Marital and Family Therapy — D.M.F.T.

Interim program director
Winetta Oloo

The Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy (D.M.F.T.) program is the only program in the United States that is accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The degree curriculum adopts the practitioner-administrator-evaluator approach and focuses on applied skill development for use in clinical practice and administrative positions. The 121-unit* D.M.F.T. degree curriculum requires a minimum of three years of full-time study for completion. This includes coursework, 1000 hours of direct client contact, a doctoral project, and supervised professional development experience. The goal of the curriculum is to prepare students to apply evidence-based standards to the systemic/relational principles of marriage and family therapy as they design, evaluate, and administer programs that impact a clinical population. The program is also designed to meet the requirements for California state licensure as a Marital and Family Therapist.

*Students who have completed a M.S. degree from a COAMFTE-accredited program receive advanced standing of forty-three units, reducing the required time to complete the degree to a minimum of two years.  Consideration for advanced standing will be given to students entering D.M.F.T. program with a M.A. or M.S. degree from a non-COAMFTE-accredited program on a course-by-coursel basis.

Knowledge and skills promoted

Theory and practice

Students study the work of the original thinkers in marital and family therapy, as well as the most recent developments in the field—such as social constructionism, evidence-based practice, and global perspectives. D.M.F.T. degree students will develop skills in applying marriage and family therapy principles and frameworks to public and private clinical practice settings. They will develop a critical understanding of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of marriage and family therapy, be conversant with the current issues in the field, and use this knowledge to develop programs and services.

Personal development

The program encourages students to develop a clear understanding of themselves and invites reflection and consideration of the impact of their personal values, social positions, and contexts on their clinical, administrative, and program development practices. Students are supported in the development of their strengths as they create an epistemological framework and ethical consciousness that guide their approach to professional practice in their lives; and are encouraged to engage beyond their local communities to include experiences in wider cultural and global contexts.

Practice and supervisory skills

Students will apply an in-depth understanding of theory to the practice of marital and family therapy interventions and program activities at the family, community, and societal levels—drawing on the core marriage and family therapy frameworks. They will develop sophistication in clinical, administrative, and supervisory skills necessary for multisystemic engagement. As it is COAMFTE-accredited, the DMFT program offers students the opportunity to become AAMFT-approved supervisors prior to graduation.

Evaluation skills

Students will develop skills and understanding of the process of evaluation research related to marital and family therapy programs and services. This includes the ability to apply research findings to clinical practice and to utilize research findings in creative ways for the benefit of the general population. D.M.F.T. degree students will focus on evaluation of program performance and outcomes in practice-based settings.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will develop a professional identity as doctoral-level marital and family therapists aligned with national practice standards.
  2. Students will become adept in systems/relational practice, demonstrating sophistication as therapists, program developers, evaluators, and administrators of marital and family therapy services.
  3. Students will be able to use marital and family therapy, human development, and family science literature to design and evaluate programs, clinical protocols, organizational structures, and service-delivery processes.
  4. To further benefit families and communities, students will demonstrate the ability to use research and evaluation methodologies to improve human service program performance and outcomes.
  5. Students will be responsive to the societal, cultural, and spiritual contexts in which health and well-being are embedded.
  6. Students will develop an ethical consciousness that guides their practice in all aspects of professional work.

The Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy degree program and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in marital and family therapy are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), 112 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703/838-9808; e-mail:

Applicants must meet Loma Linda University and School of Behavioral Health admissions requirements; and give evidence of academic ability, professional comportment, and mature judgment. The Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy degree curriculum represents advanced study over and above a standard master's degree curriculum in the field. Admission is based on an integrated evaluation of the following criteria:

  • Five-page personal essay (guidelines included in the online application).
  • M.S. degree in Marital and Family Therapy, or equivalent.
  • Grade point average (3.3 minimum).
  • Structured oral interview with department (one day).
  • Three letters of reference (two academic and one professional).
  • Curriculum vitae.

