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Program Description

The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy is one of five academic units in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. The other units are the Departments of Child and Family Studies, Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, Sport Management, and the School of Social Work. The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy offers an M.A. and a Ph.D. program. Both programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (C.O.A.M.F.T.E).

The Department provides academic and clinical training in marriage and family therapy theory. Both the M.A. and Ph.D. programs focus on the family as a system and the cultural and societal frameworks within which couples and families grow and develop. The Department’s emphasis is on training student therapists and scholars to challenge themselves through fostering relationships with others who hold various and diverse worldviews. By working towards the creation of an environment of respect, honesty, and integrity, the programs serve to increase cultural sensitivity, heighten students’ awareness of self in relation to others, and generate an understanding of the role played by context in issues presented in therapy.

Marriage and family therapy (M.F.T.) students gain hands-on experience in the Couple and Family Therapy Center. The in-house clinic is located at Peck Hall, 601 East Genesee Street in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. Established in 1989, it serves as a teaching and research center for M.F.T. master’s and doctoral students. All M.F.T. students are required to see clients at the in-house clinic and may not choose their client caseload based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, culture, age, or other difference/diversity category. Students utilize the center to gain clinical experience. Individual, group, couples and family therapy is offered to members of the Syracuse community under the supervision of the clinical faculty who operate from a family systems perspective. The Center is equipped for live and digitally recorded supervision.

Admission Procedures

Enrollment in the Program is limited and admission decisions are made in March of each year for the following Fall. All applicants should submit the following to the Graduate School by March 15 (December 15th for PhD): A completed admissions application form, a personal essay, transcripts of all previous academic work, G.R.E. scores, and three letters of recommendation.

Doctoral Admissions Procedures

The deadline for all applications will be December 15th for the following fall semester. We only accept students once a year and the deadline is strict (not rolling). Once applications are complete (on-line PhD application, or for internal admits, internal transfer form; G.R.E. scores; T.O.E.F.L. scores, or their equivalent for international students; personal essay; transcripts from all previous academic work; video interview questions listed on CollegeNet application which are required, not optional; and three letters of recommendation). Students will be notified if they will be interviewed and the date and time of the interviews. Interviews will be group and individual and it is the responsibility of the applicant to pay for all expenses.

Internal candidates

Syracuse University students (those in our department and other departments of the university) or those who have graduated from Syracuse University within 12 months of the time they are applying to the doctoral program, are considered internal admits by the University. Internal admit students who wish to be considered for the doctoral program must complete a request for internal transfer (see M.F.T. Administrative Assistant for form), G.R.E.s, (T.O.E.F.L. scores, or their equivalent for international students) personal essay, transcripts from all previous academic work, Likelive.com interviews (unless you are in the S.U.M.F.T. Department), three letters of recommendation (not from current S.U.M.F.T. faculty who are on the M.F.T. Doctoral Admissions Committee) by December 15th of the year in which they wish to apply. Once applications are complete, internal admits will be notified about the interview in the same way as external candidates.

Before applying to the doctoral program, please review the following statement: All doctoral students in M.F.T. must complete the requirements for the M.A. in M.F.T. as well as the requirements for the Ph.D. If during the admissions review process it is found a student lacks certain content areas that may not be fully satisfied by the doctoral program (such as ethics), those students would be required to complete additional coursework above and beyond their master’s coursework.

Students admitted to the M.F.T. Program may seek financial support outside of the department through merit-based awards, such as University Fellowships, College scholarships, and a variety of academic and student-service assistantships, or through need-based financial aid, including loans and the College Work Study Program. If interested in financial assistance, students should indicate this on the application form and at time of the admissions interview.

Persons interested in more information about the Department should contact Thom deLara, Department Chair, Peck Hall, 601 East Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY 13202 (tdelara@syr.edu) or Beth Ciciarelli, Administrative Assistant, 315-443-9329 (bdbagozz@syr.edu). All potential applicants who wish to speak with a representative of the Department or to visit the Department prior to their application are invited to call Beth Ciciarelli at 315-443-9329 or bdbagozz@syr.edu.

History of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program

It has been over forty years since the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy was conceived by Bernice M. Wright, Dean of the College for Home Economics, Robert Pickett, Chair of the Department of Family Relations and Child Development, and Harvey Noordsy, Executive Director of the Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center. The first students entered in 1969, and in 1970 the New York State Department of Education officially granted the Department the right to award an M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling. The M.A. was initially a program within the Department of Child and Family Studies. Since that date, the Marriage and Family Therapy Program has graduated over 400 M.A. students. In December 1994, the department graduated its first doctoral student; 23 doctoral students have completed their degree programs in the last 5 years.

Initially, the M.A. program was a 30-credit degree, intended primarily for persons in the process of mid-life career change, and ministers wishing to augment their pastoral counseling skills. Students met with clinical pastoral students at the Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center for their first-year core courses, and their practicum placements were at that Center and at the marriage and family therapy counseling offices, initially housed with the rest of the Department at 744 Ostrom Avenue and later at 100 Walnut Place. In 1983 the M.F.T. Program moved to new facilities, consisting of two faculty offices and four small clinic rooms equipped for live supervision. 

In 1986, the clinic was expanded by adding another therapy room, enlarging two existing rooms, and increasing opportunities for live and videotape supervision. In fall 1989, the department was granted the use of two adjacent offices and, with the help of a grant from Diana and Stephen A. Goldberg, was completely refurbished. In February 1990, it was officially named the Goldberg Marriage and Family Therapy Center, with dedication ceremonies held in conjunction with the first annual conference of the newly formed Central New York Chapter of N.Y.A.M.F.T. In summer 1993, the Center was further expanded and entirely rebuilt to become a “state of the art” training and research center, completely computerized for easy storage of and access to clinic data. It consisted of a reception area, student space, graduate assistant office, assessment office, video equipment room, large-group observation room, two administrative offices, and six therapy rooms, all equipped for live and videotape supervision. In spring, 1999, the name was changed to the Goldberg Couple and Family Therapy Center, to more accurately represent the types of services provided. In January 2006 the M.F.T. Department relocated to the old School of Nursing at 426 Ostrom Ave. (corner of Marshall St.) in a newly remodeled area. The first floor housed the center with 5 therapy rooms, an assessment room, video room, student room, reception area and the center director’s office. All of the therapy rooms had an observation room. The classroom, another student room and all the faculty offices were located on the second floor. 

In 2010 the department moved from the 2,400 square foot site on campus to a newly renovated 5,500 square foot facility on James Street. The James Street facility had expanded office space, clinic space, student areas, and a larger classroom. Most recently, in January 2013, the M.F.T. Department moved to its current location at 601 East Genesee Street. The department now is housed in a 30,000 square foot facility that has been completely renovated and updated and which has a 15 year lease to provide a more permanent home. The E. Genesee Street facility has a greatly expanded clinic area (14 counseling offices), three classrooms, a large computer lab, an entire floor for student areas (lounge, kitchen, locker room, etc.) and one floor for a community agency to occupy as a partner in clinical training for second-year students. 

Like its facilities, the academic program has also grown dramatically. In October 1972, it was granted provisional accreditation by the American Association for Marriage and Family Counseling. In April 1975, the department became the first program to receive full accreditation by the C.O.A.M.F.C.E. (now C.O.A.M.F.T.E.-Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education) and soon after became a 36-credit hour program. Accreditation was renewed in 1981 and the program became a 45-credit hour program. In February l984, the Program’s accreditation was revoked temporarily but reinstated in 1986. The University approved a revised curriculum in 1985 and the State Education Department approved a change in program name to Marriage and Family Therapy. In l988, the Human Sexuality Program, a treatment and training program in sex therapy, was instituted with joint sponsorship by the College for Human Development and the Department of Family Medicine, S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center. A second joint program, the Family Medicine/Family Therapy Program, was instituted in 1989. In 2010 the State Education Department of New York approved our request to change the degree program to a 60-credit degree. This change was initiated to meet the national trend toward requiring up to 60-credit degrees for licensure. In 1991 and again in 1996, 2001, 2007, and 2014 the M.A. program was reaccredited by the C.O.A.M.F.T.E.

In 1990, the College approved a proposal for a M.F.T. doctoral program and, in 1991 the University Senate approved the program. In 1992, the University was granted permission by the NYS Department of Education to award the doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy and the doctoral program was granted Candidacy Status by the C.O.A.M.F.T.E, receiving full accreditation in 1996. It was reaccredited in 2001, 2007 and 2015. It was the first M.F.T. doctoral program in New York State and one of two M.F.T. doctoral programs in the northeast. It remains one of the few doctoral programs accredited by the C.O.A.M.F.T.E. that is not located at large land-grant state universities.

