Multidisciplinary Training in Gender, Sexuality, and Health

The nation’s first multidisciplinary doctoral training program in gender, sexuality, and health, the Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health fellowship leads to a PhD degree awarded by Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). This unique program prepares students for research and teaching careers focusing on the role of gender and sexuality in shaping reproductive and sexual health, both in the United States and abroad. The program is funded by the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Development.

Fellowships cover tuition, provide stipends, and some modest support for travel to professional meetings. Funding is guaranteed for up to five years, although students are encouraged to seek outside funding for their dissertation research. Applicants must apply to and be accepted by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and approved by the Columbia Department in their chosen discipline before a training fellowship can be offered.


The Department of Sociomedical Sciences has long been a pioneer in research on the social dimensions of gender and sexuality. As early as the 1980s, with the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, social scientists at Columbia had already begun to make important contributions to the field. Studies involving sex and gender were developed (e.g., the late John Martin's pioneering cohort study of the effect of HIV/AIDS on gay men in New York City; Richard Parker's groundbreaking ethnographic study of the construction of sexualities in Brazil; Ronald Bayer's comparative work on AIDS in the industrialized democracies) along with a range of relevant courses. These activities catalyzed research around questions of gender and sexuality during the early and mid-1980s and the 1990s.

The Predoctoral Fellowship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health reflects the Department's substantial concentration of faculty and global intellectual leadership in gender, sexuality, and health. Faculty whose research falls in this area include Jessie Ford, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Constance A. Nathanson, Karolynn Siegel, Marni Sommer, and Gina Wingood, all internationally recognized scholars in the field. The program draws as well on important institutional resources and faculty on the Morningside Campus (e.g., the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender), the CUMC campus (the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies), and the cross-campus Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Council.

Program of Study

Predoctoral fellows must apply and be accepted to the PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and must fulfill the general requirements for this degree program as well as requirements specific to the fellowship program. At the time of application, candidates select a concentration in: AnthropologyHistory, or Sociology.

Students entering the program with a BA complete 60 credits during the first three years of residency. Half the courses are taken within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences' disciplinary department of their choice, the other half in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and other Mailman School departments. Students entering with an MPH or social science MA apply for transfer credit up to 30 credits that may be distributed between public health and social science courses.

Predoctoral Fellows complete both general requirements for all SMS PhD students and those specific to the Fellowship Program.


Courses required for the Predoctoral Fellowship program are counted towards the sequence of 30 public health credits in the PhD program (indicated below with an asterisk). The requirements specific to the Fellowship Program are: 

  1. P9719 Critical Perspectives on Research in Gender, Sexuality, and Health.
  2. One of two courses in conceptual and research approaches to sexuality:
    1. P8709 Seminar in Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights
    2. P8736 Theories and Perspectives on Sexuality and Health *
  3. A course in research ethics (usually POPF P9630 Research Ethics & Public Health)*
  4. Attendance at the ongoing faculty-trainee Seminar in Gender, Sexuality, and Health.
  5. Either an annual presentation at the Seminar or written commentary on one or more seminar presentations.
  6. A research apprenticeship supervised by program faculty
  7. Doctoral research and dissertation focused on a topic in gender, sexuality, and health.

Like the doctoral program, the Predoctoral Fellowship admits students for only full-time enrollment. 

Admission Qualifications

Applicants must meet requirements for admission to Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from which they will be awarded the PhD degree upon successful completion of study. Applications are reviewed initially by the Department of Sociomedical Sciences' doctoral committee and then independently by the graduate department of their disciplinary choice (e.g., Anthropology, History, or Sociology).

Only applicants acceptable to both departments will be considered for the Predoctoral Fellowship program. Prior experience in one or more social or behavioral sciences or history is strongly preferred. Students with a master’s degree in public health or a social science discipline may apply for transfer credit equivalent to up to a year of course work.

In selecting the fellows, the Department of Sociomedical Sciences will consider performance in undergraduate and/or graduate courses; standardized exam performance (Graduate Record Examination scores taken within the previous five years); letters of recommendation; research or published papers; fit with departmental areas of scientific strength; and other relevant experience. In their personal statement, applicants should clearly state their interest in gender and sexuality and briefly outline a prospective area of research for their doctoral dissertation.

Application Process

Students should visit the Apply page for additional information on the application process. Applicants should be sure to note on the application an interest in the Predoctoral Fellowship and to discuss this interest in the personal statement. Admission applications must be submitted by December 1. Columbia University does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, race, gender, or any other characteristic. Minorities are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.


The Predoctoral Fellowship brings together distinguished scholars in the fields of gender and sexuality from the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and from other academic departments at both the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Fellows will be assigned a faculty advisor who matches their research interests and who will oversee their fellowship progress. Many students will collaborate with more than one faculty member over the course of their training.

Student Financial Support

Students supported by the GSH T32, as it is informally called, receive the same funding package as all other students in the department. Although support is guaranteed for five years, fellows are encouraged to apply for external funding so that they can rotate off the GSH T32.


For further information about the fellowship program please email:

Jennifer S. Hirsch
Professor and Deputy Chair of Doctoral Studies, Sociomedical Sciences
212 305-1185



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