Curriculum Overview
This hybrid program (partially in-person and online) consists of two years of coursework (36 units), a 90-hour internship, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation (4-6 year estimated completion). All students must attend three Academic Residencies (3-4 days of in-person coursework) per semester for two years. 

The focus in Year 1 is to build the cohort experience, lay down an intersectional foundation of knowledge including concepts, theory, and methodology. The first year aims to advance student scholarship through critical thinking, creativity, and self-reflection. 

The focus in Year 2 is to allow for more focus as students continue to refine their research question, learn more about methodology and theory, and begin their internship. The internship allows students to apply their scholarship and advocacy at an organization or clinic of their choice.

First Year Coursework 
Introduction to Human Sexuality (3 units)
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (3 units)
Sexual Theory and Intersectionality (3 units)
Sexual Attitude Re-assessment * (1 unit)
Sexual Function and Practices (3 units)
Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality (3 units)
Sexuality Policy and Leadership * (3 units)
Sex Therapy Professional Skills * (4 units)

Second Year Coursework
Proseminar 1 and 2 (6 units)
Methodology 1 and 2 (6 units)
Gender and Society (3 units)
Technology, Sexuality and Culture * (3 units)
Sex Education and Learning Theory * (4 units)
Love, Sex, and Intimate Relationships * (3 units)

Third Year
Comprehensive Exams (0 units)

Fourth Year
Dissertation (0 units)

* Elective course.
Students take at least 6 units (credits) in electives from among these options or from other CIIS departments.


Academic Residency Dates for 2017-2018

Spring 2017
January 20th - 22nd 
March 17th - 19th 
April 28th - 30th

Fall 2017
August 24th - 27th  
October 27th - 29th 
Dec 1st - 3rd

Spring 2018
January 26th - 28th 
March 9th - 11th 
April 27th - 29th


PhD in Human Sexuality

Course Descriptions – 36 units

The curriculum for the PhD in Human Sexuality requires 36 semester units, 18 units or the equivalent each year for two years. Please note, some courses may change.

First Year Courses:

Introduction to Human Sexuality: Theory, Research, and Knowledge (3 Units)
This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of human sexuality and sexual literacy. It reviews theoretical, methodological, epistemological, historical, clinical, policy, and public health areas of knowledge in understanding the spectrum of sexual meanings and practices across time and space. The course also examines social and cultural theories of sexuality in the context of historical, psychological, media, and public health social changes in Western society since the time of the American Revolution, with emphasis upon changes that have occurred since 1960. Additionally, major paradigmatic thinkers are contrasted in relation to sexual essentialism versus social constructionism.
Priority to HSX students.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Research, Policy, Society, and Self-Awareness (3 Units)
This course is a research-based state-of-the-art analysis of theoretical, methodological, clinical, policy, and sexual literacy aspects of sexual orientation and gender identity development and expression. Sexual orientation is the structure of a person's sexual and/or romantic attractions or lack thereof, in people of the same or opposite sex, or toward both sexes, or regardless of sex. Gender identity is a person's basic sense of being a man or boy, a woman or girl, or another gender (e.g., transgender, bigender, or gender queer-a rejection of the traditional binary classification of gender). Also considered is the cultural and historical range of sexual orientation and gender identity, including: development, expression, discrimination, stigma, clinical meanings, social and legal issues and interpersonal relationships.
Priority to HSX students.

Sexual Theory and Intersectionality (3 Units)
This course is a foundational course surveying the broad and diverse theories and conceptual frameworks developed in various places and times to account for the behaviors, experiences, identities and expressions of sexuality and gender. The experience of sexuality and gender are collocated with other positionalities, such as various racial, ethnic, class, national, economic, age, religious, sexed, dis/ability status, and various other salient social and cultural locations, identities and ascriptions. Therefore, this course also integrates key literature on intersectionality and related scholarship in queer, feminist, post-colonial and critical race theory. Throughout the course, we will examine instances of "strategic essentialism" which is Gayatri Spivak's term for describing moments when sexual and gendered identities are discussed in political and social discourse as if they are merely natural and not at all informed by social or cultural meaning systems. Students will be encouraged to find one conceptual thread (such as they ways that temporality or the body are considered in these works) to ground these theories in particular scholarly interests.
Priority to HSX students.

