Apr 03, 2020  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog

Marriage and Family Therapy, M.A.

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The Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences offers a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree designed to provide the student with the academic and professional training necessary for a career in marriage and family therapy (MFT). The program is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The program includes a substantial clinical training component, including video and live observation, in which students work under the supervision of licensed marriage and family therapists at Chapman University's onsite MFT training clinic, the Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy. This MFT program may also serve as a foundation for further graduate study in marriage and family therapy or one of the related disciplines. Students in this program complete a minimum of 60 semester credits.

Admission deadlines

The program has two admission periods, one in spring and one in fall. The deadline for the fall semester is February 1 and the deadline for the spring semester is October 1.


The applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The degree must be in psychology (or equivalent discipline) or the applicant must show evidence of satisfactory academic background in all of the following:

  1. Introduction to psychology.
  2. Abnormal psychology.
  3. Developmental psychology or human development.
  4. Research methods (both qualitative and quantitative approaches).

Applicants must be enrolled in or have completed three of the four required prerequisite courses by the admission deadline. All prerequisites must be completed by the end of the student's first semester in the program. 

Applicants must submit official transcripts showing proof of completion of or enrollment in the required prerequisite courses by the admission deadline. A grade of C+ or higher is required for each course.

Admission requirements

1. Submit official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions. 

2. Have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.300 or higher. Applicants with a grade point average below 3.300 are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Minimum required scores for the GRE:

  • Verbal: 153
  • Quantitative: 146
  • Analytical Writing: 4.5

3. Complete the application for admission and the non-discrimination policy and licensure notification.

4. Submit two letters of recommendation from individuals actively engaged in teaching and/or clinical practice, who are in a position to evaluate your academic and personal qualifications for the program. The school may contact the authors of recommendations to discuss your qualifications.

5. Submit a personal statement, which must be no more than three double spaced typed pages in length. The statement should address how each of the following areas contributed to your career objectives and prepared you to begin graduate studies in marriage and family therapy:

a. Educational background;

b. Professional work experience (clinical internships or volunteer work) in mental health, human services or related fields;

c. Personal or family background and experiences.

6. Submit a résumé or curriculum vitae.

Completed online applications are initially reviewed by the Office of Graduate Admission. The applications on file are forwarded to the Marriage and Family Therapy program where they are reviewed by the graduate faculty and administrators. Applicant files are carefully read and reviewed for fit with the program's educational goals and training. Due to the volume of qualified applicants, not all applicants will be admitted to the program.


After acceptance to the program, newly admitted students are required to meet with the program manager to discuss and clarify any questions about the program and future career plans. The program manager evaluates the student's transcripts and program application materials and if the student is qualified and approved for admission, prepares a Plan of Study indicating the student's status at the University and any program prerequisites still to be completed. Plans of Study are designed for two and one-half or three-year tracks. Any courses accepted for transfer into the program are also identified. Questions about prerequisites, program requirements, transfer credits, etc. should be discussed and resolved with the program manager at the time the Plan is created to avoid later confusion.

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with the program manager before registering for classes each semester to review the Plan of Study and address any concerns that may impact their ability to complete the program. Students needing additional support may meet with the program manager and/or program director with greater frequency, have their Plan of Study revised and/or be given referrals for additional resources to assist with their success in the program.

Transfer policy

Students are expected to take all courses in the MFT program at Chapman University. Under unusual circumstances, students can petition to the program director to accept courses taken outside of the MFT program. Students transferring to the MFT program at Chapman, or who have taken graduate coursework prior to enrollment in the MFT program at Chapman, may transfer up to 6 semester credits of coursework.

Ethical and professional standards

Since the Marriage and Family Therapy program involves preparing students to work with the public, the program assumes the responsibility for reasonably assuring that individuals who complete the program are not only academically competent, but are aware and capable of functioning within the established ethical and professional standards of the profession. Students in the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program must adhere to the ethical standards held and enforced by the relevant professional associations and should understand that they are being trained in a program that is not only academic, but also professional in nature.

The University has both the right and obligation to evaluate continually and, if necessary, to terminate the student's participation in the master's program at any point for ethical violations and/or personal unsuitability for the profession. This philosophy is consistent with that of most graduate programs that are engaged in explicitly or implicitly certifying that their graduates are competent to engage in the practice of professional counseling or psychotherapy.

