Doctor of Philosophy, Human Sexuality Studies
Our research-oriented doctor of philosophy (PhD) in human sexuality studies is known worldwide as it is one of the only doctoral programs for the study of human sexuality at a fully accredited university.
Widener’s PhD in human sexuality attracts students from throughout the country who have completed graduate study in a wide variety of fields, primarily in the social sciences, and/or have a clinical, graduate-level degree in such fields as social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling psychology, nursing, and medicine. Many of our doctoral students are midcareer professionals already practicing as sexuality educators, counselors, or therapists.
As a full-time student, it takes 3 years to complete coursework for the PhD degree. As a part-time student, it takes approximately 4 years to complete coursework for this degree. Coursework is followed by at least 2 academic years of dissertation.
Please note that all applicants to our doctoral program must already hold a graduate-level degree or complete one year of our program as a master-level student. See our Admissions Information page for more details on admissions criteria.
The sex therapy track is for individuals who desire to help others through sex therapy or related work (e.g., clinical research, intervention development). International consensus is that sex therapy is considered a sub-discipline of other clinical disciplines (e.g., social work, clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling).
To enroll in the sex therapy track, a student must either already hold a licensable mental health degree or must enroll in one of our interdisciplinary programs.
The sexuality education track is for individuals who desire to educate others about human sexuality in communities, schools, or universities as community educators, teachers, educational consultants, curriculum developers, professional writers, or journalists. The sexuality education track emphasizes the developmentally and culturally appropriate design, delivery, and assessment of educational interventions across the broad spectrum of human sexuality.
If you wish to pursue a career in the public school setting but are not a certified teacher, consider our interdisciplinary program with Widener’s school counseling program, which will result in a Pennsylvania certificate in school counseling.
I cannot emphasize enough the doors that have been opened to me because of my PhD. My classes at Widener were unbelievably wonderful, and though my dissertation was more than a little stressful, it altogether was worth every penny and every minute! I can honestly say that I wouldn't be where I am today without my degree from Widener University!
I have several favorite professors at Widener University: Dr. Richard Cooper, Dr. Don Dyson, Dr. Tom Young, and Dr. Betsy Crane. Each professor empowered me to be a leader. They encouraged me to explore the social environment to create change. They were supportive and challenged me to be a better clinician, advocate, scholar, role model, and human being.
As a social worker, I understood the importance of my clients' sexuality. So many of them desired to talk about their sexual 'woundedness,' telling me other practitioners shied away from the topic. Sexual misuse, myths, misinformation, and shame often accompanied my patients into my office. I wanted to increase my proficiency beyond my certification as a sex therapist. Bringing my patients the best care in sexual health became a part of my business strategic plan, so earning a PhD from an accredited program became my goal.