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Marriage and Family Therapy FAQ

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Below are some of the most common questions we hear from individuals interested in Marriage and Family Therapy. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can contact us through our live chat feature or call us at 866-776-0331.

How can I learn more about the profession of Marriage and Family Therapy?

Marriage and family therapy (MFT) is a profession that uses a systems theory orientation to treat individuals, couples, families and groups that struggle with mental and emotional disorders as well as a wide range of behavioral and relationship problems. Marriage and family therapy is a distinct profession from that of psychology, counseling, social work, and other mental health professions. More detailed information about marriage and family therapy can be found in the links below.


What are the entrance requirements for Northcentral Marriage and Family Therapy degree programs?

Master's Degree Program Admission to our MFT Master’s degree program requires a Bachelor's degree from a regionally or nationally accredited or approved international institution.

  • We do not require you take the GRE, GMAT or other graduate school entrance examination.
  • For more information on our application and admission process, visit the Northcentral University Master's Degree Admissions page.

Begin the application process. Once you complete the online application, an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to provide a set of additional MFT program application forms. Ph.D. Degree Program Admission to our MFT Doctoral degree program requires a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, or a related clinical profession (including practicum/internship coursework) from a regionally or nationally accredited or approved international institution.

We do not require you take the GRE, GMAT or other graduate school entrance examination.

For more information on our application and admission process, visit the Northcentral University Doctoral Degree Admissions page.

Begin the application process. Once you complete the online application, an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to provide a set of additional MFT program application forms.


Is it necessary to have a Bachelor's degree in a related area to be admitted into NCU’s MFT Master's program?

It can be beneficial if you've earned your Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as Family Studies or Psychology, but it isn't required.

  • All of the content necessary to train as a Marriage and Family Therapist is included in our MFT Master's program.
  • Apart from having a specific undergraduate degree, it's just as valuable to have a strong dedication to this challenging field of study.

Can you describe the structure of a typical Northcentral University MFT course?

Our MFT coursework is designed to be highly practical, allowing you to gain knowledge and experience that is both professionally beneficial and personally relevant.

  • Each course includes a variety of learning activities and assignments and incorporates multiple study materials, including required textbooks, journal articles, educational videos and lecture, and scholarly online information.
  • Most courses include engagement with faculty in a discussion about a question posted in the course room. This is a one-to-one conversation between the student and her or his faculty member.
  • You will also work with faculty in completing, submitting and receiving grades and feedback for course assignments — including reflection and research papers, case studies, literature reviews, presentations, and experiential exercises.
  • Class discussions, assignments and other learning activities can be completed online at your convenience each week within the 8 or 12-week course period; weekly assignments are generally due Sunday at midnight.
  • For Group Practicum, faculty will coordinate a time for your group to meet together weekly online (through video conferencing) throughout the course.

When are MFT students expected to start seeing clients?

Master's Degree Program

Though not required, students in the master's program can begin seeing clients as soon as they've completed the first six fundamental courses. Most students will start their practicum experience (i.e. start seeing clients) between the sixth and ninth course in the program. A few students will complete all the content courses (12 three-credit courses or 36 credit hours) first and then start the practicum experience. You can begin the pre-practicum process, which is designed to evaluate your readiness to see clients, approximately one month away from completing the last of the fundamental courses.

  • Once pre-practicum is completed, it's expected that you will begin and continue to actively see clients until you've completed the required 500 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of supervision.
  • It generally takes approximately one year to complete the practicum and internship courses and finish the required hours of direct client contact and supervision. When possible, we recommend that students plan to complete these clinical requirements concurrently with remaining content courses. However, some students are not able to devote the time needed to both work on a content course and participate in the clinical training, in which case students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor to determine the most appropriate sequence of courses and practicum hours.

Ph.D. Degree Program

Students in the Ph.D. program can begin to count their clinical hours as soon as they have met their state requirements for seeing clients as a pre-licensed therapist, often referred to as a LMFT Associate or a MFT Intern, or when they have successfully completed the Standard Curriculum courses outlined in their NCU degree plan and their fifth PhD course. Standard Curriculum requirements may have been met in the student’s prior master’s degree program but any deficiencies must be rectified prior to seeing clients as an NCU practicum student. Many doctoral students will come in with a qualifying Master’s degree, thus allowing them to see clients from the first day of the program.

