About the PhD in Human Sexuality
This accredited program is unique in providing a comprehensive doctorate in the interdisciplinary field of human sexuality, with concentrations in human sexuality and clinical practice, and in human sexuality and policy leadership. Bringing together clinicians and policy leaders creates a dynamic learning environment that expands holistic sexual literacy knowledge and skills to create individual and societal change. This program is committed to clinical and policy exploration of all human beings in the most diverse and fluid spectrum of sexual and gender variations across the life course, including desires and orientations, identities, behaviors and expressions. This includes psychosexual development and functioning, intimate relationships, families, spirituality, and well-being, as reflected in sexual, gender and reproductive health, rights, and policies. This program aims to shape the inter-professional dialogue between clinical practitioners and sexuality policy leaders in the 21st century.
The Clinical Practice concentration includes a deep training in clinical theory and methodology as applied to human sexuality and a supervised two-semester proseminar to provide critically reflective supervision and case mentoring. Cases come from the students' own practices. Our program emphasizes the diversity of clinical experience including: adolescents and adults; midlife and ageing; love, sex, and relationships; sexual function and dysfunction, complementary forms of healing and treatment including spirituality as a component of wellbeing; in addition to addressing particular areas of psychological wellbeing such as sexual coercion, reproductive decision-making, trauma and resilience.
Sexuality Policy Leadership Concentration
The Sexuality Policy Leadership concentration includes a deep submersion through two traineeships in diverse populations: LGBTQ sexuality, health, and rights; women's sexual and reproductive lives, health, rights, and policy formation, and men's sexuality, reproductive and social lives. Policy traineeships may be at centers for LGBTQ community, women's sexual and reproductive health, national or global human rights organizations, providers such as sexual health and support centers, or other advocacy and policy organizations that focus on these issues. The Program offers long-term partnerships for community engagement and advocacy that will facilitate students' choices and careers. This concentration provides the next generation of culturally competent thought leaders and sexuality policy leaders with critical knowledge, skills, methodology, and reflection in making policy and interventions to support social and sexual justice in the USA and globally.
This PhD has 2 years of coursework, exams, and a dissertation (totaling 4-years). This is a hybrid-format (online/in-person). There is a yearly retreat in August, and then subsequent weekend retreats throughout the year in San Francisco, with online coursework in-between. This program accepts students for the Fall of each year, and expects students to continue coursework with their cohort throughout the two-years.
Formation of the National Advisory Committee for the HSX PhD Program at CIIS
To enrich and extend the professional opportunities for students and community alike, we have formed a National Advisory Committee that includes 23 outstanding professionals in the area of human sexuality, clinical practice, and policy leadership. Dr. Pepper Schwartz, an internationally prominent sexuality studies research scholar, Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, and advocate on behalf of AARP, will chair the advisory committee for the first three years (2013-2015). The Advisory Committee has two "working groups," one focused on clinical practice and the other on policy. The Advisory Committee extends and enriches faculty expertise in this complex interdisciplinary field, mentors students when they undertake their clinical praxis and/or policy traineeships, and are available to consult on doctoral dissertation design, sampling, and networking. The Advisory Committee convenes regularly in the context of an annual research conference, described below, with quarterly check-in conference calls.
General Questions and Answers
Program Structure and Overview
Q: What does "Hybrid" mean?
A: This is a Hybrid PhD Program which means that the curriculum is taught both online and in face-to-face academic residencies. Each semester the students are expected to be active in online dialogue, completing papers and projects, and doing reading at their home location. Three times a semester (for the two years of coursework) the students will meet together with the faculty for Academic Residencies (generally from Friday until Sunday) that are held at CIIS in San Francisco.
This concept enables people to study from their home location most of the semester. This makes this program more accessible, as well as enriches the student dialogue to explore various human sexuality policies, cultures, and perspectives from different regions around the U.S and the world.
Q: Why isn't the program just offered online?
A: We have found great value in personal and academic development through face-to-face dialogue, workshops, lectures, and panel discussions. Also, we have found this helpful for students who learn and synthesize material in different ways. Importantly, meeting face-to-face helps build rapport among students and faculty, which facilitates a more in-depth and meaningful discussion around sexuality. This has also helped build a sense of community and develop a solid platform for networking with peers.
Q: What online platform do you use for courses?
A: CIIS uses CANVAS for online coursework.
Q: What are Academic Residencies like?
A: Academic residencies last three days and are hosted in CIIS classrooms and meeting rooms in San Francisco. Generally the residencies last from Noon-9pm on Friday and 8am-5pm on the weekend. During breaks, students may enjoy CIIS' onsite meditation room, library, rooftop garden and café. Many of the rooms have ample natural lighting, overlook the city and are equipped to accommodate students who wish to alternate between standing, sitting in chairs and also on floor pillows. CIIS also wishes to accommodate student disabilities through the CIIS Student Life Services.
The residencies are comprised of lectures, workshops, panel discussions, local guest speakers, CIIS events, and networking and community building opportunities. We also offer some opportunities to visit local sites focused on sexuality, gender, and San Francisco History (for example, during one of our residencies, we visited the Center for Sex and Culture to talk with sexologist Carol Queen).
Q: What is a "cohort" model?"
A: The students who enroll the HSX PhD program during the same year become a cohort; together, you maintain contact and engage in academic discourse until you complete your dissertation. We chose to use this model to help build community, develop mutual support, and create strong future professional and academic networks.
