The initial meetings to form the Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Program began in 1975 through the efforts of a small but determined group of faculty, students, and staff. Gradually, classes on women and gender started to appear in the course catalogue in the latter half of the 1970s under the Program’s name.In 1976-77 a Women's Studies Concentration was developed, a certificate granting program like a minor, with certification from Humaniites, Social Science and Social Ecology. The status of Women's Studies improved markedly as a result of the passage, in 1984, of a Major Emphasis in the School of Humanities, followed by the passage of a minor. However, it took nearly a decade finally to acquire the University’s approval to offer a freestanding Women's Studies major and minor in 1992. Two years later, we received approval to offer a Graduate Emphasis in Feminist Studies. The minor in Queer Studies was established in 2005.

In 1997-98 an external review committee recommended that the Interdisciplinary Program in Women's Studies should be permanently located in Humanities and that it should be a department, based on its faculty affiliates, a major and a minor, and its well-organized structure.  We first forwarded a formal proposal for departmentalization in 2000 and renewed our proposal in 2005. After much time and effort, we officially became a Department on June 30, 2007.

The department changed its name from Women's Studies to Gender & Sexuality Studies in 2014.