Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy

Where rigorous education and clinical training meet first-rate doctoral faculty support.

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Discover the benefits of earning your PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy online at Northcentral University.

When you decide to earn your PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University, you are giving yourself the opportunity to complete a rigorous advanced degree without disrupting your professional or personal life. Not only is Northcentral University regionally and COAMFTE accredited, but we’ve designed our online, 69-credit MFT doctoral degree program following COAMFTE Marriage and Family Therapy Educational Guidelines  to help you acquire the knowledge, skills, practical application and values that will shape you into a competent, ethical and culturally sensitive marriage and family therapist. 

  • 100% Doctoral Faculty: Our faculty members know what it takes to complete an advanced degree and will provide you with personalized attention and feedback that can help you succeed. They are also practicing marriage and family therapists and MFT supervisors.
  • Specialization Options: PhD specializations in Marriage and Family therapy include Child and Adolescent Therapy, Couple Therapy, General Family Therapy, Medical Family Therapy and Therapy with Military Families.
  • Guided Doctoral Dissertation Coursework: Our dissertation coursework provides a step-by-step process to guide you from preparation to completion of your doctoral dissertation. 
  • Online Programs: Not only are you not required to travel to a campus for your courses, but we also have no physical residency requirements. Instead, you are able to complete the required courses online and complete your practicum and doctoral internship in your local area with a face-to-face clinical experience with a qualified supervisor in your local area.
  • Competitive Tuition: Visit our Tuition page for current, inclusive program rates. 
  • Professional Association Approvals: – Northcentral’s MFT doctoral degree program is the only online program that has received approval from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) to provide the Approved AAMFT Supervision Training in an online format as part of the standard degree plan.  

Complete your Doctoral Practicum/Internship in your Local Area


At Northcentral University, the Director of Clinical Field Placements and other faculty and staff will work with you to arrange a local site at which you will complete your required face-to-face clinical training (Practicum) and your 9-month internship. Faculty will provide suggestions and assistance in finding a local placement site and qualified supervisor in your area. It is ultimately your responsibility to secure an acceptable placement. Once you are approved to begin your clinical work or internship, in addition to your local supervised experience, you will work with a Northcentral faculty member who is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or supervisor candidate using our distance-based synchronous practicum/internship process. You will meet regularly with your faculty member along with two to five other MFT students viewing recorded sessions with clients and discussing clinical skills and knowledge.  Security features are utilized to maintain confidentiality and security of client records and to meet HIPAA regulations.

Becoming a marriage and family therapist is more than just a job—it’s about helping individuals, couples and families navigate the natural stressors of life and come out better and stronger than before. If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a marriage and family therapist, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University will provide you with a quality education and training that will challenge you to develop your critical thinking and research skills to a higher degree, while applying what you learn to professional practice.

PURPOSE: Provide you the opportunity to pursue a PhD in MFT in a specialized area where you are able to complete your coursework online and your clinical training and doctoral research in your local community.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is expected to grow almost a third (29%) over the next decade, much faster than average for all occupations. Whether you are a working mental health professional or a new therapist, NCU’s online Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral program is designed to help you acquire the knowledge, skills, practical application and values that will shape you into competent, ethical and culturally sensitive marriage and family therapist. Within the marriage and family therapy doctoral degree program, you will choose from five specializations to better focus your education to match your career goals.

OUTCOMES: Throughout the program, you will develop advanced clinical skills in a specialization of your choosing through doctoral practicum and internship work and doctoral-level research methodology and theory, and will be prepared to find employment in the marriage and family therapy field.

Within this rigorous program, you will complete a variety of requirements, including:

  • MFT standard curriculum courses
  • Focused clinical specialization content courses
  • Advanced clinical training through doctoral practicum and internship work
  • Integrated research training throughout the curriculum
  • Doctoral Comprehensive Exam and final clinical presentation
  • Doctoral dissertation

Program Educational Outcomes

Northcentral University’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs have specific Educational Outcomes (EO) that are designed to support the mission, philosophy, goals and objectives of the MFT program and those of Northcentral University. The EOs are reviewed on a regular basis and revised to reflect professional marriage and family therapy principles, educational guidelines, the needs and input from communities of interest, and the advancement of the program and the MFT profession.