Pre-entrance clearance:

  • A background check
  • Health clearance


Students are expected to have basic academic preparation before entering the D.M.F.T. degree curriculum. If a student is deficient in courses, such as those listed below, a plan of study incorporating these courses will be developed to give the student a solid grounding in the foundations of the field. Transcripts will be evaluated to determine readiness or deficiency in previous course work. These courses will be regarded as corequisites in that the student will be able to incorporate them into his/her curriculum.

Theoretical knowledge in family systems/relational therapy13
Clinical knowledge in marital and family therapy13
Program development and administration8.0
California licensure-specific knowledge43

Corequisites required of students who have not completed a COMAFTE accredited master's degree

COUN 675Dynamics of Aging1
MFAM 515Crisis Intervention and Client-Centered Advocacy3
MFAM 524Psychopharmacology and Medical Issues3
MFAM 536Case Presentation Seminar and Documentation3
MFAM 537Case Presentation Seminar3
MFAM 547Social Ecology of Individual and Family Development3
MFAM 556Psychopathology and Diagnostic Procedures3
MFAM 567Treating the Severely and Persistently Mentally Ill and the Recovery Process3
MFAM 604Social Context in Clinical Practice: Gender, Class, and Race3
MFAM 614Law and Ethics3
MFAM 624Individual and Systems Assessment3
MFAM 635Case Presentation Seminar and Legal Issues3
MFAM 638Family Therapy and Chemical Abuse3
MFAM 644Child Abuse and Family Violence3
MFAM 674Human Sexual Behavior3
Total Units43


Theory and practice
MFTH 504Advanced Theory in Marital and Family Therapy4
MFTH 506Foundations of Systemic Practice3
MFTH 546Advances in Family Sciences3
MFTH 501Fundamentals of Supervision in Marital and Family Therapy3
MFTH 502Advanced Supervision in Marital and Family Therapy1
Program development and administration
MFTH 524Administration in Marital and Family Therapy3
MFTH 525Advanced Marital and Family Therapy Assessment and Testing3
MFTH 555Organizational Development and Change3
MFTH 624Program Development for Families and Communities3
MFTH 625Grant Writing3
MFTH 626Program Evaluation and Monitoring3
RELE 505Clinical Ethics (or RELE 5__ graduate-level ethics elective)3
RELR 535Spirituality and Mental Health3
RELT 615Seminar in Philosophy of Religion3
MFTH 545Research and Practice with Couples and Families3
MFTH 601Statistics I4
MFTH 604Advanced Qualitative Methods4
MFTH 605Advanced Quantitative Methods4
Dissertation/Doctoral project
MFTH 695Project Research12
Total Units68
Professional development and practice 2
MFTH 634Practicum in Marital and Family Therapy 19
MFTH 785ABegin Clinical Training in Couple, Marital, and Family Therapy0
MFTH 785BClinical Training in Couple, Marital, and Family Therapy 1, 2, 34
MFTH 786Professional Development Proposal0
MFTH 786A and 786B total combined units 436
Professional Development in Marital and Family Therapy
Professional Internship in Marital and Family Therapy—Clinical
Total Units49

 Course repeated to fulfill total unit requirement


700-numbered courses do not count in total didactic units required for the degree


Clinical hours earned prior to entering program may be applied to meet this requirement upon approval of Director of Clinial Training.


Those MFTH 786B Professional Internship in Marital and Family Therapy—Clinical units that are completed satisfactorily will reduce the number of MFTH 786A Professional Development in Marital and Family Therapy units needed to meet total requirement of 36 at a 1:1 ratio.

Noncourse requirements

Doctoral degrees in Marital and Family Therapy will be awarded when students have completed all the required course work and the following noncourse requirements:

  • 1000 approved client contact hours, and
  • 200 approved hours of clinical supervision, and
  • A written qualifying examination, and
  • An oral defense of the doctoral dissertation or project.

Normal time to complete the program

With a COAMFTE-accredited master’s degree:  2 years (7 academic quarters) based on full-time enrollment

With a non-COAMFTE-accredited master’s degree:  3 years (11 academic quarters) based on full-time enrollment