California Licensure

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

For many working adults, the traditional graduate school model and on-campus classroom schedules can prevent highly qualified individuals living in California from pursuing a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Northcentral University’s California Licensure Track option meets all the educational requirements set by the state of California to earn a qualifying degree towards licensure. In addition, as Northcentral is a regionally accredited university, this degree will meet the licensing requirements in most states, which can greatly benefit you if you decide to work outside the state of California at some point in the future. As the demand for more highly qualified therapists grows in California, and as continued legislative changes open up more job opportunities for MFTs, Northcentral University stands ready to support professionals like you who have a strong desire to serve and help individuals, couples and families make positive changes in their lives and build stronger, healthier relationships. All courses are taught by faculty holding PhDs from regionally accredited universities, and who possess significant experience teaching in the field of MFT. Many of NCU’s MFT faculty members are also currently practicing clinicians. 

This program is pre-approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences in California (CA).

For more information regarding our Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, click on the links below.

General Degree Requirements

The MA in Marriage and Family Therapy degree requires a minimum of 45 credit hours at the graduate level beyond the bachelor’s degree. While not required for graduation, students who need to complete a 48- or 60-credit program or need specific additional courses for their state licensure requirements will be allowed to complete optional elective courses to meet these requirements.

Northcentral University may accept a maximum of 15 semester credit hours in transfer toward the master’s degree for graduate coursework completed toward a non-conferred graduate 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 to the required course work in the MFT program.

The MA degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy has the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through Northcentral.
  • Successful completion of all required degree program courses with a Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher.
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred bachelor’s degree from an accredited academic institution.
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University.
  • All financial obligations to the University paid in full.

Beyond these standard graduation requirements, the Marriage and Family Therapy master’s 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 – Master’s students will be required to complete 500 hours of direct client contact, which includes conducting face-to-face therapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups. At least 250 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, master’s students must receive a total of 100 hours of supervision. Supervision of students will occur at the rate of one (1) hour of supervision per every five (5) 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.

Completion Period for Master's Degrees

Northcentral University allows 6 years to complete Master's programs requiring more than 36 credit hours.

Students who are unable to complete a degree program within the stated time limits (6 years) are dismissed. If a student believes they have extenuating circumstances they may document the circumstances and send a request for consideration to their respective School Dean or designee. Exceptions to the policy are determined on a case-by-case basis and are granted only once.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Plan
California Licensure Track

For students residing in or planning to move to and pursue licensure in California, we offer a California Licensure Track option within the MA MFT program.  This option has been pre-approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS; the MFT licensing board) in California.  This degree plans requires 60 credit hours.  Students must complete the standard 45 credit hour degree plan with one modification (students must take the California version of our ethics course (MFT6201 California Law and Professional Ethics) rather than the standard ethics course (MFT5102 Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development in MFT), Then, in addition to the standard 45 credits, students must complete an additional five course (15 credits) that have been pre-determined to meet the CA licensing requirements. 

Foundation Courses - 9 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

MFT5101

Foundations for Graduate Study in MFT

This course prepares students for success in a master's degree program in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University, by introducing relevant technologies, reviewing professional standards and expectations, and developing essential skills in family therapy. Topics and practice include a review of the history of the field of family therapy, an overview of systems theory and the major models of family therapy, professional ethics, academic integrity, and respect for diversity. Course activities will emphasize personal application. Students will manage and utilize an e-Portfolio to begin a collection of scholarly artifacts and materials for use throughout their graduate program.

MFT5104

Treatment Planning and Traditional Family Therapy

This course uses a treatment planning focus while training students to have a thorough understanding of traditional models of marriage and family therapy. Course content will be focused on application of these clinical models to common clinical concerns and will address a wide variety of presenting clinical problems. Material and assignments in the course will address family therapy practice and be related conceptually to theory.

MFT5105

Recovery-Oriented Care and Postmodern Family Therapy

This course trains students to work with clients using a recovery-oriented approach that focuses on client strengths and working collaboratively toward meaningful change and improvement. Using this focus, course content will address social constructionism, narrative, solution-focused, and collaborative models of therapy as well as other postmodern trends. Course material will address a wide variety of presenting clinical problems and will address contemporary conceptual directions of the field of marriage and family therapy.

