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 are 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 MFT Doctoral Programs Handbook.
The Learning Outcomes of the Doctorate of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) program are:
- Develop competence in working with diverse populations in academic, clinical, supervision and research settings. (SLO #1)
- Appraise clinical skills and ethical behaviors in systemic therapy and supervision. (SLO #2)
- Produce applied research in the field of marriage and family therapy through independent research. (SLO #3)
- Develop professional expertise in an area of specialization related to the field of marriage and family therapy. (SLO #4)
Basis for Admissions
In order to enter the DMFT program in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), 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 training program (e.g., MFT, psychology, social work, counseling).
Those with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy can begin the program immediately. Those needing fundamental knowledge of systems theory and MFT models may receive recommendation that they complete up to four master’s level courses following completion of the initial DMFT course.
In addition to evidence of the conferred degree, applications for admission to the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences’ Doctoral programs require prior to the first date of attendance, submission of:
- 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 (not required for applicants with an existing MFT license)
- Course transfer/waive request (if applicable)
- Interview with an MFT faculty member
- Background check (All applicants 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 license are exempt from the requirement.
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 non-conferred 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 to the University paid in full.
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, 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 face-to-face for a minimum of 4 hours per month (i.e., one hour per week). For more information, please read through 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. 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.
- 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 the Concept Paper. The DMFT Portfolio is a living document with major updates throughout the program.
- Applied Dissertation. The capstone of doctoral training is the completion of the dissertation process. All programs at NCU use a facilitated dissertation process that is purposefully designed to help students follow a step-by-step sequence in the preparation and completion of a doctoral dissertation. For students in the DMFT program, the applied dissertation must be related to marriage and family therapy and be consistent with the student’s selected area of specialization. (Note: The dissertation portion of the DMFT program can be completed with a minimum of 12 credit hours in Dissertation Courses, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time the student takes to complete the dissertation research.)
All DMFT students are required to demonstrate competency in the areas listed below.
- Competency in Research Writing Skills. DMFT students are required to successfully complete both DMFT7101-8 and DMFT7102 at NCU. 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 determine communication skills are insufficient for doctoral-level work.
- Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete DMFT7103 at NCU and demonstrate the ability to successfully complete a dissertation proposal.
- Graduate-Level Research Design and Analysis Competency. DMFT students are required to successfully complete DMFT7110 and DMFT7111 at NCU, as well as carry out, complete, write-up and defend the proposed applied dissertation study.
- 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 (DMFT8971 ) or the clinical practicum (DMFT8951 ). DMFT students who do not enter the program as fully licensed marriage and family therapists must take DMFT8951 . 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 DMFT7112 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 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 credit hours or less.
Students who are unable to complete a degree program within the stated time limits are dismissed. If students believe they have extenuating circumstances they may document the circumstances and send a request for consideration to their respective School Dean or designee. Exceptions to the policy are determined on a case-by-case basis and are granted only once.
Normal time to completion for this program is 53 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 advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.
The normal time disclosed above reflects the experience of students who may have entered under different program requirements. In the quest for continuous improvement, academic leadership has revised the program to optimize curriculum and pace, facilitate student learning, and improve chances for success. Therefore, the program is now designed for students enrolling today to take advantage of these revised course structures, lengths, and schedules.
New 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 48 months.
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.
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 dissertation research. 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.
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 dissertation research 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.