The growth of the Program reflects the quality of its faculty, staff, and students. Six persons have served as Program Director: Sol Gordon from 1970 - 1976; Charlotte Kahn from 1976 - 1984; Eleanor Macklin from 1984 to 1998 (with the exception of 1992-93); Linda Stone Fish from 1992-1993, and 1998 to 2001. From 2001-2003, Linda Stone Fish served as the first Department Chair in the newly formed Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, within the College of Human Services and Health Professions (now the Falk College). Jonathan Sandberg began his service as Department Chair in 2003; Thom deLara became chair in 2007. Dr. Macklin joined the Program in 1982 and Dr. Stone Fish in 1985. In 1987, Phyllis Blumberg resigned as Associate Dean of the College to become a full-time M.F.T. faculty member until her retirement from teaching duties in 1991. In 1990, Dean Busby and Kenneth Hardy joined the M.F.T. faculty, with Dr. Hardy appointed Director of Clinical Training and Research. From 1995-96, Dr. Hardy served as Chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies and Dr. Busby served as Director of Clinical Training and Research. Dr. Stone Fish assumed responsibility for coordination of doctoral internships. In summer 1996, Dr. Anne Gosling became Director of Clinical Training, while Dr. Busby remained as Director of Clinical Research. In 1998, Dr. Macklin retired and Dr. Stone Fish began her service as Program Director. Jonathan Sandberg joined the faculty. Dr. Sandberg became Director of Clinical Research in the summer of 1999.

In 2007 Thom deLara became Department Chair. In 2012 Dr. Stone Fish was named the Falk Family Endowed Professor of Family Therapy, and assumed the role of Graduate Director for the department. Tracey Reichert Schimpff currently oversees the M.F.T. Couple and Family Therapy Center. Dr. Dyane Watson, Dr. Rashmi Gangamma and Dr. Deborah Coolhart are full-time members of the faculty. Lisa Tedeschi is the internship coordinator. Daran Shipman is a part-time clinical supervisor. Beth Ciciarelli is the administrative assistant for the department and Anne Metzger-Wormuth is the office coordinator for the Couple and Family Therapy Center.

Master’s Program Educational Outcomes

The Educational Outcomes for the Syracuse University M.A. M.F.T. Program are:

Program Outcomes 

P.O.#1. Student Achievement: Students will successfully complete the S.U.M.F.T. program requirements and graduate, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of admitted students will graduate within five years ofregistering for their first M.F.T. course

P.O.#2. Alumni Achievement: Graduated students will be successful in pursuing either a career in Marriage and Family Therapy or doctoral education, as evidenced by the percentages of S.U.M.F.T. graduates who respond to the Alumni Survey indicate: 

  1. At least 80% of responders who sit for the national M.F.T. licensure examination will pass.
  2. At least 80% of responders who are interested in obtaining an M.F.T. license are successful in obtaining preliminary and or full licensure (appropriate to their state and location).
  3. At least 80% of responders, who are interested in M.F.T. or a related mental health position or in continued education, will successfully find employment in an M.F.T. or related position, or acceptance into a program for continuing education (i.e., PhD. Or D.M.F.T. Program) within 5 years of graduation.

P.O.#3. Commitment to Diversity: The S.U.M.F.T. program will show clear commitment to diversity through curriculum content and student composition, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 75% of our courses will have at least one diversity oriented assignment or have diversity topics integrated throughout the semester.
  2. At least 40% of students and faculty in the department will self-identify with program-identified characteristics of a diverse population (gender, race, ethnicity, sexualorientation, age, culture, environment, health/ability, nationality, religion, spirituality, and socio economic status) as reported on the Demographic Questionnaire, assessed yearly.

Student Learning Outcomes 

S.L.O.#1: Students will demonstrate awareness and regulation of self in system including engagement with cultural and contextual differences, as evidenced by the following measures: 

  1. At least 70% of students will receive a B or better on the final project in M.F.T. 684 (Diversity-Cultural Portrait Project).
  2. At least 70% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the Clinical ReadinessInterview Rubric (specifically 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, and 2c), assessed at the end of student’s first fall semester of clinical practice (M.F.T. 750-Introduction to M.F.T. Practice (first class of the Practicum course series)) (assessed annually).
  3. At least 70% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the Evaluation Form ofStudent completed by supervisor (specifically 4a, 4b, 4g, 4i, 6a, 6b, 6c, and 6d),assessed at the end of each semester that the student is clinically active (Practicum course series).

S.L.O.#2: Students will demonstrate M.F.T. clinical competency skills across a variety of contexts, as evidenced by the following measures: 

  1. At least 70% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the EvaluationForm of Student completed by supervisor (specifically 1a-f, 2a-e, 3a-d, 4c-f, and 4h), assessed at the end of each semester that the student is clinically active (Practicum course series).

S.L.O.#3. Students will demonstrate an applied knowledge of M.F.T. legal and ethical guidelines and professional standards, as evidenced by the following measurements: 

  1. At least 70% of students will receive a B or better on the final project in M.F.T. 681(Ethics- Personal and Professional Integration Paper).
  2. At least 70% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the EvaluationForm of Student completed by supervisor (specifically 5a-d), assessed at the end of each semester that the student is clinically active (Practicum course series).

S.L.O.#4. Students will demonstrate an applied knowledge of M.F.T. historical and current theoretical information, as evidenced by the following measures: 

  1. At least 70% of students will receive a B or higher rating two family systems theorycourse exams (M.F.T. 671 and M.F.T. 682).
  2. At least 70% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the EvaluationForm of Student completed by supervisor (specifically 1a and 4a), assessed at the end of each semester that the student is clinically active (Practicum course series).

Faculty Outcomes 

F.O.#1. Faculty will meet Syracuse University expectations for research, teaching, scholarship, and service, as evidenced by: 

  1. Completion of yearly Curriculum Vitae Update Form and successful review by the Dean’s office

F.O.#2. Faculty will demonstrate teaching and supervisory effectiveness, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of instructors will receive an average score of 3 or higher on the Evaluation Form of Instructor completed by Students, assessed each semester.
  2. At least 80% of supervisors will receive an average score of 3 or higher on the Evaluation Form of supervisor completed by supervisee, assessed each semester.

F.O.#3. Faculty will demonstrate professional and community contribution, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of faculty participating and reporting at least 5% of their time devoted to direct clinical practice.

F.O.#4. Faculty will contribute to engaging awareness of and sensitivity to diversity and multicultural issues as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of faculty participating and reporting professional activities fostering diversity awareness or respect for diversity with M.F.T. students or supervisees.
  2. At least 80% of instructors will receive a score of 3 or higher on question 18 of the Evaluation Form of Instructor completed by Students, assessed each semester.

Doctoral Program Educational Outcomes 

The Educational Outcomes for the Syracuse University Ph.D. M.F.T. Program are:

Program Outcomes 

P.O.#1. Student Achievement: Students will successfully complete the S.U.M.F.T. program requirements and graduate, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 60% of admitted students will graduate within five years of completingtheir qualifying exam

P.O.#2. Alumni Achievement: Graduated students will be successful in pursuing a career advancing Marriage and Family Therapy or related fields, as evidenced by the percentages of S.U.M.F.T. graduates who respond to the Alumni Survey indicate: 

  1. At least 80% of responders will successfully find employment advancing M.F.T. or related field within 2 years of graduation.
  2. Benchmark #2: AT least 60% of our students have contributed to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy as per internet footprint, through publications, academic engagement (teaching, training, presentations, grant writing).

P.O.#3. Commitment to Diversity: The S.U.M.F.T. program will show clear commitment to diversity through curriculum content and student composition, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 75% of our courses will have at least one diversity oriented assignment orhave diversity topics integrated throughout the semester
  2. At least 40% of students and faculty in the department will self-identify with program-identified characteristics of a diverse population (gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, culture, environment, health/ability, nationality, religion, spirituality, and socio economic status) as reported on the Demographic Survey, assessed yearly.
  3. At least 40% of dissertation research will focus on a diversity topic or a diversityrelated population.

