Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS)

The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) was a private unaccredited for-profit graduate school and resource center in the field of sexology in San Francisco, California.[1] It was established in 1976 and closed in 2018. Degree and certificate programs focused on public healthsex therapy, and sexological research.

The institute grew out of research in the 1960s highlighting the general lack of understanding and formal training in human sexuality. Its library and archives were a collection of adult films, academic sexological and erotological resources, and sex therapy training materials.

Like all post-secondary schools in California, IASHS was required by California law to register with the State of California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, an anti-fraud or anti-diploma mill unit of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.[2] IASHS had BPPE “approval to operate”, which means that IASHS met the minimum legal standards for “offering of bona fide instruction by qualified faculty”. That approval was discontinued in 2014. In 2017, the institute’s attempt to renew operation was denied.[3][4]


The path that led to the founding of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in 1976 began in 1962 with a program called the National Young Adult Project (NYAP). Originating in the then Methodist Church, the NYAP ultimately became an ecumenical project that included the Evangelical United Brethren, Presbyterian Church USA, and United Church of Christ denominations on the national level. Other church bodies (African Methodist Episcopal, American Baptist, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Protestant Episcopal, United Presbyterian Church in the USA, and Lutheran Church of America) also participated on a regional or local level. Dr. Ted McIlvenna (1932-2018), a Methodist minister, and cofounder, owner and president of the institute, headed the San Francisco project for the NYAP. Of the 50+ nationwide projects the NYAP developed by 1968, only the three connected to him and to Glide Memorial Methodist Church had anything to do with sexuality issues. McIlvenna believed that there was a lack of research on human sexuality and the absence of demonstrated effective training and educational methodologies. A meeting in 1967 at the Institute for Sex Research led to the formation of the National Sex Forum as part of the Glide Foundation to address this lack.[5]

By 1974, it was clear to the forum that a free-standing institute dedicated to the study of and education and training in the emerging field of sexology was required. They divided the creation of the academic institute as: McIlvenna to re-envision the Forum as an academic setting; Laird Sutton to collect a graphic-resource library; Herbert Vandervoort to organize and prepare the academic work of the study team; and Marguerite Rubenstein, Loretta Haroian, and Phyllis Lyon to define the professional training standards for the new academically trained professional sexologists.[5] Wardell Pomeroy was the first Academic Dean.[6]

The institute was integral to the development of humanistic sexology, emphasizing experiential techniques and sexual pleasure over positivist empiricism. The culture of casual as well as clinical nudity and the inclusion of various bodywork and erotic massage techniques led to the institute being nicknamed “Hot Tub University” or “Fuck U” by some critics.[7] The inclusion of Reichian therapy and other techniques not well founded in research similarly led to criticism.[7]

The institution was not accredited but it was approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE),[8] In July 2014, the BPPE sent a Notice to Comply to IASHS regarding several violations. In early 2016, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education sent a Citation: Assessment of Fine and Order of Abatement to IASHS, for seven violations. Two months later, IASHS was required by CA SB1247 to seek and obtain accreditation; two years afterward, the institution closed.


Degrees were offered in Master of Human Sexuality, Master of Public Health in Human Sexuality, and Doctor of Human Sexuality, as well as Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees with a focus in sexology and erotology. They also offered professional certificates.

Coursework varied by degree sought, but included formal academic lectures, group-based discussion, video lectures and webinars (which may be undertaken off-site as part of a distance education program), and hands-on training in therapy and bodywork. Research-based degrees included independent or directed use of the institute’s extensive primary and secondary archives of sexological material.[7][9]


The institution was not accredited. Although the institution was approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE),[10] BPPE is not an accrediting agency.[11][12]

Quackwatch identifies the institute as a “Questionable Organization”.[13] In a 2014 news article about the institution, IASHS founder Dr. Ted McIlvenna said: “We don’t take federal money and that’s why we won’t be accredited by the traditional state agencies. We don’t want to be handcuffed as to what we can provide, say and do. We’ve been approached by accrediting bodies run by Mormons and Roman Catholics that wanted us to change our code of ethics to promote contraception and change our name to reflect ‘family and marriage counseling’ instead of sexuality. We won’t do it.”[14]


In addition to its educational and archival mission, the institute engaged in outreach, such as teaching sex education to underserved teenagers in demographics at high risk for pregnancy. Ted McIlvenna, president of the institute, favored a curriculum focusing on teaching teenagers techniques for “obtaining healthy, respectful relationships with their partners” rather than abstinence-only sex education.[15] The institute produced safe sex books, videos, and assorted paraphernalia.[7] The archives included hundreds of thousands of adult films, as well as documents tracing the development of sexology as a field of research and training and educational materials; together, they comprised one of the most comprehensive sexological and erotological resource centers in the world.[16][17][18]

IASHS helped to establish the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, in partnership with Harry Mohney, and offered a rotating selection of films and other art are on display at the Erotic Heritage Museum.[19] However, the museum is now owned and managed by Harry Mohney.

