Master of Arts in Human Sexuality Studies

Graduate Advisor: Clare Sears

Career Options for M.A. Graduates

The career outlook for graduates with specialized knowledge of human sexuality has never been better in our society, due to the changing positive attitudes regarding the role of sexuality in the universities and colleges, high schools, local and national government, research and training, clinical and mental health training, and private sector positions that call for expertise of human reproduction, sexuality, sexual identity and diversity, sexual orientation, gender, and human resources.

The Master of Arts in Human Sexuality Studies program is designed to meet the following career needs:

  • Preparation for Ph.D. studies and professional schools in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, medicine, social work, or communication.
  • Work in public health settings, such as those related to AIDS education, AIDS/HIV treatment, and care centers, e.g., the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco and welfare centers throughout the Bay Area.
  • Reproductive health education, research, training, and prevention facilities and organizations; i.e., Planned Parenthood.
  • Sexuality education for students at the regional community colleges and at the local school boards that offer or plan to offer courses and curricula on sexuality, including counseling in secondary schools.
  • Preparation for work in policy or research public policy institutes located at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Service provision and training for service providers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and others that require sensitivity training related to sexuality across the life course and sexual orientation issues.
  • Human resource departments of businesses and corporations, responsible for the provision of sexuality and sexual orientation anti-discrimination and partner benefits areas for employees.
  • Research, policy, and education providers who are needed to fill gay and lesbian agencies and community centers in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

Admission to Program

A prospective student must fulfill the general University requirements as stated in the section on Graduate and Post-baccalaureate Admissions of this Bulletin. To be considered for classified (unconditional) admission to the graduate program in Human Sexuality Studies, an applicant must have completed an undergraduate major in an appropriate field under advisement with a grade point average of 3.0 or better. It is expected that applicants will primarily come from behavioral and social sciences (psychology, anthropology, sociology, history), health education, social services professions (social work), business (human resources, management, marketing), or humanities (speech and communications, women studies). Students whose undergraduate major did not include human sexuality studies courses should consult the graduate advisor about making up course deficiencies in human sexuality studies.

Applicants must furnish the department the following materials, no later than March 1st for the following fall semester (no spring admissions): a program application with a statement of purpose outlining experience, career objectives, and rationale for studying human sexuality studies at the graduate level; two letters of recommendation; unofficial transcripts of all college coursework, indicating a GPA of 3.0 or better; Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with a minimum score of 4.0 for the analytical writing portion of the GRE; TOEFL scores; and an SF State application. Applying to the University is a separate process from applying to the department. For detailed information regarding our admissions process, please see our website at

The faculty graduate committee evaluates applications for admission, assesses the overall program, and reviews student progress. If a student is not making reasonable progress towards the degree, the committee may recommend termination of candidacy.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

GRE writing score of 4.0 and above or satisfactorily meeting the writing requirements in SXS 800.

Level Two

Satisfactory completion of the culminating experience requirements:

SXS 894Creative Work Project3
SXS 895Research Project in Human Sexuality Studies3
SXS 898Master's Thesis3

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students completing the program successfully will possess strong writing skills in sexuality topics, and they will have the ability to write for a diverse audience, including academics and non-academics, and those in advocacy and political positions.
  2. Students completing the program successfully will possess strong presentation skills in sexuality topics, including the ability to be conversant about a number of “hot button” topics, as for example, sexual and reproductive health, and rights. Students should be able to pursue research and to engage many distinct sectors of the public dialogue on sexuality, in ways that are relevant to sexual literacy and well-being in the US.
  3. Graduating Human Sexuality Masters students will have a comprehensive knowledge and skill set of sexuality-related issues, including but not limited to sexual theory, methodology, sexuality education, sexual health, reproductive rights, biology and sexuality, race and sexuality, and contemporary policies that relate to these topics.
  4. Students completing the program successfully will possess a good foundation in the intellectual history and sexual theories of the field -- past and present, including the early sexuality researchers and theorists (e.g. Kraft- Ebbing and Freud), as well as modern theorists (e.g. Foucault and Butler); in addition students will have a good foundation in feminist theory as it relates to sexuality; and they will have some understanding of critical race theory as it intersects with sexuality theory.
  5. Students completing the program successfully will possess a good understanding of the sociological, epistemological, psychological, cultural, and biological dimensions of gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity development.
  6. Students completing the program successfully will demonstrate good research skills.
  7. Students completing the program successfully will possess good understanding of ethical considerations in sexuality research.

Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements for Advancement to Candidacy (ACT), applicants must maintain a 3.0-grade point average in all Human Sexuality Studies courses taken for the degree, and may not list any course in which the grade received is below a B– on the ATC form.

Human Sexuality Studies (M.A.) — Minimum 30 units

Core Requirements (12 units)

SXS/ANTH 701Sexual Cultures, Sexual Identities3
or SXS/HIST 702 Sexuality in Historical Perspective
SXS 800Sociocultural Foundations in Human Sexuality3
SXS 801Biological and Psychological Foundations of Human Sexuality3
SXS 890Professional Development3

Research Methodology (6 units)

SXS 881Research Methods in Human Sexuality Studies3
SXS 882Research Design in Human Sexuality Studies3
or SXS 884 Advanced Methods in Sexuality Studies
or other advanced methods course with approval of Graduate Studies Coordinator

Electives (9 units)

Units selected from upper-division/graduate courses upon advisement

Culminating Experience (3 units)

Select one of the following:
SXS 894Creative Work Project3
or SXS 895 Research Project in Human Sexuality Studies
or SXS 898 Master's Thesis