Mar 05, 2024  
NCU Catalog - October 2020 
NCU Catalog - October 2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marriage and Family Therapy, Child and Adolescent Therapy Specialization, DMFT

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Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy

Description of Program

The Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) at NCU is designed to provide a high quality and rigorous education and training experience for students who wish to prepare for professional life as a systemically-trained mental health professional. A high standard of excellence is expected. In support of this, program faculty is selected for their expertise and ability to support students and facilitate exceptional educational attainment. The program is focused on developing the skills requisite for effective practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. The DMFT offers training in program development and evaluation, grant writing, advanced clinical education, research coursework and opportunities, and supervision training and experience. Graduates of the DMFT will be prepared to develop and evaluate programs, write grants, deliver clinical services, supervise other clinicians, serve in administrative positions, oversee the business of mental health practices, and participate in education and research in the field of marriage and family therapy. Additional program description, requirements, policies, and procedures are further described in the DMFT Program Handbook.

Click here for potential career opportunities within the DMFT.

Learning Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes of the Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) program are:

  1. Develop competence in working with diverse populations in academic, clinical, supervision and research settings. (SLO #1)
  2. Appraise clinical skills and ethical behaviors in systemic therapy and supervision. (SLO #2)
  3. Utilize systemic principles and doctoral-level scholarship to address salient issues. (SLO #3)
  4. Develop professional expertise in an area of specialization related to the field of marriage and family therapy. (SLO #4)

Basis for Admissions

Admission to the DMFT program in the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences will be determined by the degree used to meet basis of admission and/or clinical experience. Applicants must have earned a master’s degree from a nationally or regionally accredited university. The qualifying master’s degree must have been completed in a clinical program (e.g., MFT, psychology, social work, counseling).

All applicants complete the additional application steps outlined below (e.g., complete MFT specific applicant packet, one-on-one interview with MFT faculty, complete a national background check).

Degree Requirements

The DMFT degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the master’s degree.

NCU may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed toward a doctoral degree at an accredited college or university with a grade of “B” or better. Transfer credit is only awarded for course work that is evaluated to be substantially equivalent in content with the required course work for the DMFT program.

The Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy (all specializations) has the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NCU
  • Successful completion of all required degree program courses with a Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their diploma and/or degree posted transcript. 

Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the DMFT program has the following degree requirements:

  1. Online Video Conferencing. In order to complete some of the course requirements, students are required to participate in online video conferencing meetings throughout their time in the program. In order to participate in these video conference sessions, students are required to own or otherwise have access to a computer, a webcam, a headset, a video recording device, and a high-speed Internet connection.
  2. Doctoral Internship. DMFT students are required to complete a 9-month, 30 hour a week, doctoral internship that aligns with their doctoral specialization. Students are required to have a local supervisor with whom they can meet in-person for a minimum of 4 hours per month (i.e., one hour per week). For more information, please read the practicum and internship course descriptions.
  3. Liability Insurance. Prior to beginning any clinical experience, DMFT students are required to submit proof of professional liability insurance.
  4. Supervision Coursework. In addition to advanced coursework in marriage and family therapy, students in the DMFT program must complete a course in MFT supervision methodology. Students seeking to qualify for the Approved Supervisor designation will have to complete the direct supervision and supervision mentoring requirements outside of the program.
  5. Doctoral Comprehensive Evaluation (Portfolio). In pursuit of an applied doctoral degree at NCU, students will gain expertise in their academic discipline and in one or more specializations that complement their academic discipline. The three doctoral portfolio courses are intended to assure that students provide artifacts indicating that they have acquired competencies in the following domains: program and professional goals, a relevant course of study, professional experience and plans, research experience and plans, clinical experience and plans, internship outcomes, documentation of academic growth, and the first draft of a dissertation prospectus. The DMFT Portfolio is a living document with major updates throughout the program.
  6. Applied Dissertation. The capstone of applied doctoral training is the completion of an applied project process. The DMFT  program uses a facilitated capstone  process that is purposefully designed to help students follow a step-by-step sequence in the preparation and completion of a doctoral project. For students in the DMFT program, the applied project must be related to marriage and family therapy and be consistent with the student’s selected area of specialization. (Note: The applied project portion of the DMFT program can be completed with a minimum of 12 credit hours in Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE) Courses, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time the student takes to complete the project).


All DMFT students are required to demonstrate competency in the areas listed below.