Fundamental Courses - 9 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

MFT6201

California Law and Professional Ethics

This course is designed specifically for Students living in or seeking licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in the state of California. The course will focus on legal and ethical issues related to the profession of marriage and family therapy and the practice of individual, couple, and family therapy in the state of California. The course will include content regarding contemporary professional ethics and laws regarding the scope of practice, therapeutic and clinical considerations involving legal and ethical practice of MFTs, family law, current legal trends in the mental health profession, psychotherapist-patient privilege, confidentiality, the patient dangerous to self or others, the treatment of minors with and without parental consent, professional identity including the relationship between the sense of self and human values and one's professional behavior and ethics, legal and ethical standards for different types of work settings, and the licensure laws and process. Activities three, four, five, and six in this course are designed to address the programs third and fourth Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) which states, students will demonstrate an applied knowledge of the AAMFT Code of Ethics (SLO-3); and students will advance their understanding of systemic dynamics within diverse client populations (SLO-4).

MFT5103

Systemic Evaluation and Case Management

This course provides students with foundational training in understanding and using various assessment and evaluation tools and methods with clients with attention to individual, couple, and family level evaluations. This course also trains students in standard case management methods including identifying and aligning clients with appropriate community resources.

MFT6102

Psychopathology, Diagnosis, and Systemic Treatment

Using a relational/systemic perspective, this course will address the traditional psychodiagnostic categories as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The focus of the course content will be on the assessment and treatment of major mental health issues through marriage and family therapy. This course is designed to address the program's second Student Learning Outcome (SLO) which states, "Students will apply family systems oriented clinical skills across a variety of contexts (SLO-2)."

Required Specialization Courses - 18 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

MFT5106

Research Methods and Evidence-Based Practice

This course investigates existing research and research methods used in marriage and family therapy as well as research ethics training, evaluation of existing research, understanding common research designs, and exploring potential research options of interest to the students. Course content also focuses on the importance of a scientist-practitioner approach to clinical work and the validation and use of evidence based practices in family therapy.

MFT6101

Human Development and Family Dynamics Across the Lifespan

This course will include content on individual and family development across the lifespan. Specific emphasis will be given to developmentally appropriate and atypical transitions related to common concerns in marriage and family therapy.

MFT6103

Cultural Diversity, Gender, and Family Development

This course addresses issues related to diversity and power and privilege as they relate to culture, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, and spirituality. Each of these characteristics is examined with respect to the relevance they have to the profession and practice of family therapy. This course is designed to address the program's fourth Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) which states, "Students will advance their understanding of systemic dynamics within diverse client populations (SLO-4)."

MFT6104

Family Therapy with Children

This course is designed to provide clinically relevant background information, human development, theory, and therapeutic models and interventions for a wide variety of presenting clinical problems relevant to children. Course material will address family therapy practice and be related conceptually to theory. Specific methods of therapy with children and facilitating parental and family involvement will be discussed. Facilitating child involvement in the therapeutic process for families will be addressed as well. This course is designed to address the program's second Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) which states, "Students will apply family systems oriented clinical skills across a variety of contexts (SLO-2)."

MFT6105

Couples and Sex Therapy

This course will address several models of couples and sex therapy. Within each model there will be a focus on assessment of couples dynamics, goal setting, and potential interventions. Specific attention will be given to the development of a personal theory of working with couples based on a foundation of existing models. This course is designed to address the program's second Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) which states, "Students will apply family systems oriented clinical skills across a variety of contexts (SLO-2)."

MFT6106

Families in Crisis

This course will address contemporary crisis-related issues in marriage and family therapy to include gender, violence, addictions, and abuse. It will also address the treatment of individuals, couples, and families from a relational/systemic perspective with respect to these issues. The focus will be on the effects of trauma and stress on family life and relationships as well as recovery from a variety of related presenting issues.

California Specific Additional Course Requirements - 15 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

MFT8103

Assessing and Treating Family Violence

This graduate level course examines family violence and the most effective way to address the consequences of it, including how to treat families that are affected by it. Theory and research will be explored related to definitions, causes, and characteristics of affected families (financial stress/poverty, social stress and the consequences of family violence. The types and targets of family violence will be explored. These include: spouse/partner, children, adolescents, college-aged adults, adults, and older adults. Violence among those in special populations will be included (e.g., same sex couples, rural families, disabled individuals, cross-cultural families, and military families). Students will learn about the importance of completing a thorough and comprehensive assessment of family violence, including an examination of resilience or family strengths as applied to this topic. Finally, the course will prepare students to intervene with families impacted by violence. Information regarding individual, couple, family, and group interventions will be included in the course. Awareness of cultural and ethical considerations will be included throughout the course.

