The Faculty of Arts and Science began offering undergraduates one interdisciplinary Women's Studies course in 1985. The following year, Arts and Science students were able to choose a minor, medial, or special field concentration degree in Women's Studies.
The number of core courses in the Women's Studies program grew in the late 1980s and the 1990s and were supplemented by numerous related courses in other faculties and schools. By 1993, Women's Studies students could choose from five core Women's Studies courses and 27 "cross-listed" courses in six faculties and schools and 19 departments.
In 1993, Women's Studies was established as an institute in the Faculty of Arts and Science, a status that gave it secure funding from the faculty for the first time, similar to that of an Arts and Science department.
The general aim of Women's Studies is to make the diversity of women's experiences, ideas, and values visible in all areas of human inquiry and to provide a scholarly critique of the conventional ideas of what it means to be a human and a woman.
Women’s Studies officially became a department in 2003.
On January 1, 2010, the department name was changed to the Department of Gender Studies. This name change reflects the ongoing shift of traditional women’s studies into a more multi-faceted approach that includes racial, gendered, and sexual diversity.