The Marriage and Family Therapy Master of Arts (MA) 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. Students in this program will critically analyze a broad range of theories and practical knowledge in marriage and family therapy. 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. Graduates of the master's level program will be well prepared to begin the process of seeking licensure in their home state or area.

Goals of the MA Program in Marriage and Family Therapy

The goals of the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program are to:

  1. Provide the essential academic training needed to effectively practice marriage and family therapy, including training in marriage and family therapy theory, research, major models, professional ethics, standards of best practice, and related issues with purposeful application of family systems theory across the curriculum.

  2. Train program participants in the scholar-practitioner model, including the ability to evaluate existing research and implement existing research into professional practice.

  3. Promote in students the application of critical thinking skills, including respect for and use of critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and a scientific approach to solving problems related to behavior, emotional, cognitive, and relational processes.

  4. Evaluate the readiness, professionalism, maturity, ethical adherence, skills, clinical insight, and competence of program participants, provide the coursework and clinical experience requirements necessary for provisional licensure as a marriage and family therapist in most states or clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and prepare and encourage individuals to continue their education in marriage and family therapy at the doctoral level.

  5. Encourage personal growth, intellectual accomplishment, global awareness, and respect and appreciation for diversity.

  6. Prepare students to practice informed, respectful, and scholarly communication skills in print and electronic media in clinical and academic venues.

  7. Provide and facilitate clinical training needed for competent and effective practice as a professional marriage and family therapist, including the ability to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals, couples and families with a wide variety of presenting issues including mental illness as defined by the DSM-IV.

General Degree Requirements

The MA in Marriage and Family Therapy 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 48- or 60-credit program or need specific additional courses for their state licensure requirements will be allowed to complete optional elective courses to meet these requirements.

Northcentral University may accept a maximum of 15 semester credit hours in transfer toward the master’s degree for graduate coursework completed toward a non-conferred 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 MFT program.

The MA degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy has the following graduation requirements:

Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program has the following degree requirements:

  1. 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 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 that uses Microsoft Windows as an operating system, a web cam, a headset, a video recording device, and a high speed internet connection.

  2. Client Contact – Master’s students will be required to complete 500 hours of direct client contact, which includes conducting face to face therapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups. At least 250 hours of client contact must be relational (e.g., couple or family). For more information, please read through the practicum and internship course descriptions.

  3. Supervision – In conjunction with client contact, master’s students must receive a total of 100 hours of supervision. Supervision of students will occur at the rate of one (1) hour of supervision per every five (5) hours of client contact and will be face-to-face or live supervision conducted by AAMFT Approved Supervisors, Supervisors-in-Training, or an equivalent state approved supervisors.

  4. Liability Insurance – Prior to beginning any clinical experience, students are required to submit proof of professional liability insurance.

Completion Period for Master's Degrees

Northcentral University allows 6 years to complete Master's programs requiring more than 36 credit hours. The expected time to completion  of the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy  degree program is 48 months (4 years).

Students who are unable to complete a degree program within the stated time limits are dismissed. If a student believes 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.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Plan

45 Credit Hours

Foundations - 18 credit hours


Foundations for Graduate Study in MFT


Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development in MFT


Treatment Planning and Traditional Family Therapy


Systemic Evaluation and Case Management


Recovery-Oriented Care and Postmodern Family Therapy


Research Methods and Evidence Based Practice

Required General Family Therapy Courses - 18 credit hours


Lifespan Individual and Family Development


Psychopathology, Diagnosis, and Systemic Treatment


Cultural Diversity, Gender, and Family Therapy


Family Therapy with Children


Couple and Sex Therapy


Families in Crisis

Clinical Experience Requirements - 9 credit hours  


MFT Practicum I


MFT Practicum II


MFT Internship I


MFT Internship II*


MFT Internship and Capstone Presentation*

* Designates 1-credit courses

NOTE: While the Marriage and Family Therapy specialization 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. 

California Licensure Track

For students residing in, or planning to move and pursue licensure in, California, we offer a California Licensure Track option within the MA MFT program.  This option has been pre-approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS; the MFT licensing board) in California, and requires two modifications to the standard MA MFT degree plan.  First, CA Licensure Track students must take the California version of our ethics course (MFT6201 California Law and Professional Ethics) rather than the standard ethics course (MFT5102Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development in MFT).  Second, this option requires an additional 3-credit course beyond the standard 45 credit program (for a total of 48 credits) in order to cover a content area that the BBS requires as part of the degree program.  The additional course is MFT8115: Family Systems Approaches to Addiction. 

Note: While the 48 credit California Licensure Track option is pre-approved by the BBS and covers all courses that are required during an approved MFT degree program, the BBS also requires that individuals pursuing licensure complete content training in several additional areas.  Northcentral offers content courses that cover these additional areas, which can be taken either during or after the degree program.  Individuals may also complete these content courses through other institutions or, in some cases, local workshops.  For more information about these additional content requirements, please visit the BBS website: