Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
Description of Program
The Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) degree program is focused on developing the skills and personal and professional growth that are required for effective practice in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. The program is designed to provide an integrated learning experience for adult students seeking specific training in the profession of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). Students in this program will critically analyze a broad range of theories and practical knowledge in MFT. Degree requirements also include involvement in ongoing clinical work and supervision. This training prepares students for therapeutic and educational work in a variety of settings including mental health centers, public service agencies, correctional institutions, industry, medical settings, and private practice. Additional program description, requirements, policies, and procedures are further described in the MFT Program Handbook and the Clinical Training Handbook.
Graduates of the master’s level program will be well prepared to begin the process of seeking licensure in their home state or area.
Click here for potential career opportunities using the MAMFT.
**Note: Program availability may vary by state - please contact the Enrollment Office for more information**
The goals (referred to as Student Learning Outcomes) of the (MAMFT) program are:
- Employ competence in working with diverse populations in clinical settings. (SLO #1)
- Students/graduates** will evaluate family systems oriented clinical skills across a variety of contexts. (SLO #2)
- Examine family systems theory oriented models of therapy (SLO #3)
- Formulate a decision-making process for ethical dilemmas congruent with the AAMFT Code of Ethics. (SLO #4)
The MAMFT degree is structured to assist students to seek licensure in the state or jurisdiction of their choice. To allow this, courses can be added to the standard 45 credit program (up to a total program requirement of 60 credits) to assist with meeting licensure requirements. Eligible transfer credits can be applied to the program to support the respective state licensure requirement.
A core goal of the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) degree is to qualify students to become licensed as Marriage and Family Therapists and pursue a career within this field. NCU recognizes that today’s professionals are much more likely to move, live, and work in multiple states during their professional careers. With over 25% (n=16) of states now requiring 60 credit hour degrees to qualify for MFT licensure, and with more states proposing this change, it is recommended that students consider a degree plan and electives that maximize portability of the degree throughout the U.S.
NCU recognizes that a majority of states do not yet require 60 credit hour degrees and thus desire to allow students to keep the cost of their education as low as possible while still balancing the need of having a degree that allows for transportability between states during their professional career. Due to the nature of the MFT profession and differences that exist today in state licensing requirements, NCU allows students the ability to select additional electives above the required 45-credit degree plan, up to 60 credits.
Basis for Admissions
In addition to evidence of a conferred bachelor’s and/or a conferred master’s or doctoral degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution, applications for admission to the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences Master’s programs require prior to the first date of attendance:
- Current resume or CV
- Statement of Intent
- Licensure plan (not required for applicants with an existing MFT license)
- Statement of professional ethics and conduct
- List of clinical site possibilities in the area of residence
- Course transfer/waive request (if applicable)
- Interview with an MFT faculty member
- Background check - All students in the MFT program that currently live or who have ever lived in the United States are required to complete a background check through NCU’s designated provider prior to acceptance in the MFT program. International students and students holding a current MFT or other (e.g., LPC, LCSW) clinical license are exempt from the requirement. Some students will do this as part of the application process, all students will have this completed before starting work in their clinical placements. (See the MFT application packet for further details)
The MAMFT degree requires a minimum of 45 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the bachelor’s degree. While not required for graduation, students who need to complete a program requiring more than 45 credits and up to 60-credits or who need specific additional courses for their state licensure requirements will be allowed to complete optional elective courses to meet these requirements, which will constitute the total credit requirements for graduation from the program.
The University may accept a maximum of 15 semester credit hours in transfer toward the master’s degree for graduate coursework completed toward a graduate 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 to the required course work in the MAMFT program. Transfer credit is only awarded for course work that is evaluated to be substantially equivalent in content to the required course work in the MAMFT program. See the Transfer Credit Policy for additional information.
The MAMFT program has the following graduation requirements:
- A minimum of 36 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 bachelor’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 complimentary diploma and/or degree posted transcript
Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the MAMFT program has the following degree requirements:
- Online Video Conferencing – In order to complete some of the course requirements and to participate in the online supervision process that is used during the practicum and internship courses, students are required to participate in several 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 web cam, a headset, a video recording device, and a high-speed internet connection.
- Client Contact – MAMFT students will be required to complete 300 hours of direct client contact, which includes conducting face-to-face therapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups. At least 150 hours of client contact must be relational (e.g., couple or family). See section below for new client contact requirements starting January 1, 2022. For more information, please read the practicum and internship course descriptions or the Clinical Training Handbook.
