Doctoral Degree

Human Sexuality Studies (PhD)

With a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in human sexuality studies, you'll gain the knowledge and skills needed to become a leader and researcher in the field.

Program Overview

In our doctoral degree in human sexuality studies (PhD) program, you'll take the inside track to a future as an educator, clinician, therapist, researcher, and sexuality professional. This program trains professionals in the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to work with individuals and groups around the myriad of sensitive issues in human sexuality.

In addition to working collaboratively with community educators, teachers, therapists, clinicians, and writers, you will also be trained in social justice education, research methodologies, curriculum development, clinical research, teaching strategies, assessment and intervention, and culturally appropriate program design.

You'll gain hands-on practice experience in either educational or clinical settings, depending on your program track. Field experience is accompanied by a practicum course through which you will receive supervision from a faculty member. Field placements are located where you live, and students who live more than two hours away from campus can attend their practicum class through video conferencing.

Through a practicum placement and a rigorous research-oriented education, you'll develop the skills and aptitudes to excel in the field of human sexuality.

Program Options for PhD in Human Sexuality Studies

View the Loading... for curriculum and coursework requirements for the human sexuality studies PhD degree .

Sex Therapy

In this track you will learn how to help others through sex therapy or related work (e.g., clinical research, intervention development). International consensus is that sex therapy is considered a subdiscipline of other clinical disciplines (e.g., social work, clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling).

Please note: To enroll in the sex therapy track, you must either already hold a licensable mental health degree or must enroll in one of our interdisciplinary programs.

Licensable mental health degrees include: MSW, LMFT, LCSW, LPC, LEP, PPS, MA in Psychology, or an MA in Counseling.

Please contact our department if you are unsure as to whether or not you are qualified to apply to the sex therapy track.

Sex Education

In the sex education track you will learn the necessary skills 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.

Public Policy

The sexuality and public policy track of the PhD in Human Sexuality Studies program prepares students to work at the intersection of policy, advocacy and sexuality.  Policies set at the local, state, and federal levels impact the scope of individual rights, as well as access to information and quality services in the fields of sexuality, reproductive rights and sexual health. Students pursuing this track will gain greater understanding of the dynamic and complex policy sector and build skills to effectively advocate for positive change. The program includes a practicum component where students will spend a year working in a professional setting to get real-world experiences that sets them up for success. While the sexuality-specific courses are taught in a combination of weekend and online courses, the four public administration courses required for this concentration are only offered weekday evenings on Widener’s main campus in Chester, PA.

Non-Profit Management

The non-profit management track is for individuals seeking to advance their skills as leaders of non-profit and non-governmental organizations that work in the sexuality sector and the related areas across the United States (i.e. reproductive justice, sexuality education, public education and information, healthcare, etc.). This track enhances leadership and managerial skills, while also offering training in advancement and communications necessary to thrive given the increasing demands and challenges facing the non-profit sector. The program includes a practicum component where students will spend a year working in a professional setting to get real-world experiences that set them up for success. While the sexuality-specific courses are taught in a combination of weekend and online courses, the four public administration courses required for this concentration are only offered weekday evenings on Widener’s main campus in Chester, PA.

Option for Pursuing a Career in the Public School Setting

If you wish to pursue a career in the public school setting but are not a certified teacher, consider a dual degree option with Widener’s school counseling program. Along with an PhD, you will receive a Pennsylvania certificate in school counseling.

Admissions Information

  • GPA of 3.5 or higher in most recent degree program
  • A master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher learning
    • Applicants interested in the sex therapy track MUST have a licensable mental health degree
  • Complete Widener online application
  • Resume
  • Professional Goals & Interest Statements
  • Personal Statement
  • Professional Writing Sample
  • Three letters of recommendation: two academic and one professional/volunteer
  • Official transcripts from all completed undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Personal or group interview (scheduled after receipt and review of completed application)
  • January 10 - for matriculation in the fall semester

Program Highlights

With a PhD in human sexuality studies from Widener, you will develop the skills and expertise to excel as a sexuality educator and researcher.

Flexibility & Efficiency

Most of our classes are scheduled on weekends and evenings with working adults in mind. Because of this format, human sexuality PhD students commute from around the Philadelphia area (and beyond) and are able to keep their current jobs.

Exceptional Training

Thanks to our highly trained faculty and staff who use current educational philosophies and research methodologies, you will receive an education that emphasizes affecting learning and cutting-edge strategies in the field of human sexuality.

Certification through AASECT

If you are interested in becoming certified by the American Association and Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, our curriculum puts you on the right track to meeting the requirements for certification.

Research & Innovation

The Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative (ISRC) at Widener is devoted to supporting, enabling, and producing a rich and comprehensive body of scientific research in human sexuality at the intersection of varied theoretical approaches.


Brent A. Satterly

"My approach to teaching is best described as embracing an existentialist and social reconstructivist perspective, emphasizing respect for what each student brings to the classroom and students’ responsibility for their own learning. In my teaching at Widener, these methods have resulted in positive outcomes as measured by student course evaluations and verbal feedback."

Pride Perspectives

Hear from our students about their experience in the Human Sexuality Studies program

Li Lock presented their findings to Widener peers and faculty.

I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to go to the program at Widener. I’d heard it was a reputable program at an accredited university, and after learning about the backgrounds of the faculty and their research interests, I knew this was the place.

Li Lock

Li's Story

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Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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