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Human Lactation Consultant Program


Certificate Level: undergraduate
Admission Requirements: High School Diploma and Prerequisite Health Sciences Courses
Certificate Type: Certificate
Number of Credits to Completion: 18.0
Instructional Delivery: In person
Calendar Type: Quarter
Maximum Time Frame: 3 years
Financial Aid Eligibility: Aid eligible


The Drexel University Nutrition Sciences Human Lactation Consultant Program is designed to provide an opportunity for individuals to prepare to become Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). The program, offered in-person at Drexel’s Center City campus, provides the required 90 hours of didactic coursework and 300 hours of supervised practice in lactation that are part of Pathway 2 (see Accreditation). The program offers three, 3-credit didactic courses in lactation (NFS 205 Introduction to Lactation, NFS 305 Clinical Issues in Human Lactation, and NFS 405 Public Policy of Breastfeeding) followed by three, 3-credit supervised practice experiences (NFS 485 Lactation Supervised Practice) completed in the Philadelphia area.

What you’ll learn

The program combines classroom and experiential learning to provide a comprehensive education for future lactation consultants. The 3 didactic courses provide a foundation in the physiology of lactation, common issues encountered for the breastfeeding mom and baby, and public policy of breastfeeding. The Lactation Supervised Practice provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in clinical settings, counseling breastfeeding mothers and their babies, under the guidance of a Drexel IBCLC.

What makes the program unique?

According to the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners website, there are only four university-based lactation consultant programs in the entire nation and none are in the Philadelphia area. Students who complete all 18 credits of the Human Lactation Consultant Program will be eligible to sit for the exam to become an IBCLC. By combining this credential with their existing curriculum, students in other degree programs (including nursing, nutrition, health sciences, and public health) can prepare for unique career opportunities.

What is a Lactation Consultant?

There is currently a strong global emphasis on increasing breastfeeding to promote health at the population level, prevent acute and chronic illness and decrease societal health care costs. The United States Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy People 2020, the Institutes of Medicine, the Joint Commission, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign and many professional associations include breastfeeding as a key health strategy. In August of 2012, the Affordable Care Act enacted a provision for breastfeeding counseling and support. Many insurers, employers, and organizations consider IBCLCs to be those health care professionals most qualified to provide breastfeeding counseling and support. This new provision created an increased need for lactation professionals, with very few programs available to meet the need.

IBCLCs work in public health, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), hospitals, physician practices and clinics, and in private practice. They also work for employers, developing and maintaining breastfeeding-friendly workplaces. To date, there are only a handful of university-based lactation consultant programs; Drexel is positioned to be on the cutting edge to meet the new demand for well-prepared lactation professionals.


The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admissions Requirements

For Current Drexel Students

Students who are currently matriculated in an undergradate or graduate degree program at Drexel may enroll during their designated enrollment period.

For Those Interested Who are Not Current Drexel Students

To apply online, visit the Part Time Undergraduate Admissions site and complete the application for the Certificate in Human Lactation.

Transcripts: Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) require that applicants must have completed at least one academic credit (25 hours or more) and earned a passing grade at an accredited institution of higher learning in the following eight areas:

  • Biology (for example: Introductory Biology, General Biology, Fundamentals of Biology,or Life Science)
  • Human Anatomy (for example: Introductory Human Anatomy, Principles of Human Physiology, Fundamentals of Human Anatomy and Physiology, or Human Biology)
  • Human Physiology (may be combined with Anatomy; see above)
  • Infant Child Growth and Development (for example: Childhood Growth and Devlopment, Early Childhood Development, Development of Infants and Toddlers, or Developmental Psychology)
  • Introduction to Clinical Research (for example: Introductory Statistics, Introduction to Critical Inquiry and Research, Health Sciences Research Methods, Statistics for Health Professionals, Public Health Research and Methods, or Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research)
  • Nutrition (for example: Principles of Human Nutrition, Introduction to Nutrition Sciences, or Biochemistry)
  • Psychology or Counseling Skills or Communication Skills (for example: Basic Concepts in Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Applied Psychology, Foundations of Interpersonal Communications, Health Communication, or Consumer-Provider Health communication)
  • Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology (for example: Introductory Sociology, Elements of Sociology, Cultural Competency, or Introduction to Cultural Anthropology)

Applicants must have completed at least five of the eight prerequisite courses prior to enrolling in the program; the final three prerequisite courses may be completed concurrently, but must be completed before the student begins supervised practice. The content of the above courses must include the topics outlined in the IBLCE Health Sciences Education Guide. The Health Science Education Courses at Drexel and Philadelphia Area Community Colleges Guide provides a listing of courses that may be used to fulfill the prerequisite requirements.

