Medical Family Therapy

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

When a member of the family becomes ill, it becomes the focus of the family. The PhD in Medical Family Therapy trains you to take a systems approach to conducting psychotherapy with patients and their families during this difficult and stressful time. This unique approach addresses the systemic interactions among patients, their families, doctors and other healthcare professionals. This Medical Family Therapy specialization prepares you to work as a clinician and researcher who can function effectively with individuals, couples and families who are facing chronic or acute medical difficulties.

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 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 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 methodology . 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 quality 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 Competency - Doctoral 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., SAS). 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


Medical Family Therapy

This course is an advanced survey of professional literature and resources related to the practice of medical family therapy. The course includes an emphasis on the biopsychosocial approach to collaborative family healthcare, and an examination of the context within which such collaboration takes place. The broad overview illustrates the multitude of factors that influence medical family therapy practice.


Biopsychosocial Connections and Interventions

This course investigates the interconnection in peoples lives between biological experiences, intellectual/psychological processing, emotions, and relationship interactions. The connections between these levels of functioning will be explored in terms of their influence on behavior, neurology, immune system functioning, emotional states, stress response, somatic experience, and relational interactions. Psychoeducation, mindfulness, and other brief intervention approaches will be addressed.


Families with Severe and Chronic Illness

This course addresses the challenges faced by individuals and families that accompany severe and chronic illness. It identifies severe and chronic health complaints and diseases, addresses the medical explanation for each, looks at the standard treatment, and discusses the psychological and relational barriers to effective management. Specific interventions are explored with focus on psychoeducation, as well as short-term, systems oriented therapy and treatment of the grief associated with the loss of health.


Death, Dying, & Bereavement

The course is set up for the Student to begin to explore all aspects in the process of loss and death. Specifically, the course focuses on current and historical attitudes towards death, relevant theory and practice strategies, and the integration of conceptual knowledge with the human experience. Additionally, theoretical and clinical approaches to loss and grieving will be addressed.

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.

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