Marie's Outlook

Secrets to Meeting IBLCE’s Health Science Requirement

To be eligible for the IBLCE exam, you must meet three requirements. I’ll assume you’ve already figured out how to meet the requirements for the clinical hours and 90 hours of lactation-focused education. But some some of you have told me you’ve had difficulty meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement. It’s this requirement that I want to address here. (If you are a Recognised Health Professional, feel free to skip this post. You can submit a copy of your government-issued professional license or registration to prove you meet this requirement.) People who are qualifying through Pathway 3 seems to have the most difficulty with this. 

 As you probably already know, I am not an official representative of the IBLCE. Rather, based on my experience teaching thousands of current IBCLCs, I’d like to give you a few of the best-kept secrets that will help you meet the requirements without breaking your budget or losing your mind.  

What are the 14 topics?

Meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement means completing coursework on a total of 14 subjects. Note the IBLCE doesn’t use the term “category 1” or “category 2” but for clarity in this article, I will.  

“Category 1” topics

For each of eight subjects—what I refer to as “category 1” topics—exam candidates must complete at least one course at least one academic credit section in length, and earn a passing grade.

These courses include: Biology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Infant and Child Growth and Development, Introduction to Clinical Research, Nutrition, Psychology or Counseling Skills or Communication Skills, and Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology. 

In addition to completing these courses, you’ll need to complete courses in what I refer to as “category 2” topics.

“Category 2” topics

Meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement for each of the remaining six subjects—what I call the “category 2” topics—is a bit different. Exam candidates can complete courses from an institution of higher learning or those from a continuing education provider.  

Category 2 subjects include: Basic Life Support, Medical Documentation, Medical Terminology, Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals, Professional Ethics for Health Professions, and Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control. (These courses are available online from Breastfeeding Outlook—except for Basic Life Support, which you can complete through any local Red Cross or similar type of program.) 

Different categories, different requirements

Meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement for length and source differ from one category to the other.     

“Category 1” courses must be taken at “an accredited institution of higher learning” and must be at least 24- 30 hours in length. You can “test out” of these courses, by completing CLEP (College Level Examination Program) or DSST exams for any of the subjects. (See this blog.) 

In contrast, “Category 2” courses can be taken at an institution of higher learning, or through a continuing education provider. IBLCE does not specify an expected length for these six specific-topic courses. 

There is no time limit for when any of the 14 courses must have been completed.  

Meeting IBLCE’s Health Science Requirement can be done entirely on the computer. Online options for meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement

As noted above, Breastfeeding Outlook provides convenient online education options for all of the “category 2” topics, except Basic Life Support. You can pick up the Basic Life Support with a CPR course at your local Red Cross, fire department; a Neonatal Pulmonary Resuscitation (NPR) course, or similar.  

For “category 1,” I’ve identified a handful of online options that might help. Note that I’m not affiliated with any of these programs, and I can’t verify your course selections or completion. Also, offerings are subject to change, so you must still do a little legwork to find out whether they’ll meet your particular needs. But I offer this list as a starting point.  

Do pay careful attention to the length of the courses. According to IBLCE, they need to be at least 25 hours in length. IBLCE provides sample descriptions for what typical offerings in each category would be, and I recommend you review those as well.   

Economical options is a non-profit online educator offering several of these topics, including: human anatomy and physiology, and biology. has a child development course that is said to have sufficient hours of instruction, and it has nutrition courses, psychology, and more. has fewer options for topics, but they are reasonably priced and sometimes on sale. I have personally purchased full-length courses for as little as $10. The holiday season is an especially good time to pick up big bargains. is another online educator with a variety of topics available, including this statistics course.

Stonebridge has a child psychology course that can meet requirements for child development, psychology, and clinical research. Watch for discounts of 20-30%. has coursework that is said to cover biology, human physiology, and human anatomy.

Study.comhas some topics available. Just be careful about the length of the course. 

You must earn credits or passing grades.

You might be able to get all of the required courses online for a small fee, or possibly for free. Just remember that you must be able to prove that you have earned a passing grade. (Many of the free courses do not offer credits or grades. Therefore, think about this before you dive in.) 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should serve as a good start for the budget-conscious person who aims for meeting the health sciences requirement through an online experience.  

Points to remember for meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement 

  • Meeting IBLCE’s health science requirement for the first 8 topics differs from the requirements for the last 6 topics.  
  • You might possibly be able to “test out” of these requirements. (I’ve met only a few people who have been successful doing that.) 
  • Free courses may or may not carry credits.  
  • You need to earn a passing grade for all of these.  
  • Look for the sales! 

Have you used any of the above-mentioned options for meeting the Health Sciences Education requirement? How did it go? 

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