If a student is using the Ph.D. as their terminal degree to apply for licensure in their state, they will need to consult with their state regulations and program staff to determine which courses they must take before beginning to see clients. Before enrolling in the doctoral practicum course, doctoral students must complete MFT7101, MFT-8101, MFT-8102, MFT7102, CMP-9701M, and any of the first six standard curriculum courses that they may need as part of their degree plan. All doctoral students must be able to document 800 hours of client contact to graduate with their Ph.D. Doctoral students can bring in many, if not all of these hours, based on past supervised experience working as a MFT. Half or more of these 800 hours must be relational counseling hours (seeing two or more people in one session that have some type of relationship, i.e. husband/wife, parent/child, siblings, roommates, etc.).


How is the practicum process completed online?

Master's Degree Program Students will participate in direct client contact and supervision in their local area. During the first six months of clinical work, students also participate in weekly group practicum sessions with a qualified faculty member and other students in the program. These practicum sessions are conducted online via Internet video conferencing, using security features in order to maintain confidentiality and security of client records and meet HIPAA regulations.

  • With guidance from your Northcentral faculty, you will establish a local practicum site with a qualified supervisor that meets regulations outlined by your local licensure board. When possible, students are encouraged to seek out AAMFT Approved Supervisors.
  • In addition to working with a local supervisor, your clinical work will be reviewed during the group practicum sessions by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or AAMFT Supervisor in Training on staff at Northcentral University.

Ph.D. Degree Program Students in the doctoral program complete one 12-week practicum course. Students who are not yet fully licensed MFTs will complete a clinical practicum. Students who are LMFTs will complete a supervision practicum and co-facilitate a master’s degree practicum with an NCU clinical faculty member. These practicum sessions are conducted online via Internet video conferencing, using security features in order to maintain confidentiality and security of client records and meet HIPAA regulations.


Can the faculty help me find a place to do practicum hours near where I live?

Yes, the MFT Clinical Coordinator at Northcentral University will assist you, but each student is ultimately responsible for finding a local practicum/internship site and a qualified local supervisor. We have a list of sites where current and past students have completed their clinical training. This list may include specific locations in your area or may serve as an example of types of sites you could consider in finding a placement.


During Practicum and Internship, can I work in a paid placement or do I need to volunteer?

Some of our students volunteer, and some are paid for their time. Either is acceptable. Whether you are paid or not depends on opportunities available in your area. Some states may specifically require volunteer work while you are a student rather than a paid placement.


Does the supervisor for the practicum and internship have to be an AAMFT Approved Supervisor?

Master's Degree Program No. An AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor in Training is preferred. However, the specific minimum requirement is that your local supervisor must meet any requirements that are established by the local licensure board for supervisors of MFT applicants. Check with your local licensing regulations to determine the supervisor requirements. These requirements are typically outlined in the licensure rules about post-degree clinical experience. We require that you work with a supervisor that meets the regulations to supervise your post-degree hours so that if you decide to stay in your internship site following graduation the hours will count toward full licensure. Ph.D. Degree Program If you are not licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist when you begin your practicum, you are required to have a local clinical supervisor who, ideally, is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor Candidate. However, the specific minimum requirement is that your local supervisor must meet any requirements that are established by the licensure board in your state for supervisors of MFT applicants. Check with your local licensing regulations to determine the supervisor requirements. These requirements are typically outlined in the licensure rules about post-degree clinical experience. We require that you work with a supervisor that meets the regulations to supervise your post degree hours so that if you decide to stay in your internship site following graduation the hours will count toward full licensure.


How do I find a qualified supervisor in my area?

The AAMFT website has offers an Online Directory that includes a list of Approved Supervisors. Also, you can search the AAMFT Therapist Locator service which will show people that are licensed/trained MFTs in your area. Many of the local divisions of AAMFT (e.g. the state association) offer assistance in finding supervisors and some even have lists of local supervisors available on their websites. You can find information about your local division by visiting the Directory of Divisions. Finally, many states post a list of licensees (and sometimes supervisors) on their websites. The directory of state licensure boards gives you a link to each board's website and also offers email and phone contact information for each board: http://www.aamft.org/imis15/content/directories/MFT_licensing_boards.aspx.


How long does it take to complete the program at Northcentral University?

Master's Degree Program The MFT Master's program requires completion of 45 credits of coursework and clinical experience. Students living in states that require more credit hours can add additional courses to their degree plan to meet their state requirements.

