After receiving final approval from the university, the Dept. of Feminist Studies unveiled plans for its new graduate program late last month.

The department, formerly titled women’s studies, has added a Masters of Arts and doctoral degree option to the pre-existing undergraduate criteria. Three areas of emphasis were also created: genders and sexualities; race and nation; and productive and reproductive labors. The application deadline for the feminist studies graduate program is Dec. 15 and instruction will begin in fall of next year.

Leila Rupp, a professor of feminist studies, said the department is eager to get the program underway.

“I think having a graduate program is very good for the undergraduates, teacher assistants and faculty.” Rupp said. “We’re learning from each other.”

According to Rupp, since the department focuses on subjects beyond the realm of women’s studies, the department changed its name to feminist studies.

“It’s a clean, elegant name that suggests we are looking at a whole range of things, like race, ethnicity, class and everything else,” Rupp said. “All from a feminist perspective.”

Chrissy Lau, a teaching assistant in the feminist studies program, said the expansion is designed to attract a broader range of students.

“The program shows growth of the department,” Lau, a fourth-year history major with emphasis in feminist studies, said. “[It] makes available [feminist studies] resources to students.”

According to Rupp, the program has a staff of nine core faculty members. However, several of the humanities and social sciences departments were equally crucial in the assembly of the new program.

“It’s something we worked on collectively together,” Rupp said. “It’s been our focus for two years.”

Christina Toy, advisor in the Dept. of Feminist Studies, said the department faculty members are not the only ones anticipating the expansion.

“Students are already showing interest,” Toy said. “Their eyes are opening.”

According to a press release, UCSB now joins approximately 15 public universities in offering a feminist studies graduate program in the entire nation. Being such a rare field of study, the release said, the program is a popular choice for students from other universities – both nationally and abroad.

“The most interested have come from outside our school,” Toy said. “Some come from other universities, some from other countries in South America, Asia and Africa.”

Rupp said the rarity of the new graduate program will allow the department to be highly selective in the admission process.

“Next year, we hope to have three to five students [in the graduates program],” Rupp said.