Curriculum Overview
This online hybrid program consists of two years of coursework (36 units), comprehensive exams, and a dissertation (4-6 year estimated completion).

During the two years of coursework, all students must attend three long weekend academic residencies at CIIS each semester. Coursework for the balance of the semester is completed asynchronously online. The academic residency weekends change from year to year, but for 2017-2018, they are:

August 24-27, 2017
October 27-29, 2017
December 1-3, 2017

January 26-28, 2018
March 9-11, 2018
April 27-29, 2018

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 Orientation and Gender Identity (3 units)
Sexual Theory and Intersectionality (3 units)
Sexual Function and Practices (3 units)
Problems and Professional Issues in Sexuality (3 units)
Sex Education and Learning Theory * (4 units)
Sex Therapy Professional Skills * (4 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)
Love, Sex, and Intimate Relationships (3 units)
Gender and Queer Theory (3 units)
Methodology I (3 units)
Methodology II (3 units)
Technology, Sexuality, and Culture * (3 units)
Other Ways of Being Human: Alternative Sexualities, Family and Kinship Systems * (3 units)

Third Year
Comprehensive Exams (0 units)

Fourth Year
Dissertation (0 units)

* Elective course
Students take at least 6 units in electives from among these options.

Course Descriptions

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 on 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, postcolonial 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 Function and Practices (3 Units)
This course represents the core knowledge students are required to engage in sexuality practices and behaviors to be competent in the field. Topics covered include Bio-psycho-social developmental models of sexuality and gender identity, sociocultural 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 a 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.

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.

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.

Second Year Courses:

Sexual, Gender and Reproductive Rights (3 units)
This seminar is an overview of sexual, gender, and reproductive rights in the context of the culture, politics, government and history of rights and social movements. The course will primarily focus on the United States context but will also integrate examples of rights-based movements, advocacy, and policymaking from various countries and municipalities worldwide. It includes reviews of theoretical, epistemological, cultural, historical, clinical, and public health foundations of advocacy and activism around sexual, gender and reproductive policies. It describes the policy-making process and why sexuality, gender, and reproduction are often the subjects of policymaking. Threaded throughout the course will be an examination of the concept of sexual citizenship. Analytic techniques will draw on the fields of policy evaluation and health communications. The central goal of this course is for students to analyze the epistemological assumptions within a current sexuality, gender and/or reproductive policy, deconstruct the historical context of the policy then propose recommendations for a new or improved policy and communications campaign. Priority to HSX students.

Love, Sex, and Intimate Relationships (3 Units)
This is a systematically 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.

Gender and Queer Theory (3 units)
This course will examine gender as a category of analysis alongside the ideas that together constitute queer theory. Particular attention will be paid to how gender theories and queer theory may be used to understand socialization, identity, behavior, and various power relations (such as between sexuality, gender, race, class, dis/ability, indigeneity, nation, and geographic location).
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 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.

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.

* 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.


Questions about Admissions or the Human Sexuality program?

Admissions Counselor: Lindsay Roth
(415) 575-6291 |

Program Manager
(415) 575-6199 |

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