A range of California colleges in a variety of locations offer master's and/or doctoral degree programs in marriage and family therapy. Depending on the degree level, these programs may require comprehensive exams, a thesis/dissertation and clinical experiences. Here we discuss some of the available programs in more detail.
California Schools with Graduate Programs in Marriage and Family Therapy
California State University-Long Beach
Students at California State University-Long Beach can pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Counseling with an option in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). The program offers a 2-, 2.5- or 3-year track and prepares students for state licensure. Students in the program receive training in a wide range of areas, including spirituality, human sexuality, trauma, child counseling, couples counseling and chemical dependency. The program has a thesis or comprehensive exam option and requires students to participate in multiple fieldwork experiences, some of which may take place at the on-site clinic, while others take place in the local area.
Alliant International University
Alliant International University offers a Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Marital and Family Therapy at its Irvine, San Diego, Sacramento and Los Angeles locations. The MA program is also available online, offers day and evening classes, can be taken full- or part-time and requires 600 total hours of hands-on clinical training. The PsyD requires a dissertation and allows students to specialize in policy, clinical, supervision, teaching or research. Students in the program also receive hands-on training through practicum experiences and a doctoral internship.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California in Los Angeles has a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program that prepares students for state licensure. The program follows a cohort model and includes coursework that is research- and practice-based. Students learn how to work with clients through videotaped clinical practice and hands-on field experiences that total a full year of experience before the end of the program. Students also participate in practice sessions with their peers, where students may choose to share personal information for practice.
Orange's Chapman University provides an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy that is 1 of 8 MFT programs in the country that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE). The program requires a 1-year practicum experience that takes place on-campus at the Frances Smith Center for Individual and Family Therapy. The program can be completed in 3 years and also requires a comprehensive exam and capstone project. Students may also choose to further develop their leadership skills through participation in the International Marriage and Family Therapy Honor Society, Delta Kappa.
Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University in Azusa offers a unique MA in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in MFT. The program meets state licensure requirements and also offers a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) option through one additional course or a Substance Use Disorders certificate through 11 additional units. The standard MA program requires 63 to 66 units and requires a comprehensive exam and a clinical placement that can take 12 to 30 months to complete, depending on course scheduling. Students are also required to participate in 40 hours of individual psychotherapy or 20 hours of individual and 20 hours of group therapy.
Common Entrance Requirements
California's graduate programs in marriage and family therapy usually require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and if it is not in psychology, then students may need prerequisite coursework in topics like abnormal psychology, research methods or developmental psychology. Some of these programs may expect GPAs greater than a 3.0 to be competitive and/or may examine GRE scores in place of lower GPAs. It is fairly common for these programs to require an interview process for qualified applicants. Other common application materials include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume and a personal statement.
Marriage and family therapy graduate programs are most common at the master's level in the state of California. Students in these programs typically complete hundreds of hours of hands-on fieldwork to prepare for state licensure.