Sexual Attitude Reassessment * (1 Unit)
This course is designed to offer all students exposure in the form of facilitated discussion, small group activities, self-reflection, videos, and guest speakers to the broadest range of sexual practices and experiences. The focus of the course is in providing exposure to a range of sexual content and gender presentations in order to facilitate and address unexamined axiological assumptions we all hold about sexuality and gender and to consider them in a non evaluative manner. This course is aligned to and is part of the AASECT sex educator and AASECT sex therapy certification and is considered one of the components of competency in core knowledge and experience in the field. The content will be addressed from an intersectional and anti-oppressive lens and is presented by an experienced and certified facilitator.
Priority to HSX students. Open to all students and community through public programs.

Sexual Function and Practices (3 Units)
This course represents the core knowledge students are required to engage about sexuality practices and behaviors to be competent in the field. Topics covered include: Bio-psycho-social developmental models of sexuality and gender identity, socio-cultural and familial influences, LGBTQQIA identities and experiences, intimacy enhancing skills and diversities of sexual expression, sexual anatomy and physiology, STIs, desire, arousal and orgasm, sexual health and pleasure. These content areas are aligned to AASECT's core knowledge areas** and are part of the required content for sex therapy and sex educator certification. This course will be addressed from an inclusive and sex positive perspective.
Priority to HSX students. Open to all students and community through public programs.
** AASECT core knowledge areas covered: B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, and M. See for more details.

Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality (3 Units)
The focus of this course is to address issues of: ethics, axiology, exploitation, abuse, harassment, assault, trauma, rape, rape culture, sex trafficking, problematic sex (e.g. compulsions, dysfunction, sexuality and substances, and disease) and other issues that can be thought of as problematic. While not necessarily subscribing to a pathologizing or criminalizing view, these important issues will be thoughtfully considered in an historical, contextual, reflexive, and critical manner. Attention will be paid to the history of the field, ethics, philosophical issues and professional communication skills. This course in conjunction with Sexual Attitude Reassessment and Sexual Function and Practice complete the AASECT core knowledge areas**. This course together with Sexual Function and Practices completes the core knowledge required for sex therapy or sex educator certification.
Priority to HSX students. Open to all students and community through public programs.
** AASECT core knowledge areas covered: A, I, J, N, O, P, and Q. See for more details.

Sexuality Policy and Leadership * (3 Units)
This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of human sexuality, policy formation, and leadership. It includes reviews of theoretical, epistemological, cultural, historical, clinical and public health foundations of sexuality policy. It describes the policy-making process, different leader's approaches to these policies, and why sexuality and the linked phenomenon of gender are often the subject of policymaking. Course analysis focuses on the intersections between sexuality and policy formation with specific case studies. Threaded throughout the course will be an examination of the concept of sexual citizenship and the idea that sexuality policies often focus on violence, abuse and illness, while giving little attention to emphasizing one's right to personal wellness and bodily control, including: access to pleasure and ability to express desires. A goal of the course is for students to analyze the epistemological assumptions within policies, deconstruct the historical context of these policies, and propose recommendations for new or improved policies.
Priority to HSX students.

Sex Therapy Professional Skills * (4 Units)
This practical and professional training builds on the core knowledge courses mentioned above in an applied manner in services of the treatment of sexual issues. The course emphasizes: Multiple theoretical orientations to sex therapy including: medical, holistic, spiritual and systemic views; sexual assessment and diagnostic skills, theory and methods of intervention, collaboration with clinical sexologists and sex medicine, working within interdisciplinary teams, treatment planning, ethical practice, and case conceptualizations.**
Priority to HSX students. Open to all students and community through public programs.
** AASECT core knowledge areas covered: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. See for more details.

Second Year Courses:

Proseminar in Sexuality (Sequence 1) (3 Units)
This advanced proseminar is designed to students deepen their sexual literacy knowledge and skill sets in dealing with a large range of sexual, gender, relational, identity, mental health, family formation, and related challenges in an applied internship setting. In tandem with the course students will conduct 90 hours of internship work in a clinical setting, non-profit or corporate setting as agreed with CIIS faculty the institution in question and student. Student work will further their development professionally, and potentially offer a context or basis for dissertation research or professional engagement. Coursework will consist of supporting the internship work with readings, discussions, reflective exercises and professional skills development, toward a meaningful professional collaboration.
Priority to HSX students.

Proseminar in Sexuality (Sequence 2) (3 Units)
Continuation of the Proseminar.
Priority to HSX students.