For help determining which prerequisites may be met with courses applicants have previously completed, please contact Emily Delany, academic advisor, at

In addition, the IBLCE require that applicants must have completed a course offered by an institution of higher learning or a continuing education course in the following subjects:

  • Medical Documentation
  • Medical Terminology
  • Professional Ethics for Health Professionals

Three additional IBLCE requirements (Basic Life Support, Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals, and Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control) will be fulfilled during completion of Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions Compliance process prior to beginning supervised practice.

CV/Resume: Optional.

Licenses: Nurses, dietitians, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals who hold licensure or a certificate must submit a copy of their current license.
Personal Statement/ Essay: Personal statement (no more than two pages and no less than one page double-spaced) that will give the admissions committee a better understanding of the following:

  • why you are choosing this particular program of study
  • your plans upon completion of the certificate
  • how your current work experience will enhance your experience in this program.

References: One letter of recommendation.

International Students: International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:
If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have: a minimum combined score for listening, writing, and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher; a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.

Tuition and Fee Rates: Students participating in the certificate program are considered part-time undergraduate students. Tuition is based on the number of credits taken each term; the part-time student fee is fixed per term. Current part-time undergraduate tuition and fees are posted annually on the Undergraduate Tuition and Fees page of Drexel Central. Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central for more information.


New students may begin the program in the fall term only. NFS 205, 405, and 305 are taught sequentially in the fall, winter and spring terms; NFS 205 is a prerequisite for both NFS 305 and NFS 405. All three didactic courses and all health science education courses must be completed before students may begin supervised practice. Didactic classes meet on the Drexel Center City Campus, once per week from 6:00-8:50 PM, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Supervised practice is completed in Philadelphia metro area facilities, typically Monday through Friday; some evening hours are available for hospital-based supervised practice, but most hours must be completed during the daytime. 

A minimum grade of C is required for NFS 205, NFS 305 and NFS 405. NFS 485 is Pass/Fail; students must complete a minimum of 100 hours and fulfill all of the required competencies to pass the course.

NFS 205 Introduction to Human Lactation (3 credits)

This course will provide a foundation in breastfeeding and human lactation, including breastfeeding education and promotion during the prenatal period, successful initiation of breastfeeding, prevention of many common pitfalls, and ongoing breastfeeding support. This course covers the fifteen specific areas required by Baby Friendly USA for all nurses working in prenatal and perinatal areas in Baby-Friendly Hospitals.

NFS 305 Clinical Issues in Human Lactation (3 credits)

The course focuses on the clinical aspects of lactation, including in- depth infant and maternal assessment and composition of human milk. Emphasis will be on first recognizing normal anatomy and physiology and then exploring presentations of the difficulties that breastfeeding dyads encounter. The course will examine the effects of infant and maternal characteristics as well as the effects of the birth on breastfeeding outcomes. Strategies to improve breastfeeding success will be discussed.

NFS 405 Public Policy of Breastfeeding (3 credits)

Breastfeeding promotion has emerged as a priority public health agenda in recent years due to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies and decreased healthcare costs for breastfeeding dyads. New families and healthcare providers are becoming more aware of the importance of breastfeeding, yet breastfeeding rates still lag behind public health goals. This course will examine the barriers to optimal breastfeeding using a socio-ecologic framework and participants will gain a better understanding of the different factors that influence breastfeeding behaviors. Strategies to more effectively protect, promote and support breastfeeding will be discussed.

NFS 485 Lactation Supervised Practice (3 credits per quarter; 9 credits total required)

Lactation Supervised Practice is designed to prepare competent, entry-level lactation consultants who will be eligible to sit the International Board Lactation Consultant Examination by completing Pathway 2. The course will provide appropriate experiences to practice the roles of lactation consultant under the supervision of a preceptor.

Please see the Admissions Tab on this page for a list of prerequisite courses that must be completed before enrolling.

Please click here to see the Human Lacation Certificate page of the Drexel University Course Catalog


The program was awarded initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) on September 16, 2016 for a period of five years. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs can be reached at 25400 US Hwy 19 N, Suite 158, Clearwater, FL 33763. Phone: 727-210-2350


The demand for a program that prepares aspiring lactation consultants for international certification is rising.  Additionally, students and practitioners in other health care fields are increasingly called upon to support and protect breastfeeding in their roles.  The certificate program allows current Drexel students to differentiate themselves to potential internship coordinators or employers. It also attracts new students to Drexel, for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of Pathway 2 for becoming an IBCLC.

IBCLC Exam Results


Number of students taking exam

Pass rate



3/3 = 100%



2/2 = 100%



10/12 = 83.3%



10/10 = 100%



25/27 = 92.6%