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FAQs: MS, Couple and Family Therapy

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.

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, scores on the TOEFL for international students (when relevant), statement of the candidate’s academic and career objectives, and an academic writing sample. The writing sample can be any previously submitted or published work that you have completed in an academic setting (assignments, articles, reports, etc). 

 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. 

The CFT Program seeks to recruit students who are diverse and have strong academic abilities and personal characteristics needed to develop into competent and ethical therapists. 

What academic and work experiences should students have before entering the program?

The clinical faculty considers applications to the program on a case-by-case basis. It is desirable 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. 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 2nd, 2022. 

What financial aid is available?

A limited amount of financial aid is 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.

Do I have to take the GRE’s?

The GRE requirements are being waived for the 2023-2024 application cycle. 

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.

Can I do this program 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 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.

How many students are enrolled in the program?

There are currently 18 students enrolled in the CFT program, and approximately 10 students are admitted each year. 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.

How does one apply to the program?

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

Within weeks after the application deadline (12/02/2022 for the 2023-24 year), the most qualified applicants will invited to Interview Day, which will be held in February. Applicants will meet with the family therapy faculty and current students in the program. The interview allows the candidate to ask questions about training and other aspects of the program and provides an opportunity for the faculty to learn more about the candidate.

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.

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 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 websiteFind more information about how our program specifically aligns with states. Please note that the course interpretation depends on the interpretation of each state board.

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.