Marital and Family Therapy — M.S

Program director
Mary E. Moline

The Master of Science degree curriculum in marital and family therapy (MFT) is designed to give students an excellent COAMFTE clinical and academic background; as well as professional practice for working with individuals, couples, groups, and families in a variety of settings. The program emphasis is systemic and relational practice, and couples and family therapy.  These include but are not limited to medical, legal, educational, mental health, managed care, public and private agencies, church settings, and private practice.

Students may also complete the certificate in drug and alcohol counseling (please consult with advisor). A separate application for the certificate program is required. 

Mission, vision, and values

The program's mission: Educating MFT students to provide effective and competent care to diverse families in local, national, and international communities.

The program's vision: MFT students will learn how to "make diverse families whole." The definition, configuration, and experience of family vary widely; and students are trained to regard, respect, and value human difference and family types so as to work successfully with all who seek the services of a marital and family therapist.

The program has adopted five Loma Linda University values as central to the values of this program:

Compassion—The sympathetic willingness to be engaged with the needs and sufferings of others. Among the most memorable depictions of compassion in Scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan.

Integrity—The quality of living a unified life in which one's convictions are well-considered and match one's actions. Integrity encompasses honesty, authenticity, and trustworthiness.

Excellence—The commitment to exceed minimum standards and expectations.

Freedom—The competency and privilege to make informed and accountable choices and to respect the freedom of others. God has called us not to slavery but to freedom.

Justice—The commitment to equality and to treat others fairly, renouncing all forms of discrimination.

Licensure and program accreditation

Marriage and family therapy is established by law in California as a profession requiring state licensure. Persons who desire to enter the profession must have the academic and clinical preparation, and must pass required licensing examinations.  Clinical license requirements vary by state and include additional hours of supervised clinical practice beyond those hours that are completed while studying for the graduate degree. The Board of Behavioral Sciences determined that Loma Linda University’s master's degree in marital and family therapy meets the Senate Bill statutory requirements for marriage and family therapy under Business and Professions Code section 4980.36 and 4980.37 (<>).

The program offered by Loma Linda University is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, the accrediting body for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  The national commission ensures that academic and clinical training programs adhere to the highest standards of the profession.

The program is 90 quarter units. Students who want to sit for both the California Professional Counselor License (LPCC) and the Marriage and Family Therapy license (LMFT) in the State of California, have the option to enroll in 4 units of coursework above the 90 required units for the MFT program.  These units may not be covered by financial aid. Students interested in this option should consult with the M.S. MFT program director and the LLU Office of Financial Aid for more information. 

Conduct or disciplinary actions

The applicant should view "instruction for completing application for registration as a marriage and family intern" at the Board of Behavioral Science Examiner's website for possible issues that may prevent someone from obtaining a marital and family therapy license in the state of California or any state in which a license is sought. A person who completes a graduate degree in MFT may be denied licensure due to prior convictions. This should to be clearly considered before pursuing studies or licensure.

Clinical training

In addition to successful completion of 90 quarter units of academic course work, students in the Marital and Family Therapy Program must complete field experience at clinical placement sites. Upon completion of 18 quarter units, the student will be evaluated by the teaching faculty to determine if s/he will continue the program and be permitted to enter the clinical phase of the program. Students have numerous choices of placement sites across Southern California in which to gain required clinical experience. These sites include community mental health centers, private and public agencies, school and hospital settings, and the department's counseling and family sciences clinic. Some stipends are available for trainees. Clinical training includes a seven-quarter practicum sequence and supervision of trainees at a clinical site.

Students must take 18 units of practicum and complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours and 100 direct supervision hours. Of the direct client contact hours, at least 200 hours must be with couples and families. Of the direct supervision hours, at least 50 must be with raw data (video, audio, and live supervision). For every week in which clients are seen, the student must have at least one hour of individual supervision. The ratio of supervision hours to treatment hours must not be less than one hour of supervision to five hours of clinical contact. Students enrolled in the program should consult the clinical training manual regarding clinical training requirements.

Degree completion

The M.S. degree in marital and family therapy may be completed in either two years of full-time study or at least three years of part-time study. Students have up to five years to complete the degree. In order to maintain full-time status, students must take a minimum of eight units during Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer Quarters. First-year students most often attend classes on Tuesday and Thursday; and second-year students attend classes on Monday and Wednesday. Full-time employment is discouraged when a student is enrolled for full-time study. Clinical training experiences are usually on days students are not in class. In order to participate in the June commencement exercises, students must complete all the required 500 clinical hours and the 90 units of required courses.