Student Learning Outcomes 

S.L.O.#1: Students will demonstrate competence in advanced theory and theory building 

  1. At least 80% of students will pass their qualifying examination whicharticulates their theory of therapy
  2. At least 80% of students will receive a B or higher on the M.F.T. 861 assignment in which they articulate their philosophy of supervision
  3. At least 80% of students will receive a B or higher on the M.F.T. 865 assignment related to theory development including but not limited to Systems Theory, Family Development, and/or M.F.T. Clinical theory

S.L.O.#2: Students will demonstrate research competence 

  1. At least 80% of students will pass the research portion of the qualifying examination 
  2. At least 80% of students will demonstrate skills of ethical research and cultural sensitivity consistent with the Code of Ethics of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as evident by completion of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) training before dissertation proposal approval
  3. At least 80% of students will receive a B or higher on the M.F.T. 882 EvaluativeAssignment in which they write a publishable paper regarding Marriage andFamily Therapy outcome or process research.
  4. At least 80% of students will attend at least one research seminar and/or training workshop while in residence

S.L.O.#3 Students will demonstrate supervisory competence 

  1. At least 80% of students will receive a B or better in M.F.T. 861 (Supervision of Therapy) course.
  2. At least 80% of students will provide 18 hours of supervision to master level M.F.T. students.
  3. At least 80% of students will maintain an A.A.M.F.T. membership

S.L.O.#4: Students will demonstrate professional teaching competence 

  1. At least 80% of students will pass the oral examination of their qualifying exam which assesses their ability to teach theoretical constructs.
  2. At least 80% of students will receive a B or better in the teaching assignmentfor M.F.T. 865
  3. At least 80% of students will be the presenter for at least one poster, paper, and/or workshop at a professional meeting while in residence.

S.L.O.#5: Students will demonstrate clinical competence 

  1. At least 80% of students will complete 1,000 clinical hours with 200 hours of supervision by an A.A.M.F.T. Approved supervisor or equivalent by graduation.
  2. At least 80% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the Evaluation Form of Student completed by supervisor
  3. Students will demonstrate skills of ethical practice and cultural sensitivity consistent with the Code of Ethics of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as evidenced by at least 80% of students will receive a 3 or higher rating on the Evaluation Form of Student completed by supervisor (specifically 4a, 4b, 4g, 4i, 5a-d 6a, 6b, 6c, and 6d), assessed each semester.

S.L.O.#6: Students will demonstrate awareness and engagement with cultural and contextual differences 

  1. At least 80% of students will pass the cultural awareness portion of the qualifying examination
  2. At least 80% of students will receive a B or better in the Cultural Diversity assignment for M.F.T. 865

Faculty Outcomes 

F.O.#1. Faculty will meet Syracuse University expectations for research, teaching, scholarship, and service, as evidenced by: 

  1. Completion of yearly Curriculum Vitae Update Form which assesses faculty research, teaching and service, and at least 90% will have a successful reviewed by the Dean’s office

F.O.#2. Faculty will contribute to students’ successful completion of program requirements through effective teaching, advising/mentoring and supervision, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of instructors will receive an average score of 3 or higher on the Evaluation Form of Instructor by Students, assessed each semester.
  2. At least 80% of supervisors will receive an average score of 3 or higher on the Evaluation Form of supervisor completed by supervisee, assessed each semester.
  3. At least 80% of advisor mentors will advise dissertation research to completion after proposal approval

F.O.#3. Faculty will demonstrate professional and community contribution, as evidenced by: 

  1. At least 80% of faculty participating and reporting at least 5% of their time devoted to direct clinical practice.

F.O.#4. Faculty will contribute to engaging awareness of and sensitivity to diversity and multicultural issues as evidenced by:

  1. At least 80% of faculty participating and reporting professional activities fostering diversity awareness or respect for diversity with M.F.T. students or supervisees.
  2. At least 80% of instructors will receive a score of 3 or higher on question 18 of the Evaluation Form of Instructor by Students, assessed each semester.

Policies and Procedures, and Educational Outcomes Review 

As a part of our program evaluation and improvement plan, the Syracuse University Marriage and Family Therapy Department engages in a continuous and ongoing cycle of assessment. As part of this cycle, our educational outcomes, and policies and procedures are formally reviewed during biannual faculty meetings (April and December) (see Appendices C and D for Masters and Doctoral Evaluation Timelines). These reviews are used to: (a) evaluate the professional marriage and family therapy principles on which the outcomes and policies are based, (b) review feedback/data related to the educational outcomes and policies and procedures from the programs’ communities of interest (e.g., faculty, students, graduates, employers), and (c) make decisions leading to program improvement.

Student Information Policy 

The Syracuse University Marriage and Family Therapy program collects data on each Student Outcome annually. Graduating students are asked to provide contact information (email, phone, etc.) when they graduate so they and/or their employers can be contacted post-graduation. Graduated students are asked to participate in an alumni survey which will be mailed or emailed to them one year after graduation. The purpose of the survey is to gather information about alumni professional activities and employment post-graduation. As part of the alumni survey, graduates are asked to provide their current employer’s contact information and consent for their employer to be contacted to participate in a confidential employer evaluation survey. The purpose of the employer evaluation survey is to gather information about how well our graduates are doing, and how satisfied they are with the graduate’s performance to help us improve our program. Information about student achievement can be found on the C.O.A.M.F.T.E. website. Faculty members or supervisors may talk about individual students in order to enhance student learning and assist in their clinical training. Our hope is to be as supportive as possible and utilize the multiple resources that could benefit a student’s development during their time in the program. If faculty or supervisors have serious concerns about a student’s performance, they will address those issues directly with the student.

Masters of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy 

(Program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education - C.O.A.M.F.T.E.)

Goals and Objectives 

The M.A. Program in Marriage and Family Therapy is a 60-credit hour curriculum accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (C.O.A.M.F.T.E.). It is designed to meet the academic requirements for Clinical Membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and is intended for mature individuals who have a strong commitment to the family therapy profession. All M.F.T. core courses are open only to matriculated students. 

All students are expected to take the basic clinical courses in marriage and family therapy theory and techniques during their first year in the Program. During the first semester of coursework, students observe therapy and are a part of therapy teams at the Couple and Family Therapy Center. Beginning with the second semester of coursework, if clinically ready, students have direct client contact, which continues until the completion of 500 hours of supervised clinical practice with individuals, couples, and families. All students spend one year providing therapy in the on-campus Couple and Family Therapy Center, which is well equipped for videotape and live supervision. They also see clients in off-campus practicum sites after their first semester of client contact. At the conclusion of their program of study, students have the option of completing either a one-day written comprehensive examination, presenting a Capstone Masters project or a Masters thesis.

Course Requirements (60 credits total)

Marriage and Family Therapy Required Courses (51 credits)

M.F.T. 661 Introduction to M.F.T. Practice (3 credits)

M.F.T. 662 System Dynamics in a Group Setting (3 credits)

M.F.T. 671 Introduction to Family Systems (3 credits)

M.F.T. 672 Couple Therapy, Theory and Techniques (3 credits)

M.F.T. 681 M.F.T. Ethics and Issues (3 credits)

M.F.T. 682 M.F.T. Theory and Techniques (3 credits)

M.F.T. 684 Intro to Cultural Diversity: Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 688 Family Therapy Across the Life Cycle (3 credits)

M.F.T. 567 Sexual Issues for the Helping Professional (3 credits)

M.F.T. 750 Intro. to Marriage and Family Therapy Practicum (3 credits)

M.F.T. 760 Marriage and Family Practicum I (3 credits)

M.F.T. 761 Marriage and Family Practicum II (3 credits)

M.F.T. 762 Marriage and Family Practicum III (3 credits)

M.F.T. 763 Marriage and Family Practicum IV (3 credits)

M.F.T. 724 Psychopathology (3 credits)

M.F.T. 781 Social Work Practice/Alcohol & Other Drugs (3 credits)

M.F.T. 663 Applied Research in Social Work (3 credits)

M.F.T. 997 Masters Project/Thesis/Comprehensive Exam (0 credits)


M.F.T. Elective Courses (3 courses - 9 credits total)

M.F.T. 603 Introduction to Trauma Studies (3 credits)

M.F.T. 644 Family Therapy with LGBTQ Youth (3 credits) 

M.F.T. 645 Queering Theory, History and Clinical Practice (3 credits)

M.F.T. 686 Play Therapy (3 credits)

S.W.K. 626 Persons in Social Context (3 credits)

M.F.T. 641 Divorce Mediation (3 credits)

M.F.T. 687 Spirituality in Therapy (3 credits)

C.F.S. 621* Statistical Concepts I (3 credits)

M.F.T. 643 Family Therapy with Complex Trauma (3 credits)

M.F.T. 642 Couple and Family Therapy/LGBTQ Relationships (3 credits)

M.F.T. 764 Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy V (1-3 credits) 

*Students who are planning to apply to the doctoral program are encouraged to take C.F.S. 621.

Program of Study

All students must file a typed Program of Study with the Chair before the beginning of their second year of study. Upon approval by the Chair, the student will send two copies to the Graduate School and submit one for his/her official Program file. It will be necessary to amend this Program of Study prior to graduation if the actual courses taken are different than those originally submitted. Students may transfer in up to 12 credits of appropriate graduate-level coursework from other universities if they have received a grade of B or better in the course. Students wishing to transfer in credits should file their Program of Study by the end of their first term of study and file a petition if they wish to substitute transfer credits for a required course. Students, who wish to use coursework taken prior to seven years before their degree date, must file a petition providing evidence that the student has maintained current knowledge in the field to do so.