The institute favored open discussion of sexuality, including such issues as oral sexmasturbationhomosexualityBDSM and informed consent, teen sex and pregnancy, and sex therapy. Roger Libby, adjunct professor, sex therapist, and author of The Naked Truth About Sex: A Guide to Intelligent Sexual Choices for Teenagers and Twentysomethings, encouraged the use of extensive pre-sex discussions to set parameters and establish comfort levels.[20][21] Charles Moser, chair of IASHS Department of Sexual Medicine, has argued that paraphilias and BDSM should be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).[22][23]

Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

The institute published the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality each year until its final issue in 2014. Articles were reviewed by the editorial board with supplemental review by readers.[24]

Noted alumni

Some of the institute’s alumni include:

See also


  1. ^ “Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality”. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  2. ^ “Approval by Means of Accreditation Overview”. Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Retrieved 5 April 2013
    Q. Does the Bureau accredit institutions?
    A. No. The Bureau approves a person to operate an institution in California. An approval to operate signifies that an institution is in compliance with state standards as set forth in the Private Postsecondary Education Act. Only accrediting agencies can accredit an institution. Accreditation is a voluntary non-governmental review process. On the other hand, state approval is mandatory for a person operating an institution subject to the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009.
  3. ^ “Approved Institutions”. Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  4. ^ “Renewal of IASHS Approval” (PDF). Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. Jump up to:a b Bullough, Bonnie; Bullough, Vern L. (1994). Human sexuality: an encyclopedia. New York: Garland Pub. pp. 310–312ISBN 0-8240-7972-8.
  6. ^ “Archive for Sexology: Modern Sex Research (1938– )”. Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology at Humboldt University. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d Irvine, Janice M. (2005). Disorders of desire: sexuality and gender in modern American sexology. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-151-4.
  8. ^ “School Defail: Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality”Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. July 30, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  9. ^ “Courses” 2018-04-16. Archived from the original on 2018-04-21.
  10. ^ “School Defail: Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality”Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. July 30, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  11. ^ “More US States Step Up To Fight Against Diploma Mills”The Boston Globe. 2011-03-25. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  12. ^ “SB 675”. April 27, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2022.
  13. ^ Kreidler, Marc (October 19, 2021). “Questionable Organizations: An Overview | Quackwatch”.
  14. ^ Johnson, Bob (2014-08-15). “IASHS: A Virtual ‘Harvard’ for a New Breed of Sex Educator?”XBIZArchived from the original on 2014-08-16.
  15. ^ Busse, Phil (2002-09-26). “Birds don’t do it, Bees don’t do it: Surprise! The Feds don’t want teens having sex”The Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  16. ^ Louie, David (2007-02-08). “Armory Protest Reveals S.F. Porn Industry: S.F. has 6 of 10 top companies”ABC News. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  17. ^ “Human Sexuality: institute studies sex to improve lifestyles”Wilmington Morning Star. 1978-08-15. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  18. ^ Ted McIlvenna. “Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality”. In Erwin J. Haeberle; Vern L. Bullough; Bonnie Bullough (eds.). Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  19. ^ Curtis, Lynette (2008-07-28). “Embracing Erotic Art: New museum’s exhibits, films, sculptures and photos celebrate human sexuality”Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  20. ^ Lynn, Regina (2006-06-16). “The Naked Truth About Sex Ed”Sex DriveWired. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  21. ^ Libby, Roger W. (2006). The Naked Truth About Sex: A Guide to Intelligent Sexual Choices for Teenagers and Twentysomethings. Freedom Press (CA). ISBN 1-893910-38-5.
  22. ^ Moser C, Kleinplatz PJ (2005). DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An argument for removal. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 17(3/4), 91-109.
  23. ^ Cloud, John (2004-01-18). “Bondage Unbound”Time. Archived from the original on February 12, 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  24. ^ “The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality”. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  25. ^ “William R. Johnson | Profiles | LGBTQ Religious Archives Network” Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  26. ^ “Del Martin, Lesbian Activist, Dies at 87” Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  27. ^ Nick Madigan (2004-05-10). “Voice of Health in a Pornographic World”New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-26
    Sharon Mitchell — Well-behaved women rarely make history
  28. ^ Walker, Tim (2008-05-29). “Life after porn”The Independent. London. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  29. ^ “The Annie Sprinkle Story”. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-01-10.

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