Counseling and Family Sciences Clinic

Loma Linda University Counseling and Family Sciences Clinic, formerly known as the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, is operated by the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences. Located on the second floor of the Loma Linda University Behavioral Health Institute (BHI), it is one of the participating academic clinics. The BHI is an innovative endeavor undertaken by Loma Linda University to offer community members easy access to all behavioral health disciplines in one location. It houses an integrated, interdisciplinary clinic staffed by students and residents from psychiatry, psychology, social work, child life, counseling, and marriage and family therapy.

Financial assistance

Students accepted into the Marital and Family Therapy Program may receive financial assistance through the MFT Stipends Award; merit-based awards, such as teaching fellowships and a variety of research and student service assistantships; or through need-based financial aid, such as a loan or the University's work-study program. On a limited basis, students receive financial assistance during their clinical traineeships. Students must apply for financial aid by writing to:

Student Financial Aid Office
Student Services
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda, CA 92350

Educational outcomes

The program's educational outcomes include program outcomes and student learning outcomes. These outcomes are congruent with the University's and program's missions and are appropriate to the profession of marriage and family therapy.

Program goals

Program goals integrate this University's commitment to diversity and quality training of health-care professionals with the need for diverse master's degree-level practitioners in the field of MFT.
These outcomes are as follow:

  1. Prepare students to engage in the MFT profession by being eligible for MFT licensure in California, with a 65-to-80 percent pass rate for students who sit for the examination; and by being eligible for membership in AAMFT.
  2. Maintain a 75 percent or higher graduation rate.
  3. Provide a learning environment and resources that allow students to collaborate with other health-care providers and multiple community services or contexts.
  4. Graduate a diverse student population who are prepared to practice in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Program learning outcomes

The University emphasizes whole person care. Each of the six program learning outcomes for the M.S. degree in MFT supports this mission with a specific emphasis on advancing systems/relational theory and practice in diverse societal contexts. The student will learn to promote the emotional health and well-being of individuals, couples, families, organizations, and communities. By the end of this program, the graduate should be able to:

  1. Identify as a systemic MFT therapist and apply systemic perspective in clinical practice;
  2. Apply clinical language and practices in a variety of MFT therapies that enable them to work with diverse populations within a multidisciplinary context;
  3. Analyze and present a clinical case using one of the major MFT models;
  4. Demonstrate awareness of contextual issues in therapy such as gender, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status;
  5. Apply legal and ethical standards relevant to the field of marital and family therapy to their clinical practice;
  6. Apply for internship status and subsequent licensure as an MFT professional aligned with practice standards.

The M.S. degree in marital and family therapy engages in ongoing review of program outcomes and uses this information to improve program effectiveness. Data on program outcomes are collected through aggregate scores on quarterly evaluations of clinical competency and results of final oral and comprehensive examinations; client session and outcome data; and exit surveys and interviews of students at graduation. Alumni surveys are also conducted every two years to track graduates' attainment of marital and family therapy licensure, data on employment, and feedback regarding how well the program prepared graduates for their job responsibilities. Program faculty also maintain regular contact with community agencies and educational institutions in the region to obtain input into curriculum planning and improvements in clinical training.

The program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COMAFTE), the accrediting body for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The next renewal is 2025. The national commission functions to ensure academic and clinical training programs adhere to the highest standards of the profession.  They may be contacted at 112 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-3061; telephone: 703/838-9808; email: <>.

In addition to Loma Linda University admissions requirements, admission to the MS in Marital and Family Therapy Program is governed by the policies and procedures established by the School of Behavioral Health.

Additional admission requirements include:

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. The department assesses the liberal arts preparation of each of its applicants in the balance of course work, in three liberal arts (see Liberal Arts Preparation).
  • At least three letters of recommendation from an academic or employment source.
  • Meet the minimum academic and professional compatibility criteria established by the program.
  • A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale) in bachelor's coursework.  
    • Applicants with grade point averages as low as 2.75 may be considered if the last 45 quarter credits (30 semester units) of coursework are 3.0 or higher or if they have additional attributes that demonstrate preparedness and an appropriate fit for marital and family therapy education.  They may submit verified work and volunteer experiences that provide evidence for the potential to successfully complete the program.   Employer/supervisor verification statements must be submitted on official agency stationery.
    • Further consideration will also be given to individuals who provide evidence of additional certifications and/or training that illustrate commitment to careers in marriage and family therapy.
    • Those admitted to the M.S. in Marital and Family Therapy with a cumulative G.P.A. below 3.0 will be required to participate in an individualized academic assessment and a targeted learning assistance program.
  • Interviews are scheduled with department faculty members. On-campus group interviews are scheduled during Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters, while on-campus and telephone interviews are scheduled individually.
  • Show evidence of professional compatibility, personal qualifications, and motivation to complete a graduate program by obtaining a passing score on the admissions interview with the department's admissions committee.  Evaluation criteria for the interview include:
    • verbal communication skills
    • congruent with the values and mission of Loma Linda University
    • critical thinking ability
    • comfort/willingness to work with people from diverse backgrounds, language, culture and abilities
    • intuitive judgment & skill, talent, and self-awareness
    • understanding of the field
    • commitment to the field

No academic credit is given for life experiences or previous work experience for any part for the Marriage and Family Therapy degree program.