Academic Advisor

The Chair serves as academic advisor for all students enrolled in the master’s degree program. The academic advisor is responsible for overseeing the program of study process as well as ensuring that all requirements have been completed satisfactorily for graduation.

Masters Project/Thesis or Comprehensive Examination

Students decide whether they wish to complete an M.F.T. Capstone Project/Thesis, or take the comprehensive examination. Students cannot choose the project/thesis option after failing the comprehensive examination or the comprehensive examination option after failing to have their final project approved. Once a student has indicated in writing a plan to take the comprehensive examination, the only way to fulfill the requirements for graduation is to successfully pass the examination (students are allowed to retake the examination two times). Conversely, once a student has indicated a plan to pursue the Masters Project/Thesis and the associated proposal has been approved, the student cannot decide to elect to take the comprehensive examination. Students planning to enter the M.F.T. doctoral program are encouraged to use the Masters Project/Thesis as an opportunity to gain research experience.

M.F.T. Capstone Project

Students who are not engaging in thesis research, or taking comprehensive examinations, must complete an M.F.T.-related capstone project and be at Peck Hall one day at the end of spring semester (date and time to be announced). Students who are completing a thesis are invited (but not required) to participate as well in the research poster sessions. Students can choose one of the following options for their capstone project: 

  1. Research proposal: Closely following guidelines for final research proposal M.F.T.663/S.W.K. 662 (if you have not taken this course, please contact Dr. Gangamma for research proposal guidelines), students may choose to present a proposal for research on any topic of interest relevant to M.F.T..
  2. Clinical case studies: Students may choose to present a clinical case including – detailed description of theoretical conceptualization, intervention planning and implementation, outcome, cultural competence, and role of self of therapist. Please remove all identifying information about the case so that clients’ privacy is completely and absolutely protected. To insure complete confidentiality, meet with the supervisor of the case you are presenting and review methods for de-identification. Supervisor and student must sign Form A: Capstone De-identification Authorization Form and the Form must be submitted to Beth Ciciarelli one week prior to presentation.
  3. Special topics related to M.F.T. practice and/or research: Students may also choose to present information that advances M.F.T. training. Topics may include and are not limited to – presenting problems, issues of diversity, cultural humility, specialized treatment approaches, working with special communities or groups, etc. 

Presentation format: 

  1. Research poster sessions: Research proposals will be presented in the form of an academic poster summarizing research question, review of literature, proposed methodology and implications. Students will be ready to answer questions from faculty, staff, students, and guests.
  2. Symposia: Clinical case studies and Special topics will be presented in symposia. Groups of 3-4 presenters will present their topics for about 10 minutes each. Groups will consist of topics around a similar idea or theme. A member of the faculty will serve as moderator for each session. Presentations will be followed by Q & A for about 15 minutes.

Evaluation rubrics for your presentation will be distributed during the spring semester in which you will be presenting your capstone project. 

Students must complete a Masters Project Proposal Form and have it approved and signed by Chair Thom deLara by early spring (date to be announced).

M.F.T. Thesis Policy and Procedure 

Students interested in conducting master’s theses must meet with an M.F.T. advisor to begin the process. Once an advisor has approved of the thesis idea, the student asks at least one additional M.F.T. faculty member(s) to be on her/his committee. Once a meeting occurs with the student, advisor and additional family member(s), the Masters Thesis Proposal Form is signed by the student, advisor, additional M.F.T. faculty member(s), and Chair of the Research Committee (who may be the advisor or the additional M.F.T. faculty member).

Students will need I.R.B. approval before data is collected unless an exemption is met (please see Chair of Research Committee for exemption).

Students must submit both the Proposal and the Final Thesis to faculty on their committees at least a week before the meetings occur.

Once the thesis is completed and approved by the M.F.T. advisor, the student must ask two other M.F.T. faculty members (either tenure track or professors of practice) to be part of their oral examination committee. One faculty member will be assigned as the oral examination committee chairperson and the other will be assigned as a reader of the final thesis. In other words, the oral examination committee consists of at least four voting members that include the M.F.T. advisor, the additional member(s) who approved the Proposal Form, an oral examination committee chairperson, and a reader. The oral examination is closed to other people unless the student chooses, in consultation with her/his advisor, to invite others (at least one week before the defense date).

The committee chair will preside over the exam and ensure that department/school/college and Graduate School/Graduate Degree Certification Office regulations and declared policies are followed.

Your oral examination committee chairperson will prepare a report that reflects one of the following statuses: pass; pass with minor revisions (generally editorial); pass with major revisions (substantive); not pass. You are entitled to an explanation from the committee concerning the results of the examination.

A master’s thesis must meet the requirements of the Syracuse University Graduate School guidelines for a thesis proposal. Guidelines for a thesis are located on the Graduate School "What You Need to Graduate" web page.

Students planning to complete a Masters Project or Thesis should register for M.F.T. 997 (Masters Project/Thesis) for 0 credits.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is designed to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to integrate their coursework and clinical training in a creative and scholarly fashion. The Examination is taken at the completion of all required academic credit hours. Any work required for the removal of incompletes must have been submitted to and approved by the appropriate faculty member prior to the student sitting for the Examination. Students may elect to take the Examination prior to the completion of M.F.T. 760 if they have obtained 400 or more clinical hours. The Examination is an eight-hour, closed book, essay examination that may be taken at a time mutually convenient to the student and the faculty. A student should inform the Chair in writing of his/her intent to take the Examination at least one month prior to the planned date of the Examination. At the time of the Examination, the student will receive a description of a clinical case about which s/he is to answer the following three questions: 

  1. Discuss the dynamics of the family, demonstrating knowledge of socio-cultural variables, child development, and family systems.
  2. Select three schools of family therapy and briefly describe the approach which each would take in the assessment and treatment of the family.
  3. Present your own detailed treatment plan for the family (problems, goals, and strategies), indicating your rationale for the suggested treatment.

The Examination will be evaluated by the Chair and, at his discretion, other M.F.T. staff members. Satisfactory performance will require demonstration of the ability to integrate knowledge from marriage and family therapy and to apply this knowledge to the development of an appropriate clinical treatment plan. In the event that the student fails to pass, s/he may retake the Examination a total of two times. On occasion, the committee may request that the student redo a portion of the original examination; in this case, the retake must be completed within one month from the date of this decision.

Clinical Requirements 

500 Supervised Clinical Hours

Students must complete 500 supervised clinical hours of direct (i.e., face-to-face) client contact with individuals, couples, families, and therapy groups at approved practica sites prior to graduation. They must be enrolled in M.F.T. Practicum, for at least five semesters and should maintain a minimum of 5-8 direct client contact hours per week each semester they are enrolled. Students should enroll in M.F.T. Practicum the first semester of their graduate work so that they can begin center meetings, accrue team hours, and acclimate themselves to the Couple and Family Therapy Center. Before students can see clients in the Center, they are expected to complete M.F.T. 681: M.F.T. Ethics and Issues (or the equivalent) and M.F.T. 661: Introduction to M.F.T. Practice (or the equivalent). In some rare instances, an alternative course of action can be approved. Students begin to see clients during the second semester (after passing the clinical readiness interview) and are expected to continue seeing clients throughout the summer and to arrange with their supervisor for appropriate vacation periods. At least 250 hours must consist of relational work with couples or families present in the therapy room. Fifty relational hours and 50 individual hours, totaling 100 hours may be obtained by serving as a member of a live-supervision team if the student is present to observe the same client case for an extended period of time and engages in the planning of treatment. When supervised by an A.A.M.F.T. approved supervisor, students may count up to 50 hours of psycho-education towards their 500 total hours. 

Twelve months of client contact must be completed at the Couple and Family Therapy Center. Students begin to see clients in the Couple and Family Therapy Center at the beginning of the second term in the M.F.T. core unless the faculty decide on the basis of performance in the Fall courses that they are not clinically ready to do so. All students have a clinical readiness interview with the faculty and Director of Clinical Training before seeing clients. They will continue to see clients in the Center for one full year. During the spring term of their first year they should interview for an outside placement at an approved community site, planning to begin this placement as early as June but preferably no later than the following fall. Agency representatives from the practicum sites visit the Center and students are informed of available sites and who to contact regarding a placement interview. Agencies make the final decision regarding how many and which students they can take as trainees. The following approved community practica sites have been used in the recent past: The Brownell Center at Liberty Resources, Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services, St. Joseph’s Hospital, S.U.N.Y. Upstate Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Vera House, C.A.C. Foundation, Family Counseling Services of Cortland County, Inc., Harvest House Counseling, Akira Psychotherapy, and the Cayuga Counseling Center. 

