Students round out their course credit requirements by taking an appropriate methods course, topical elective courses suited to their research interests (from the Gender Studies MA/PhD curriculum or other CEU departments), and tutorial credits of guided work with supervisors. 

Once past the Comprehensive Exam, students embark on dissertation research and writing while building their teaching and presentation skills, collegial networks, and research knowledge. Students must complete all requirements and submit the finished dissertation within four years of enrolment. A further fifth or sixth year supported by outside funding can be granted for conducting extensive field research or taking on paid teaching positions. 

Please consult the Ph.D. Handbook below for details about the program and its requirements.