MFT8104

Pharmacology for Family Therapists

This course is an overview of clinical psychopharmacology. The course will focus on psychiatric disorders their symptoms and medications. Students will explore basic classifications, indications, and contraindications of commonly prescribed psychopharmacological medications, so that appropriate referrals can be made for medication evaluations and so that the side effects of those medications can be identified, and appropriate treatment plans may be developed. In addition the course will teach Marriage and Family Therapists how to interact effectively in collaborative/ multidisciplinary settings with other mental healthcare practitioners.

MFT8115

Family Systems Approaches to Addiction

This course provides an overview of family systems approaches to addiction. Course material addresses addiction with respect to etiology, intervention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from a family systems perspective. In addition, the course explores how multicultural systemic issues influence family systems approaches to dealing with addictions.

MFT8303

Systemic Sex Therapy

This course focuses on physiological, psychological, and sociocultural variables associated with human sexuality and then maintains a focused emphasis on systemically oriented sex therapy including methods of conducting sexual assessments and both individual and relational therapy designed to help clients with variety of sexual issues, sexual dysfunctions, and sexual challenges within relationships.

MFT8601

Gerontology and Systemic Intervention

This course deals with the biological, social, cognitive, and psychological aspects of aging. Ancillary aspects of aging are also explored, including: issues related to long-term care, end of life issues, the cultural context of human development, and the impact of socioeconomic status (poverty) on the elderly. A significant focus of the course is the application of systemic treatment/theory to the elderly adult population and multigenerational families.

Clinical Experience Requirements - 9 credit hours

Course Code

Name

Course Description

MFT6951

MFT Practicum I

This course provides students with an opportunity to engage in ongoing therapeutic practice. Emphasis is placed on the development of therapy and assessment skills, theoretical integration, and personal growth. The local on-site supervisor will provide regular supervision of the student and assist the student in managing cases. The Northcentral University faculty will maintain regular contact with students and site supervisors and will facilitate the process of learning and knowledge integration. Additionally, students will participate in individual and group supervision with the Northcentral University faculty member. Students with an LMFT license (or equivalent) are not required to have an on-site supervisor. Students must enroll in two Practicum courses (MFT 5495: Practicum I and MFT 5496: Practicum II). MFT 5495: MFT Practicum lasts 16 weeks and students are required to be clinically active for the duration of that time. It is intended that students will accrue at least 125 client contact hours. To meet this requirement, students should plan to complete a minimum of 8 direct (face-to-face) client contact hours per week. Additional time will be needed each week in order to complete paperwork, set appointments, read relevant material, and complete course assignments. Direct services can include intake interviews, assessment, and therapy for individuals, groups, couples and/or families. Half of all client contact hours (i.e., 62.5 hours) must be relational (couple or family). Students must receive one hour of supervision (individual or group) for every five hours of client contact. These hours will be accrued between supervision with the on-site supervisor as well as the Northcentral University faculty member.

MFT6952

MFT Practicum II

MFT Practicum II continues from where MFT Practicum I ended. Like the first practicum, this one also lasts 16 weeks and students are required to be clinically active for the duration of that time. It is intended that students will accrue at least 125 client contact hours. To meet this requirement students should plan to complete a minimum of 8 direct (face-to-face) client contact hours per week. Additional time will be needed each week in order to complete paperwork, set appointments, read relevant material, and complete course assignments. Direct services can include intake interviews, assessment, and therapy for individuals, groups, couples and/or families. Half of all client contact hours (i.e., 62.5 hours) must be relational (couple or family). Students must receive one hour of supervision (individual or group) for every five hours of client contact. These hours will be accrued between supervision with the on-site supervisor as well as the Northcentral University faculty member.

