The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University is designed to provide a high quality and rigorous education and training experience for serious students who wish to prepare for professional life as marriage and family therapists. A high standard of excellence is expected. In support of this, program Faculty Mentors are selected for their expertise and ability to support students and facilitate first-rate educational attainment. The program is focused on developing the skills and personal and professional growth requisite for effective practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. The doctoral program offers advanced clinical education and training, research coursework and opportunities, and supervision training and experience. Graduates of the doctoral program will be prepared to carry out advanced clinical work and supervision and/or education and research in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Goals of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy

The goals of the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) doctoral program are:

  1. Provide the essential academic training needed to effectively practice marriage and family therapy, including training in marriage and family, 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 and also encourage professional development through participation in national, state, and local associations and related conferences, through conducting and presenting original research and other scholarly work related to the development of an in depth specialization culminating in the completion of the dissertation process.

  3. Promote in students the analysis and application of critical thinking skills, including the 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 and provide the coursework and clinical experience requirements that are 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).

  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 both print and electronic media as well as in verbal clinical and academic venues.

  7. Provide and facilitate clinical training to the extent 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 and also teach the process of supervision of marriage and family therapy, help students develop a personal philosophy of supervision, and facilitate supervision practicum.

PhD Specializations in Marriage and Family Therapy

There are five specializations within the Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy degree program, each of which is described in further detail below:

General Degree Requirements

The PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the master’s degree.

Northcentral University 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 MFT program.

The PhD degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy (all specializations) has the following graduation requirements:

Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral 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 – Doctoral students will be required to complete 1000 hours of direct client contact, which includes conducting face to face therapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups. At least 500 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, Doctoral students must receive a total of 200 hours of supervision. Supervision of students will occur at the rate of one (1) hour of supervision per every five 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.

  5. Supervision Coursework and Practicum – In addition to advanced coursework in marriage and family therapy, students in the doctoral program must complete a course in MFT supervision methodology as well as a 9 month practicum in which they will engage in direct supervision of the clinical work of another therapist. The supervision course and practicum 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 Northcentral University. Students will have to complete additional requirements outside of the program in order to complete the requirements for the designation.

  6. Doctoral Comprehensive Evaluation – Upon completion of all other program requirements and prior to beginning the dissertation process, students will be required to complete a doctoral comprehensive evaluation. This evaluation is relevant to the university program only and is in no way related to, preparatory for, or representative of requirements for state licensure or the licensing exam. The evaluation includes four written components and an oral presentation. The written components include: 1) a personal theory of therapy paper, 2) a critique of a research article and proposal, 3) a detailed response to an ethical dilemma, and 4) a written case illustration that is consistent with the theory of therapy paper. Once the written components are completed, the student is required to prepare and complete an oral presentation of the theory of therapy and case illustration. This is completed through online video conferencing with at least three MFT faculty members.

  1. Dissertation – The capstone of doctoral training is the completion of the dissertation process. All programs at Northcentral University use a facilitated dissertation process which 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 MFT program, the dissertation must be related to marriage and family therapy and be consistent with the student's selected area of specialization. (Note: This program can be completed with a minimum of 12 credit hours in Dissertation Courses, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the time required to complete the dissertation research.)

Competencies for PhD Programs in MFT

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

  1. Competency in Research Writing Skills - PhD students are required to complete both MFT7101 and MFT7102 at Northcentral. Students are required to show competency in writing skills for research purposes through their Northcentral 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 Mentors determine communications skills are insufficient for doctoral-level work.

  2. Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency - PhD students are required to complete MFT7103, MFT7106, and MFT7107 at Northcentral.

  3. Graduate-Level Statistics Competency - PhD students are required to complete MFT7104 and MFT7108 at Northcentral.

  4. Computer Competency - PhD 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 defense requires the student to produce a computer-based presentation (e.g., PowerPoint).