Students in practica must submit to the Office Coordinator monthly statements of their client and supervision hours, signed by their supervisor(s). These monthly records are kept in the student’s practicum folder and a cumulative tally compiled at the end of each academic term. At the time of graduation, a letter is sent to A.A.M.F.T. certifying the total number of client and supervision hours and the date of completion of all graduation requirements. Students who later apply for Clinical Membership may begin counting the required two-years post-degree from this official date of completion (which may be before the official graduation date). 

Additionally, students must keep a record of hours spent at their practicum site, including client appointments, supervision, meetings, and time spent working on-site to complete case notes. These hours are used to calculate remitted tuition benefits for the practicum agency, and should be recorded on the Practicum Site Placement Hours form, (see appendix B), and submitted to the Administrative Assistant monthly.

Requirements for Supervision

Students must receive 1 hour of supervision for every 5 client hours, and accumulate a minimum of 100 hours of group and individual supervision during the required 500 client hours. Students must experience both individual and group supervision during the course of their practica, and individual supervision must occur at least once every other week during the time that students are seeing clients. Individual supervision is counted when 1-2 students are receiving supervision together or one student is receiving live supervision. Group supervision may include no more than six students in a supervisory group. When more than two students are in the supervision group, students behind the one-way mirror receive credit for group supervision if (a) at least one supervisor is present behind the mirror, (b) there are no more than 5 students behind the mirror, and (c) the supervision experience involves an interactive process among the supervisor and the treatment team. The student therapist(s) working directly with the client may count the time as individual supervision. 

At least 50 hours of the total supervision of a student's clinical work must involve the use of raw data (i.e., either direct observation, videotapes, or audiotapes). At least 25 hours of this supervision will be based on direct observation or videotapes. When students are involved in the direct or videotape supervision of a group member and a supervisor is present, all of the students may count this as direct or videotape supervision. Co-therapy counts as clinical hours if both student therapists are students and share in the responsibility for the case such as making interventions in therapy, making the appointments, writing the notes, and being the contact to manage crisis situations. When the student's supervisor is the co-student therapist the hour is counted only as supervision, unless the student has primary responsibility for the case.

Requirements for M.F.T. Supervisor Eligibility

All official supervision of M.F.T. students must be conducted by experienced marital and family student therapists who are either A.A.M.F.T. Approved Supervisors, Supervisors-in-Training, or the equivalent. When students receive occasional supervision from persons without the necessary credentials or by persons who are doctoral students in our Program, they may not count these supervision hours on their monthly records and their client hours must be signed for by their official supervisor. All supervisors must be actively involved in clinical practice and students should have some opportunity to observe their supervisor engaged in clinical work. 

Under special circumstances, students may receive client hours at a placement where there is no A.A.M.F.T. Approved Supervisor available. When this occurs, the student must augment the supervision of these client hours with supervision by an Approved Supervisor or Supervisor-in-Training. In this case, the student will have two supervisors: The agency supervisor, who will be responsible for case management, and the Approved Supervisor or S.I.T., who will help the student apply theory to practice. Only the A.A.M.F.T. Approved Supervisor or S.I.T. hours may be counted toward the required 100 hours.

Registration for Clinical Practicum

Students must satisfactorily complete M.F.T. 750 (Introduction to M.F.T. Practicum) and at least 12 credits of M.F.T. Practicum before graduation, Students register for M.F.T. 750 in their first semester and in a Practicum section for each of the next four semesters of their coursework. A student must take one additional term of Practicum for each term s/he receives a grade of less than B-. If after two full years, students require additional time to complete the clinical requirements, they will register for one additional Practicum section (M.F.T. 764) for each additional semester required. Students must stay at the placement site in which they are assigned until they complete their 500 hours (unless they begin doctoral work in another C.O.A.M.F.T.E.-accredited program and make arrangements with the program and S.U.’s Director of Clinical Training). Grades for M.F.T. Practicum will be determined by the supervisor or, in the case of students who have an outside placement and a placement at the Couple and Family Therapy Center, by the Center Supervisor who will average the grade s/he would give the student with the grade given by the outside supervisor.

Student Membership in A.A.M.F.T.

All students must become student members of A.A.M.F.T. before beginning to see clients. National dues are $58.00. Division (state/province) membership is automatic when the student joins. New and transferring applicants also pay a non-refundable $25.00 application-processing fee. 

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance will be provided to all students through a group insurance contract arranged by the university. A $15 course fee will be charged with Spring semester Practicum registration to cover the liability insurance cost.

Regulations Regarding Private Practice

The 500 client hours required for M.F.T. 760 cannot be done in private practice (i.e., fees paid to the student therapist by the client for services rendered outside of a University-approved agency), even if under the supervision of an Approved Supervisor. The policy of A.A.M.F.T. is that the MA degree is the qualifying degree for the field and, therefore, a person should not hold him/herself out as a marriage and family student therapist before having received a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy or having completed an equivalent program of study. 

Because membership in A.A.M.F.T. is voluntary, this policy is not enforceable in states where there is no licensing of M.F.T.s. However, professional liability and ethical standards become a particular concern when student therapists see clients privately before being awarded the appropriate degree. One can be sued by clients for professional malpractice if one holds oneself out to be professionally competent without the degree. The person who agrees to supervise a student in private practice will also be liable, and the S.U.M.F.T. Program will be liable if the hours being sued for are being used as practicum hours. To defend yourself against such a charge, you would have to demonstrate that you are professionally competent. Such competence is usually established by (a) having an appropriate degree and (b) having been certified by the profession.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy

(Program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education - C.O.A.M.F.T.E.) 

Goals and Objectives 

The doctoral program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University seeks to prepare clinical scholars who will advance theory, supervision, research, and teaching in the field of marriage and family therapy. Students are prepared primarily for teaching, supervisory, and research positions in graduate degree-granting institutions, training institutes, and health care settings. The program builds upon a clinical Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and is designed to provide students with an understanding of advanced theory in marriage and family therapy with expertise in process and outcome research methodology in marriage and family therapy.

Course Requirements 

The doctoral program builds on a M.A. degree in M.F.T. or completion of courses equivalent to the C.O.A.M.F.T.E. Standard M.A. Curriculum. The 72 credit-hour curriculum consists of 33 credit hours from a M.A. in M.F.T. or equivalent; 12 credits of advanced theory and practice; 12 credits of advanced research methodology; 3 credits of elective; 6 credits of advanced practicum; and 6 credits of dissertation. Requirements also include a 9-month clinical internship and satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination and the doctoral dissertation and related oral examination.

Advanced Theory and Practice (12 credits)

Three courses from the following: (9 credits)  

M.F.T. 861 Supervision in M.F.T. (3 credits)

M.F.T. 862 Advanced Family Therapy with Children & Adoles. (3 credits)

M.F.T. 863 Advanced Couple Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 865 Advanced Family Therapy Theory (3 credits)

M.F.T. 875 Cultural Diversity: Family Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

Plus 2 courses from the following (or equivalent)*: (6 credits)

M.F.T. 772 Divorce & Remarriage: Family Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 773 Family Violence: Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 774 Parenting & Family Enrichment: Programs & Res. (3 credits)

M.F.T. 776 Dysfunctional Families: Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 777 Family Perspectives on Gender Roles & Socialization: Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 778 Loss Across the Life Cycle: Family Theory & Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 779 Sexual Identity and Family Therapy (3 credits)

M.F.T. 864 Family Systems and Family Health (3 credits)

*Students who have taken one of these courses as part of their M.A. program may substitute an elective for one of the two required courses.

Advanced Research Methodology (12 credits)

M.F.T. 885 Introduction to Qualitative Research (3 credits)

C.F.S. 622* Statistical Concepts in Human Development II (3 credits)

C.F.S. 732 Research Methods for Child & Family Studies II (3 credits)

M.F.T. 882 Assessment & Research Methods in M.F.T. (3 credits)

Elective* (3 credits)

Advanced Practicum: M.F.T. 860 (6 credits) 

Masters Courses (maximum 33 credits)

Internship: M.F.T. 960 (0 credits)

Dissertation** (6 credits)

*If student does not come in with equivalent of CFS 621, elective must be used for CFS 621, as it is a pre-requisite for CFS 622.

**You may register for dissertation hours before beginning your dissertation.

Academic Advisor/Mentor 

You will be assigned a M.F.T. faculty member as your advisor at the time of admission to the Program. Unless you elect to change advisors and another faculty member agrees to serve as your advisor, this person will remain your advisor, serve as the clinical supervisor for your work in the Couple and Family Therapy Center, and chair your dissertation committee. 