- Supervision – In conjunction with client contact, MAMFT students must receive a total of 100 hours of supervision, at least fifty-two (52) of which must be individual supervision conducted by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, AAMFT Supervisor Candidate, or state-approved supervisor. At least 50 of the supervision hours must also involve a supervisor’s review of the student’s therapy with clients via video/audio recording or live observation. See section below for new client contact requirements starting January 1, 2022. In some cases, students may be required to pay for local supervision. This will depend on the clinical placement location and/or local supervisor they contract with to complete their practicum and internship requirements. The decision and responsibility to pay for local supervision is entirely up to the student and not a requirement of NCU.
- Liability Insurance – Prior to beginning any clinical experience, students are required to submit proof of professional liability insurance. This is included with a student membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (for California students it is also included in the student membership in the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists).
- Clinical Hours Tracking – the MAMFT program uses a web-based system to document completion of clinical hours. Students, local approved clinical supervisors and NCU faculty training supervisors all have access to the system in order to support the successful completion of the clinical training requirements for the program. Students will be allowed access to the system upon request after they have completed at least six courses.
Time to Completion
NCU allows 6 years to complete all Master’s programs of 36 credits or more.
The median time to completion for this program is 49 months.
Time to completion varies depending upon the pace at 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 33 months.
Practicum/Internship Requirements starting January 1, 2022
Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s students must complete two practicum courses, two internship courses, and a final Capstone internship course over a minimum of 52 weeks. During this time students will need to acquire a minimum of 300 total direct therapy hours, 150 of which must be relational, unless a higher amount is required by the state licensure statutes. Teletherapy is permissible, but at least 50 of the 300 hours must consist of in-person therapy. Additionally, only 50 of the hours may be comprised of co-therapy and at least 50 of the hours must be related to the student’s specialization (as applicable).
In conjunction with client contact hours, master’s students must complete 100 hours of supervision, 52 of which must be direct individual supervision with the approved local supervisor. Telesupervision is permissible, but at least 12 hours of in-person supervision (1 hour a month) is required. Also, within the total supervision hours, at least 50 hours of supervision must include observable data, or review of the student’s clinical work through live observation, co-therapy, or review of video or audio recordings of the student’s clinical sessions. Additionally, students must meet for 2 hours each week via videoconference for NCU Group Training Supervision with an NCU faculty training supervisor during the practicum and internship courses. Per COAMFTE standards, students only count therapy hours during weeks that they receive supervision from an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.
Students are eligible to begin clinical training after completion of the ninth course (students in states that require 60 credits are encouraged to begin after the twelfth course). Students are not permitted to start their first clinical course until all the below courses are successfully completed:
Prior to enrolling in the first practicum course, students must complete the Practicum Preparation Process (PPP) and receive clinical readiness approval. As part of the PPP, students will be required to secure a local clinical placement as well as a local supervisor. The local supervisor must be an AAMFT Approved Supervisor (or Supervisor Candidate) or someone who meets state requirements for supervision that includes relational/systemic supervision training of post-graduate (or, if stated by state licensure law, student requirements) MFTs seeking state licensure within their state.
The Marriage and Family Therapy programs provide support to students in securing quality internship placements by having a team of full-time faculty and a clinical coordinator whose primary responsibility is supporting students in the process of searching, vetting, and maintaining sites and supervisors. This team also ensures student preparation for engaging in clinical work through the Practicum Preparation Process. The program keeps a database of previously approved sites in all states where students have completed clinical training. Students searching for sites and supervisors are welcome to contact previous sites the program has used or select a new site that fits their interest and meets the programs requirements.
Requirements in the Clinical Courses
A few requirements are needed within each clinical course. First, in addition to the above-mentioned weekly supervision, it is recommended that students engage in 6-7 direct client hours per week, or 70 hours for each of the first four clinical courses if they are eligible for the 300-hour program requirement. More hours will be needed weekly (8-10) if the state requires that students obtain more than 300 hours. Students who have significantly fewer hours than the recommended at the end of each course will see this reflected in their clinical course grades and may need to take additional internship classes. Second, students must receive satisfactory evaluations from their local site supervisor and their Northcentral faculty training supervisor in each clinical course. Third, students must take the AATBS practice exam online and submit the results to NCU One. This is a practice exam for the national licensing exam or the California licensing exam. Information about preparing for and taking this practice exam is provided in the applicable course syllabus. Finally, students must prepare and give a presentation demonstrating their competence in their preferred model of therapy. This presentation will be given in an online video conference and must include video clips from actual therapy sessions of one case. Students must pass the Final Case Presentation and acquire the needed hours to graduate.