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 8 years to complete all doctoral programs of more than 60 credit hours.  The expected time to completion  of the Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy degree program is 72 months (6 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.

PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Plan

Credit Hours – This program can be completed with a minimum of 72 credit hours, but may require additional credit hours, depending on the need for Standard Curriculum courses and the time required to complete the dissertation research.

Basis of Admission – In order to enter the doctoral (PhD) program in marriage and family therapy, applicants must have earned a master's degree in a clinical/therapy training program from an accredited university. There are two options for entering the doctoral program in MFT:

 

  1. Direct Entry – Individuals with a previously completed master's degree in marriage and family therapy (not marriage and family counseling or any other mental health discipline) may immediately begin the 72 credit PhD program.

  2. Evaluation Track – Individuals who have previously completed a master's degree in a clinical/therapy discipline other than marriage and family therapy specifically must have their transcripts evaluated to determine if previous coursework meets some or all of the Standard Curriculum requirements (see below). Students in the Evaluation Track would begin their degree plan with MFT7101 and MFT7102 and then complete all required Standard Curriculum courses prior to taking the remaining courses in their degree plan.

Standard Curriculum – Up to 36 credit hours required as determined by formal review during the applicant evaluation process. Any required courses from the Standard Curriculum are completed in addition to the minimum of 72 credits required to complete the MFT doctoral degree plan.

Click on the course name for description, click again to close.

MFT5102

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development in MFT

MFT5103

Systemic Evaluation and Case Management

MFT5104

Treatment Planning and Traditional Family Therapy

MFT5105

Recovery Oriented Care and Postmodern Family Therapy

MFT5106

Research Methods and Evidence Based Practice

MFT6101

Lifespan Individual and Family Development

MFT6102

Psychopathology, Diagnosis, and Systemic Treatment

MFT6103

Cultural Diversity, Gender, and Family Therapy

MFT6104

Family Therapy with Children

MFT6105

Couple and Sex Therapy

MFT6106

Families in Crisis

MFT6951

MFT Practicum I

PhD Program

The PhD program may be completed in 72 credits (not including required Standard Curriculum courses; see above). Up to an additional 15 credit hours will be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. Students who do not complete their program in 87 credit hours (not including Standard Curriculum courses) will be dismissed.

Specializations within the MFT Doctoral Program

Students in the MFT Doctoral program may elect to complete a specialization, including any of the five options described below.

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. Eighteen (18) credit hours of coursework are devoted to Child and Adolescent Therapy.

MFT7101

Foundations for Doctoral Study in MFT

MFT7102

Scholarly Writing in MFT

 

Standard Curriculum Courses (0-36 credit hours as needed)

MFT8101

Advanced Theories in MFT

MFT7103

Research Methods in MFT

MFT8102

Dynamics of Family Interaction

MFT7104

Statistical Design for MFT Research

MFT8201

Play Therapy Methods

MFT7105                       

Assessment in MFT Research and Intervention

MFT8202

Family Therapy with Adolescents

MFT7106

Quantitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8203

Parenting Strategies

MFT7107

Qualitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8204

ADHD Assessment and Treatment

MFT7108

Advanced Data Analysis Strategies in MFT

MFT8951

MFT Doctoral Practicum I

MFT8961

MFT Doctoral Internship I (1-credit course)

MFT8962

MFT Doctoral Internship II (1-credit course)

MFT8965

MFT Doctoral Internship and Portfolio (1-credit course)

MFT8970

MFT Supervision Methods

MFT8971

MFT Supervision Practicum I (1-credit course)

MFT8972

MFT Supervision Practicum II (1-credit course)

MFT8975

MFT Supervision Practicum Completion (1-credit course)

MFT7109

Planning Dissertation Research in MFT

CMP9500MFT

MFT Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

DIS9501MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research I

DIS9502MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research II

DIS9503MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research III

DIS9504MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research IV*

*Dissertation Research – A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program. Up to an additional five dissertation research courses (DIS9505MFT-DIS9509MFT) may be taken if the dissertation requirements are not completed in DIS9504MFT. 

