Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, families and couples face a broad spectrum of challenges spanning financial to emotional and mental health issues. Guidance not only walks them through a difficult patch but equips them with the skills to persevere in the future.

Licensed marital and family therapists (LMFTs) impart this knowledge, illuminating the path forward through assessments, diagnosis and coping strategies. Abilene Christian University’s Master of Marriage and Family Therapy prepares you for this role through a rigorous, selective Commission on the Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)–accredited program, combining 60 credit hours of coursework and 500 hours of clinical practice, setting you up for the certification to confidently lead others in both secular and faith-based environments.

In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, families and couples face a broad spectrum of challenges spanning financial to emotional and mental health issues. Guidance not only walks them through a difficult patch but equips them with the skills to persevere in the future.

Licensed marital and family therapists (LMFTs) impart this knowledge, illuminating the path forward through assessments, diagnosis and coping strategies. Abilene Christian University’s Master of Marriage and Family Therapy prepares you for this role through a rigorous, selective Commission on the Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)–accredited program, combining 60 credit hours of coursework and 500 hours of clinical practice, setting you up for the certification to confidently lead others in both secular and faith-based environments.

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Are you ready for the challenge?

Dedicate yourself to a career designed to foster the health of individuals, schools and communities. To take the next step, contact us for more information or apply to our program today.

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Program Structure

Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

These are the important details you will need to keep in mind as you prepare your application and degree plan.

Tracks

Marriage and Family Therapy, MMFT (MFTH)

Thesis Track, MMFT (MFTT)

Required Hours

Program length: 2 years
Credit hours: 60

2021/2022 tuition per credit hour: $1264

Learn more about available scholarships

Example Coursework

Family Theory/General Systems Theory
Couples Therapy
Family Therapy across the Life Cycle
Theological Perspectives on Human Behavior

See full degree plan here

Department

Marriage and Family Studies

Application Deadlines

Priority Deadline: February 11
Standard Deadline: March 11

Extended Deadline: May 1 (deadline may extend if space is available)

About the MFT Program

Marriage and family therapy acknowledges a fluid relationship between the individual and group. No person stands alone. Rather, their actions and beliefs contribute to and are influenced by these interplaying dynamics. 

This principle remains the core of the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree program. After carefully being selected to embark on this two-year journey, you’ll explore theories and clinical methodologies with emphasis placed on relational-systemic-interactional-contextual approaches regarding couples and families. As you uncover more information about these relationships, we encourage you to push new academic and spiritual boundaries. 

In the process, you’ll view relationships through a new lens, exploring the roles individuals play within couple and family dynamics and learning how to diagnose patients. You’ll also gain skills to encourage patients to change from within as they combat mental illness, substance abuse and addiction.

Curriculum and Objectives

Progress through a 60 credit–hour program divided between core courses (54 credit hours) and electives (6 credit hours). Subjects reflect COAMFTE recommendations and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Code of Ethics. Through this sequence, you’ll:

  • enrich your multicultural perspective to assist and uplift diverse and marginalized communities;
  • discover and practice methods for strengthening family relationships and effectively addressing personal and relational issues;
  • uncover your leadership style, Christian character and professional identity;
  • be exposed to a range of therapy and clinical training models and related Christian principles;
  • understand the role of research in marriage and family therapy, including conducting and applying to improve client services;
  • strengthen your systemic thinking while exploring early and contemporary MFT models and principles; and
  • learn to foster your clients’ development through theirs and your own faith and worldview.

Alongside coursework, practice your skills, gain real-world experience and fulfill licensing requirements through a 500-hour internship and 100 hours of supervision. We place many MFT students at our on-campus multilingual Marriage and Family Institute, in addition to other locations and settings. Here, you’ll interact with and shepherd the progress of clients, both one-on-one and in group or multi-person settings, assisting a variety of individuals and promoting healthful strategies across several situations and issues under the direction of an experienced LMFT professional. Clinical experiences begin during the fall semester of your first year and continue through the program.

Formats

Considering your immediate and long-term goals, ACU presents the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy in three formats:

  • Thesis: Ideal for those aspiring to a doctoral degree, you’ll participate in an independent research project meant to enhance and inspire the field under the guidance of a faculty member. Review the list of courses and all descriptions
  • Non-Thesis: If you aim to build off your bachelor’s degree with a master’s credential to open a broad and varied spectrum of clinical opportunities, this format foregoes the thesis for a group research project. You’ll collaborate with other MFT students under the direction of a faculty member to illustrate and apply your understanding of the field’s principles. Review the list of courses and all descriptions
  • Online: Reach your ambitions while continuing to work full time with the online Master of Marriage and Family Therapy. You’ll engage in and grow your knowledge through 100% online coursework and then participate in in-person clinical experiences. Learn more about the online MFT degree

Careers with an MFT Degree

Your MFT degree and clinical experience are an essential cornerstone of becoming an LMFT, but your journey doesn’t stop here. In order to begin practicing professionally, you’ll need to take and pass the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards’ MFT National Examination. Understand more about taking this exam, from preparation to the steps for obtaining your license after you pass. 

As an LMFT, you’ll have abundant opportunities for making a difference by nurturing and empowering others, including for:

  • private practices;
  • churches;
  • family and social service agencies;
  • mental health agencies;
  • youth ranches;
  • schools;
  • substance abuse treatment agencies;
  • residential treatment centers; and
  • eating disorder recovery centers. 

Reflecting current and future demand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies a 22% increase for the number of marriage and family therapists needed through 2029.

Admission Requirements

  • Complete an online application;
  • Pay the $65 application fee;
  • An official transcript(s) in English (or translated to English) of all previous colleges attended. The transcript must indicate an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university or equivalent. If you attended a college or university located outside of the United States, a transcript evaluation by World Education Services is required;
  • A cumulative undergraduate approximate B average or above in the area of focus or related area and evidence of an overall productive GPA;
  • Three letters of recommendation;
  • A written purpose statement declaring why the applicant wishes to study marriage and family therapy at ACU and what he or she plans to do professionally upon graduation;
  • Complete the psychosocial history form;
  • An on-campus interview with the faculty. The personal interview for applicants residing outside the continental United States can be done via telephone, Skype or Google Chat.
  • If admitted, students may be subject to a background check and must maintain a quality of life that reflects high moral standards.

Our GRE test score admission requirement is currently waived.

Scholarships

Departmental scholarships are available. Departmental scholarships are based on merit, are first-come, first-serve, and generally range from 10-50% of tuition. Most students with at least a 3.0 GPA will receive a scholarship. Because of the need for Spanish-speaking therapists in Abilene, additional scholarships are available for students able to conduct therapy in Spanish. Scholarships are awarded after students are admitted to the program.

Dr. Lisa Merchant

Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of Marriage and Family Studies
Program Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program
lisa.merchant@acu.edu

Dr. Lisa Powell

Clinic Director, Marriage and Family Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Marriage and Family Studies
lap16b@acu.edu

Dr. Joanna Mendez-Pounds

Assistant Professor

Tim Ehrhart
Jeff Emery
Gretchen Etheredge
Cara Flanders
Stephen Willis
Dr. Michael Pounds

Teri Sura, Department Coordinator
(teri.sura@acu.edu)

Barbara Wilson, Clinic Coordinator