Marriage and Family Therapy (M.S.)

Mission and Goals

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Master of Science degree is a training program that prepares individuals for a career in mental health delivery serving individuals, couples and families grounded. Accredited by COAMFTE, the program is based in systems theory, establishes high ethical standards, and fosters cultural curiosity.


The mission of the Marriage and Family Therapy program is to foster highly qualified professionals in possessing the knowledge, skills, and systems-oriented dispositions necessary to improve the quality of life for individuals, couples, families, and larger social systems within and across diverse and intersectional contexts.


Program faculty hold the philosophy that education in Marriage and Family Therapy must occur in a context that is systematically oriented. Experiences in this program emphasize family therapy as integrated with practice and research in family and human development. This context is also informed by gender and cultural perspectives which are presented throughout all coursework and practicum.

The faculty believe that theory and practice in marriage and family therapy are best accomplished in synergy; that is, the elements of theory, research, and practice are intertwined and emphasized in all coursework and clinical experiences throughout the student's training. Since the program resides within an academic setting, it is recognized the courses must be somewhat discrete and independent. However, courses cannot be undertaken independently without consideration of their systematic position in the entire program. It is the aim of the program for students to be challenged and encouraged to integrate their learning throughout their entire time in the program.

The curriculum consists of substantive courses in family relations and human development, statistics and research methods courses, marriage and family therapy emphasis courses, and internship. Substantive content/theory courses and clinical practicum must be completed simultaneously. Students must be provided with experiences that enhance their training and practice with a variety of therapy models, family types, presenting problems, therapy settings, and supervisory modes.


The primary goal of the Marriage and Family Therapy program is to systemically train competent therapists to provide therapy to a population that includes a wide range of mental health issues. Therapists are trained to help with concerns about marriage, children/adolescents, mental illness, depression, sexual issues, divorce, family, school, health, and emotional difficulties. 

Overarching Goals of the MFT Program

  • Goal 1: The MFT program prepares graduates to become licensed in the State of Minnesota as Marriage and Family Therapists and ready for employment in an entry level mental health/clinical job.
  • Goal 2: Students will demonstrate competency in the overall delivery of clinical skills and ethical practice as informed by (a) an empirically-grounded and theoretically-systemic disposition, (b) understanding of the interactional dynamics between the self-as-therapist and impact of the therapeutic relationship on effective outcomes, and (c) comprehension of and adherence to AAMFT’s Code of Ethics and Minnesota state laws, rules, and statutes governing the practice of MFT.
  • Goal 3: Students comprehend and articulate ways in which the foundational theories of family systems and lifespan development inform the transgenerational, systemic, and experiential approaches to Marriage and Family Therapy in ways that affirm systemic therapists as a distinct mental health profession.
  • Goal 4: Students will be equipped to work with a diverse intersection of individuals, couples, families, and larger social systems with sophistication and humility by establishing a refined understanding of the depths to which culture informs both individual and collective notions of reality. 

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

  • SLO 1.1: Graduates will have met all degree requirements for coursework and field experience as well as successfully pass the comprehensive examination OR complete an approved thesis project.
  • SLO 1.2: Graduates will possess the requisite skills and knowledge necessary for completing post-graduate licensure requirements in the state of Minnesota.
  • SLO 2.1: Students will demonstrate an integrated use of their self-as-therapist with empathic interpersonal skills to establish a trusting therapeutic relationship with individuals, couples, and families from diverse cultural backgrounds while paying mindful attention to dynamics of intersectionality.  
  • SLO 2.2: By time of graduation, students will astutely facilitate the discourse of therapy from the initial interview to termination, including (a) the assessment of individuals, couples, families, and larger systems of diverse backgrounds, (b) formulating diagnostic assumptions in language congruent to the current edition of the DSM while remaining mindful of contextual factors contributing to individual symptomology, (c) building relevant and collaborative treatment plans congruent to assessment findings, (d) evaluating the ongoing process of treatment utilizing both empirically-rigorous and theoretical methods, and (e) managing crises as they arise.
  • SLO 2.3: In order to promote the welfare of client systems, students will understand the importance of conceptualizing, identifying, and implementing rigorously-designed clinical and evaluative research findings as a fundamental basis to inform, extend, direct and evaluate their clinical practice.
  • SLO 2.4: Students will be ethical in their clinical practice, including seeking appropriate supervision when making ethical decisions pertaining to clinical practice and appropriately documenting and discussing clinical work through professional and effective communication in oral and written clinical paperwork.
  • SLO 3.1: By time of graduation, students are able to actualize a systemic approach to individual, couple, and family therapy congruent to the foundational theories and use of MFT-specific models.
  • SLO 3.2: By time of graduation, students are able to articulate case conceptualizations using language reflective of foundational theories and approaches of MFT to supervisors in clinical supervision and to colleagues in clinical case consultation. 
  • SLO 4.1: Students will develop a capacity to hold the multisystemic, ecological, and metaphysical dimensions of cultural worldviews as they intersect within individuals and interact across relational systems while remaining grounded in an empirical understanding of the relationship between culture and mental health.
  • SLO 4.2: Students will have examined their subjective cultural worldview relative to the various themes of culture (e.g., race, ethnicity, power/oppression, disability/ability, gender, sexuality, spirituality, theism/atheism, nationalism and socio-political factors) while identifying ways to connect with clients based on universal sameness rather than the intersections of cultural difference.

Student Achievement Criteria

The program regularly tracks its progress in several areas known as Student Achievement Criteria (SAC).  This includes graduation rates, rates with which graduates pass the national exam required in most states for licensure, and rates with which graduates obtain licensure as a MFT. Results are updated annually with best efforts made to locate alumni. SAC data can be compared with other COAMFTE accredited programs Student Achievement Criteria