Program of Study 

All students must work with their advisor to file a typed Program of Study with the Chair, before the beginning of their second year of doctoral study. Upon approval by the Chair, the student will send two copies to the Graduate School and submit one for her/his official Program file. It will be necessary to amend this Program of Study if the actual courses taken are different than those originally submitted. For students who begin their doctoral work without having completed all of the requirements for their masters’ degree, they have until the end of their first full semester of doctoral courses to successfully complete all master’s degree requirements. If they do not, they will not be able to register for classes for their second semester of doctoral work.

Students may transfer up to 33 credits of appropriate graduate coursework from other universities if they have received a grade of B or better in the course. Practicum courses may not count as transfer courses. Students who have received an M.A. in M.F.T. from a C.O.A.M.F.T.E.-accredited program will be granted 33 credits automatically. Other students will have their programs evaluated on an individual basis in order to determine the extent to which their prior coursework was equivalent to the required M.F.T. M.A. coursework. Students wishing to transfer in credits from another University should file their Program of Study by the end of their first term of study.

Clinical Requirements

All M.F.T. doctoral students are expected to continue clinical practice throughout their graduate study and to complete, prior to graduation, the 1000 supervised client contact hours with individuals, couples, and families required for A.A.M.F.T. Clinical Fellow Membership. These 1000 client hours may be accumulated prior to doctoral work and during the doctoral practicum and internship experience. Any hours in excess of the 1000 required for Clinical Membership may be used to fulfill the remaining 1000 hours of clinical work required for certification as an Approved Supervisor. Up until they complete their doctoral internship, doctoral students are expected to submit signed monthly statements of client and supervision hours, and these hours must meet the same standards outlined for the Master’s Program. At least 50% of their client contact hours must be with couples or families physically present in the therapy room, at least 50% of their supervision must be individual supervision, and at least 50% of their supervision must be based on live, videotaped, or audiotaped session data. Doctoral students must receive 1 hour of supervision for every 5 client contact hours, with the exception of internship students who must have one hour of supervision weekly. All supervision must be by Approved Supervisors, Supervisors-in-Training, or the equivalent. Students who begin doctoral work without the equivalent of 500 client contact hours from a C.O.A.M.F.T.E.-Approved Masters Program must register for M.F.T. 760 until the client contact hours are completed.

M.F.T. 860, Advanced M.F.T. Practicum

All doctoral students must see clients at the Couple and Family Therapy Center under the supervision of the M.F.T. faculty for two years and register for a total of 6 credits of M.F.T. 860. Students who wish to extend their work at the S.U. Center beyond the two required years must register for 1 credit of M.F.T. 860 for each additional semester of supervision at the Center.

M.F.T. 960, M.F.T. Internship

Students cannot begin the internship until all coursework and case notes are up to date and the qualifying examination is passed (unless otherwise negotiated with the doctoral committee).

Students are expected to arrange for their own internship in consultation with their advisor. Every effort should be made to create an internship experience that promises to best meet the individual’s particular scholarly and professional goals. Students will work with their advisor to develop a contract for their internship that best suits their individual scholarship needs. The internship, therefore, can be a combination of clinical, research, and teaching experiences.

At least two months before beginning the internship, the student should present in writing to the Doctoral Program Director a proposal for how s/he wishes to complete the internship requirement. The contract should clearly stipulate the basis and format for evaluation of the student's performance throughout the course of the internship. The student and the Doctoral Program Director must sign the internship contract before the internship can officially begin. Students should register for M.F.T. 960 every semester they are on internship. 

C.O.A.M.F.T.E. has stipulated that clinical internship sites must meet the following criteria: 

  • The Advanced Practical Experience Component
  • Programs that teach the advanced curriculum must offer the advanced experience component.
  • Areas include selected experiences consistent with the program’s mission, goals, and outcomes in any of the following: advanced research, grant-writing, teaching, supervision, consultation, advanced clinical theory, clinical practice/innovation, program development, leadership, or policy. In addition, programs may offer experiences in presenting and professional writing.
  • The program must demonstrate appropriate and adequate mentoring of students during the experience.
  • The advanced experiences offered by doctoral degree programs must address a minimum of two of the areas noted above and combined be over a minimum of 9 months.

Research experiences may include (not limited to) developing independent research projects, writing up manuscripts for publication and conference presentations, applying for external funding, and assisting in faculty research. Teaching experiences may include (not limited to) assisting or co-teaching with faculty members.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination 

Doctoral students may take their qualifying exams once they have begun their last semester of coursework and completed all case notes. All students must have taken and passed their qualifying exams by the end of the first full (fall or spring) semester immediately following the completion of coursework. The examination is in three parts: a) written portion; b) research component; and c) oral examination. The doctoral committee will evaluate the qualifying exam materials. 

In an effort to avoid scheduling difficulties and to allow students ample time to plan ahead, the doctoral qualifying oral examinations are offered four times a year. At the beginning of each semester the department chair will provide students with a list of specific times, within the qualifying examination week, at which examinations will be held. Once a student is certain of his/her readiness for the exam, s/he may schedule a time with the chair. If a student needs to cancel her/his examination, s/he may reschedule during the next qualifying examination week or at a time deemed appropriate by the faculty 

If students do not take qualifying examinations within six months of the completion of their last class, they will not be in good standing with the Program and must schedule a meeting with the faculty to plan a course of action. (Please review the Criteria for Good Standing in the Program in this document.)

Written Portion of the Qualifying Examination

Each student must submit a paper that demonstrates a thorough understanding of her/his philosophy of family systems based therapy, grounded in germinal and extant family therapy literature. There is no page limit for the paper. It must demonstrate doctoral level writing skills (correct grammar, proper paragraph and sentence structure, clear and succinct language, correct A.P.A. style and referencing). 

The paper is to be prepared with minimal consultation from the advisor. It is recommended that students gain an understanding of the examining process by attending qualifying examinations of other students and that they seek feedback from their colleagues before submitting their written portion. Samples of the written portions of previous qualifying examinations are available upon request from the Administrative Assistant. 

The paper shall demonstrate the student's capacity for critical thinking and should include two primary sections:

  1. Theory of Therapy: An in-depth delineation of the student's theory of therapy, including a discussion of her/his assumptions about how change occurs, a description of related intervention strategies, an analysis of the student therapist's use of self in therapy, and a statement about the definition of health. 
  2. Description of Case: An in-depth description of one family or couple case which illustrates the above theory, including description of the clients, overview of the course of treatment, review of any assessment instruments utilized, discussion of related cultural and gender issues, and evaluation of the interventions given the context of the therapy. The role of supervision in the development of the case should be clear. This section of the paper should conclude with a detailed discussion of how the student’s theory was illustrated in the clinical work with the case.

Research Component

Each student will be given a research article the day s/he hands in the written portion of the qualifying examination to the faculty. Students have a week from that day to write an in-depth critique of the article (8-10 pages) along with a research proposal designed to address the issues raised in the critique (8-10 pages). The research proposal is an elaboration of the ideas on how to re-do the study. The methodological design that is proposed can either be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods. At the end of the week, students must submit the article critique and proposal to the faculty. Students may not consult faculty, students, family, or friends during this process. After submitting the research component of the qualifying examination, students have one week to prepare for the orals in both theory and research. 

The research article will be chosen by the faculty from the last five years of one of the major journals in family therapy.

To give a specific example of the process written above: 

  • If a student hands in her/his theory of therapy paper on the 17th of January, s/he will begiven a research article that day.
  • Submit to faculty the article critique and research proposal on the 24th of January by 5:00PM.
  • Clinical presentation and orals for theory and research will take place on the 31st ofJanuary.

Oral Presentation and Examination

The oral examination is given two weeks after the student hands in her/his written portionto the faculty. The student should schedule a three-hour block of time for the oral presentation and defense. 

The student is expected to present their theory of therapy and video clips of the case they wrote about in their written portion of the qualifying examination. The same case that was written about must be presented. The whole presentation should not exceed 45 minutes. 

The dissertation committee will be present at the time of the oral examination and the defending student can decide to invite others. Only S.U.M.F.T. students are allowed to be present during the video clips and the defending student must use pseudonyms and caution when discussing the case. 

Following the presentation, an oral examination will be conducted by the examining committee on the written portion, the research component, and the presentation. At the conclusion of the examination, the student and guests will leave the room while all committee members vote. Majority rules. If there is an even split among the faculty votes, the student’s advisor will break the tie. A student will receive a separate evaluation for each of the three portions of the qualifying exam. Each portion of the exam will be evaluated and rated according to the following system: 

  • Pass with distinction—represents excellent work, clearly outstanding 
  • Pass—sufficient completion of all requirements 
  • Pass with revisions—some minor revisions required to complete requirements 
  • Fail—unsatisfactory work in one or more areas; major revisions needed 

In the case of failure or pass with revisions members of the examining committee will submit feedback to the student and the adviser will meet with the student to explain the reasons for failure and the desired changes. If the student is required to retake one or all parts, s/he will be allowed to have two repeats of the failed portion of the examination process. Students must take the examination within 90 days of the failed attempt. Students may not begin their internships until all three parts of the examination are completed. If the student does not pass all parts of the examination process the third time, s/he will be asked to withdraw from the M.F.T. Program. 

