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Program Requirements: MS, Couple and Family Therapy

Curriculum Overview

The CFT curriculum has three parts: didactic coursework, clinical practicum, and supervised client contact. The minimum total credits required are 48 for the non-thesis option and 51 for the thesis option. Didactic coursework is taken in conjunction with 15 credits of clinical practicum seminars and 9 credits of supervision of clinical work. In the clinical practicum, the theory is applied to specific case material, with faculty supervision providing support and oversight of assigned cases. The CFT program has a minimum length of two years and a maximum length of five years.

Clinical Experience

Supervised client contact begins in the student’s first semester. Clinical students are required to gain a total of 500 hours, 400 of which are of face-to-face client contact, and 200 of these hours must be relational (with couples or families). Of the total 500 hours, one hundred of the hours can be "alternative hours." Supervision in the Department’s clinic is provided through a range of techniques including case discussion, one-way mirror observation, video review, co-therapy, and telephone or real-time video consultation during live sessions.

All students adhere to the CFT Program Hours Policy that states any student who does not complete their required 500 hours of client contact by the end of the spring semester of the second year WILL NOT be allowed to continue seeing clients at the Center for Healthy Families beyond that time. Students will need to independently seek out alternative externship sites to gain the remainder of the client contact hours required to sit for the National Licensing Examination. No exceptions will be made.

Thesis/Non-Thesis Options

Couple and Family Therapy students may pursue a thesis or a non-thesis (Advanced Clinical Project) option. For thesis option students, 6 semester hours are thesis research credits taken as FMSC 799. The thesis, involving original research supervised by a CFT or other Family Science faculty mentor, must be approved and then defended in an oral examination. Advanced Clinical Project option students take the 3 credit FMSC 789 and must complete a written and oral therapy case presentation. The ACP includes a description of the couple or family and their presenting problem with attention to cultural aspects, the theoretical model used by the therapist to treat them, a description of the assessment and any individual diagnoses, details regarding the therapeutic process, professional, cultural and ethical issues encountered in working with the case, and recommendations for future intervention. The student’s ACP work is supervised by a CFT program faculty mentor.


Students are required to have completed a graduate or advanced undergraduate level statistics course prior to enrolling in FMSC 610 (Research Methods) or initiating thesis research. This requirement can be fulfilled by completing a statistics course at the University of Maryland, College Park, or another academic institution. The student will submit the course syllabus and any associated course materials to the CFT Program Director for evaluation.

Course Requirements 


Required Courses

  • SPHL 600 Foundations of Public Health (3 credits) An overview of the theoretical frameworks and research findings in the field of Public Health. This course is required of all students enrolled in academic programs within the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health.
  • FMSC 610 Research Methods in Family Science (3 credits) Prerequisite: EDMS 645 or equivalent. Research methods in family science. The role of theory, design, use of qualitative and quantitative measurement techniques, data collection and data analysis. Development of research proposals.
  • FMSC 640 Family Therapy: Theory and Techniques (3 credits) Fundamental theoretical concepts and clinical procedures in couple and family therapy. Emphasis on those therapy models that operate from a family systems perspective.
  • FMSC 641 Couples Therapy: Theory, and Techniques (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 640. Exploration of the dynamics of the couple relationship and methods for facilitating growth and constructive interaction within that relationship. Theoretical models of couple therapy and their methods for assessment and treatment of distressed relationships. Applications with a variety of common problems experienced by couples.
  • FMSC 642 Normal and Abnormal Individual and Family Development (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 640. Normal development and psychopathology, within the context of the family system: implications for assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutic interventions. Emphasis on families with school-age children, adolescents, parent-child relationships, and application of the current psychiatric diagnostic system (DSM) in work with families.
  • FMSC 645 Sexuality: Issues in Family Therapy and Service Delivery (3 credits) Prerequisite: A basic course in human sexuality and permission of the instructor. Typical, dysfunctional, and pathological sexual functioning: effects on individuals, couples, and family systems. Sensitizes students to sexual issues, explores how perceptions of such issues affect work with people, and emphasizes implications for couple and family therapy.
  • FMSC 650 Ethical, Legal, and Professional Principles in Marriage and Family Therapy (3 credits) Prerequisite: Permission of department. Limited to students admitted to the family therapy program. An introduction to the basic principles and practices of family therapy. Emphasis on basic therapy skills applied to a family context and on professional ethics of the family practitioner. Addresses therapist's legal responsibilities and liabilities, certification, and licensure issues.
  • FMSC 651 Treatment of Emotional and Mental Disorders in the Family Context (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 650. Limited to students admitted to the family therapy program. Initial application of family therapy skills and theoretical models to the practice of marriage and family therapy. Didactic focus on assessment and diagnosis of family processes. Emphasis on treatment plans from different therapeutic models demonstrated in case presentations and supervision of therapy. Therapist burnout prevention and intervention.
  • FMSC 652 Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental and Emotional Disorders in Family Systems (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 651. Limited to students admitted into the family therapy program. Integration of systematic assessment and intervention procedures with couples and families, within the context of the various family therapy models. Didactic emphasis is given to procedural issues, critique and utilization of current DSM, and specific problems encountered in family therapy work. Advanced professional responsibility as demonstrated in case presentations and supervision.
  • FMSC 653 Advanced Application of Marriage and Family Therapy Models and Techniques (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 652. Limited to students admitted to the family therapy program. Concluding course in the clinical therapy, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment series. Didactic focus on personal theory building, continued professional development, and extension of systematic intervention to community consultation with other mental health professionals. Emphasis on personal values and professional ethics as applied in case presentations and supervision. 
  • FMSC 654 Clinical Marriage and Family Therapy Practice (3 credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 651. Application of theory and technique to the clinical practice of marriage and family therapy. Emphasis on case management and clinic administration. Includes completion of 12 successive months and 500 hours of supervised, direct client contact with couples, families, and individuals from an integrative family systems perspective.
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (1-2 credits per semester for a total of 9* credits) Prerequisite: FMSC 650 Supervised couple and family therapy client contact. Various family systems models of supervision applied via extant methods, including live and video-recorded.
  • FMSC 745 Diversity and Social Justice in Couple and Family Therapy* (3 credits) Major critiques of sources of racial, cultural, and gender bias in couple and family therapy and family service delivery. Addresses these issues in program development, clinical practice, and policy. Previously named Gender and Ethnicity in Family Therapy and Service Delivery. Change in course name awaiting VPAC approval. 
  • FMSC 789 Non-thesis Research (1-3 credits) Non-thesis research papers (Advanced Clinical Study papers). OR
  • FMSC 799 Master’s Thesis Research (1-6 credits)



CFT students have the option to take three 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 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)
  • 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)