Catalog Course Descriptions

Our course descriptions and more information on our program may be found in the most recent CIIS Academic Catalog. Look up course descriptions by clicking here and going to the section entitled PhD in Human Sexuality. Please note, courses may change and any questions should be directed to the Human Sexuality PhD Program Chair.

First Year Coursework

In the first year, we build the cohort experience, and lay down an intersectional foundation of knowledge including concepts, theory, and methodology. We aim to advance student scholarship through critical thinking, creativity, and self-reflection.

Introduction to Human Sexuality (3 units)
Sexual Theory and Intersectionality (3 units)
Sexual Function and Practices (3 units)
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (3 units)
Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality (3 units)
Understanding Research (3 units)

Second Year Coursework

In the second year, students continue to refine their research question and learn more about methodology and theory.

Sexual, Gender, and Reproductive Rights (3 units)
Global Sexualities (3 units)
Gender and Queer Theory (3 units)
Methodology I (3 units)
Methodology II (3 units)
Sex Education and Learning Theory (4 units)*
Sex Therapy Professional Skills (4 units)*

* Elective course – at least 3 elective units in year two and may choose from the two listed above or any others offered online at CIIS.

Third Year and beyond

Starting in the third year, students take comprehensive examinations. Students get only two tries on each exam and must pass these examinations to move to the dissertation phase of the program. Dissertation proposal generation takes one to three semesters maximum with an average of two semesters. Once a proposal has been accepted by the student’s dissertation committee and approved by the department chair and Provost, the student may enroll in dissertation seminar and becomes a doctoral candidate (ABD, all-but-dissertation). Students are allowed a maximum of four years to complete their dissertation once they become doctoral candidates.

Course Descriptions

Introduction to Human Sexuality
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.

Sexual Theory and Intersectionality
This foundational course surveys broad and diverse theories developed in various places and times as applied to the study of behaviors, experiences, identities, and expressions of sexuality and gender. As such, this course may touch upon, but does not centrally interrogate, constructs which are experiential and subjective in nature (for example, not directly observable and not constrained to one single referent that all humans agree upon), like desire, pleasure, morality, identity, sexual drive, etc. In fact, the differences in how humans have perceived, experienced, and shaped such sexual constructs give rise to theories that are applied and changed as a way to help us understand such constructs and sexual/gendered phenomena worldwide.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
This is an advanced introduction to theories and methods used to understand and frame sexual orientation and gender identity in the field of human sexuality.

Sexual Function and Practices
This course represents the core knowledge about sexuality practices and behaviors that are required of students to be competent in the field. Content areas are aligned with AASECT's course 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. *Core knowledge areas covered: B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, and M; for more details, visit www.aasect.org.

Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality
This course addresses 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. Attention will be paid to the history of the field, ethics, philosophical issues, and professional communication skills. Content areas are aligned with AASECT's course knowledge areas* and are part of the required content for sex therapy and sex educator certification. *AASECT core knowledge areas covered: A, I, J, N, O, P, and Q; for more details, visit www.aasect.org.

Sex Therapy Professional Skills
This practical and professional training builds on the core knowledge from Sexual Function and Practices in an applied manner in service of the treatment of sexual issues. The course emphasizes: multiple theoretical orientations to sex therapy; sexual assessment and diagnostic skills; theory and methods of intervention; collaboration with clinical sexologists and sex medicine; working with interdisciplinary teams; treatment planning; ethical practice; and case conceptualizations. Content areas are aligned with AASECT's course knowledge areas* and are part of the required content for sex therapy and sex educator certification. *AASECT sex therapy training areas covered: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; for more details, visit www.aasect.org.

Sex Education and Learning Theory
This practical and professional training builds on the core knowledge from Sexual Function and Practices in an applied manner toward developing competence as a sex educator. This course offers an overview of the theory and methods of sexuality education, including curriculum development, teaching, pedagogy, and assessment of learning. Attention is paid to addressing diverse learning styles, classroom facilitation, ethical issues, and social-emotional and transformational dimensions of learning. Content areas are aligned with AASECT's course knowledge areas* and are part of the required content for sex therapy and sex educator certification. *AASECT sex education training areas covered: A, B, C, D, E, and F; for more details, visit www.aasect.org.

Technology, Sexuality and Culture
This course will explore the ways that sexuality and gender are mediated by technology and culture.

Sex, Love, and Intimate Relationships
This course is a systematic advanced introduction to the philosophy, research, knowledge, clinical practice, and policy issues related to holistic sexuality and intimate relationships.

Sexual, Gender and Reproductive Rights
This course examines sexual, gender, and reproductive rights in the context of the culture and history of rights- and identity-based movements.

Gender and Queer Theory
This course will examine gender as a category of analysis alongside the ideas that together constitute queer theory. Particular attention will be paid to understanding power relations such as between sexuality, gender, race, class, dis/ability, indigeneity, nation, and geographic location.

Comprehensive Examination I: Mastery of the Field
The first comprehensive examination is intended for doctoral students in good standing with the Human Sexuality Studies (HSX) Program. Prerequisites for registering for this course are completion of all coursework (exceptions with permission of the program chair), and selection of a comps chair from CIIS core faculty in the HSX program. The first comprehensive examination asks students to produce a scholarly paper providing an overview of the field of human sexuality via identifying at least three literature realms (for example, reproduction, feminist studies, and citizenship) as these relate to work done in sexuality studies.

Comprehensive Examination II: Area of Interest/Dissertation Research
The second comprehensive examination is intended for doctoral students in good standing with the Human Sexuality Studies (HSX) Program. Prerequisites for registering for this course are completion of all coursework (exceptions with permission of the program chair), and selection of a comps chair from CIIS core faculty in the HSX program. The second comprehensive exam is focused on students producing a literature review of the relevant scholarly work within the realm of human sexuality as it pertains to their particular dissertation topic.

Dissertation Proposal Completion
This course provides support for dissertation proposal writing after all coursework and comprehensive examinations are successfully completed.

Dissertation Seminar
This seminar provides close advisement on the research and writing of a dissertation project with the mentorship of and in close consultation with the dissertation chair and committee.

Questions about Admissions or the Human Sexuality program?

Admissions Counselor: Skylar Hall
(415) 575-6155 | shall@ciis.edu

Program Chair: Michelle Marzullo
(415) 575-3406 | mmarzullo@ciis.edu

Stay Connected to CIIS