Q: What is the estimated timeline for completion?
A: There are two years of coursework that includes a pro-seminar and off-site internship, one year of comprehensive exams and dissertation preparation. Once the coursework and comprehensive exams are complete, you are able to dive into your dissertation with support from faculty, and it then depends on your timeline to complete dissertation work and submit it. Therefore, this program can be completed in as little as 4 years to up to 9 years.
Q: So, I can attend this program part-time?
A: Yes, some students may decide to do this program part-time. This is not advised as you will not stay with your cohort throughout the two years of coursework and some core classes may not be offered every semester. Still, we understand that part-time may be preferable or the only option for some, and we work with students personally, financially, and academically so that they may have they may be afforded the same opportunity of obtaining a PhD.
Q: Why are there two tracks: clinical and policy?
A: It was one of the intentions of the Founding Director, Gil Herdt, PhD, to offer an accredited doctoral program that enhances dialogue between clinicians (doctors, psychologists, councilors, nurse practitioners, etc.) and policy makers (activists, lawyers, advocates, educators, organizational leaders) who work in the worlds of sexuality. Another goal of this program is to enhance sexual literacy in both fields of work. This structure has allowed for some creative and stimulating dialogue, merging the policy and clinical experience and perspectives.
Q: Does the clinical track prepare me to be a therapist or counselor?
A: This program does not offer a track towards licensure. In order to be accepted into the clinical track, you must already be licensed or license eligible. This program, however, offers a pro-seminar course instructed by a licensed MFT which gives you the opportunity to receive support, professional development and work towards your PhD while you are accumulating the required hours towards licensure and/or deepening your practice and skills as an already licensed clinician. This PhD Program will also prepare you to do research and teaching in the field.
Q: What can I do when I graduate from this program?
A: This program is the second accredited Human Sexuality PhD Program in the United States, and is groundbreaking for the world of Human Sexuality. This program is developed to support student interests, careers, and personal development to shape competent, sexually literate, and diverse human sexuality leaders. Some students may work in fields of public policy, research, clinical settings, education, for-profit and not-for profit organizations, and start up independent consulting practices. Students will be able to enhance their current practice (therapy, coaching, family medicine, etc.), develop best-practices for the field, improve their academic and professional writing and research, increase their sexual literacy, develop policy briefs, and create change!
Q: Who are the faculty and staff?
A: Please visit the current faculty bios
Q: Who are some of the current students, and what are their interests?
A: Please visit the bios of the current students
Here are some more in-depth interviews
For more HSX Program information, please contact:
Emily McKee Program Coordinator
Human Sexuality PhD Program
California Institute of Integral Studies
office: 415.575.3422 1453
Mission Street room 416a
San Francisco, California 94103
Financial Planning and Time Management
Q: I work full-time, is this program for me?
A: This is designed as a full-time program PhD that is set up as a hybrid model partly to support students who work full-time/part-time and are located in other parts of the country and the world. We also schedule the Academic Residencies to be on long weekends so we do not cut into the standard work week extensively. That being said, one can expect roughly 20-30 hours of school work/week contributing to online dialogue, writing, reading. This is a very personal choice, and we have current students who do work full-time and part-time.
Q: Are there any scholarships?
A: CIIS offers various types of scholarships throughout the year. Please visit the CIIS Financial Aid page for more information
Q: Can I get loans?
A: Yes, if you are eligible for loans through FAFSA you can apply for them. Please visit the Financial Aid office for more information on financial planning
Q: What is the estimated cost for this program?
A: Please visit the Financial Aid webpage to see cost of tuition
For more Financial Aid info, please contact:
Financial Aid Office
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street - 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 575-6122
Fax: (415) 575-1268
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday - Friday
Q: How do I apply?
A: Please visit the application page on the Human Sexuality PhD website for more information
Q: I have not completed my MA Program, can I still apply for the Fall?
A: Yes, you can! As long as you are able to submit your final transcript when you graduate, and before you begin the program, you may apply at anytime. If you are accepted, we will notify you, and you will be conditionally accepted until your final transcripts are received.
Q: What are the deadlines for applications?
A: Priority deadline is February 1st, 2016, however we have a rolling deadline until April, 15th 2016.
Q: What are the qualifications to apply?
A: The Clinical Practice concentration is open to applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree, master's program in a clinical field (MFT, LPCC, or LCSW) and are licensed or are license-eligible.
The Sexuality Policy Leadership concentration is open to applicants who have completed a master's program from an accredited institution.
Q: Can I apply to the clinical track if I am a licensed Acupuncturist, Naturopath, Chiropractor, or Midwife?
A: Yes! You can. We welcome licensed practitioners. If you have a specific question on this, please email Emily McKee, Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Do I need to do an interview?
A: Yes. Once all of your application materials are processed through the Admissions Office, your application will be forwarded on for departmental review. Once it is reviewed and if it meets requirements, you will be asked to schedule an appointment for either an in-person or a Skype interview with a faculty member.
This interview is casual, as it is also an opportunity for you to interview us to make sure this is a good fit. We want all of our students to graduate and complete their dissertation, and find the interview to be an important piece in the decision.
For more Admissions info contact:
Veronica Palafox, M.A.
Senior Admissions Counselor
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103