Sexual Health and Education Specialization

This specialization prepares students to address sexual health and gender affirmation 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 bolster awareness of and resistance to social injustice, foster sexual and political self-efficacy, and shift communities toward greater appreciation for diversity, democratic processes, and universal flourishing.

One practice teaching course equips students to design sexuality education curricula. Students are also prepared to fulfill Core Knowledge Area requirements for certification as Sexuality Educators.

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 sexual and gender oppression and social and health disparities


  • Sex, Society and Social Work: Issues and Interventions (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: Service-Learning (3 credits)
  • Designing Sexual Health Education Curriculum (3 credits)
  • Media Methods for Disseminating Sexual Health Education (3 credits)
  • Regulating Sex: Social Work Perspectives (3 credits)


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

  • Jamal Birth Village
  • Habif Student Health Center at Washington University
  • Healing Action Network, Inc.
  • Planned Parenthood of St. Louis
  • Safe Connections
  • The Spot
  • Washington University School of Medicine – Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic


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 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 & Reproduction.

Susan Stiritz

Specialization Chair

Susan Ekberg Stiritz, a professor of practice 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, older adults, and sexual culture overall. She is past president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), which in 2014 also honored her as Sexuality Educator of the Year.


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.”