Non-degree students are eligible to enroll in the clinical courses pending review and approval by the Program Leadership.
MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and Family Therapy master’s students must complete 9 credit hours of clinical training – including practicum (6 credit hours) and internship (three 1-credit hour) courses over a minimum of 52 weeks. The primary requirement of this master’s level internship is to continue the clinical work that began in the practicum courses and complete the minimum total required 500 hours of direct client contact, 250 of which must be relational. In conjunction with client contact, master’s students must complete 100 hours of supervision, 51 of which must be direct individual or group supervision with the approved local supervisor in the same physical location. Also, within the total supervision hours, at least 50 hours of supervision must include direct observation of the student’s clinical work through live observation, co-therapy, or review of video or audio recordings of the student’s clinical sessions. In many cases, these hours of observation-based supervision can be completed with both the direct local supervisor and the NCU faculty supervisor (depending on the state licensure regulations). Students must participate in local supervision during every week they are actively seeing clients. Additionally, students must meet for 2 hours each week via videoconference for NCU Group Supervision with an NCU faculty supervisor during the practicum and internship courses. Per COAMFTE standards, students only count therapy hours during weeks that they receive AAMFT-approved supervision.
Students are required to find their own site. NCU does not assign students to specific sites. The Marriage and Family Therapy programs provide support to students in securing quality internship placements by having a team of full-time faculty and a clinical coordinator whose primary responsibility is supporting students in the process of searching, vetting, and maintaining sites and supervisors. This team also ensures student preparation for engaging in clinical work through the Practicum Preparation Process. The program keeps a database of previously approved sites in all states where students have completed clinical training. Students searching for sites and supervisors are welcome to contact previous sites the program has used or select a new site that fits their interest and meets the programs requirements.
Students who need additional time to accrue therapy and/or supervision hours may be required to enroll in additional Internship courses prior to enrollment in the final Internship and Capstone course.
In addition to these client contact hours, students must take the AATBS practice exam online and submit the results to NCUOne. This is a practice exam for the national licensing exam or the California licensing exam. Information about preparing for and taking this practice exam is provided in the applicable course syllabus.
As a final requirement of MFT-6995 - MFT Internship and Capstone Presentation , the student must prepare and give a presentation detailing their preferred model of therapy. This presentation will be given in an online video conference and must include video clips from actual therapy sessions in which the student demonstrates how they use the presented theory of therapy with their clients. Students must pass the Final Case Presentation in order to graduate.
Basic 45-credit hour Program (this is the basis for all degree plans except California)
While the Marriage and Family Therapy program requires only 45 Credit Hours to graduate, some students may need additional specific courses or additional credit hours in order to meet state licensure requirements. These courses can be selected from relevant Marriage and Family Therapy courses as needed. Any additional courses required for licensure will become a part of the total credit requirements for the student’s degree plan.
To assist students in taking courses that align with their state licensing requirements, if needed students can select from a predetermined list of courses to fill their two elective course requirements or they can request approval to take any of the specialization courses in the MAMFT curriculum. If there are not state specific requirements for certain courses, we recommend students take MFT-6104 - Family Therapy with Children and MFT-6106 - Families in Crisis . Students should review their state educational requirements and speak with their Academic and Finance Advisor or faculty member to determine the best fit.
Obtaining a specialization at the master’s level offers students the opportunity to focus their studies in a specific content area. By focusing on this specialized area, students gain both content and application knowledge that enables them to become an “expert” in the particular area.
Students in the MAMFT program may elect to complete a specialization in one of the six areas described below. The following requirements must be met to receive the selected specialization:
- All courses required for licensure in the selected state
- Completion of the customized research course (MFT 5106 )
- Completion of the two specialization courses as listed below
- Completion of at least 100 hours of client contact with clients focused in the selected specialization (supervised by a qualified MFT supervisor)
Note: Students may receive a certificate if all coursework is completed but the 100 hours of supervised experience cannot be completed.
Child and Adolescent Family Therapy Specialization
The Child and Adolescent Family Therapy specialization is designed to prepare students to work in therapeutic settings with children and adolescents using a family therapy, systems approach. Students in this specialization are required to complete the two content courses listed below, the research course (MFT 5106 ) focusing on issues related to working with children, adolescents, and families as well as completing at least 100 hours of clinical experience in an approved setting with a qualified local supervisor.
Specialization Courses - 6 credit hours
Students must complete the following courses:
Research Course - 3 credit hours