MFT6991

MFT Internship I*

Upon completion of Practicum I and II, students are required to enroll in 3 one credit Internship courses (each 12 weeks in duration) to complete the remaining hours of the required 500 direct client contact hours (with 250 of these being relational hours). The Internship courses can either be registered for consecutively to last over a period of nine months, or concurrently. Students should consult with the MFT Clinical Coordinator upon completing Practicum II to determine the timing of when to enroll in each of the three required Internship courses. Students who have accrued a substantial portion of their hours during the Practicum process are candidates for registering for multiple Internship courses simultaneously in order to finish more quickly. Other students will need three consecutive enrollments in the Internship courses to allow the full nine months to complete their clinical experience requirements. Beyond completion of hours, the structure of the Internship experience is different from the Practicum courses in that, while students received direct supervision and more extensive involvement with the University faculty during practicum, the Internship experience is more autonomous. During the Internship experience, students are required to continue working with a qualified local supervisor to complete direct supervision of their clinical work for the duration of the Internship. Students must receive the equivalent of 1 hour of supervision for every 5 hours of client contact. This supervision must involve direct observation or videotape observation of the student’s sessions. In addition to completion of the required client contact hours and supervision, during the Internship experience (credits 2 and 3) students are also required to prepare for and take the practice exam for the national licensing exam and to prepare and present their own theoretically grounded personal model of therapy to the MFT faculty as a capstone presentation to end the program.

MFT6992

MFT Internship II*

Upon completion of Practicum I and II, students are required to enroll in 3 one credit Internship courses (each 12 weeks in duration) to complete the remaining hours of the required 500 direct client contact hours (with 250 of these being relational hours). The Internship courses can either be registered for consecutively to last over a period of nine months, or concurrently. Students should consult with the MFT Clinical Coordinator upon completing Practicum II to determine the timing of when to enroll in each of the three required Internship courses. Students who have accrued a substantial portion of their hours during the Practicum process are candidates for registering for multiple Internship courses simultaneously in order to finish more quickly. Other students will need three consecutive enrollments in the Internship courses to allow the full nine months to complete their clinical experience requirements. Beyond completion of hours, the structure of the Internship experience is different from the Practicum courses in that, while students received direct supervision and more extensive involvement with the University faculty during practicum, the Internship experience is more autonomous. During the Internship experience, students are required to continue working with a qualified local supervisor to complete direct supervision of their clinical work for the duration of the Internship. Students must receive the equivalent of 1 hour of supervision for every 5 hours of client contact. This supervision must involve direct observation or videotape observation of the student’s sessions. In addition to completion of the required client contact hours and supervision, during the Internship experience (credits 2 and 3) students are also required to prepare for and take the practice exam for the national licensing exam and to prepare and present their own theoretically grounded personal model of therapy to the MFT faculty as a capstone presentation to end the program.

MFT6995

MFT Internship and Capstone Presentation*

Upon completion of Practicum I and II, students are required to enroll in 3 one credit Internship courses (each 12 weeks in duration) to complete the remaining hours of the required 500 direct client contact hours (with 250 of these being relational hours). The Internship courses can either be registered for consecutively to last over a period of nine months, or concurrently. Students should consult with the MFT Clinical Coordinator upon completing Practicum II to determine the timing of when to enroll in each of the three required Internship courses. Students who have accrued a substantial portion of their hours during the Practicum process are candidates for registering for multiple Internship courses simultaneously in order to finish more quickly. Other students will need three consecutive enrollments in the Internship courses to allow the full nine months to complete their clinical experience requirements. Beyond completion of hours, the structure of the Internship experience is different from the Practicum courses in that, while students received direct supervision and more extensive involvement with the University faculty during practicum, the Internship experience is more autonomous. During the Internship experience, students are required to continue working with a qualified local supervisor to complete direct supervision of their clinical work for the duration of the Internship. Students must receive the equivalent of 1 hour of supervision for every 5 hours of client contact. This supervision must involve direct observation or videotape observation of the student’s sessions. In addition to completion of the required client contact hours and supervision, during the Internship experience (credits 2 and 3) students are also required to prepare for and take the practice exam for the national licensing exam and to prepare and present their own theoretically grounded personal model of therapy to the MFT faculty as a capstone presentation to end the program.

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 MAMFT costs below:

  • Per credit cost: $839
  • Per 3 credit course cost: $2,517
  • Program cost: $50,340
  • Average Book cost per course: $110
  • Application Fee: $0
  • Technology Fee: $0
  • 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.

Northcentral University’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Northcentral University 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.