Couple Therapy

The Couple Therapy Specialization is designed to prepare students to work primarily with couples in therapy settings 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 couples. Eighteen (18) credit hours of coursework are devoted to Couple Therapy.

MFT7101

Foundations for Doctoral Study in MFT

MFT7102

Scholarly Writing in MFT

 

Standard Curriculum Courses (0-36 credit hours as needed)

MFT8101

Advanced Theories in MFT

MFT7103

Research Methods in MFT

MFT8102

Dynamics of Family Interaction

MFT7104

Statistical Design for MFT Research

MFT8301

Advanced Couple Therapy

MFT7105                       

Advanced Assessment in MFT Research and Intervention

MFT8302

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

MFT7106

Quantitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8303

Systemic Sex Therapy

MFT7107

Qualitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8304

Treating Infidelity and Sex Addiction

MFT7108

Advanced Data Analysis Strategies in MFT

MFT8951

MFT Doctoral Practicum I

MFT8961

MFT Doctoral Internship I (1-credit course)

MFT8962

MFT Doctoral Internship II (1-credit course)

MFT8965

MFT Doctoral Internship and Portfolio (1-credit course)

MFT8970

MFT Supervision Methods

MFT8971

MFT Supervision Practicum I (1-credit course)

MFT8972

MFT Supervision Practicum II (1-credit course)

MFT8975

MFT Supervision Practicum Completion (1-credit course)

MFT7109

Planning Dissertation Research in MFT

CMP9500MFT

MFT Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

DIS9501MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research I

DIS9502MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research II

DIS9503MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research III

DIS9504MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research IV*

*Dissertation Research – A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program. Up to an additional five dissertation research courses (DIS9505MFT-DIS9509MFT) may be taken if the dissertation requirements are not completed in DIS9504MFT. 

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 must complete MFT8101 and MFT8102 and then select four courses (12 credit hours) from the Marriage and Family Therapy curriculum at the 7000 or 8000 level. Courses from the larger School of Behavioral and Health Sciences 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.

A sample degree plan follows; an asterisk (*) indicates recommended elective course

MFT7101

Foundations for Doctoral Study in MFT

MFT7102

Scholarly Writing in MFT

 

Standard Curriculum Courses (0-36 credit hours as needed)

MFT8101

Advanced Theories in MFT

MFT7103

Research Methods in MFT

MFT8102

Dynamics of Family Interaction

MFT7104

Statistical Design for MFT Research

MFT8202

Family Therapy with Adolescents*

MFT7105                       

Assessment in MFT Research and Intervention

MFT8301

Advanced Couple Therapy*

MFT7106

Quantitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8115

Family Systems Approaches to Addiction*

MFT7107

Qualitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8150

Family Life Education*

MFT7108

Advanced Data Analysis Strategies in MFT

MFT8951

MFT Doctoral Practicum I

MFT8961

MFT Doctoral Internship I (1-credit course)

MFT8962

MFT Doctoral Internship II (1-credit course)

MFT8965

MFT Doctoral Internship and Portfolio (1-credit course)

MFT8970

MFT Supervision Methods

MFT8971

MFT Supervision Practicum I (1-credit course)

MFT8972

MFT Supervision Practicum II (1-credit course)

MFT8975

MFT Supervision Practicum Completion (1-credit course)

MFT7109

Planning Dissertation Research in MFT

CMP9500MFT

MFT Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

DIS9501MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research I

DIS9502MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research II

DIS9503MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research III

DIS9504MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research IV**

*Sample Elective Course student can change these courses

**Dissertation Research – A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program. Up to an additional five dissertation research courses (DIS9505MFT-DIS9509MFT) may be taken if the dissertation requirements are not completed in DIS9504MFT. 

