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FAQs: MS, Couple and Family Therapy

How does one apply to the program?

Apply to the CFT program through UMD’s graduate school admission portal.

What are the minimum requirements for entry to the program?

A student is admitted to the CFT program on the basis of the criteria outlined in policy including previous undergraduate and graduate academic work, three letters of recommendation, statement of the candidate’s academic and career objectives, academic writing sample, and scores on the TOEFL for international students (when relevant).

The CFT Program also considers previous experience in both research and human service, which are desired, but not required. Following the faculty’s initial review of the pool of applicants, the faculty select a group of applicants to invite for personal interviews. 

For letters of recommendation, academic and professional recommendation contacts are preferred. The writing sample can be any previously submitted or published work that you have completed in an academic setting (assignments, articles, reports, etc.) that you feel reflects your academic writing competency. 

The CFT Program seeks to recruit a diverse student body that have both strong academic abilities and personal characteristics needed to develop into competent, resilient, and ethical therapists. 

Do I have to take the GRE’s?

The GRE requirements are waived for the 2024-2025 application cycle. 

What prerequisites should students have before entering the program?

The clinical faculty considers applications to the program on a case-by-case basis. It is preferred for students to have had academic coursework in the areas of family studies, human development, research methods and statistics, abnormal psychology, and an introduction to therapy or counseling skills. If you have not had a college level Statistics course, you will be required to take one during your first semester. Work or volunteer experience in human services (especially therapy-related experience) is highly recommended.

When is the application deadline?

All Department and Graduate School application materials for the master’s program in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) program are due by December 1, 2023 for the 2024-2025 school year. 

Do you accept students for the spring semester?

No, the CFT program accepts students for fall admission only.

How long does it take to complete the program?

It typically takes 2 – 2 ½ years to complete all of the requirements of the CFT program as a full-time student. The thesis option requires 51 credits; the non-thesis option requires 48 credits. For licensure in the state of Maryland, you will need 60 credits. 

Can I go part-time and just take longer to graduate?

No, the CFT program accepts students for full-time status only. This is an intensive year-round two year program. You remain with your cohort from start to finish.

Can I do this program online?

No, the CFT program is an in-person program.

Can students hold outside jobs while attending the CFT program?

It is recommended that full-time CFT students work no more than 10 hours per week through assistantships or outside employment.

What can I expect after applying?

All application requirements must be received by the deadline to be considered. Applications will be reviewed only after the application deadline. The faculty and staff will meet after the winter break to determine which candidates to invite to the next stage of the admissions process - Interview Day. Invitations to interview will be sent via email shortly after that.

Interview Day is held in late February. This allows the faculty, staff, and students to get to know more about the candidates and allows the candidates to learn more about the program, training processes, and more. The day will be broken up into different sessions, which will include an interview with the faculty. 

Starting in March, selected candidates will receive an emailed invitation to join the program from the program director. They will be given a decision deadline. Acceptance will allow the program to begin the formal admissions process with the Graduate School. This process can go on through late April. 

Applicants not chosen will receive emails from the Graduate School, typically in May. However, candidates that do not receive an email to interview by mid-February are highly encouraged to apply again during the next application cycle. 

How much does the program cost?

Please review tuition and fee information General billing questions can be answered by the Financial Service Center by email or phone.


What financial aid is available?

A limited amount of funding may be available in the form of fellowships, graduate assistantships, and loans from federal, state, and private sources. Details regarding loan eligibility can be obtained from the Student Financial Aid Office. A small number of university fellowships may be available for outstanding students.

How do I apply for funding?

When you complete the Graduate School application, check the box indicating that you wish to be considered for a Graduate Assistantship. There is no additional form to complete; all students accepted into the program are considered for Graduate Fellowship and/or Assistantship support.

What are the requirements for completing a Master of Science degree in Couple and Family Therapy?

Requirements for the degree are outlined on this webpage. Students must complete 51 credit hours for the thesis option and 48 credit hours for the non-thesis option. Fifteen credits (5 courses) are seminar, nine credits are supervision of clinical work and the remaining are didactic courses. In conjunction with the series of marital and family therapy seminars, students must complete 500 hours of supervised client contact.

CFT students have the option to take four elective courses listed below while in the program. While these elective courses are not required for graduation from the CFT Program, they are required in order to apply for and receive Marriage and Family Therapy licensure in the state of Maryland. Students who choose the ACP option will be required to take an additional elective graduate level course in the Department Family Science or in any other related discipline in order to satisfy the 60 credits Maryland State’s licensure requirement.

