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. 


Sexuality Studies is hosting a Zoom information session for prospective graduate students on Monday April 11, from 6:00-7:00pm. Join the Graduate Director and faculty members to learn more about our program, including requirements, courses, and admission procedures.

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 857 3478 8560

Passcode: 919679



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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. 

Writing Sample

To help the admissions committee assess your readiness and suitability for our MA program, you should submit an academic writing sample that best showcases your analytic and writing skills. This could be a class assignment, a senior thesis, or a writing sample that you create specifically for your application. The writing sample should be a minimum of 1,500 words, excluding the works cited or reference page. There is no maximum word limit.


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.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE Requirement)

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Sexuality Studies MA Program does not require applicants to take the GRE exam.

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

All applications should be submitted through Cal State Apply. 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 2022 for Cal State Apply and submission of all completed application materials are:

  • Early priority: March 1, 2022
  • Second priority: April 15, 2022
  • Final deadline: June 1, 2022

Western Regional Graduate Program

We are pleased to announce that the Sexuality Studies MA program is now part of the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) which enables students in 16 Western states and territories to enroll in participating public graduate programs as nonresidents, yet pay the lower resident tuition rate.


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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.
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.
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.
No. We are a fully in-person program. During the 2020-21 academic year, we offered our courses online due to COVID-19 restrictions. We anticipate returning to in-person instruction in Spring 2022 and being fully in-person by Fall 2022, although this will depend on advice and guidelines issued by state and local health professionals.
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, Dr. Clare Sears.
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 and theory. 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 a creative project, an empirical research project, or a library research project for your M.A. thesis. You are encouraged to discuss this decision with your advisor and other faculty.
The Western Regional Graduate Program is a tuition-discounting program that enables students from Western states and territories (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) to enroll in participating graduate programs and pay the enrolling institution’s resident tuition rate, instead of the higher nonresident rate that an out-of-state student would normally pay. For more information, see here:

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Degree Requirements

For current MA in SXS degree requirements, please see SF State Bulletin.


Our M.A. program offers graduate students a rigorous curriculum in the academic study of sexuality with a strong focus on interdisciplinary research and theory. Our faculty members conduct research and teach courses in a range of social science and humanities disciplines including sociology, public health, literature, history, criminal justice, 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 state 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 Sexuality Studies prepares students for the following next career steps: 

  • Ph.D. programs and professional schools in, for example, psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, women and gender studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, social work, public health, medicine, 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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