PhD in Women’s Spirituality

California Institute of Integral Studies

Program Description

PhD in Women’s Spirituality

California Institute of Integral Studies

PhD in Philosophy and Religion with Concentration in Women's Spirituality

The Women's Spirituality program is located at the intersection of Women/Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, and Religion. Our program honors the spiritual impulse to redress the suppression of the sacred feminine and the oppression of women. We join with those who seek to end the exploitation of marginalized social groups and address the suffering of the Earth and its many species. Our faculty is internationally known and includes many pioneers in the interdisciplinary field of Women’s Spirituality.


Founded by internationally known trailblazers in the women's spirituality movement, this doctoral program is located at the intersection of women/gender studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, and philosophy. Through evening and weekend classes, online courses, and a semi-distance option, the program offers you a flexible format that allows you to integrate your studies with your professional and/or family life.

Our PhD program:

  • Offers you rigorous academic training that is grounded in transdisciplinary, spiritual, and feminist methodologies
  • Prepares you to conduct original research in one of the following areas: Women in World Religions; Feminist and Ecofeminist Philosophy and Activism; and Women's Mysteries, Sacred Arts, and Healing
  • Provides a community of engaged scholars who are taking leadership on national and global issues related to women, gender, ecology, and spirituality

Your doctoral dissertation makes an original contribution to cross-disciplinary scholarship in this emergent field.

Areas of Emphasis

for the PhD in Philosophy and Religion with a Concentration in Women's Spirituality

Women and World Religions

We review a variety of ancient lineages that document women's spiritual power and religious experience from the ancient world to the present. The study of women and world religions begins with an examination of the evidence for the transmission of reverence for a dark mother of Africa to all continents of the world. We explore the sacred iconographies and roles of women in African, Native American, Meso-American, South American, Asian/Pacific Islander, old European, and other indigenous, Goddess and God spiritual traditions. We examine women's spiritual roles and practices in historical and contemporary expressions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, and more. Canonical and orthodox religious beliefs are studied alongside the submerged, subterranean, and heretical streams that run beneath the accepted doctrines of established religions - found in the folklore, heresies, and everyday rituals of subaltern cultures. We encourage women's spiritual quests, interfaith dialogues, and the study of the Sacred Feminine or Feminine Divine of all traditions.

Feminist and Ecofeminist Philosophy and Activism

Feminist philosophy has long emphasized a relational approach to key philosophical issues; it encourages us to live well and to generate happiness in our own lives and the lives of others. This holistic approach eschews reductionist and mechanistic dualisms to generate a worldview of dynamic interconnectedness in the web of life. Ecofeminist philosophy explores the embodied, embedded, ecosocial context of philosophical issues, focusing attention on the emergent field of relational or holistic thought, as well as rational-intuitive thinking. Courses include work with process philosophy and process theology/theology, postcolonial womanist-feminist and indigenous worldviews, and literary responses to major ecological and philosophical issues.

Women's Mysteries, Sacred Arts, and Healing

Many elements of language, ritual, and the arts have roots in cultural responses to the elemental powers of the female and the ineffable mysteries of the cosmos. An honoring of women's mysteries of birth and sexuality, transformation, death and rebirth informs our coursework in ritual, music, dance, literature, painting, and film appreciation. The experiential as well as intellectual study of diverse sacred arts is intended to evoke one's innate creativity, revealing personal and cultural sources of mystical insight, embodied healing, and artistic blossoming.

Apply to the Women’s Spirituality PhD

The Women's Spirituality doctoral program is located at the intersection of women's/gender studies, ethnic studies, philosophy, and religion. Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the Institute and would ideally have an MA in one of the disciplines mentioned above. For those who do not have a background in a related field, up to 18 additional units of courses drawn from the WSE curriculum will be required, minus equivalencies. (Equivalency for university courses previously taken is determined by the WSE Admissions Committee on an individual basis.)

Successful candidates for admission into the Women's Spirituality doctoral program typically have the following qualifications:

  • A vision that is compatible with the program's mission
  • A commitment to personal and social transformation
  • Demonstrated ability to think critically and creatively
  • Respect for a diversity of viewpoints Sufficient maturity and stability to pursue independent inquiry
  • The ability to clearly articulate educational, professional, and research goalsStrong scholarly writing skills
  • The ability to identify a prospective area of specialization and/or dissertation topic that is consistent with the program's mission and resources
This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 29, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
Full time
Start date Sept. 2017
USA San Francisco, California
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End date Request Info
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The Women’s Spirituality Program

Deborah Santana presents "Women's Spirituality in Higher Education " closed captioning

Women's Spirituality Program PhD