Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

Department of School, Family and Mental Health Professions

Academics Banner Marital and Family Therapy

Mission Statement

The mission of the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) Program is to help lead the transformation of family therapy by creating, educating and actively supporting a community of future professionals who embody the philosophy and practice of a biopsychosocial, systems approach to family-oriented mental health care.

Program Overview

The Marital and Family Therapy Program prepares family therapists to work with individuals, couples and families from diverse backgrounds. We promote the use of a biopsychosocial model in therapy, with an emphasis on understanding clients from a relational or systemic perspective, which has been described in the best-selling books, Essential Skills in Family Therapy and Essential Assessment Skills in Family Therapy, both written by MFT Program faculty members. Students complete a 12-month clinical practicum in which they accumulate a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours and receive more than 200 hours of supervision from faculty and practicum site supervisors. Students have the option to complete an emphasis in medical family therapy.

This program meets the guidelines to prepare students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as licensed marriage and family therapists and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

What can I do with this degree?

This program prepares students to become professional marital and family therapists. Graduates of the MFT Program usually work in mental health agencies, set up their own private practices or go on to doctoral work. Family therapy is different from other mental health professions because of its emphasis on treating couples and families, its emphasis on present day problems instead of historical or intrapsychic conflicts, and its focus on understanding interpersonal relationships as a way of treating mental health problems. This program prepares students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs).

Who should apply?

Our students plan to pursue careers as professional marital and family therapists. Students have experience in a variety of backgrounds such as education, psychology, business, nursing, social work, the military and pastoral and religious settings. Some plan to pursue doctoral work in the field. Many have some professional work experience and almost all have some experience related to the field of MFT, either paid or unpaid. For more information on our students, visit Student Outcomes.

Student Achievement Data

Graduates of the M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy typically seek licensure as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists (LMFTs) with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) or in another state. Some continue on to doctoral work. No matter their plans, our students can count on the advice and support of our MFT faculty and our Career Services counselors for assistance with next steps. Valuable information on licensure pathways can be found on the BBS website. We take pride in preparing our students for success in their journey to licensure, as shown by the data in Figure 1 and Table 1.

Assessment Data for Marriage and Family Therapy Program

Table 1. Assessment Data for USD Marriage and Family Therapy Program

Entering Cohort PeriodGraduation Rate1Licensure Exam Pass Rate2Licensure Rate3
2005 - 2006 97% 86% 71%
2006 - 2007 92% 83% 58%
2007 - 2008 100% 88% 56%
2008 - 2009 100% 100% 25%
2009 - 2010 100% 100% 17%
2010 - 2011 97% * *
2011 - 2012 97% * *
2012 - 2013 97% * *
2013 - 2014 * * *

*Note: Data not available until candidates complete the program, complete their internship, and sit for the licensure exam to become a licensed MFT. This process typically takes at least two years after graduation.

1Cohort graduation rates were calculated by the USD-SOLES Office of Assessment using data from USDs Registrar’s Office.
2Cohort exam pass rates were calculated based on data gathered from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.
3Cohort licensure rates were calculated based on data reported on the California Board of Behavioral Sciences website.