The program faculty has established the following twelve (12) Educational Outcomes for the MFT PhD program. These Educational Outcomes are comprised of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), Faculty Outcomes (FOs) and Program Outcomes (POs). The EO linkage chart (Educational Outcome PhD MFT Linkage Chart) provides a visual representation of how these outcomes link to and support one another, and are congruent with the missions of the program and the University.

Student Learning Outcomes (PhD MFT)

  1. Students will learn how to interact professionally with diverse populations in academic, clinical, supervision and research settings.
  2. Students will demonstrate an advanced knowledge of and application of clinical skills in systemic therapy and supervision
  3. Students will demonstrate a doctoral-level knowledge of and skill in conducting research within the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. 
  4. Students will demonstrate professional expertise in an area of specialization  related to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Faculty Outcomes (PhDMFT)

  1. Faculty members will demonstrate a commitment to and respect for diversity within the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (FO #1). 
  2. Faculty will actively pursue professional development that enhances their ability to teach in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (FO #2). 
  3. Faculty members will demonstrate knowledge of and skill in conducting research within the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (FO #3).
  4. As part of their professional identity as Marriage and Family Therapists, faculty will participate in activities that contribute to a better community and society (FO #4).

Program Outcomes (PhDMFT)

  1. The MFT program will demonstrate a clear commitment to diversity through curriculum content, student and faculty composition, and demonstrated ability of graduates to work with diverse populations (PO #1).
  2. Graduates of the program that desire a career in MFT will be successful in pursuing a career in Marriage and Family Therapy (PO #2).
  3. The program will support an environment that fosters research in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (PO #3).
  4. The program will foster in students a clear identity as a Marriage and Family Therapist (PO #4). 

Take a Look at the Cultural Diversity of NCU MFT Students, Alumni and Faculty

ACHIEVEMENTS: As a PhD in MFT graduate, you may choose to follow one of four career paths or a combination of the following roles: clinician, administrator, academic and researcher.

Clinician: Many graduates will take their advanced clinical training, pursue state licensure and provide mental health services in a private practice, community-based non-profit agency, or governmental or educational institutions. Our graduates often work as clinical supervisors in these organizations.

Administrator: Many graduates will use their PhD to advance their current employment status, often within the same organization in which they are currently working. The degree helps them advance into an administrative role over mental health or social services organizations/departments.

Academic: Many graduates will pursue full-time or part-time employment as faculty/instructors in universities and graduate programs.

Researcher: Some graduates will pursue a professional career as a researcher in the area of social services, mental health, or human services.

Program Handbook 

The Program Handbook is designed to serve as a guide that provides you with applicable information that can help you succeed in your goal of becoming a marriage and family therapist. You will find policies and forms related to program admission, confidentiality, student progress and retention, graduation, program learning outcomes, the organizational structure of the program, specific program requirements, discussion on pursuing licensure, and other relevant program documents. It is a supplement to, but not a substitute for, the Northcentral University Catalog. Click Here to access a web-based version of the handbook. 

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.

COAMFTE requires accredited program to provide Student Achievement data, starting with the year the program becomes accredited. The following table provide all Student Achievement data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

COAMFTE Student Achievement Data for Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy
Accredited: May 2015
Minimum Program Length: 4.75 years / Advertised Program Length: 6.25 years / Maximum Time to Complete Program: 8 years
Year Student Entered Program # of Students in Program Graduation Rate (Minimum Time) Graduation Rate (Advertised Time) Graduation Rate (Maximum Time) National Exam Pass Rate (%) Job Placement Rate (%)
2014-2015 21 Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet 100% Not Applicable Yet
2015-2016 In Progress Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet Not Applicable Yet
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