Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy


Program Description


The programme is ideal for mid-career professionals who have academic backgrounds in marriage and family therapy along with considerable clinical practice experience. Many degree candidates are seasoned clinicians with successful histories of marriage and family therapy practice. A doctoral degree is relevant for marriage and family professionals whose career paths have led them to leadership roles in organizational management, higher education, coaching, public policy, and consulting. Each programme is dedicated to maintaining a standard of excellence while understanding the needs of adult learners who are busy professionals.

Candidates interact with faculty and staff in a rich, supportive learning community. Degree candidates will study with scholars and professionals from other universities, non-profit organizations, public agencies, local government, international organizations, school systems, private clinical practice, and health care delivery systems. Studies are tailored to the specific learning needs of each individual.

Instructional Philosophy and Mission

The primary mission of an educational programme in marriage and family therapy coursework is:

  1. To develop competent advanced-level Marriage and Family Therapists at point of graduation;
  2. To advance and disseminate a valued systemic basis for teaching and practicing marriage and family therapy;
  3. To promote culturally-informed and respectful systemic mental health practice;
  4. To advance the body of academic literature within the field via the promotion of research about clinical effectiveness, special populations, evidence-based practice, and relationship concerns;
  5. To promote leadership within the field.

Intended Competencies and Outcomes

  • Upon completion of their degrees, Marriage and Family Therapy graduates will demonstrate competencies and outcomes in the following areas of scholarship and practice:
  1. Comprehensive knowledge of marriage and family therapy theory and practice via literature review, bibliography, and development of an annotated outline;
  2. Thorough knowledge of research methodologies via formulation of a marriage and family therapy research question and selection of appropriate means of data collection and analysis;
  3. Well-developed critical thinking skills, including those of analysis, synthesis, along with divergent and convergent processes;
  4. Graduate level writing skills;
  5. Ease with verbal discourse about subject matter via oral defense and, when appropriate, roundtable discussions with peers;
  6. Competent practice skills in individual, family, couples, and group children with adults, children, adolescents, and the elderly.

Course Content Domain Requirements

  • IUGS offers a Doctor of Philosophy, (Ph.D.) degree and a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) degree.
  1. The Ph.D. is designed to prepare marriage and family therapists to engage in research and academic leadership in the field as well as provide advanced marriage and family therapy services.
  2. The Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy is designed to enhance the student’s capacity to provide advanced marriage and family therapy services.
  3. The Ph.D. dissertation tends to be theoretical and involves more secondary then primary research in the chosen area of Marriage and Family Therapy.
  4. The DMFT project is oriented toward practical application in a chosen area of Marriage and Family Therapy and tends to involve more primary research.

Required course domains (or equivalency as assessed and approved by the Dean of Faculty) for doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy include:

  1. Marriage and family therapy theory;
  2. Therapeutic work with special problems, including but not limited to: Substance abuse, family violence, mental illness, poverty, criminal justice, and cultural competency;
  3. Marriage and family therapy methods;
  4. Counselling and therapy with individuals, families, couples, and groups;
  5. Marriage and family therapy practicum;
  6. Research methods;
  7. Relevant marriage and family therapy electives as approved by the Dean.

Instructional Requirements, Strategies, and Sequence

  • A total of 93 post-baccalaureate credit hours are required for doctoral degrees, a minimum of 27 credits must be taken at IUGS. Some of these may be taken via independent study or at other post-baccalaureate institutions approved by the Dean. Up to 66 post-baccalaureate academic credits may be transferred from other accredited post-baccalaureate academic institutions according to IUGS’s Advanced Standing Academic Credit Transfer Policy. Only grades of “C “or better will be accepted in transfer for academic standing. In addition the students overall average must be “B” or better.
  • Instructional methods include:
  1. Review and, as approved, acceptance of previous relevant post-baccalaureate coursework that meets the criteria of IUGS for advanced standing academic credit transfer;
  2. As needed, independent study or courses completed at other post-baccalaureate institutions approved by the Dean to complete the required coursework;
  3. Assigned readings of texts and academic journal articles;
  4. Interactive lectures;
  5. Small group discussions;
  6. Use of electronic media (Questia online library provided by the University and other selections by student, mentor, and Dean).

The instructional requirements and sequence include the following coursework to be successfully completed at IUGS:

  1. Marriage and Family Therapy Research Design I (3) credits;
  2. Marriage and Family Therapy Research Design II (3) credits;
  3. Upon completion of the research requirements, mentor-based development of the Doctoral Dissertation or Project;
  4. Dissertation and Oral Defence or Doctoral Project and Oral Examination (18) credits;
  5. The 8-day Graduate Seminar held at the 10-day Residency (3) credits;
  6. On-site oral panel defense of the Ph.D. Dissertation or Oral Examination of the Doctoral Project;
  7. A minimum of 85% mastery of examination materials.

For both doctoral degrees, Marriage, and Family Therapy Research Design I must be completed, approved, and filed before work on Marriage and Family Therapy Research Design II begins. Marriage and Family Therapy Research and Design I and II are prerequisites to undertaking the Dissertation or the Doctoral project. The Dissertation or Doctoral Project is not a prerequisite for the Graduate Seminar. However, it is recommended that all required coursework prior to the research courses be completed. The Graduate Seminar may be completed at any time in the degree candidate’s enrolment at IUGS, but must be completed prior to fulfilling their academic requirements in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Course Instructors

  • The instructors and the number of instructors available for each course will vary, but may include:
  1. Dean, Faculty of Marriage and Family Therapy;
  2. The Mentor;
  3. Faculty & Visiting Lecturers;
  4. Dissertation or Project Committee Members.
Last updated February 2018

About the School

Designed for professionals with diverse educational backgrounds and experience, programmes at IUGS are structured to meet the needs of qualified people seeking to complete their formal credentials. By... Read More