Students who fail only the written portion and/or research component may, at the discretion of the committee, not repeat the oral examination. Students who fail the oral part of their examinations must wait until the next time the exams are offered to take them again. Students who fail the written and/or research part of the examination may not begin their internships until they resubmit and pass these portions.

Dissertation 

Dissertation Proposal 

Students may defend their dissertation proposal after all their course work is satisfactorily completed and the qualifying examination has been passed. The preparation of a dissertation proposal will be supervised by a dissertation committee composed of at least three faculty members chosen by the student on the basis of his/her area of special interest. The committee will be chaired by the student’s advisor and must include at least one other M.F.T. faculty member; the remaining member may come from either inside or outside the College. If the student and advisor deem it advisable and useful, they may add additional members. 

After meeting with the dissertation advisor and committee to discuss the proposed research, the student will prepare a written proposal to the committee for their feedback and suggestions. When the advisor and student believe the written proposal to be complete, it will be submitted to the committee for their formal review and a date for oral presentation will be established. Immediately following the oral presentation and discussion, the dissertation committee will vote to approve the proposal. Following approval, the student will seek clearance from the University Institutional Review Board’s Human Subjects Committee to conduct the research.

Dissertation Oral Examination 

Prior to the oral defense, two persons (in addition to the dissertation committee) will be recruited by the student and advisor to serve as readers of the completed dissertation and to participate in the oral examination. These persons can be faculty from the Department, the College, another department of the University, or external to the University. The student, with the advisor’s help, must also recruit a Chair for the oral defense, to represent the Graduate School at the defense meeting. At least three weeks before the defense, the student must file forms with the Graduate School designating members of the oral examination committee, and submit the “Request for Exam” paper work.

At least two weeks before the defense, the student must provide all six members of the examination committee (advisor and two committee persons, two readers, and chair of the oral exam) with a final copy of the dissertation. The dissertation must meet all requirements as stated in Academic Rules and Regulations.

Criteria for Good Standing in the Department 

In order to maintain good standing in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, students of all levels must demonstrate satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree. The faculty will review performance each semester. Any and/or all of the following criteria may be used to determine satisfactory progress: 

  1. Earn a B- or better in all M.F.T. courses (and courses affiliated with Certificates of AdvancedStudy) and maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or better for all courses listed on the Program of Study.
  2. Conduct self in a manner consistent with standards established in the A.A.M.F.T. Code of Ethics;
  3. Refrain from behavior determined by the faculty to be detrimental to self or others (clients, classmates, university employees, etc.)
  4. Register for M.F.T. Practicum each semester and continue seeing clients until 500 client contact hours are completed, or, after matriculation as a Ph.D. student, register for M.F.T. 860and continue being clinically active until completion of coursework and the qualifying examination;
  5. While registered for M.F.T. Practicum, 860, and 960, maintain appropriate client and supervision hours and submit necessary paperwork documenting these hours;
  6. Receive satisfactory end-of-term supervisor reports;
  7. Maintain registration by registering for course work or for G.R.D. 998, Degree in Progress, 0 credits, every semester until date of degree;
  8. If you are enrolled in the C.A.S. in Trauma-Informed Practice, earn a B- or better in all core courses and maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or better for all elective courses.
  9. If doctoral student, show continual progress toward completion of coursework, qualifying examination, internship, dissertation proposal, and dissertation.
  10. Doctoral students who have completed coursework and not yet defended their qualifying exams or dissertation must meet with the faculty once a year to demonstrate “continual progress toward completion” of program requirements.

Students whose progress is deemed unsatisfactory will be placed on unofficial probation. Students who remain on unofficial probation for more than one semester will be asked to leave the program.

In instances where academic and/or clinical performance is in question, the following policies apply: 

  1. Faculty and teaching staff will advise the Department Chair of any M.F.T. student who is not performing at a B- or better level at or after the mid-term of the semester.
  2. Faculty and teaching staff will advise the student of the unacceptable performance and will note to the student that the program requires a B- grade or better in all M.F.T. courses during their degree program.
  3. The Department Chair may determine, in consultation with the Graduate Director, and/or the Director of Clinical Services, and/or the Internship Coordinator, and/or the faculty or teaching staff member, to convene a meeting with the student to discuss the performance issue and develop a corrective course of action plan.
  4. A record of unacceptable academic and/or clinical performance will be maintained in the student’s record in the department office.
  5. M.F.T. faculty and teaching staff will review policies related to academic and clinical performance on an annual basis, at the April department meeting.
  6. The Department Chair will report annually, to all faculty and teaching staff, aggregated dataon student academic and clinical performance, at the April department meeting.

Students who take courses in the Graduate School prior to enrolling in the M.F.T. core courses may not begin the M.F.T. core courses if they (a) have a G.P.A. of less than 3.0 or (b) carry any incomplete(s) for course(s) being counted toward the degree. Students who have been admitted to the Department but do not matriculate the following Fall must either defer their application or re-apply for admission.

All requirements for the M.A. degree must be completed within a period of five years from the date the student registers for the first course to be used in her/his M.F.T. M.A. program of study. If the degree is not obtained within this period, the student may petition the M.F.T. faculty and the Graduate School for an extension of time or for reinstatement of credit in an outdated course, stating rationale for currency of knowledge in the particular content. A candidate for the doctorate is expected to complete the dissertation within five years after passing the qualifying examination or must similarly petition the Graduate School for extension of time. Justification for such extension must include evidence that the student is maintaining current knowledge in the field. A student who fails to receive such an extension will be required to repeat the qualifying examination.

Students who must leave the University for personal or health reasons before completing degree requirements should file an Official Leave of Absence form, whether or not they intend to return. Students who are suspended from the University for academic or disciplinary reasons will be officially withdrawn by the Graduate School at the recommendation of the Program faculty. Refer to the Syracuse University Academic Rules and Regulations for further details about procedures and implications.

Students who wish to request an exception to policies and procedures should file a petition with the Department faculty stating their request and rationale. If an individual believes that the faculty has treated her/him unfairly or inappropriately, s/he should state this in writing and/or request to meet with the faculty. If the student is not satisfied, s/he should meet with the Department Chair. If this informal procedure is still unsatisfactory, the student may begin formal procedures. Refer to the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics Grievance Document or the College’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to follow formal procedures.

Student Participation in Department Governance

Students have the opportunity to provide direct feedback to the department regarding the needs of their cohort through participation on department committees and through representation at M.F.T. Faculty/Department meetings. Student representatives sit on the M.F.T. Research Committee, the M.F.T. Curriculum Committee and the M.F.T. Technology Committee. M.F.T. Department meetings will include all faculty and staff, and one student representative from each cohort (1st-year and second-year classes). A student representative will be appointed to the Promotion and Tenure Committee at the discretion of the committee chair. Student representatives to M.F.T. Department committees may be from any cohort, and may include part-time students. Department meetings are held monthly throughout the academic year (August, September, October, November, December (if necessary) and January, February, March, and April. Department meetings during the summer sessions are held on an ad hoc basis.

Additionally, the department surveys first-year students in the fall semester, in regards to the admissions and orientation process, and surveys second-year students in the spring semester to determine overall satisfaction with the M.F.T. department. This is supplemented by the Program Director meeting with all students in the department, in small groups, for an informal lunch discussion about their issues and concerns about the department. These meetings take place on an annual basis. Students can contact the Department Chair to indicate interest in serving on a committee or as representatives to department meetings.

Registration for Degree in Progress and Dual Degrees 

Students must maintain registration from time of matriculation until graduation. In those semesters when you are not registered for specific course or dissertation credits, you must register for G.R.D. 998, Degree in Progress, 0 credit. This allows you to maintain an active student status without tuition cost and entitles you to use all campus resources, including libraries and computers. Please be aware that masters students can be awarded full time student status while completing clinical requirements through the summer of their second year, for issues related to student loans. 

When a student is working to fulfill the requirements for two or more distinct masters degrees at S.U., the minimum number of credits needed must be at least 80 percent of the combined total of Syracuse credits normally required for each of the separate degrees. When a student is planning to pursue a M.A. in M.F.T. and a doctoral degree in another field, the student should consult with the Chair as early as possible about appropriate protocol. 

Students interested in the Dual Degree in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy must apply and be accepted to both programs and must complete the Social Work Degree before beginning Marriage and Family Therapy.

