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 major 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.

36 Total credits
$748 Cost per credit hour
May 3 Next Start Date

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 major 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.

  • 36-hour program
  • Full-time and part-time options
  • January, May and August start dates
  • Complete your degree in as little as 20 months
  • HWEL 512- Disciplinary Foundations I
  • MAP 508- Elements of Scholarship
  • MAP 509- Research Methods
  • LACT 513- Disciplinary Foundations II
  • LACT 521- Field of Study I
  • LACT 522- Field of Study II
  • LACT 525- Applications I
  • LACT 526- Applications II
  • LACT 514- Functioning as a Lactation Consultant
  • LACT 520- The Art and Science of Lactation Consulting
  • LACT 528- Internship I
  • LACT 529- Internship II
  • LACT 620- Advanced Research Methods
  • LACT 628- Thesis I
  • LACT 629- Thesis II

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.

To apply for admission see full requirements
  • 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.
  • Union Institute & University Catalog Page 34 of 496 July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
  • 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 http://www.ets.org/toefl and https://myunion.edu/academics/academic-services/international-student-services/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.

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

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Supervised Experiential Learning

Supervised experiential learning is incorporated and interwoven throughout the program with classroom-based activities and off-site collaborative projects and rotations with local food and nutrition agencies and organizations.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does one become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?

There are three pathways through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) by which individuals can become IBCLCs. Each pathway requires 14 health science pre-requisite courses, 90- hours of didactic lactation education, and a certain number of clinical hours.  We are a CAAHEP accredited Pathway 2 academic program.

Does this program provide me with all of the requirements to sit for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?

Yes, we are a CAAHEP accredited Pathway 2 academic lactation program. Our 36 credit hour program provides 90 hours of didactic lactation education, 300 clinical hours, and the following health science requirements:

  • Psychology/Counseling
  • Nutrition
  • Introduction to Clinical Research
  • Professional Ethics
  • Medical Documentation
  • Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals and Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control
  • Communication Skills

Additionally, students have the option to add any of the following 1 credit hour courses to their program of study if needed:

  • Biology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Infant and Child Growth and Development
What if I already hold the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential? Am I still eligible for the Master of Arts in Human Lactation Studies major?

Yes, we have quite a few students who come to us already holding the IBCLC credential. These students do not need the 90 hours in didactic lactation education nor do they need to 300 hour clinical internship, so their course schedule looks slightly different. These students have the ability to tailor their courses to the specific aspect of human lactation that interests them, so their program of study is more individualized than traditional Pathway 2 Human Lactation Studies students.

My undergraduate degree is not in the healthcare field. Would I still be eligible for the Master of Arts in Human Lactation Major as a Pathway 2 student?

Yes, we are an accredited CAAHEP Pathway 2 program, which will provide you the requirements to sit for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) exam.

I see that your program contains a 300-hour clinical internship. Do I need to travel to Cincinnati, OH for this internship?

No, there is no travel needed in our program. The internship is remote and student-identified, so you can choose a preceptor and location that is convenient to you. We have a Clinical Coordinator who works directly with students to help them secure internship sites and secure all of the necessary agreements with the facility.

How does the 300-hour internship work? What is involved in the process of securing an internship site?

The 300-hour internship is split between two courses (150 hours per course). Within each course there is a set of competencies that students must complete along with the hourly requirement.

Internships can take place in hospitals, public health clinics, federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinics, obstetrics offices, pediatric offices, or private lactation practice.

Students must have a preceptor who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at their internship site in order to oversee and facilitate their on-sight learning. We encourage students to use the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) website and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) website to search for IBCLCs in their area upon admission into the program. Internship courses occur in the students’ third or fourth semester, but it never hurts to get things lined up early.

The internship itself requires a completed Internship Application, background check, proof of health insurance, proof of professional liability insurance, and a completed Affiliation Agreement between UI&U and the internship facility. An Internship Packet, detailing all of this information, is available to all current students.

The internship approval process can take upwards of 6-8 weeks.

What are career opportunities available for IBCLCs?

Many of our graduates have taken traditional career paths beyond graduation while others have taken nontraditional paths. 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.

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