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Graduate Forms, Advising and Handbook: MS, Couple and Family Therapy

Program Handbook

For a complete explanation of the Couple and Family Master's program, please refer to the CFT Program Handbook 

Graduate Forms

There are a variety of forms you may need to access during your graduate career here in the Department of Family Science, access all forms on the Department of Family Science student resources webpage. 

Graduate Advising Information

Assignment of an Advisor

Each incoming student is assigned a faculty advisor to provide information and consultation regarding academic requirements, student services available on campus, etc. The role of a faculty advisor is differentiated from that of a mentor, a faculty member that the student selects to supervise his or her academic and professional work. A student may change advisors simply by informing the Department's Director of Graduate Studies in writing of the change. Advisors will be a core faculty member: Dr. Mariana Falconier, Dr. Amy MorganDr. Mona Mittal, or Tiara Fennell.

Selecting a Mentor

All Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) students must complete a Master's thesis or a non-thesis Advanced Clinical Project (ACP). It is important to select a faculty mentor who is a good fit for your research and clinical interests to supervise your work. For more information on faculty including their research interests, projects, and publications, please click on their name above. 

Transfer and Application of Credit

Credits used to satisfy the requirements for another earned degree may NOT be applied toward the requirements for the Master of Science degree from this department.

With the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, students may transfer up to six credit hours of graduate work not applied to a previous degree toward their FMSC degree. For further information on the transfer of credits, see the Graduate Catalog on the University of Maryland website.

If a student is inadequately prepared for some graduate courses, the Department's Graduate Committee may require the student to take additional courses. Such additional coursework is not considered part of the coursework required for the degree.

Course and Degree Time Limits

The Graduate School has specific limits on the number of years that courses are considered valid in counting toward the student's degree, and on the number of years, the student has to complete the M.S. degree. 

The CFT program follows the Graduate School's policy on time length and limits. The minimum length for completing the CFT Program is 2 years and the advertised length is 2 years. All coursework must be completed within 5 years. The Graduate School does grant extensions of time limits in certain circumstances (usually a one-year extension for completing the degree; an additional one-year extension is much more difficult to obtain).

Vibrant and intellectually dynamic relationships between graduate students and faculty members lie at the heart of graduate education. Supervising, advising, and mentoring graduate students are essential and central elements of the job of all tenured, tenure-track, and professional-track faculty members at a research university. These professional relationships are based on the principles of honesty, integrity, collegiality, mutual respect, responsibility, and accountability; in other words, trust. Outstanding faculty supervisors, advisors, and mentors are critical to graduate education and to creating a successful graduate student experience.

Each student with graduate research, teaching, or administrative assistant appointments works under the direction of graduate assistantship supervisors. Work assignments are determined by the Director of Graduate Studies. At the beginning of each Fall semester, students and graduate assistantship supervisors should complete the Statement of Mutual Expectations and submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students are assigned a faculty advisor for the first year of their respective program by the Director of Graduate Studies or Program Director of the Couple and Family Therapy Master’s Program. The faculty advisor serves as a contact person for the student until the student selects a Capstone Project, thesis, or dissertation chair. All electives must be pre-approved by the faculty advisor or Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director. A student may change advisors to another faculty member within their program by informing the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director of the change in writing. If approved, the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director will work with the student and faculty members to ensure the changes are not problematic or disruptive.

A mentor is typically the student’s faculty advisor or Capstone Project/thesis/dissertation chair, helping the student adapt to the culture of the department and the discipline and to navigate important relationships for professional success. From a practical perspective, however, faculty advisors might not be able to offer all the types of support a student may need. Though the primary emphasis is on intellectual development, truly effective mentoring attends to the whole student. Therefore, students are expected to build a mentoring network that extends outside their faculty advisor and Capstone Project/thesis/dissertation chair assignments who can:

  • assist with the Capstone Project/thesis/dissertation, research, publications, progress to degree, and job prospects
  • promote best teaching practices by providing resources, opportunities, and evaluations
  • serve as collaborators and/or co-authors on research internship papers
  • enrich intellectual development and sense of scholarly citizenship ● cultivate techniques for networking and collaborating
  • demonstrate how the discipline operates academically, socially, and politically
  • help develop skills to present ideas and scholarship more confidently
  • provide counsel during the graduate training experience

