Master of Arts Human Lactation Studies

Breastfeeding has positive global health and economic implications, which cannot be duplicated in any other form and as such, it has been studied for decades. The Human Lactation Studies program offers students the ability to learn from previous research while building the skills and strategies necessary in breastfeeding management as they prepare to become International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and/or aid in their professional development as a seasoned IBCLC. The Human Lactation Studies major provides a strong foundation in research methods, healthcare ethics, evidence-based practice, and experiential learning.


Our CAAHEP accredited Pathway 2 program is led by scholar-practitioners who are leaders in the field of human lactation. Our faculty combine theory with practice to adequately prepare students to become advanced practitioners in the field of human lactation.

36 Total credits
$695 Cost Per Credit Hour
TBA Next Start Date

Human Lactation Concentration

Students who choose a major in Human Lactation Studies may complete a generalized program or select the following concentration:

pencil and paper (1)

IBLCE Pathway 2

This concentration is for individuals who wish to earn the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential.  Students in this concentration will be able to discuss and evaluate concepts related to the management of human lactation and appraise the contemporary issues central to lactation care. The IBLCE Pathway 2 (PW2) provides the required elements that allow students to sit for the IBLCE exam via Pathway 2 upon successful graduation.

Our mission is to educate highly motivated, competent, and socially responsible entry-level International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). With the knowledge and skills they gain through experiential learning and scholarship, they will be prepared to engage in a lifetime of empowering and educating others.

Our goal is to prepare competent, entry-level Lactation Consultants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains. (Standard II.C.)* 

*Outcomes data is available upon request.

  • 36 credit hour program
  • Full & part-time options
  • January, May, and August start dates
  • Complete your degree in as little as 20 months

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Arts Program is open to applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution or a recognized international institution of higher education. Admission decisions are made on an individual basis. Before admission is granted, each application is reviewed by the Admissions Committee to determine if the applicant’s academic history and preparation is satisfactory. Students may be admitted into the M.A. on a full or provisional status.

  • Official transcripts detailing an earned Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or greater, if conferred GPA is less than 3.0, transcripts from all universities and/or colleges attended must be provided.
  • A grade point average of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale) in the major field of study and in all subsequent graduate work. An official transcript with the baccalaureate degree noted from the school(s) attended must be sent directly from the undergraduate school to the admission office. Candidates who do not have a 3.0 GPA may be considered for admittance to the program. Such exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis and may require additional coursework.
  • Students with international transcripts are responsible for obtaining an evaluation of their transcripts through an international evaluation service.
  • A statement of purpose that describes the applicant’s reasons for applying and the type of research they would like to do in the M.A. The statement of purpose should also demonstrate graduate-level writing skills and command of the English language.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who know the applicant academically or professionally and who can speak to their potential to succeed in graduate study.
  • An updated resume.
  • English proficiency is required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Most students fulfill the English requirement by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). At both the graduate and undergraduate levels, our TOEFL requirement is 79 on the Internet-based test. See and English proficiency requirement. Students may also demonstrate English proficiency by successfully completing a valid undergraduate or master’s level degree for which the language of instruction was English.

applying your degree to real world experience

Our students are individuals with academic or work experience in the maternal and child health field who want to build a foundation for their career in human lactation. Some of our students chose Union for a career change and to fulfill their passion for the field of human lactation. Many of our graduates go on to work in a clinical setting such as a hospital, obstetric office or pediatric office. Others have chosen to work in the public health setting for federal programs such as the USDA Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. Still others have gone on to open their own private lactation practice or nonprofit organization.

What makes Union’s M.A. with a major in Human Lactation Studies unique?

“Our program is offered exclusively online, which offers the ability for students to attend classes on their time. The small class size allows students to form lasting mentoring relationships with faculty.”

Lisa Akers, PhD, RDN, IBCLC, RLC, FAND
Human Lactation Studies Advisor


“The Nest” is Union Institute & University’s new interprofessional telehealth clinic and offers virtual lactation consultations. The Nest provides students in our B.S. in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and the M.A. in Human Lactation Studies programs with direct learning experiences that might not be available otherwise. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to apply knowledge learned in the classroom while gaining practical experience, especially for those seeking to become International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). To participate, students must have a minimum of 90 didactic hours of lactation-specific education and be enrolled in their lactation internship courses so they are prepared to work directly with clients.

Group classes and consultations will be led by Union’s human lactation students and accompanied by Alicia Simpson, MS, RD, IBCLC, LD. Alicia serves as our faculty IBCLC who will work directly with students to offer The Nest’s lactation services. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with clients and students. Learn more about “The Nest”.

Frequently Asked Questions

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