Medical Family Therapy

The Medical Therapy Specialization is designed to prepare students to work individuals, couples and families that are facing chronic or acute medical difficulties. Medical Family Therapy incorporates a family therapy, systems perspective in helping client families to understand and deal with their medical difficulties. Students in this specialization are required to focus their course projects, internship work, and dissertation research on issues related to medical family therapy. Eighteen (18) credit hours of coursework are devoted to Medical Family Therapy.

MFT7101

Foundations for Doctoral Study in MFT

MFT7102

Scholarly Writing in MFT

 

Standard Curriculum Courses (0-36 credit hours as needed)

MFT8101

Advanced Theories in MFT

MFT7103

Research Methods in MFT

MFT8102

Dynamics of Family Interaction

MFT7104

Statistical Design for MFT Research

MFT8401

Medical Family Therapy

MFT7105                       

Assessment in MFT Research and Intervention

MFT8402

Biopsychosocial Connections and Interventions

MFT7106

Quantitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8403

Families with Severe and Chronic Illness

MFT7107

Qualitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8404

Death, Dying and Bereavement

MFT7108

Advanced Data Analysis Strategies in MFT

MFT8951

MFT Doctoral Practicum I

MFT8961

MFT Doctoral Internship I (1-credit course)

MFT8962

MFT Doctoral Internship II (1-credit course)

MFT8965

MFT Doctoral Internship and Portfolio (1-credit course)

MFT8970

MFT Supervision Methods

MFT8971

MFT Supervision Practicum I (1-credit course)

MFT8972

MFT Supervision Practicum II (1-credit course)

MFT8975

MFT Supervision Practicum Completion (1-credit course)

MFT7109

Planning Dissertation Research in MFT

CMP9500MFT

MFT Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

DIS9501MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research I

DIS9502MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research II

DIS9503MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research III

DIS9504MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research IV**

*Dissertation Research – A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program. Up to an additional five dissertation research courses (DIS9505MFT-DIS9509MFT) may be taken if the dissertation requirements are not completed in DIS9504MFT. 

Therapy with Military Families

The Therapy with Military Families Specialization is designed to prepare students to work primarily with individuals, couples, and families that are affiliated with the military through using 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 military personnel and their families. Eighteen (18) credit hours of coursework are devoted to Child and Adolescent Therapy.

MFT7101

Foundations for Doctoral Study in MFT

MFT7102

Scholarly Writing in MFT

 

Standard Curriculum Courses (0-36 credit hours as needed)

MFT8101

Advanced Theories in MFT

MFT7103

Research Methods in MFT

MFT8102

Dynamics of Family Interaction

MFT7104

Statistical Design for MFT Research

MFT8501

Dynamics of Military Families

MFT7105                       

Assessment in MFT Research and Intervention

MFT8502

Family Therapy in the Military

MFT7106

Quantitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8302

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

MFT7107

Qualitative Research Design in MFT

MFT8304

Treating Infidelity and Sex Addiction

MFT7108

Advanced Data Analysis Strategies in MFT

MFT8951

MFT Doctoral Practicum I

MFT8961

MFT Doctoral Internship I (1-credit course)

MFT8962

MFT Doctoral Internship II (1-credit course)

MFT8965

MFT Doctoral Internship and Portfolio (1-credit course)

MFT8970

MFT Supervision Methods

MFT8971

MFT Supervision Practicum I (1-credit course)

MFT8972

MFT Supervision Practicum II (1-credit course)

MFT8975

MFT Supervision Practicum Completion (1-credit course)

MFT7109

Planning Dissertation Research in MFT

CMP9500MFT

MFT Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

DIS9501MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research I

DIS9502MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research II

DIS9503MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research III

DIS9504MFT

Doctoral Dissertation Research IV**

*Dissertation Research – A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program. Up to an additional five dissertation research courses (DIS9505MFT-DIS9509MFT) may be taken if the dissertation requirements are not completed in DIS9504MFT.