Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy


Program Description

The doctoral program in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) has a long and rich history. The program addresses family processes and empirically-supported relational interventions for today’s diverse families through the engagement in programmatic research and advanced clinical preparation.

Our emphasis is on providing the training necessary to become a scholar well-equipped for an academic position while advancing clinical expertise. The program is designed to produce MFT leaders who are invested in contributing to scientific knowledge through sophisticated programs of research.

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Florida State University (FSU) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). FSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

Research Training

Our strengths involve research on family processes, distressed families (e.g., families involved with the foster care system, families experiencing homelessness, military families), intimate relationships, mindfulness, and attributions. Our expertise includes implementing and evaluating best practices in psychoeducation and therapy.

The MFT program is well integrated into the Department of Family and Child Sciences. Doctoral students have access to the entire departmental faculty as part of their education and professional development. Students select their major professor and supervisory committee based on areas of scholarly interest and expertise. The doctoral supervisory committee provides mentorship throughout the doctoral experience. Doctoral students have access to computer laboratories, statistical software, and on-campus and remote access library resources.

Clinical Training

The program’s clinical training is geared toward advancing students’ clinical competencies and supervisory skills necessary to meet the needs of diverse individuals, couples, and families. During the first two years of doctoral studies, students provide therapy at the Center for Couple and Family Therapy (CCFT). The CCFT is an on-campus facility equipped with state-of-the-art technology and is a participating member in the Practice-Research Network clinical assessment consortium. Therapists at the CCFT are supervised by licensed MFT faculty who are AAMFT-approved supervisors. Supervision operates under a clinical practicum framework involving didactic content, group, and individual supervision, live observation, video, and case report.

After the completion of requisite CCFT clinical hours, doctoral students engage in an internship experience in community mental health agencies, hospitals, and clinical research settings. Students are encouraged to select internship placements that align with their area of scholarship.


  • Required Core Courses
    • HOE 6366 Research Best Practices in Human Sciences
    • CHD 5617 Professional Development in FCS
    • FAD 5481 College Teaching in Family Sciences
    • FAD 5942 Supervised Teaching
    • FAD 6916 Outcome Research in MFT
    • FAD 6930r Special Topics in MFT: Adv. MFT Theory and Application
    • FAD 6930r Special Topics in MFT: Family Diversity
  • Required Research and Statistics
    • CHD 5915 Methods of Research
    • FAD 5700 Applied Research in Human Sciences
    • FAD 6935r Special Topics in FCS: Qualitative Methods in FCS
    • FAD 6917 Research Methods in FCS
    • FAD 6930r Special Topics in MFT: Intervention Research
    • FAD 8964r Preliminary Doctoral Exam
    • FAD 6980r Dissertation
    • FAD 8985r Dissertation Defense Examination
  • Research and Data Analytic Electives (examples)
    • FAD 6608 Effectiveness and Translation Research in MFT
    • COM 5317 Content Analysis in Communication Research
    • EDF 5402 Adv. Topics in Analysis of Variance Apps.
    • EDF 5406 Multivariate Analysis Applications
    • EDF 5409 Causal Modeling
    • EDF 5410 Nonparametric Analysis Applications
    • SOW 6407 Survey Research Methods
    • STA 5179 Applied Survival Analysis
  • Clinical Practice Requirements
    • FAD 6606 Supervision in MFT
    • FAD 6940r Practicum in MFT
    • FAD 8944r Internship in MFT
  • Elective Courses (examples)
    • CHD 5266 Advanced Child Development
    • CHD 5919 Grant Writing in FCS
    • FAD 6436 Theories of Family Science
    • FAD 5263 Advanced Family Studies
    • FAD 5906r Directed Individual Study

Degree Completion

The advertised MFT Ph.D. program completion length is four years. Minimum program completion length is 3 years. There are a number of advantages to staying the fourth year and these advantages are discussed with each student on an individualized basis.

Students without a COAMFTE-accredited master’s degree can take up to five years to complete the MFT Ph.D., due to extra coursework and clinical contact hours needed.

All coursework must be completed within 5 years of enrollment in the program. When students have completed coursework, they must then complete a preliminary examination with an oral defense. Upon successful completion of the exam, the student enters into “candidacy.” The period of candidacy is limited to 5 years. Thus, the absolute maximum time to complete the MFT Ph.D. program is 10 years.

Students are only admitted to the doctoral program following completion of a clinical Master’s program degree. We DO NOT offer this Master’s degree.

The doctoral program requires a minimum of 83 credit hours, of which 21 are clinical / supervision and 24 are the dissertation.

Non-COAMFTE Master's

Graduates of mental health masters programs that are not accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) must complete specified coursework (the “Standard Curriculum”) before taking the preliminary doctoral examination. (Additional information on the “Standard Curriculum” can be obtained from the director of MFT program).

Before students enroll for coursework in their first semester, the clinical faculty reviews their master’s transcript to determine whether additional coursework is needed. Based on the review process, students prepare an initial “program of study” before registering for their third term that includes these additional required courses which may not be counted toward meeting the required minimum credit hours for the doctoral degree.



  • An upper-division undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The same scale applies to graduate-level work.
  • A competitive Graduate Record Examination revised General Test (GRE) score; a recommended score of above the 50th percentile in both verbal and quantitative sections with a 4.0 or high on the writing section.
  • International students must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper-based) or 80 (internet-based).
  • Completion of a clinical master’s degree program before enrolling in this doctoral program.
  • Selected applicants are invited to on-campus interviews during February to determine fit.

Attainment of these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission decisions are based on assessments of all aspects of the student’s application materials. The department reserves the right to increase standards if warranted by enrollment limitations and by the number and quality of applicants. Financial aid is a separate process from the admission to a graduate program.

Application Process

  1. Apply Online and pay the application fee.
    • Upload a personal statement outlining your research interests, career goals, and why Florida State University is a good fit for you. We strongly encourage applicants to familiarize themselves with the research interests of the faculty in their area so the statement can specifically address those faculty members. The statement should include how your background and prior training make you a good candidate and should include your top three (3) choices of faculty members with whom you would like to work.
    • Upload a resume or vitae (information should be current).
    • Upload contact information for three recommenders. The recommenders should be professionals you have worked with who are familiar with your academic performance and can speak directly about your qualification for this degree. Academic recommendations are preferred, but relevant professional recommendations will be accepted. No personal recommendations or letters from peers will be accepted.
    • Upload a writing sample.
  2. Submit official test scores (GRE and, if required, TOEFL) and official transcripts to the FSU Office of Admissions. The school reporting code for test scores is 5219; no department code is required. We require transcripts from EVERY post-secondary institution you attended (even if those courses are posted to another institution’s transcript).
Last updated Feb 2020

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About the School

Family and Child Sciences is more than working with people – we strive to make a difference in their lives. We offer programs of study for both undergraduate and graduate students that address the nee ... Read More

Family and Child Sciences is more than working with people – we strive to make a difference in their lives. We offer programs of study for both undergraduate and graduate students that address the needs of children, youth, adults, and families across the lifespan, with special attention to those in complicated families. Read less