  1. Competency in Writing Skills. DMFT students are required to successfully complete both DMFT-7101  and DMFT-7102  at NCU (or equivalent courses can be transferred in). Students are required to show competency in writing skills for research purposes throughout their NCU graduate coursework. Students may request on their own behalf or may be recommended to complete an English writing course if the School Dean or faculty determines communication skills are insufficient for doctoral-level work.
  2. Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete DMFT-7103  at NCU and demonstrate the ability to successfully complete a dissertation proposal.
  3. Graduate-Level Applied Project Design and Analysis Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete DMFT-7110  and DMFT-7111  at NCU, as well as carry out, complete, write-up and defend the proposed applied project.
  4. Graduate-Level Clinical Competency. All students who enter the DMFT program are required to enroll in a clinical practicum at NCU. DMFT students who are fully licensed MFTs have the option to take the supervision practicum (DMFT-8971 ) or the clinical practicum (DMFT-8951 ). DMFT students who do not enter the program as fully licensed marriage and family therapists must take DMFT-8951 . Successful completion of a practicum course, including relevant evaluations and presentations, is deemed to be evidence of clinical competence.
  5. Graduate-Level Program Evaluation Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete DMFT-7112  at NCU, which involves demonstrating competence in completing a program evaluation.
  6. Computer Competency. DMFT students are required to have the computer skills that are necessary for completing a dissertation. Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents). In addition, students need to use computer programs for the statistical analysis of data (e.g., SPSS). The dissertation oral examination requires the student to produce a computer-based presentation (e.g., PowerPoint).

Time to Completion

NCU allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.

The median time to completion for this program is 64 months.

Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most NCU students are working adults, balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic and finance advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.

Students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 54 months.

Practicum Information

Marriage and Family Therapy DMFT students must complete at least one 3-credit practicum course (with a clinical or supervision focus). Prior to enrolling in the required practicum course, students must complete the Practicum Preparation Process (PPP) and receive approval to enroll in this course. As part of the PPP, students will be required to secure a local clinical placement as well as a local clinical supervisor who is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor (or Supervisor Candidate) or who meets state requirements for supervision of post-graduate MFTs seeking state licensure. If students are currently licensed to practice marriage and family therapy independently in their state, they can elect to complete a supervision practicum and are not required to have a local on-site supervisor. DMFT students will receive supervision and evaluation from NCU Clinical Faculty.

The practicum course for DMFT students in the DMFT is DMFT-8951  or DMFT-8971  (each is 3 credit hours). Additional details can be found in the course description for these courses.

Internship Information

Students must complete the following content and specialization courses before beginning their doctoral internship:

Final approval of a student’s internship plan rests with the Director of MFT Doctoral Programs.

DMFT students must complete a 9-month supervised internship. DMFT students who plan to engage in clinical work as part of their internship must meet weekly with a local supervisor who is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, AAMFT Supervisor Candidate, or state-approved supervisor. At least half of this supervision will occur in-person. DMFT students who are fully licensed MFTs can elect to complete an internship with a focus on such areas as clinical research, teaching, entrepreneurship, or administration within the field of marriage and family therapy. These students are required to have an on-site, in-person supervisor who will serve as a mentor/supervisor. This local supervisor is not required to be a clinical supervisor (i.e., AAMFT Approved or state approved supervisor), but is a content expert specific to the students’ area of specialization. Supervisors are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Director of MFT Doctoral Programs. Students in a research, teaching or administrative internship are required to have a supervisor that will be available to the intern for at least one hour of supervision per week.

MFT Supervision Training

In addition to the practicum and internship courses, students in the DMFT program must complete a course in MFT supervision methodology. The supervision course will be conducted in connection with the requirements established by AAMFT for students to become Approved Supervisors. Not all requirements will be completed for the students to achieve the designation while in the program at the University. The supervision course in the DMFT program is not pre-approved by the AAMFT to count for the 30-hour supervision course requirement. DMFT students must enroll in DMFT-8970 , or as an alternative to completing the supervision course at the University, students may elect to complete the training directly through AAMFT. Upon completion of the AAMFT training, students may submit documentation through their Academic and Finance Advisor for approval and the course requirements (credit hours) for DMFT-8970  will be met (for DMFT students wishing to pursue the AAMFT Approved Supervisor credential, completing the course through AAMFT is the only alternative).

Dissertation Process

Faculty assists each NCU Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Child and Adolescent Therapy

The Child and Adolescent Therapy Specialization is designed to prepare students to work in therapy settings with children and adolescents from a family therapy/systems perspective. Students in this specialization are required to focus their course projects, internship work, and dissertation research on issues related to working with children and adolescents. Twelve (12) credit hours of coursework are devoted to Child and Adolescent Therapy.

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