Methodology I (3 Units)
This course examines core concepts in quantitative methods and reviews the basic steps used in constructing a rigorous, empirically valid research study on sexuality and/or gender. It reviews the purpose of an Institutional Review Board/Human Subjects Committee and the existence of institutional and independent IRBs. During this course, students will obtain a National Institutes of Health Human Subjects Certification. Concepts reviewed include: descriptive and inferential statistics, hypothesis testing (significance levels and p-values), levels of measurement, probability distributions, averages, confidence intervals, standard deviation, and response rate calculations with confidence intervals. Also reviewed will be types of scientific reliability and validity, sampling techniques, working with vulnerable populations, use of incentives, recruiting techniques, differences in data collection modalities and various forms of biases. The course grounds technical learning with an examination of scientific positivism by drawing upon critiques from post-colonialist, queer, feminist, indigenous, and feminist technoscience (FTS) scholars. Students apply these concepts and theories to critically assess statistically-based evidence by analyzing sources covering sexuality research and sexuality policies from peer-reviewed journal articles, marketing and organizational reports, and media stories.
Priority to HSX students.

Methodology II (3 Units)
This course introduces students to the basic techniques for conducting and analyzing qualitative research to answer questions in the field of sexuality studies as well as grounding in the purpose of qualitative research. Students will learn about: qualitative selection criteria and ethical research practice, question design, modalities of and data collection, description and interpretation. The analysis of qualitative data will include thematic, structural and social discourse analysis and linguistic techniques as well as epistemological techniques such as intersectionality, deconstruction driven by queer theory, feminist activist ethnography, phenomenology, hermeneutics, community-based participatory research, and grounded theory. Students will also learn about various software available to increase the power of qualitative data inquiry. Through exercises and writing assignments, students will apply many of these data collection and analysis techniques.
Priority to HSX students.

Gender and Society (3 Units)
Transgender or gender queer identities, transformations, relationships, policies, communities, and well-being provide the basis for the advanced and comprehensive introduction to theories, methods, health-care standards, and community formation. A brief history of the transgender movement, from community formation to Internet-based rights developments, and recent social and legal challenges, provides a foundation for individual student investigations of topical areas of interest. In addition, the history, culture, and online social movement correlates of the transgender experience are examined. W-PATH advanced standards of clinical and health care in societal context are fully integrated into the discussion of this emergent community. The instructors will review the legal, medical, social, psychological, policy, and spiritual aspects of contemporary transgender policies in the United States and globally.
Priority to HSX students.

Technology, Sexuality and Culture * (3 Units)
The course will explore the ways that sexuality and gender mediated by technology, modernity and global economic commerce shape our practices and beliefs around intimacy, desires, authenticity, and reproduction. It will introduce students to the myriad ways that technologies have been and are currently applied to impact sexuality, gender and the body. We examine the ways that the internet, biomedical devices, software/apps, medications and interventions are applied to assist, stimulate, and/or control reproduction, sexual pleasure, fantasy and arousal in the digital age. The course deeply considers how information-computer-technology (ICT) has altered the pace of our lives and the ways in which we date, flirt, relate, have sex, have children, and communicate. Special emphasis will be given to understanding the ways in which technologies influence sexual/gendered expression/identity and how global economic forces have changed reproduction and aging patterns grounded in modern, post-modern and temporal theories .
Priority to HSX students.

Sex Education and Learning Theory * (4 Units)
This practical and professional training builds on the core knowledge courses mentioned above in an applied manner toward developing competence as a sex educator. This course offers an overview of the theory and methods of education in general and sexuality education in particular, including curriculum development, teaching and pedagogy and assessment of learning. Attention is paid to addressing diverse learning styles, classroom facilitation, ethical issues, social-emotional and transformational dimensions of learning. Particular attention is paid to approaches to teaching with particular populations: Youth, older adults, couples, faith-based populations, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, diverse groups). Skills in facilitating large group discussions, small group experiences, one -on -one education, lectures, online synchronous or asynchronous activities, and intentional design are provided. This course satisfies AASECT training in sex education areas.**
Pre-requisite: Sexual Attitude Reassessment, Sexual Practices and Sexual Function, and Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality.
Priority to HSX students. Open to all students and community through public programs.
** AASECT core knowledge areas covered: A, B, C, D, E, and F. See for more details.

Love, Sex, and Intimate Relationships * (3 Units)
This is a systematic advanced introduction to the philosophy, research, knowledge, clinical practice, and policy issues related to holistic sexuality and intimate relationships. Theories of love and attachment are explored in depth, including the relevance to diverse sexual and gender orientations. Students thus learn how to apply resourceful strategies in the areas of love and dating, couple formation, emotional literacy, the nature of sexual dysfunction and optimal functioning, as well as exploring a variety of contemporary changes in couple formation, such as sexual fluidity, polyamory, and online dating.
Priority to HSX students.

* Electives:
Elective course. Students take at least 6 units (credits) in electives from among these options or from other CIIS departments. Please see above for courses with an asterisk.


Stay Connected