Candidate dismissal

A student may be dismissed from the program and the University for reasons of professional, academic or clinical performance, clinical or personal misconduct, or violation(s) of the Academic Integrity Policy. Prior to dismissal, efforts will be made by the faculty to assist the student in removing areas of deficiency. If such assistance does not result in improved performance to an acceptable level, the student can be dismissed from the program. The program director will make final decisions of dismissal following consultation with the faculty. Students are expected to maintain a GPA of at least 3.000 on all coursework within the curriculum. Clinical misconduct that warrants dismissal includes, but is not limited to, unsafe practices that might endanger the client, the student, or the therapist. Personal misconduct that warrants dismissal includes, but is not limited to, actions that are intended to negatively affect the clients, peers, faculty, program or the profession.

Any student dismissed by the program has the right to appeal the decision in accordance with the appeal process (see Academic Policies and Procedures  section of the catalog). The student shall continue in the program until the appeal process is exhausted, but may be removed from coursework and or clinical experiences pending resolution of the appeal. If the decision for dismissal stands following his/her appeal, the student will be dismissed from the program and the University.

Advancement to candidacy

During the semester before students plan to begin their first semester of practicum, the program manager notifies them of their eligibility to sit for advancement to candidacy. Regularly scheduled advancements take place three times a year: once in the fall semester (typically in November), once in the spring semester (typically in April) and once during the summer. Advancement candidates must have satisfactorily completed or be successfully completing MFT 516 , MFT 541 , MFT 556 , MFT 561 , MFT 565 , MFT 570 , MFT 573 , MFT 578 , MFT 583 , MFT 618  and a minimum of 40 credits. To qualify for advancement to candidacy, students must be in good academic standing. Students on academic probation may petition to advance each semester. Approval of the petition will only be awarded by a unanimous vote of the graduate faculty. At the advancement to candidacy interview, students will meet with a faculty committee. It will be that committee's responsibility to determine whether students are then prepared to be formally declared a candidate for a master of arts degree and be permitted to proceed into the practicum phase of the program.

At the time of the advancement interview, each student will be provided with a clinical vignette. The student will discuss a diagnosis and a tentative treatment plan, which will be the foundation of the advancement interview. The treatment plan will address identification of problems, proposed interventions, ethical issues, prognosis, further assessment and any clinical issues that may need further attention. Successful advancement to candidacy is a prerequisite to enrolling in practicum. In the event that the student does not pass advancement, the student will be required to complete a second advancement by the end of the same semester. The student will be required to complete all stipulations as determined by the advancement committee before this second advancement. In the event that the student does not pass the second advancement, the student will be required to complete further stipulations as determined by the advancement committee and undergo a third advancement the following semester. Failure to pass a third advancement will result in dismissal from the program.

Personal therapy

Participating as a client in therapy is an important educational aspect of a program to prepare mental health professionals. Experience as a client in personal therapy is, therefore, one of the program requirements. The requirement is met through a minimum of sixteen hours of individual, couple, family and/or group therapy conducted by a licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed clinical psychologist or board-eligible psychiatrist. Students must obtain a signed Personal Therapy Verification Form from their therapist and submit it directly to the program manager. This form is available in the Program Handbook or can be obtained from the program manager. The form must be on file at the time the student applies for graduation.

Personal therapy may also at any time be required by the program. Commencement of therapy or recommendation of additional therapy may be a stipulation or condition at any time during the program. Students have the right to choose their own therapist for this requirement within the limitations of ethical standards prohibiting dual relationships and the criteria of the paragraph above.

Professional membership

The MFT program at Chapman University values developing student identities as marriage and family therapists in the classroom, through clinical work and through membership and active participation in MFT professional organizations. Students are required to become a student member and maintain membership during their time as a student in the program. Students will become a student member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and/or the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). Both organizations are of value both nationally and statewide. Students are encouraged to be actively involved in both organizations by attending meetings, engaging in leadership, keeping up with news and latest research in the field as part of their membership. Students are required to show proof of membership by submitting a copy of their welcome letter to the program manager by the end of their first semester in the program. For further questions or more information please contact the program director.

Optional external traineeship

After completion of a minimum of 12 credits of coursework, students can elect to participate in an external traineeship. Students who pursue offsite practicum training must seek approval from the program director before the proposed starting date. Students should obtain the required forms from the program director well in advance of the deadline to enable them to fully comply with the requirements for the practicum and to deal with any special problems or circumstances that may affect the acceptability of the proposed practicum site. It is imperative that all students are aware that external traineeships are contracted for one year and cannot be broken or amended. Students enrolled in this course are eligible to obtain hours toward licensure as a marriage and family therapist. Direct client contact hours accrued will not be included in the 300 hours required for clinical practicum.

