About the Program
The MFT program is dedicated to the education and training of competent, self-aware, and culturally sensitive family therapists. Using a foundation in Christian faith, a systemic family psychology approach, and an integration of theories of psychotherapy, students explore personal, ethical, and social values as they prepare to serve the needs of their communities.
The program outcomes are derived from the MFT Mission Statement, which, in effect, is dedicated to the education and training of competent, self-aware, and culturally sensitive family therapists.
Diversity: The program will produce graduates who can apply their knowledge of family therapy in a culturally appropriate manner to a wide range of demographic groups.
Identity Formation: The program will produce graduates who demonstrate an awareness of their personal narrative and how it impacts their contribution to the field of marriage and family therapy.
Ethical practice: The program will produce graduates who will become clinicians who are ethically grounded, demonstrate integrity, and operate within the laws of the profession.
Competency: The program will prepare graduates to effectively utilize a variety of theoretical approaches to marriage and family therapy.
Student Learning Outcomes
Diversity: Students will recognize the importance of diversity and its impact on clinical practice. Students will be equipped with awareness of beliefs and customs of diverse cultural groups and how to implement this knowledge when treating clients and interacting with agency personnel.
Identity Formation: Students will articulate their personal narrative inclusive of values, beliefs, behaviors, and traditions of faith that inform their worldview.
Ethical practice: Students will understand the ethical guidelines and legal requirements within the field of marriage and family therapy. Students will possess knowledge of when to use resources and seek consultation if faced with ethical or legal dilemmas in the context of therapy.
Competency: Students will become effective practitioners in marriage and family therapy with professional competencies in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment in the practice of systemic family psychology.
You Set the Pace
In designing your approach to MFT study, the blueprints can be laid out in a two-, three-, or four-year program. The timeline is up to you. Depending on the course of action you choose to complete this 66-unit degree, you may take 6-15 units each term.
A Schedule that Meets Your Needs
At APU, we recognize there is more to your life than graduate school. You have other responsibilities, including work. That is why the MFT Program was thoughtfully designed so you can work while completing your degree. The program offers most courses in blocks of time, typically between 4-10 p.m., reducing your required days on campus during the week.
About Our Students
The MFT program student body consists of roughly 75 percent female students and 25 percent male students. Half enter straight from undergraduate work, and approximately 80 percent work while they complete their degree. Lecture classes consist of 25-30 students, and clinical settings average 8-10 students. A diverse enrollment includes African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Latino, and other students.
What Are They Doing Now?
Graduates from APU’s MFT program put their degrees to work in a variety of fulfilling careers. The following list highlights just a few of the roles they enjoy:
- Agency directors, therapists, and/or staff
- Church counseling center administrators
- Community mental health providers
- Eating disorder clinicians
- Private practice counselors
- Professional speakers
- Group home and residential treatment providers
- Writers/contributing editors for professional journals
Read what program graduates have to say about their APU MFT experience.
Community Counseling Center
The Community Counseling Center (CCC) at Azusa Pacific University is directly affiliated with the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy and the Department of Clinical Psychology, and is an American Psychological Association-approved clinical psychology training program. Initiated in 1989, this program continues in steady growth and development, addressing the mental health needs of individuals and groups throughout the community.
The CCC is coordinated by a clinical psychologist to ensure high-quality service and collaborative efforts. The counselors are marriage and family therapy trainees and interns, PsyD trainees, and MSWs. The center seeks to match staff members and clients according to their needs and strengths, facilitating the therapeutic process or consulting project.
Before therapy begins, clients are evaluated to determine the severity of their current dilemma and discuss the process that will lead to goal achievement. To assist the therapeutic process and ensure the quality of treatment, sessions are audio- or videotaped and reviewed under supervision. Occasionally, clients view or listen to the tapes, providing the unique opportunity to experience their therapy sessions from a third-person perspective. Developing new insight through this technique, many clients are able to contribute significantly to the progress of their treatment. To preserve client confidentiality, all tapes are kept private and erased after review or within one month after the recording session.
