Students studying WGS learn to develop a critical understanding of gender as a category to analyze and examine social dynamics, cultural expression, and belief systems. They also explore women's experiences and perspectives, and examine the extent to which social life is shaped by gender. One of the key aspects of WGS is to effect social change. WGS focus on power structures, oppression, inequality, and social suffering.
Students study a range of feminist theories, ideas, history, methodologies, research, and activism, and discover how they inform the lives and experiences of women across cultures. Students gain a fundamental awareness of the cultural and social bases of human prejudice and discrimination (such as sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, agism, classism). They also learn about feminist insights and alternatives that foster a tolerance for the diversity of human experience and ways of life.
Various methodologies for studying WGS are studied, including interviewing, taking oral histories, focus groups, ethnography, and survey research. Along with traditional classroom learning, students engage in hands-on activities, including discussion and reflecting on course materials. As well, students participate in group activities and creative projects in literature, poetry, performing arts, and visual arts. Some WGS programs offer community-based internships allowing students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how oppression directly affects women's lives.