Clinical practicum

Once students advance to candidacy status, they begin their year-long clinical practicum experience conducting individual, couple and family therapy under the direct supervision of licensed marriage and family therapists at the Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy, the program's onsite training clinic. Students are required to complete a minimum of four consecutive semesters (including interterm) of MFT 694  Practicum I. In addition, students must complete at least 2 credits of MFT 696  Practicum Collaborations during this year-long practicum experience. Students in the practicum stage of the program will be assigned a clinical supervisor and will receive weekly individual and group supervision. Student competence will be measured using the Case Presentation Evaluation Form and the Basic Skills Evaluation Device.

Minimum requirements for beginning clinical practicum include:

  1. Advancement to candidacy.
  2. 40 completed credits of program coursework.

Students are required to accrue a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact to complete their practicum training. 120 of those hours must be relational (couple or family).  Students who do not accrue the minimum number of hours may be required to register for additional semesters of practicum until the hours are met.

Capstone project

As part of the graduation requirements, MFT students are required to complete a capstone project in their final semester in the MFT program. The capstone project will include three parts: a). a theory of change paper, b). a comprehensive written case report and c). an oral case presentation, which includes a video demonstrating specific interventions. Students will start writing the theory of change paper in MFT 556  and continue to develop it during the three semesters of practicum in the Frances Smith Center. The students will submit the theory of change paper to their group supervisors in their first and second semesters in the Frances Smith Center. They will incorporate the feedback they receive from these supervisors to improve their paper. They will submit the final version of this paper to their group supervisor in their final semester in the Frances Smith Center. During their training at the Frances Smith Center, the students will select a case based on which they will write a comprehensive written case report as part of the capstone project. The case will be relational in nature (couple/family/parent-child unit etc.). The students should have had at least four sessions with the client before they submit the comprehensive written case report. The comprehensive written case report will be submitted to the group supervisor during the final semester at the Frances Smith Center along with the final version of the theory of change paper. During group supervision all graduating students will make an oral case presentation in their final semester in the Frances Smith Center as part of their capstone project. The oral case presentation will be based on the case that is selected for the comprehensive written case report and will follow the same format as the comprehensive written case report. The oral case presentation will be accompanied by a slide presentation and will include four video clips from sessions with the client(s). In order to overall pass the capstone project, the students must pass all three components of the capstone project. Passing the capstone project, or, in case of failure, completing the stipulations provided by the group supervisor is a requirement for graduating from the program.

Comprehensive examination

Students enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy program must take and pass a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination covers six core competency areas that are reflective of the areas required for state licensure as a marriage and family therapist. The examination is administered twice each year, once in September and once in February. Students are required to take the examination immediately following their advancement to practicum. A study guide is available in the Program Handbook and contains information about the examination, study preparation ideas and an explanation of how the examination is scored. A passing score in the corresponding courses does not assure students a passing grade on the examination. In the event that students do not attain a passing score on the examination, they must repeat the entire examination the next time it is administered. Three failures to obtain a passing grade on the examination are grounds for dismissal from the program. (See the Academic Policies and Procedures  section for additional guidelines.)

Continuous enrollment requirement

The fee for continuous enrollment is equal to one credit of tuition charged per program and will allow students to remain in active status as well as enable them to utilize university resources for completion of the coursework. See Continuous Enrollment  for additional information.

Requirements for the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy are held to the University's Academic Policies and Procedures . In addition these specific degree standards apply:

  • Complete a minimum of 60 credits.
  • Minimum grade of "C+" or above required in all coursework.
  • Maintain 3.000 GPA in the degree.
  • Participate in a minimum of 16 hours of personal therapy.
  • Pass the advancement to candidacy.
  • Pass the comprehensive examination.
  • Pass the capstone project.
  • Accrue a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact during clinical practicum.

The following courses make up the Marriage and Family Therapy degree program curriculum:

family development, diversity and client advocacy (9 credits)

clinical practicum (12 credits)

Students are required to accrue a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact to complete their practicum training. 120 of those hours must be relational (couple or family).

optional list of electives (0-12 credits)

Students may elect to take a maximum of 12 credits of optional coursework in the MFT program. If students exceed these hours, they must contact the MFT program director and MFT program manager for further discussion. The approved elective courses include the following:

total credits 60-72

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