The specialized field of marriage and family therapy calls for a unique set of skills and a propensity for open, honest communication. Please consider the following requirements and important issues specific to the MFT program during your decision process.
Satisfactory Faculty Evaluations
Each student enrolled in the MA program is evaluated by each of their instructors each semester on personal characteristics deemed pertinent to their emerging professional role. If a student evidences behavior rated unsuitable for an MA student by faculty, a Personal Characteristic Evaluation (PCE) will be completed. Upon completion of the PCE, the student will be contacted by the program director or director of clinical training to discuss the evaluation. Upon receiving the evaluation, the student may also be referred to the Clinical Training Committee for remediation. Students’ behavior in the classroom and the quality of participation in required academic activities need to reflect expected standards of graduate students and future clinicians.
Additionally, upon completion of PPSY 580 Introduction to Clinical Placement: Basic Skills, each faculty member for the course will complete an evaluation of progress toward readiness for the field as a student trainee for each of their students. The same will happen upon completion of PPSY 581 Introduction to Clinical Placement: Advanced Skills. If a student’s evaluation indicates they are not ready to begin working as a trainee, or an area is rated “needs improvement,” the student must meet with director of clinical training to determine a remediation plan.
At the conclusion of each of the first two semesters of study, the progress and suitability of each student are reviewed by members of the faculty in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. Continuation of coursework beyond each of the first two semesters is based on faculty recommendation.
Student Disclosure of Personal Information
Faculty of the Department of Marriage and Family History may ask students to disclose personal information regarding sexual history, history of abuse and neglect, psychological treatment, and relationships with parents, peers, and spouses or significant others, if the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others.
Two-, Three-, and Four-Year Academic Plans
Participation in the full-time, two-year academic plan requires class attendance during the evening, two to three days per week. Classes meet once weekly. Classes are offered each evening (beginning at 4:05 and 7:30 p.m.). An additional 10-12 hours per week for clinical placement training is required once trainee status is obtained. See the sample two-year sequence below.
Participation in the reduced-load three-year plan also requires class attendance during the evening two to three days per week, but the student generally takes only three courses per semester rather than the four courses per semester required by the two-year program. Approximately 10-12 hours per week for clinical placement training is required until the student has accumulated the required 300 hours of direct clinical contact.
Participation in the reduced-load four-year program requires the student to take only two courses per semester. Students must also accumulate a minimum of 300 hours of direct clinical contact in their practicum setting prior to graduation.
Two-Year Course Sequence
- PPSY 551 Theories of Psychotherapy
- PPSY 558 Advanced Developmental Psychology
- PPSY 563 Psychopathology
- PPSY 580 Introduction to Clinical Practice: Basic Skills
- PPSY 510 Psychotherapy and Cultural Diversity
- PPSY 512 Legal, Ethical, and Moral Issues in Therapy
- PPSY 571 Family Therapy
- PPSY 581 Introduction to Clinical Practice: Advanced Skills
- PPSY 582 Introduction to Clinical Practice: Group Skills
- PPSY 585 Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology (offered online)
- PPSY 592 Introduction to Clinical Placement
- PPSY 533 Christian Spiritual Formation and Psychotherapy
- PPSY 557 Marriage Therapy
- PPSY 561 Child and Adolescent Therapy
- PPSY 597 Clinical Placement I
- PPSY 511 Addictions, Assessment, and Interventions
- PPSY 572 Research Methodology (offered online)
- PPSY 577 Psychological Assessment
- PPSY 598 Clinical Placement II
- PPSY 525 Crisis and Trauma in Community Mental Health
- PPSY 552 Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy
- PPSY 593 Clinical Consultation
*In order to meet all of the academic requirements of the Board of Behavioral Sciences in applying for an LPCC license, students must take PPSY 555, which is a 3-unit course offered online at least two of the three semesters per academic year, and students may take it at their own pace.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many units does the student need to graduate?
