Curriculum Overview

The CFT curriculum has three parts: didactic coursework, clinical practica, 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, 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 500 hours, 400 which are face-to-face client contact hours and up to 100 which can be "alternative" hours such as facilitating workshops or seminars to clients or community members. Out of the 500 total hours, 200 hours must be relational (with couples or families). One hundred of the 200 required relational hours can be "alternative hours" (Please note: clinical hours under COAMFTE Standards Version 11 states students must gain 400 client contact hours, 250 of which had to be relational. Beginning with the Fall 2018 cohort, the new COAMFTE Standards Versions 12 will be in effect and the 500 hours requirement mentioned above will apply to the new cohorts moving forward). The Center for Healthy Families, the couple and family therapy clinic operated by the Department, offers the opportunity to gain these hours.  Clinical students receive 100 hours of supervision, both individual and group, for their client contact hours. Supervision in the Department’s clinic is provided through a range of techniques including case discussion, one-way mirror observation, videotape review, co-therapy, and telephone consultation during live sessions. Students may choose to do some of their clinical work in a variety of available externship sites in the local area.

All students adhere to the CFT Program Hours Policy that states any student who does not complete his or her 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 Famly 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, the theoretical model used by the therapist to treat them, a description of assessment and any individual diagnoses, details regarding the therapeutic process, professional 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 undergaduate level statstics course prior to enrolling in FMSC 610 (Research Methods) or initiating thesis research. This requirement can be fulfilled by completing a statsticis 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

For a full description of the required CFT courses, in addition to the other Family Science graduate courses, please click here.

Semester I (Fall)

  • FMSC 640 Family Therapy: Theory and Technique (3 credits)
  • FMSC 650 Ethical, Legal, and Professional Principles in Marriage and Family Therapy (3 credits)
  • FMSC 745 Gender and Ethnicity in Family Therapy Service Delivery (3 credits)
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (1 credit)

Semester II (Spring)

  • FMSC 610 Research Methods in Family Science (3 credits)
  • FMSC 641 Couples Therapy: Theory and Techniques (3 credits)
  • FMSC 651 Treatment of Emotional and Mental Disorders in the Family Context* (3 credits)
    *Formerly, Psychopathology in the Family Context
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (2 credits)

Summer Session I

  • FMSC 645 Sexuality: Issues in Family Therapy and Service Delivery (3 credits)
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (1 credit)

Summer Session II

  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (1 credit)

Semester III (Fall)

  • FMSC 642 Normal and Abnormal Individual and Family Development (3 credits)
  • FMSC 652 Psychopathology and Diagnosis in the Family System* (3 credits)
    *Formerly, Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental and Emotional Disorders in Family Systems
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (2 credits)

Winter Term 

  • FMSC 654 Clinical Marriage and Family Therapy Practice (3 credits)

Semester IV (Spring)

  • SPHL 600 Foundations of Public Health (3 credits)
  • FMSC 653 Advanced Application of Marriage and Family Therapy Models and Techniques (3 credits)
  • FMSC 658 Supervised Clinical Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy (2 credits)
  • FMSC 789 Non-thesis Research (Non-Thesis Option: Written and Oral Case Presentation) (3 credits)
  • FMSC 799 Master's Thesis Research (Thesis Option: Thesis and Oral Examination of Thesis) (1-6 credits)


CFT students have the option to take three elective courses listed below in the winter term 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. 

  • 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 (Note that coursework extends through the Spring semester) (3 credits)

Graduate Forms

There are a variety of forms you may need to access during your graduate career here in the Department of Family Science. You can access those forms here.

Honor Pledge

The University has a nationally recognized Honor Code, administered by the Student Honor Council, which should be handwritten and signed on the front cover of all your papers, projects, or other academic assignments.