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Ph.D in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT)

College of Human Development and Education ⋅ Department of Human Development and Family Science

Program Mission and Overview

The Ph.D. Program at NDSU is committed to developing the next generation of scholars in the field of CFT through a dedicated mentoring process that includes:

  • Active involvement in collaborative research teams where students and faculty engage in a ground-up research process that includes the creation, design, implementation, analysis, and submission of a manuscript for publication each semester while in the program.
  • An outcomes-based portfolio option, in lieu of comprehensive exams, that are designed to help students develop a job-ready academic portfolio that includes presentations, publications, and other professional development activities.

Our faculty prepares students for future leadership roles in academic and research settings as well as clinical administration and supervision. The program is committed to centering all training in a social justice framework including teaching, research, and supervision.

“The CFT program at NDSU has clearly made a significant and lasting impact on the field of family therapy … Their efforts to raise the visibility of the need for training programs to make the issues of diversity and social justice central to training of all CFTs are deserving of recognition and is a model for the entire field of couple and family therapy.” Doug Sprenkle, Ph.D.                             

LGBT Affirmative Training

We are committed to providing an LGBT affirmative environment for all students, faculty, staff, and clients who use our on-campus therapy center. The program is recognized as the leading program in field in teaching students the knowledge and skills associated with becoming an LGBT affirmative researcher, supervisor, and therapist.

“The (NDSU CFT) program is the pre-eminent couple and family therapy program in the country in training culturally competent therapists to work with LGBT clients and families”  Leigh Leslie, Ph.D.

Admission Preferences

It is our preference that students applying to the Ph.D. program in CFT have:

  1. Completed a Master's degree in a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
  2. Taken at least one course in statistics and one course in research methods with a minimum B average
  3. Empirical Master's thesis preferred

Financial Assistance

Graduate assistantships are available on a competitive basis.

Degree Requirements

  1. Clinical contact in the on-campus therapy center
  2. 180 hours of supervisory experience
  3. One-year research, teaching, or clinical internship experience
  4.  A scholarly portfolio that includes (a) at least two proposals/abstracts for presentations at national conferences and (b) submission of at least two manuscripts for publication at peer-reviewed journals
  5. An oral examination
  6. Produce and defend a dissertation
CFT Doctoral Program Course Requirements & Proposed Plan of Study


The entire program has been designed to meet the newest version (Version 12) of the Standards of Accreditation of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). According to these new standards, we are eligible to apply for full accreditation as soon as the first cohort of students completes the course work and clinical requirements of the program. This means that our program will apply for accreditation within three years of admitting the first cohort of doctoral students. Once the program is accredited, all students who have graduated from the program previously will be considered to have graduated from an accredited program.

The NDSU CFT Master’s program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).  COAMFTE collects student achievement data on graduation rates, exam pass rates, and licensure rates.  Accredited programs are required to report Student Achievement Criteria data on an annual basis.  Learn more about student achievement criteria and performance information here.

For More Information

Tom Stone Carlson, Ph.D., Professor and Program Coordinator


COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria Data Disclosure.
COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria page

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Published by North Dakota State University

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 1:48:36 PM