Sexual Health and Education Specialization | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Sexual Health and Education Specialization

This specialization prepares students to address sexual health as critical to individual, family and community wellness.

Within the specialization, students study sexuality as central to human development across the life course, encompassing sexual expression, gender identities and roles, sexual diversities, pleasure, intimacy, reproduction and sexual safety. Coursework addresses sexuality as both a source of empowerment and a site of oppression. Students learn evidence-based interventions that can improve sexual functioning, satisfaction and culture.

Two practice teaching courses equip students to design and implement sexuality education curricula. Students are also prepared to complete instructional and practice portions of certification as sexuality educators and therapists.

Graduates are prepared for careers as sexuality educators, advocates, policymakers, program administrators and therapists—and, more generally, for critical and holistic social work practice that recognizes links between sexuality and social and health disparities.

Specialization Requirements: 9 Credits

  • Sex, Society and Social Work (3 credits)
  • Six additional credits of sexuality-related coursework*

*Select from a variety of approved courses, including:

  • Sexual Health Across the Life Course (3 credits)
  • Designing and Implementing Sexual Health Education, Sexual Pleasure, Power, and Protection (3 credits)
  • Media Methods for Disseminating Sexual Health Education (3 credits)
  • Regulating Sex: Social Work Perspectives (3 credits)
  • Designing and Implementing Sexuality Education: Service-Learning (3 credits)


The Sexual Health and Education specialization requires 120 hours of related tasks during the concentration practicum. Sample practicum sites include:

  • Habif Student Health Center at Washington University
  • Healing Action Network, Inc.
  • Paraquad Independent Living Center
  • Planned Parenthood of St. Louis
  • Safe Connections
  • The Children’s Aid Society
  • The Spot
  • Washington University School of Medicine – Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic

Additional Resources

Students pursuing the Sexual Health and Education specialization are often interested in the Violence and Injury Prevention concentration as well as training opportunities offered in partnership with the School’s Center for Violence and Injury Prevention. Students interested in certification through AASECT can also receive the required supervision.

The Brown School’s Professional Development department is an AASECT-approved organizational provider of Continuing Education credits. This department offers a variety of Intensive Training Institutes and workshops, which students can pursue for a nominal fee.

Washington University is known for its welcoming environment, recognized with five stars from the Campus Pride LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index. The Brown School has an active LGBTQIA student organization called Sexuality & Gender Alliance.

Susan Stiritz

Specialization Chair

Susan Ekberg Stiritz, a senior lecturer at the Brown School, focuses her research on transformative sexuality education. She studies the hook-up culture, noting the difference sex-positive, gender-neutral sexuality education makes to the development of emerging adults. She is president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), which in 2014 also honored her as Sexuality Educator of the Year.

Zoe Whaley

Featured Graduate

“The courses I took deepened my understanding of how sexual health is relevant to many disciplines—sociology, public health, social work, psychology and more. The transdisciplinary nature of this specialization was especially appealing, because it allowed me to pursue the intersection of my primary passions: violence prevention and healthy relationships.”

—Zoe Whaley, MSW ’14, Wellness & Health Promotion Coordinator for Violence Prevention and Sexual Wellness, San Jose State University