  • FMSC 698A Advanced Topics in Family Science; Trauma and Addictions in Family Life (3 credits)
  • FMSC 698T Advanced Topics in Family Science; Testing and Assessment in Couple and Family Therapy (3 credits)
  • FMSC 630 Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents (3 credits)
  • FMSC 635 Integrative LGBTQIA+: Clinical Knowledge and Techniques for Family, Couple, and Varied Relationship Dynamics (3 credits)

What is the difference between the thesis and the non-thesis option?

The thesis is an original research paper, which the student defends orally before a faculty committee. The thesis option is strongly encouraged for students interested in continuing in a Ph.D. program.

The non-thesis option involves writing a clinical paper and conducting a clinical case presentation, both of which are evaluated by the full clinical faculty. The non-thesis option is available for those who see the master’s degree as their final degree and do not plan to conduct further research during their career.

How many students are enrolled in the program?

The CFT program admits approximately 10 students per year. There are currently 17 students enrolled in the CFT program. There are about 50 total students enrolled in the Family Science M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

What school of thought/model of therapy is emphasized in the CFT program and how might this emphasis differ from other training programs?

The CFT program uses an integrative systems approach. Students are exposed to all the major models in family therapy early in their course of study. These models include, but are not limited to: structural, strategic, intergenerational, feminist, cognitive-behavioral, client-centered, narrative, emotion-focused, and experiential. Although each faculty member emphasizes a particular model in his/her practice of therapy, students are not expected to adopt any one perspective. Rather, students are encouraged to experiment with various models of therapy in order to find the approach or combination of approaches that best suits them.

What types of supervision are offered by the CFT program?

Supervision in the departmentally operated clinic, The Center for Healthy Families, is provided through a range of techniques including case discussion in supervision groups, live observation through one-way mirrors, session video–tape review, and live supervision of sessions via telephone consultation or real-time video consultation during live sessions.

Does the CFT program encourage participation in conferences and workshops?

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in national professional conferences and the many educational events in the Washington area. In recent years, CFT students have presented their research at annual meetings of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), and the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). The Department makes every effort to award travel funds to graduate students presenting papers at professional conferences.

How does the CFT program comply with AAMFT accreditation requirements?

The CFT program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). As a COAMFTE accredited program, the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the University of Maryland, College Park provides students with the standard curriculum of education and clinical training that is recognized across the country. The comprehensiveness of our curriculum and the extensive clinical training with diverse clients prepare our graduates for employment in a wide variety of CFT positions. In addition, the program prepares students to perform well on the National Licensing Examination. Thus, the degree is highly portable.

The clinical supervision provided by the family therapy faculty and adjunct supervisors meets AAMFT-approved criteria. Up to 100 of the 200 supervision hours required by AAMFT for clinical membership can be obtained during one's graduate work. Also, the 500 client contact hours completed during the program count toward the 1000 hours required for AAMFT clinical membership. One may complete more than the minimum hours of client contact and supervision (1 hour of supervision for each extra five hours of client contact) and these hours will also count toward AAMFT clinical membership. 

Are CFTs eligible for licensure in the state of Maryland?

Yes. CFT graduates are eligible for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT) in the state of Maryland. The state requirements to sit for the licensing exam parallel the course curriculum of the University of Maryland CFT program. Two years of clinical experience and supervision are required after graduation. The Licensed Graduate Marriage and Family Therapist (LGMFT) designation was established for CFTs who have graduated and passed the licensing exam but are still accumulating the required post-graduate clinical hours.

What about licensure in other US states and territories?

The CFT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and provides the supervised clinical training typically required in states with Couple and Family Therapy licensure. While a detailed determination has not yet been made as to whether the program meets the requirements for professional licensure in states other than Maryland, state-by-state licensure requirements can be found on AAFMT's state resources website.  If you plan to practice in another state, you are required to know that state's requirements. Please note that the course interpretation depends on the interpretation of each state board.

What careers are CFT graduates qualified for and what are some typical jobs that graduates obtain?

CFT graduates are well trained to conduct couple and family therapy. In addition to working as couple and family therapists, past graduates have gone on to serve as agency administrators, substance abuse counselors, school counselors, human service project directors, and child/couple/family researchers.