Procedure for Graduation 

In the term in which you wish to receive a degree, you must (a) register for 0 or actual credit, (b) file a Diploma Request card by the due date (usually within the first few weeks of the term within which one is to graduate), (c) ensure that your Program of Study has been approved and filed with the Graduate School, (d) check that your transcript matches your Program of Study and that all necessary petitions for exceptions to published requirements have been approved and filed with the Graduate School, and (e) check that the Department has informed the Graduate School of the completion of any additional requirements (e.g., comprehensive examination or Masters project, practicum requirements, internship, qualifying examination, and dissertation oral examination). Additionally, students must have completed the required clinical and supervision hours and submit signed paperwork confirming these requirements have been met.

A.A.M.F.T. Membership 

Students should maintain membership in A.A.M.F.T. throughout their enrollment in the M.A. and doctoral programs. M.A. students should apply for Student Membership in A.A.M.F.T. their first term in the core program and maintain registration until receiving their degree. Doctoral students should apply for Student, Associate, or Clinical Membership, depending upon their credentials.

A student is eligible to apply for Associate Membership when all requirements for the M.A. degree are complete. The Chair notifies A.A.M.F.T. when a student has completed all requirements for the degree so that s/he may begin as soon as possible to count the two years that must pass between completing degree requirements and applying for Clinical Membership. You may want to check to be sure that this is done. Within a few months after applying for Associate Membership, you will receive notification from A.A.M.F.T. regarding how many more client and supervision hours you will require for Clinical Membership. If this does not match your records, check with the Chair.

An individual who graduates from an accredited program is eligible to apply for Clinical Membership upon completion of the following: (a) a minimum of two years of M.F.T. clinical hours and supervision following completion of requirements for the M.A. degree; and (b) 200 hours of appropriate supervision and 1000 hours of face-to-face M.F.T. client hours. At least 100 of the 200 hours must be individual supervision. If you accumulate more than 500 client hours and 100 supervision hours while completing your M.A. degree, you will be credited with all of these hours provided that supervision and client hours have at least a 1-5 ratio.

Financial Aid and Other Awards 

Need-Based Financial Aid (Student Loans) 

Syracuse University offers federally funded student financial aid to qualified graduate students. The Financial Aid Office administers financially funded loans and Federal Work Study. To be eligible for federally funded student financial aid, you must be accepted into a program leading to a degree, not be in default or owe a refund on any previous student loan, be enrolled at least half time (6 credits per semester), maintain satisfactory academic progress, have financial aid transcripts from the colleges and universities you have attended sent to the S.U. Financial Aid Office, and be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. To apply for such aid, you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (F.A.F.S.A.), which is available from most college or university financial aid offices and high school guidance offices. When you complete your F.A.F.S.A., you must list Syracuse University as one of the schools to which you want the information sent. Within four weeks of submission, you should receive a Student Aid Report (S.A.R.) from the Department of Education. Syracuse University will receive this information approximately two weeks after you receive your S.A.R. You should apply for financial aid as far as possible before the beginning of the semester in which you enroll. Though you will not be notified about financial aid eligibility until you are admitted, you should not wait until you are admitted to file your F.A.F.S.A. Contact the S.U. Financial Aid Office for more information.

There are a number of Graduate Work Study opportunities on campus for persons who meet the eligibility requirements and who are willing to spend the time to ferret them out. The responsibilities and benefits vary greatly from position to position.

Graduate Assistantships

Outside of the M.F.T. department, assistantships come in various forms and sizes. The most common are teaching assistantships and research assistantships, either full-time (20 hours of work a week from the beginning of Fall term until the completion of Spring term) for 24 tuition credits plus a stipend or part time (10 hours of work a week) for 12 tuition credits and a stipend. Search and see what you can find, and then apply, apply, apply. Be sure to inform yourself of the benefits available to students on assistantship (e.g., health benefits, tuition benefits for spouse, and discounts at the bookstore).

University Fellowships

These are coveted and highly competitive awards for which Ph.D. students are nominated by their program or department. The deadline to be nominated is in early February. University Fellowships come in two forms -- the multiple year package (which generally consists of two years of fellowship interspersed by a year of assistantship) and the one-year award. Generally, the multiple year awards go to new applicants (in an effort to recruit outstanding students to the University), but students who are completing the M.A. degree at S.U. and who have been admitted to a doctoral program will be considered as new applicants. The one-year awards are for continuing students completing their doctoral program, and hence are given to students about to be enrolled in their final full year of study (e.g., completed all coursework and qualifying examination). A fellowship usually provides for 30 tuition credits and a stipend.

The Department of African American Studies also awards one-year African American Fellowships, either to new students or currently enrolled students. Students are expected to take one course each term in that Department and to have a strong interest in the field. The Graduate School also has listings of external awards for which students may be eligible.

College Scholarship 

The David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics provides a limited number of scholarships consisting of tuition hours for outstanding students who have been recommended by their departments. These are awarded once a year for the following year. Students who receive College Scholarships must be sure to use their tuition by the end of Spring term. 

Travel Grants 

Both the department and the college award monies to help defray cost of attendance at professional meetings to present a paper or serve as invited presenter. Both grant periods are in the fall and applications are typically due the first part of October. The application and award processes for the college and department are run separately. The chair of the department will have applications for both sets of awards. The awards are small, typically around $300; the department goal is to fund as many students as possible.

Teaching Fellowships and Outstanding T.A. Award 

Each January, faculty are asked to nominate outstanding teaching assistants to compete for the 24 Teaching Fellow positions. Teaching Fellows serve as the core instructional staff during the Summer T.A. Program orientation, serving as small group leaders and mentors to the University’s 300+ new T.A.s and contributing to the Program’s activities throughout the year. Fellows receive a stipend plus board. Applicants must submit an application, vita, and teaching portfolio containing evidence of teaching experience and competence. To be appointed a Teaching Fellow is a significant academic honor. If you are interested in competing, be sure your faculty know to nominate you. The Outstanding T.A. Award, one of the top honors bestowed upon graduate students by the University, is granted to about 4% of all T.A.s campus-wide and, again, is dependent upon nomination by faculty. Students who wish to be considered for any of these awards should begin early to develop the necessary teaching portfolio.

Redistribution of Credits 

Students on fellowship or full-time assistantship who do not plan to take 9 credits each term (12 if you are a Fellow or College Scholar) must arrange with the Graduate School to have their credits “redistributed” or they will lose their allotted remitted tuition. This usually means petitioning to have some tuition credits transferred to the summer. This is best done the semester before the credits are to be redistributed. 

If you are a first or second year M.F.T. M.A. student on a full-time assistantship, you must petition to have your credits “redistributed”. This is because, whereas you are given 9 credits of tuition a term (12 if on a fellowship) plus 6 in the summer, you usually register for 10 credits the first Fall, 8 credits the first spring, and 7 credits the first summer.

M.F.T. Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Professional Staff

For a current listing of faculty members, their qualifications, educational history, academic work, etc..., please visit our departmental faculty page.

Support Staff

For a current listing of support staff for the department, please visit our departmental contact page.

Syracuse University Statements & Policies

Syracuse University’s Office of Disability Services

Syracuse University and I are committed to your success and to supporting Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This means that in general no individual who is otherwise qualified shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity, solely by reason of having a disability. If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services(O.D.S.), located in Room 309 of 804 University Avenue, or call (315) 443-4498 for an appointment to discuss your needs and the process for requesting accommodations. O.D.S. is responsible for coordinating disability-related accommodations and will issue students with documented Disabilities Accommodation Authorization Letters, as appropriate. Since accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact O.D.S. as soon as possible. You are also welcome to contact me privately to discuss your academic needs although I cannot arrange for disability-related accommodations. If you have an authorized disability-related accommodations you should provide me with a current Accommodation Authorization Letter from O.D.S. and review those accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester.

Syracuse University Academic Integrity 

Syracuse University sets high standards for academic integrity. Those standards are supported and enforced by students, including those who serve as academic integrity hearing panel members and hearing officers. The presumptive sanction for a first offense is course failure, accompanied by the transcript notation “Violation of the Academic Integrity Policy.” The standard sanction for a first offense by graduate students is suspension or expulsion. Students should review the Office of Academic Integrity online resource and confer with instructors about course-specific citation methods, permitted collaboration (if any), and rules for examinations. The Policy also governs the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verification of participation in class activities. Additional guidance for students can be found in the Office of Academic Integrity.

Syracuse University Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy Statement

Syracuse University is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action institution. The University prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, national origin, citizenship, ethnicity, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, genetic information, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable law to the extent prohibited by law. This nondiscrimination policy covers admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in University programs, services, and activities. 

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