Students need 63 units to graduate from the MFT program, but may take up to 82 units when adding the optional certificate or concentration.
What is the cost of the program?
$860 per unit. The cost of individual therapy (and optional group therapy) is dependent on the therapist(s) the student chooses, but is usually about $75-$90 per session. Textbooks cost roughly $150 per course.
How many years does the MA take?
Two, three, or four years, depending on how many courses the student wants to take per semester, and when the student begins the program.
Note: Students starting in the spring taking full-time coursework will need 2½ years to complete the program.
Approximately how many classes/units per semester for each track?
Remember that Personal Individual Psychotherapy and Practicum is in addition to coursework:
- 2-year track = 4-5 courses in fall/spring (12-15 units); 1-3 classes in summer (3-7 units)
- 3-year track = 3-4 classes in fall/spring (9-12 units); 1-3 classes in summer (3-6 units)
- 4-year track = 2-3 classes in fall/spring (6-9 units); 1-2 classes in summer (3-4 units)
Will I have to complete a thesis, dissertation, or capstone project?
No. The equivalent requirements are two clinical competency exams (CCEs) titled Law and Ethics and Clinical Vignette Exam. The CCEs are taken at the end of the program.
When do I take the clinical competency exam (CCE), what is involved, and how much does it cost?
The MA clinical competency exam (CCE) is designed to evaluate the level of clinical skills and knowledge developed by each Student during the master’s program, in an effort to ensure student readiness to enter the field as a marriage and family therapist registered intern. There are two clinical competency exams (Law and Ethics, and Clinical Vignette), and each is composed of questions pertaining to all course content within the MA program. The exams are administered online on two separate days approximately two weeks apart. Students who graduate in July will take these exams in the summer semester (May/June), prior to graduating. Students who graduate in December will take these exams in the fall semester (November/December), prior to graduating. There is no cost for taking the CCEs.
What clinical practice hours are required for the MA program?
300 hours of direct client contact (e.g., individual, group, couples, family, and child therapy performed by the student) are required to graduate from the MA program. A student generally graduates with additional hours of supervision (and the Board of Behavioral Sciences will count up to 1,000). A maximum of 1,300 hours can be collected prior to graduating.
What clinical practice hours are required for the LPCC?
300 hours of direct client contact (e.g., individual, group, couples, families, and child therapy performed by the student) are required by the BBS in order to qualify for LPCC licensure. These hours must be completed while in the MA program. A total of 3,000 hours of specific areas (given by the state) are required before one is eligible to apply for the licensing exam. These 3,000 hours do not begin to accrue until the student has received their MA degree.
Do I need further coursework in order to apply for the LPCC license?
Yes. In order to meet all of the academic requirements of the BBS in applying for and LPCC license, students must also take PPSY 555 Career Development Theories and Techniques, which is a 3-unit course offered online at least two of the three semesters per academic year, and students may take it at their own pace.
What are the requirements to receive my Trainee Status Certificate and begin practicum?
- Successful completion of 12 semester units of the MA program and 4 of the following 6 courses:
- PPSY 512 Legal, Ethical, and Moral Issues (completed)
- PPSY 551 Theories of Personality and Psychotherapy (completed)
- PPSY 563 Psychopathology (completed or in process)
- PPSY 580 Intro to Clinical: Basic Skills (completed)
- PPSY 581 Intro to Clinical: Advanced Skills (completed)
- PPSY 592 Intro to Clinical Placement (completed or in process)
- Proof of membership in the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
- Proof of malpractice insurance (a copy may be mailed or faxed)
When do I apply for malpractice insurance and how long does it take to receive it?
You will apply for malpractice insurance BEFORE beginning a traineeship. CAMFT now includes student liability insurance as part of its membership. Once a student becomes a CAMFT member, they can complete the self-enrollment process online and opt into the coverage. The MA program’s clinical administrative assistant must have a copy of your malpractice insurance policy.
How many hours of individual therapy are required?
When do I need to complete my personal individual psychotherapy hours?
