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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 150 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 

  • SPHL600, Foundations of Public Health (3 credits)
  • FMSC640, Family Therapy: Theory and Techniques (3 credits)
  • FMSC650, Ethical, Legal, and Professional Principles in Couple and Family Therapy (3 credits)
  • FMSC658, Supervised Clinical Practice in Couple and Family Therapy ( 9 credits)
  • FMSC610, Research Methods in Family Science (3 credits)
  • FMSC651, Treatment of Emotional and Mental Disorders in Family Systems (3 credits)
  • FMSC745, Gender and Ethnicity in Family Therapy and Service Delivery (3 credits)
  • FMSC645, Sexuality: Issues in Family Therapy and Service Delivery (3 credits) 
  • FMSC654, Clinical Marriage and Family Therapy Practice (3 credits)
  • FMSC641, Couples Therapy, Theory, and Techniques (3 credits)
  • FMSC642, Normal and Abnormal Individual and Family Development (3 credits)
  • FMSC652, Psychopathology and Diagnosis in Family Systems ( 3 credits)
  • FMSC653, Advanced Application of CFT Models and Techniques (3 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 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 698P Advanced Topics in Family Science; Play Therapy (3 credits)