Child and Adolescent Therapy

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Overview
  • Course Information
  • Tuition
  • Benefits

The goal of the PhD in Child and Adolescent Therapy is to prepare you to respond to the needs of children and adolescents through therapy and programming, to engage in meaningful research projects, and to help you become a leader in the profession. The NCU program teaches you to effectively assess the complex developmental and family processes at play, and gives you the ability to connect research and practice to deliver evidence-based, contextually sensitive, culturally informed, and developmentally appropriate services.

General Degree Requirements

The PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy degree requires a minimum of 69 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.

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 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 webcam, 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, supervisor candidates, or equivalent state approved supervisors. In some cases, students may be required to pay for local supervision. This will depend on the clinical placement location, local clinical placement, and/or local supervisor they contract with to complete their practicum and internship requirements. The decision to pay for local supervision is entirely up to the student and not a requirement of Northcentral University.
  4. Liability Insurance – Prior to beginning any clinical experience, students are required to submit proof of professional liability insurance.
  5. Supervision Coursework – In addition to advanced coursework in marriage and family therapy, students in the doctoral program must complete a course in MFT supervision methods. The supervision course 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. The supervision coursework is pre-approved by the AAMFT to count for the 30-hour supervision course requirement. Students will have to complete the direct supervision and supervision mentoring requirements outside of the program in order to qualify for the Approved Supervisor designation.
  6. Doctoral Comprehensive Evaluation – Upon completion of all other program requirements and prior to beginning the dissertation process, students are 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 present.
  7. 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 the student takes to complete the dissertation research.)

Completion Period for Doctoral Degrees

Northcentral University allows 8 years to complete all doctoral programs of more than 60 credit hours.

Competencies for PhD Programs in MFT

  • 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 throughout 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 determine communication skills are insufficient for doctoral-level work.
  • Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency - PhD students are required to complete MFT7103, MFT7106, and MFT7107 at Northcentral.
  • Graduate-Level Statistics Competency - PhD students are required to complete MFT7104 and MFT7108 at Northcentral.
  • Computer CompetencyDoctoral students are required to have computer skills 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). Students must use computer programs for the statistical analysis of data (e.g., SPSS). Students must produce a computer-based presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) for their dissertation oral defense.

See below for specialization courses specific to this program. To learn more, fill out the request information form below or view the course catalog.

Course Code


Course Description


Play Therapy Methods

This course will focus on the history, principles, and theories of play therapy, play therapy orientations, and applications in clinical practice with a specific emphasis on conceptualizing play therapy using a system theory orientation. Methods of play therapy with individual children, adolescents, and families will be addressed.


Family Therapy with Adolescents

This course is designed to provide clinically relevant background information, theory, and therapeutic models and interventions for pertinent presenting clinical problems relevant to adolescents. Course material will address family therapy practice and be related conceptually to theory. Specific methods of therapy with adolescents and facilitating parental and family involvement will be discussed. Intervention strategies for difficult adolescents will be discussed, many of which have a common focus on working both within the family and with external systems relevant to the life of the adolescent.


Parenting Strategies

This course is focused on research and intervention with parents. The course focuses on developing competency in a variety of areas of parenting and child guidance. In particular, course content will address diverse family systems, family literacy, health and nutrition, and fostering physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development from birth through adolescence. Additionally, the course will include discussion of various techniques on how to responsibly discipline children.


ADHD Assessment and Treatment

This course will cover a number of topics related to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Among the topics covered will be etiology of the disorder (both physiological and systemic), diagnosis (to include differential considerations), assessment, and treatment. Within the topic of diagnosis, the importance of identifying comorbid disorders, as well as distinguishing ADHD from other commonly occurring disorders with overlapping symptoms (e.g., Pervasive Developmental Disorders) will be addressed. Considerations regarding treatment will have a purposeful focus on both neurobiological and systemic implications, to include the role of medication in managing associated symptoms.

At Northcentral University, we pride ourselves in being completely transparent when it comes to tuition and fees. If a cost is not included in our Cost Per Course Tuition Rate, we let you know up front. Currently, the only additional cost above your program rate* is books. Learn more about the NCU’s PhD MFT costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $1,048
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $3,144
  • Program cost: $72,662-$110,390
  • Average Book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Learning Management Fee (one-time per program): $350
  • Registration Fee: $0

Click here to learn more about payment and financing options.

*Program rates are subject to change and generally increase at the start of each calendar year.

Total program costs reflected are calculated based on standard degree program credits exclusive of the program’s potential evaluation track. The actual cost of a program is determined based upon the program and track the student enters, transfer credits if any, and other unique student factors. For more information: please contact Admissions or refer to the catalog.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about our students, it’s that they are motivated and ambitious—but they are also busy! At Northcentral University, we’ve designed our education experience to work with you, not against you, so you can achieve your academic goals without sacrificing the quality, flexibility and support you need to be successful.

To learn more, request information or call 1-866-776-0331 to speak with an enrollment advisor today. We offer new courses every Monday of the year so you can get started when it’s best for you.

Coamfte LogoNorthcentral University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  For more information on COAMFTE accreditation, visit their website.