  • All of the courses in the program are three credits except for the internship, which is a series of three 1-credit courses. MFT Master's-level students must complete the equivalent of 15 three-credit courses, including clinical experience requirements.
  • We encourage our students to complete 6-8 courses in a year. At that rate, it takes approximately 2-3 years to complete our Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy degree program. Some students find it necessary to complete the program at a slower pace due to other responsibilities and time constraints. Students must complete the master's program within five years.

Ph.D. Degree Program The MFT Doctoral program generally requires 63 credits of coursework if you enter the program having completed a previous master’s degree from a COAMFTE-accredited Marriage and Family Therapy program.

  • The actual required number of credits varies depending on the number of relevant graduate courses you’ve previously completed in Marriage and Family Therapy. Applicants who enter the program with a degree in a related clinical profession other than MFT typically have 3-12 additional credits to complete.
  • All courses in the program are three credits except for the doctoral portfolio courses (3 four-week courses that are 1-credit each) and the doctoral internship courses, which are a series of three 1-credit courses to allow for duration of 9 months.

We encourage students to complete 4-6 courses in a year. At that rate, it takes approximately 4.5-6.2 years to complete the Doctoral program depending on pacing and any additional credits that may be required. Some students find it necessary to complete the program at a slower pace due to other responsibilities and time constraints. Students must complete the doctoral program within seven years.


What is COAMFTE accreditation?

Northcentral University is regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001, www.wascsenior.org. Beyond this regional accreditation, many professions have specific accrediting bodies for individual programs that train those people who will enter the profession. COAMFTE accreditation is one such specialized or professional accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is the accrediting body for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy(AAMFT). For more information on COAMFTE accreditation, visit COAMFTE.org.


Are the MFT programs at Northcentral University COAMFTE accredited?

Both the Master's and Doctoral MFT programs at Northcentral are COAMFTE accredited and were developed following COAMFTE Marriage and Family Therapy Educational Guidelines and designed to meet COAMFTE accreditation standards. The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Program and the PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (http://www.coamfte.org/iMIS15/coamfte/) and were the first primarily online MFT programs to achieve this status (currently the PhD-MFT program is the only COAMFTE-accredited primarily online doctoral program). This historical achievement is a clear reflection of Northcentral’s continual pursuit to provide the highest quality educational experience to our students.


After I graduate, will I be eligible to pursue state licensure?

Licensure requirements vary from state to state, although most state educational requirements are fairly similar. In order to help you prepare for licensure, visit our MFT licensure page.

  • You are responsible for taking the required coursework and preparing for and meeting the licensure requirements in your state.
    • You may have to take additional courses beyond what we require for graduation in order to meet your state's licensure requirements.
      • For example, in Florida, licensure applicants are required to take a course in Theories of Personality. Northcentral doesn't require this course in its MFT program; however, we offer it as an elective.
      • Some states require 60 semester credits of coursework to qualify for licensure. Northcentral can offer you those additional courses beyond our required 45 credits if necessary to meet your state licensure requirements — or if you simply wish to take additional courses to supplement your training.
      • Some states will not accept a degree from Northcentral. Specifically, Kansas, and New Hampshire have specifically indicated that they will not accept online courses or entirely online programs to meet their educational requirements for licensure.
  • Our MA degree plan has been pre-approved by the BBS in California. Throughout 2010, we went through a review of our curriculum and training requirements with officials from the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) in California. In December, 2010, we received official approval of our degree program as a licensure qualifying program in that state. Northcentral University is now listed on California's BBS website as an accepted program. Students in California must sign up for the 60-credit California Track to qualify for licensure in the state of California.
  • A list of links to various state and other licensure boards is available through the AAMFT website in their Directory of MFT Licensure and Certification Boards.

After graduating from your MFT program, will I be qualified to obtain clinical membership in AAMFT?

Clinical Membership in AAMFT is typically obtained by completing the requirements for licensure in your home state.

In locations without an approved licensure process (i.e. international students), individuals may pursue AAMFT Clinical Membership through the Evaluation Track in lieu of licensure. Learn more from the Clinical Membership section of the AAMFT website.


What is the tuition cost for Northcentral University's MFT program?

Tuition costs for the MFT program can be reviewed on our public website. The total cost for the MFT program depends on the number of credits you have to complete after your transfer credits are applied. For additional information about tuition and fees, visit our Tuition page.


Whom can I contact if I have additional questions about Northcentral University?

For questions specific to our Marriage and Family Therapy program, contact us at mfs@ncu.edu. For general information about NCU, call 866-776-0331. Or fill out the form below to get connected to an enrollment advisor.