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 scholarship 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.
- Cultivate competence in working with diverse populations in professional settings
- Appraise ethical conduct in professional contexts
- Prepare applied projects designed to make a measurable difference
- Develop relational/systemic knowledge and skills
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 program in the Social Sciences (e.g., counseling, education, family studies, MFT, psychology, social work, sociology).
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).
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 complimentary diploma and/or degree posted transcript
Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the DMFT program has the following degree requirements:
- 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.
- Doctoral Internship. DMFT students are required to complete a 9-month, 20 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.
- Liability Insurance. Prior to beginning any clinical experience, DMFT students are required to submit proof of professional liability insurance.
- Supervision Coursework. DMFT students who desire to become a clinical supervisor in the future are encouraged to pursue the required training in in MFT supervision methodology. Students seeking to qualify for the AAMFT or state Approved Supervisor designation will have to complete the direct supervision and supervision mentoring requirements outside of the program.
- 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 identify goals they will work to accomplish during the program, as well as examine their personal and professional identity as a relational/systemic practitioner. Throughout this process, students refine their professional development plans and provide artifacts indicating they have acquired competencies in several key domains. The DMFT Portfolio is a living document with major updates throughout the program.
- Doctoral Project. 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.
- Competency in Writing Skills. DMFT students are required to successfully complete both and 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.
- Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete at NCU and demonstrate the ability to successfully complete a doctoral proposal.
- Graduate-Level Applied Project Design and Analysis Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete at NCU, as well as carry out, complete, write-up and defend the proposed applied project.
- Graduate-Level Clinical Competency. All students pursuing a clinical specialization in the DMFT program (all specializations but Systemic Organizational Leadership) are required to enroll in a clinical practicum at NCU. DMFT students who are fully licensed MFTs will complete the supervision practicum ( ). DMFT students who do not enter the program as fully licensed marriage and family therapists must take . Successful completion of a practicum course, including relevant evaluations and presentations, is deemed to be evidence of clinical competence.
- Graduate-Level Program Evaluation Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete at NCU, which involves demonstrating competence in completing a program evaluation.
- Computer Competency. DMFT students are required to have the computer skills that are necessary for completing a doctoral project. 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).. The doctoral project oral presentation requires the student to produce a computer-based presentation (i.e., 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.
Marriage and Family Therapy DMFT students must complete at least one 3-credit practicum course (with a clinical, supervision, organizational 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 enrolling in DMFT-8951 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 generally complete a supervision practicum and are not required to have a local on-site supervisor. Students in the Systemic Organizational Leadership specialization will secure a placement that allows them to engage in leadership and/or managerial duties as well as practicum mentor/supervisor appropriate for their practicum activities. DMFT students will receive supervision, mentoring, and evaluation from NCU Clinical Faculty.
The practicum course for DMFT students in the DMFT is
(each is 3 credit hours). Additional details can be found in the course description for these courses.
Students typically begin their doctoral internship in the middle portion of their program, at some point after completing the first portfolio course (CMP-9611M). 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. DMFT students who are fully licensed MFTs can elect to complete an internship with a focus on such areas as applied scholarship, teaching, entrepreneurship, or administration within the field of marriage and family therapy. These students are required to have weekly consultation with professional appropriate for the proposed internship activities 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. Students in the Systemic Organizational Leadership specialization will complete their internship in a setting that allows them to develop and enhance their leadership and managerial skills. They will meet weekly with a mentor/supervisor who can provide guidance in systemic organizational leadership.
Supervisors are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Director of MFT Doctoral Programs.
MFT Supervision Training
In addition to the practicum and internship courses, students in the DMFT program are encouraged to receive training in supervision methodology. The supervision course may be conducted in connection with the requirements established by AAMFT for students to become Approved Supervisors or through a state-approved MFT supervision course.
Faculty assists each NCU doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed doctoral project. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and carrying out the project. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the doctoral project.
A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of doctoral project courses. Doctoral project courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the doctoral project course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the doctoral project courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing doctoral project requirements. The Doctoral Project Committee determines progress.
This program can be completed with a minimum of 60 credit hours, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the doctoral project. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.
Core and Relational/Systemic Theories & Applications Course Options
*Core Course Options
Students may choose one of the following:
**Relational/Systemic Theories & Applications Course Options
Students may choose one of the following:
General Family Therapy
The General Family Therapy specialization allows students to select courses from a broad range of electives to fit their personal and professional ambitions. In this specialization, students select four courses (12 credit hours) from the Marriage and Family Therapy curriculum at the 8000 level. Courses from the Department of Psychology may be considered to fill this requirement with approval on a case-by-case basis. Students in this specialization are required to focus their course projects, internship work, and doctoral project on issues related to marriage and family therapy. Four additional courses (theory or treatment-focused) chosen from any of the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences (DMFS) specialization courses (or from Psychology with approval) listed in the Catalog that will help the student develop the desired expertise.