Proof of 40 hours of completion must be submitted one week before commencement. Group therapy may also apply, but must be approved by the program director and the director of clinical training.
How do I locate a therapist to provide personal individual psychotherapy?
The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy has a list of therapists who offer their services to students at a discounted rate. Students may also select their own therapist as long as he/she is a California LMFT, LPCC, LCSW, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
If I am starting in the spring, which courses do I take first?
There are specific, spring-entrance, 2.5-, 3-, and 4-year tracks available in the department office. It is very important that the student follow the course sequence defined in these tracks in order to finish the program on time. PPSY 581 cannot be taken until PPSY 580 is taken the following fall.
Can I change course tracks during the program (e.g., switch from the 3-year to the 4-year track)? If so, how?
The student needs to make an appointment with his or her MA program director and inform him/her of the desire to change tracks, to verify current status, and to reorganize remaining courses in order for the student to know exactly what courses to take during the remainder of their program.
May I take courses at another location during my program?
Students are not allowed to switch between APU’s Azusa campus and the regional campuses (Inland Empire, Orange County, San Diego). You must register and take courses at the location you were originally admitted to. If you relocate during the program, you must speak with the MA program director.
Can a student drop a course? If so, which course is best to drop?
Students may drop a course, but they must understand that in doing so, they risk being “off track” with the course sequence they selected, and/or they must add an additional course the following year to remain on track with their course sequence. When dropping a course is necessary, it is best to speak to the MA program director.
When will next semester’s schedule be available?
The schedule is usually available approximately 6 weeks before the first day of classes and is posted online.
What forms will I need to retain throughout the program?
You should retain all BBS forms (Summary of Hours, Supervisor Responsibility Statement, Experience Verification), as well as the Verification of Psychotherapy and Malpractice Insurance Policy forms. The originals of some of these forms are required by the BBS when you apply as a registered associate and/or for licensure. It is STRONGLY suggested that you make duplicate copies of your Summary of Hours sheets and keep a copy somewhere other than where you live.
When will I begin a clinical placement (practicing at a site)?
Students are eligible for trainee status after PPSY 512, 551, 563, 580, 581, and 592 are either completed or in process, and proof of CAMFT membership(s) and malpractice liability insurance has been submitted. Depending on a student’s chosen track, he or she may begin a traineeship prior to his or her second, third, or fourth year in the program.
General Postdegree Questions
Does the department provide placement services after graduating?
APU does not provide formal placement services, as many graduates go on to an independent or group practice. Notices of job opportunities are emailed to alumni, however, when received by the director of clinical training and/or the clinical administrative assistant. The department also maintains a LinkedIn account where job opportunities are posted.
What do I do after graduating from the MA program?
Upon graduation, you will apply to become an MFT registered associate with the BBS. The MFT registered associate is then required to take the BBS Law and Ethics Exam (first state licensing exam) within the first year of registration. A total of 3,000 hours are required before one is eligible to apply for the BBS Clinical Exam (second state licensing exam). After graduating, it takes a minimum of two years to complete the BBS requirement of 3,000 hours to apply for licensure.
Can I work without an MFT license?
Your MA degree without the MFT license allows you to work for various social service agencies (e.g., DCS, foster family agencies, DMH, etc.), and/or various administrative/counseling positions. Clergy members sometimes use their MA degree to enhance their ministry. The MFT license allows you to work independently in private practice as well as numerous other venues. It is illegal and unethical to operate as a therapist without a license!
What is the average salary in this field?
According to an article titled “CAMFT’s 2015 Demographic Survey: A Snapshot of the ‘typical’ California MFT” in CAMFT’s bimonthly The Therapist magazine (September/October 2015), “The average annual income earned solely from private practice (part- or full-time) is $50,948. ... The average annual income earned solely in a non-private practice, clinical setting is $55,063. ... The average annual income earned by LMFTs doing non-clinical work is $43,496.”
Note: This information is current for the 2022-23 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.