Mentorship Model

The department has a team mentoring model for its students in which it is not only common but indeed desirable for students to work with multiple faculty members over the course of their program. This can take multiple forms in which students may register for research internship credits with one faculty member, take an independent study with another faculty member, and/or work as a research or teaching assistant with another. It is also acceptable for a student to request that two faculty members serve as co-chairs for their master’s thesis or dissertation. Faculty members may serve as more informal mentors for students.

While many of the department’s key values and strategies that follow are broadly applicable to any interactions between faculty and graduate students, the intention is to establish clear expectations for supervising, advising, and mentoring relationships.

Key Values

  • Mutual Respect. Demonstrate mutual respect for each other’s time, efforts, research, and professional goals. Faculty are an important source of advice and guidance but each person should respect the other’s independence and autonomy.
  • Honesty. Open and honest communication between students and faculty can help reduce misunderstandings and build trusting relationships. Effective advising and mentoring includes talking honestly and regularly about high priority topics among graduate students including: Capstone Project/thesis/dissertation, research, coursework, teaching, funding avenues, and job opportunities (GradSeru). Students and faculty should establish and maintain regular meeting times (e.g., weekly) to have open and honest communication about these topics.
  • Collegiality. Students and faculty should demonstrate collegiality and professionalism in their interactions with each other. They should agree on any work-life boundaries and what topics are appropriate beyond the Capstone Project/thesis/dissertation. This is applicable to a broad range of interactions such as formal and informal settings, online meetings, email communications, etc.
  • Responsibility. Students and faculty should be responsible with each other’s time, efforts, and needs. They should agree on regular meeting schedules (e.g., weekly), how quickly they will respond to each other (e.g., within 48 hours), and completing tasks in a timely manner.
  • Integrity. Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, ethical, and responsible manner. Students, faculty, and staff should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an ethical and welcoming environment. In both personal and academic endeavors, we will act with honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
  • Equity and Inclusion. Guided by social justice principles, students, faculty, and staff aim to cultivate an inclusive department environment. We believe that living and working in a community that accepts and celebrates diversity is a joy and privilege that contributes to the vitality of our department. We will deepen awareness of our unconscious biases, promote equitable opportunities, and celebrate diversity. Such approaches include actively listening, being culturally sensitive and anti-racist, using correct pronouns, and respecting our rich intersectional identities across race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, ability, citizenship, and others.
  • Accountability. Sometimes advisor and mentor relationships are simply not a good fit, for a variety of reasons. Students may choose to find another mentor on their own. Students may also change an assigned advisor to another faculty member within their program by seeking approval from the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director in writing. If approved, the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director will work with the student and faculty members to ensure the changes are not problematic or disruptive.

Key Strategies

  • Supporting Career Development
    • Foster independence and tailor to a student’s career goals, including aspirations that may fall outside the academy. 
    • Cultivate excellence in research by encouraging and creating research opportunities.
    • Foster excellence in teaching by highlighting resources and training, creating instructional opportunities, and providing feedback.
    • Promote professional and career development opportunities and students should take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Building and Maintaining Relationships
    • Develop explicit expectation agreements. For example, Graduate Assistantship Supervisors and students will complete a Statement of Mutual Expectations each year and submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies at the beginning of the Fall semester. Similar expectation agreements are encouraged between students, faculty advisors, and mentors.
  • Mentoring Across Difference
    • Create healthy and vibrant intellectual environments that are anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive.
    • Acknowledge, discuss, and speak out on issues regarding race and identity in academic institutions.
    • Identify skills needed to navigate departmental politics and underwritten rules of academic institutions.
    • Validate progress in student’s professional development.
  • Managing Conflict
    • Learn and become familiar with the university’s and department’s structure, handbooks, policies, and procedures.
    • If conflict arises, students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director first. If further action is needed, the student and the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director will consult with the Department Chair.