Graduate Program

Graduate Coordinator


Dr. Clare Sears

Phone: (415) 338-3508
Office: HSS 373




Master of Arts Program in Sexuality Studies

The Master of Arts program in Sexuality Studies provides an integrative and comprehensive graduate degree for students interested in studying and working with issues related to human sexuality, sexuality education, research and social policy. It offers an interdisciplinary curriculum in the study of sexuality, with particular emphasis on theory, research and application. Sexual and cultural diversity and their relevant historical, social, developmental and biological aspects are considered. It investigates the assumptions and applications surrounding current methodologies of the major disciplines that are presently concerned with human sexuality. It enables students to understand varied and often contradictory policies around which sexuality has been formulated, generating a perspective through which they will be able to formulate new and improved solutions to these issues. 

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Application Process

Components of the Application Process

A Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is the first document that the admissions committee will read. It is critical that you write a strong and exciting statement, so you should prepare yourself to write many different drafts. It will be helpful if others can read your statement and be brutally honest in their comments. In the statement you must first of all let us know what you want to accomplish by studying human sexuality in our program. We are interested to read what life experience, including educational experience, compelled you to seek a graduate degree in the field. What do you expect to achieve during your graduate education, and what future goals do your education and degree support? Write a story that tells us how these two years you will spend in our program fit in your life. What history led you to the Department of Sexuality Studies, what will you do here, and where do you plan to go after completing the program? We want to make sure that your goals can be met by the strengths of our program. It will help you if your statement generates excitement about you among the members of the admissions committee. Please write no more than two pages single spaced, using standard margins and font sizes.

Two Letters of Recommendation

When you ask for letters of recommendation, it behooves you to send letters that will be highly favorable. You can ask your referees, politely, if they will write you a strong letter. A weak letter will hurt your chances like few other things. We will read the letters of recommendation after we have read your statement and will make sure that your referees support the impression you have given about yourself. Most importantly, we will try to ascertain that you have the academic potential to be successful in a demanding graduate program and that you will finish what you have started. We don't have a form for your referees to fill out. We do expect that they send YOU their letters directly in a sealed envelope with a signature across the flap. You will then submit your letters with your complete program admissions package. This process should allay any concerns you have of your letters not arriving at all or not arriving on time. We will not share their letters with you at any point.


Indicating a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Please note for the admissions process you will need to submit two sets of transcripts for all your college course work.You need to send your official transcripts to the university and you need to send an unofficial set with your complete program admissions package.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE Requirement)

The analytical writing score on your GRE exam is the only score we use in our admissions process.  You need at least a score of 4.0 for the "writing assignment." Please send the official copy. SCHOOL CODE: 4684 ( You do not need a specific major code, your application will be matched up with your GRE score) Our mailing address is:

Department of Sexuality Studies
Master of Arts Admissions
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave HSS 370
San Francisco, CA 94132

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English and who preparatory education was principally in a language other than English are required to take TOEFL. The minimum score is 550 for the written test or 213 for the computer test.

San Francisco State University Application

The department does not require a mailed-in hard copy application.

Cohorts will be accepted each year for the Fall semester only.

The application deadlines for Fall 2020 for Cal State Apply and submission of all completed application materials are:

  • Early priority: March 1, 2020
  • Second priority: April 15, 2020
  • Final deadline: June 1, 2020