Pre-entrance clearance:

  • A background check
  • Health clearance

A grade of B or better indicates that a student has mastered the knowledge, skill, and professional practice performance competencies outlined by the program. In order to progress successfully and complete the degree, students must meet both course and cumulative G.P.A. standards. The University allows students to repeat two courses per degree. Course repeat expectations set by the School of Behavioral Health may be found in the general regulations section of this CATALOG.

Foundations of relational/systemic practice, theories & models
MFAM 551Family Therapy: Foundational Theories and Practice3
MFAM 553Family Systems Theory3
MFAM 564Family Therapy: Advanced Foundational Theories and Practice3
Clinical treatment with individuals, couples and families
MFAM 515Crisis Intervention and Client Advocacy3
MFAM 552Couples Therapy: Theory and Practice3
MFAM 638Family Therapy and Chemical Abuse3
MFAM 644Child Abuse and Family Violence3
MFAM 674Human Sexual Behavior3
Diverse multicultural and/or underserved communities
MFAM 528Culture, Socioeconomic Status in Therapy3
MFAM 567Treating the Severely and Persistently Mentally Ill and the Recovery Process3
MFAM 604Social Context in Clinical Practice: Gender, Class, and Race3
Research and evaluation
MFAM 501Research Tools and Methodology: Quantitative3
MFAM 502Research Tools and Methodology: Qualitative3
Professional identity, law, ethics & social responsibilities
MFAM 614Law and Ethics3
MFAM 635Case Presentation and Legal Issues3
Biopsychosocial health and development across the life span
COUN 675Dynamics of Aging1
MFAM 547Social Ecology of Individual and Family Development3
MFAM 584Advanced Child and Adolescent Development3
Systemic/relational assessment and mental health diagnosis and treatment
MFAM 524Psychopharmacology and Medical Issues3
MFAM 556Psychopathology and Diagnostic Procedures3
MFAM 624Individual and Systems Assessment3
Contemporary issues8
Select from the following:
Introduction to Medical Family Therapy
Health and Illness in Families
Career Theories and Applications
Educational Psychology
Counseling Theory and Applications
Exceptional and Medically Challenged Children
Assessment in Counseling
Consultation and Program Evaluation
Field Experience in Counseling
Play Therapy
Solution-Focused Family Therapy
Christian Counseling and Family Therapy
Narrative Family Therapy
Cognitive-Behavioral Couples Therapy
Gestalt Family Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Advanced Substance Abuse-Treatment Strategies
Practicum in Drug and Alcohol Counseling
Structural and Multidimensional Family Therapy
Directed Study: Marriage and Family
Community intersections and collaboration
MFAM 535Case Presentation and Professional Studies3
MFAM 536Case Presentation and Documentation3
MFAM 537Case Presentation3
MFAM 636Case Presentation and Client-Centered Advocacy3
MFAM 637Case Presentation and Global Practices3
Clinical Training 1
Clinical Training 1
RELR 540Wholeness and Health3
MFAM 568Groups: Process and Practice3
Total Units90

Degree requirements

Requirements for the M.S. degree in marital and family therapy from Loma Linda University include the following:

  • Residence of at least two academic years.

  • A minimum of 90 quarter units of graduate work, which includes credit received for core courses, electives, and a three-unit religion course.

  • Clinical training in marriage and family counseling. At a minimum, 500 clinical hours and 100 direct supervision hours are required. Of the direct client contact hours, at least 200 hours must be with couples and families. Of the direct supervision hours, at least 50 hours must be with raw data (video, audio, and live supervision). For every week in which clients are seen, the student must have at least one hour of individual supervision. The ratio of supervision hours to treatment hours must not be less than one hour of supervision to five hours of clinical contact. Students enrolled in the program should consult the clinical training manual regarding clinical training requirements.

  • Successful completion of a written comprehensive examination (taken before advancement to candidacy) and an oral examination (taken at the end of the program).

  • To be counted toward the graduate degree, foreign language courses must be numbered at 400 and above.

Normal time to complete the program

Two (2) years (seven [7] academic quarters) based on full-time enrollment