Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

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Located in San Francisco, California, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality is an academic institution and museum, which grants graduate degrees and certificates in various aspects of sexology.


It offers the Master of Public Health in Human Sexuality, Master of Human Sexuality, and Doctor of Human Sexuality professional degrees, and the Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Education with a research and educstion focus. For persons with other professional degrees, it grants certificates in sex education, clinical sexology, AIDS/STI prevention, and erotology.


It is accredited by the State of California (U.S. state) Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education as a vocational training institution, but does not have accreditation from any of the regional or national academic bodies. The state accepts its training as qualification for various health care practitioner licenses.

When challenged by Brian Chase, assistant general counsel for the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who said it is not an accredited school, Institute president Ted McIlvenna, Ph.D., a former Methodist minister responded that his school is fully qualified to educate and award degrees. McIlvenna said "All accreditation means is that you're eligible to receive federal funding. We are an independent voice. We want nothing to do with federal funding or industry tag money. All we care about is being legal."

The challenge and counterchallenge were with respect to the credentialing of Sharon Mitchell, who heads the AIM Health Foundation, which is a rival of Chase's group. Mitchell holds a Ph.D. in human sexuality from the Institute. AIM briefly ceased medical operations, but reopened after being sold to another organization and coming under different regulation.[1]


While some of its faculty have doctorates from accredited universities, most have their terminal degree from the Institute itself. Some, such as Annie Sprinkle, have experience in performance and other arts as well as sex work.


The Institute awarded an honorary doctorate to Nina Hartley, a pornographic actress and director, registered nurse, and sex educator. At the award ceremony in Las Vegas, Hartley, who is 51 and has had a long industry career, observed "Now I work with women who are younger than my breast implants." She added later, on her blog, "I do this, not just for the sex or the money, but to help others find the best way for them to get the most out the sex they do have. I will keep up my end of this dance for as long as I'm able, since it's what makes me happy." [2]


  1. David Elijah Nahmod (3 February 2011), "State closes adult industry health group", Bay Area Reporter
  2. Lindsay Goldwert (8 October 2010), "Call her Dr. Nina: Porn queen Nina Hartley, 51, awarded honorary doctorate from sex institute", New York Daily News