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FAQ: Application Process

There are no prerequisites to the M.A
The program requires that you have a 3.0 GPA or higher for the last two years of your college education. There are several things we take into consideration when we look at your record. If your grades show a clear progression, we are interested to learn from you how you improved your grades. Sometimes grades suffer because of unanticipated circumstances, including illness, accident or care for a loved one. You can address this issue in your statement of purpose. Those who write letters for you should comment specifically on your academic potential if they feel that your grades are not a clear indication of your ability.
Yes. However, we strongly urge you to consider quality over quantity. Two strong letters will hold much more weight than three less enthusiastic ones. A third letter that is not too favorable can do more harm than good. One of the two letters should be from a professor, if possible. We will want to assess your academic potential, and it is likely that professors who have worked with you closely can best indicate how likely you are to succeed in a demanding graduate program.
We prefer to evaluate your candidacy from the materials we have requested. If you feel for some reason that such a paper provides significant information that we would not have otherwise, you may include it in your application file. However, we cannot guarantee we will give it significant weight in our deliberations.
Yes. Please keep in mind that we do not have rolling admissions, so your application will not be reviewed early. Submitting early does assure that you will have time to complete all parts of the application.
The analytical writing score on your GRE exam is the only score we use in our admission process. If you received an analytical writing score of less than 4.0 on the GRE, you can proceed with the application but you will need to contact the graduate coordinator for additional follow up.
You can find more information at San Francisco State University's Testing Center at (415) 338-2271 or online at the Testing Center Website.
Credit for previously taken classes is not automatic and will never exceed 6 units of course work. You can petition the graduate studies committee with a request for substitution of a previously-taken class for a required class in the program. The graduate studies committee will decide whether you will be awarded credit. Please note that if you applied credit earned for this coursework toward your undergraduate degree, you cannot receive credit again in the Sexuality Studies M.A. program.
No. We only admit students for the fall semester.
No. Your previous application is not considered as part of a new application, except in providing us with evidence of your interest in the program. Several students who are currently in the program were admitted when they applied a second time. It is very much worth your effort if you want to pursue this degree. Each application has its own merit and one does not influence another. Of course, you can speak with the graduate coordinator or other faculty members to inquire how you can improve your application.
As of Spring 2019, our required graduate courses are not available online. All required coursework, which includes SXS 800, SXS 801, SXS 881, SXS 702, SXS 890, and SXS 884 must be completed in residence at San Francisco State University.
Please go to our scholarship page. You can also view numerous scholarships offered through the university via our Financial Aid Office.
Research assistantships are offered but not guaranteed. The availability of research assistantships depends on faculty research projects, their need for assistance and your own sexuality research interests. In the past, there have been both paid RAships and RAships for which you can get course credit (though not both). We suggest further discuss this upon admissions to the M.A. program with our graduate coordinator, Professor Alexis Martinez.
No, our program will not qualify you to become a sex therapist. An M.A. in Sexuality Studies from SF State will provide you with broad interdisciplinary training in sexuality with an emphasis on research training. Additionally, the Sexuality Studies program is committed to addressing social justice issues in the area of human sexuality. We encourage you to go elsewhere if your primary interest is to become a sex therapist.
Our program offers a comprehensive research and training program that will enable you to become a sex educator. However, we do not offer a certificate in sexuality education.
Our program is ideally suited to equip graduates with the theory and methodology necessary to qualify for a Ph.D. program in a relevant field.
You are permitted to do either a library or empirical research project for your M.A. thesis. You are encouraged to discuss this decision with your advisor and other faculty.

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Degree Requirements

For current RPT degree requirements, please see SF State Bulletin.


Our M.A. program offers graduate students a rigorous curriculum in the social science of sexuality with a strong focus on social theory and social research methods. The program is housed in the Department of Sociology & Sexuality Studies. Our faculty members conduct research and teach courses in a range of social science disciplines including sociology, public health, criminal justice studies, history, gerontology, gender and women’s studies, queer studies, political science and psychology. Our program does not offer sex therapy, or clinical or counseling training, although students can pursue these interests by using their nine units of elective credit and taking courses in a range of departments across the University.

View sequence of courses by semester

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Career Outlook

The career outlook for undergraduates and 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 M.A. in Human Sexuality Studies prepares students for the following next career steps: 

  • Ph.D. programs and professional schools in, for example, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, medicine, social work and communication studies
  • Public health workers in HIV/AIDS education, treatment, and care centers
  • Reproductive health education, research, training and prevention
  • Sexuality education at regional community colleges and in local school boards
  • Work in policy or research public policy institutes
  • Service provision in, for example, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and others
  • Education and training for service providers and human resource providers
  • Research, policy and education providers

Considering an MA Degree in Sexuality Studies?

Kendra, current Master of Arts in Sexuality Studies graduate student, discusses the program here.

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