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Marriage & Family Therapy

M.S. in Counseling

Undergraduate Program Graduate Program Concentration Focus Online Hybrid

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program is a full-time, 2.5 year program that prepares students to practice as highly competent entry-level MFT's.

The MFT Program is a cohort model program with new enrollments once a year. It is an intensive program offering extensive clinical experience and rigorous academic studies to prepare students to practice as highly competent entry-level MFT's. In order to complete all requirements of the program students must complete 2 1/2 years of study including 3 summers starting in early June of the first year and finishing at in the end of August in the second year.

Graduates of our program are able to provide therapeutic services and facilitate related change processes with a focus on social justice in variety of settings. As students, they participate in learning and practicing systemic and social constructionist ideas through the culturally-infused curriculum, and intensive strength-based, community-focused clinical training. Our affordable program is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Emphasis on Teaching

The MFT program and the university place teaching as the first priority. Faculty members are selected for their excellence in teaching and commitment to strong faculty-student relationships. Classes usually have 30 students or fewer in them. Learning processes are highly interactive, including emphases on both personal growth and professional knowledge and skills.

Multicultural Development

Developing culturally responsive therapists with a diverse, compassionate and intelligent student body.

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Experienced Faculty

Faculty of the MFT program are actively involved in class with students, clinical trainings, and often are practicing in the profession with diverse foci and specialties.

COAMFTE Accredited

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program at San Diego State University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). SDSU is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commision.

Clinical Experience

Gain extensive clinical experience through community engagement, practicums, and traineeship placements. Conduct therapy at the Center for Community Counseling and Engagement (CCCE) early in training

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2 ½-Year Intensive Program

Cohort 60 unit program model with 2 full years of face-to-face that begins in the summer of first year

Based upon a condensed version of the Marriage and Family Therapy Core Competencies (MFT-CC), collapsing the original 128 MFT-CC to 16.

Source: Northey Jr.,W.F. & Diane R. Gehart, D.R. (2020). The Condensed MFT Core Competencies: A Streamlined Approach for Measuring Student and Supervisee Learning Using the MFT Core Competencies. 46 (1), 42-61 Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

  1. MFT Theories: Apply systems [*Relational Practice and/or Constructionist] approaches concepts, theories, and techniques of marriage and family therapy.
  2. Human and Family Development: Understand principles of human and family development, human sexuality, gender development, trauma, psychopathology, psychopharmacology, trauma, recovery-oriented care, and their implications for treatment.
  3. Cultural and Contextual Awareness: Conduct assessment and therapy with sensitivity to contextual and systemic dynamics (e.g., gender, age, socioeconomic status, culture/race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, spirituality, religion, larger systems, social context).
  4. Selecting Treatment Models: Recognize strengths, limitations, evidence base [*can include practice-based evidence], and contraindications of marriage and family therapy models consistent with contextual factors, including culture, diagnosis, and trauma history and adapts and integrates models as appropriate for client needs.
  5. Therapeutic Relationship: Establish and maintain appropriate and productive therapeutic alliances with clients from a position of cultural humility [*including where appropriate decolonial and intercultural perspectives], recognizing when to involve significant others and extrafamilial systems.
  6. Diagnosis: Diagnose and assess client behavioral and relational health concerns systemically and contextually utilizing current models for assessment and diagnosis.
  7. Relational Assessment: Assess interpersonal patterns, family history, biopsychosocial functioning, social position as they relate to the presenting problem using genogram, systemic interviewing techniques, structured interview [*where this aligned with theoretical model], and symptom inventories to conceptualize treatment systemically and develop relational hypothesis.
  8. Treatment Planning: Develop measurable outcomes, treatment goals, treatment plans, appropriate referrals, and aftercare plans utilizing a systemic perspective.
  9. Treatment, Intervention, and Practice: Deliver systemic interventions that are consistent with model of therapy, evidence base, cultural and contextual dynamics, practice setting, and goals of the treatment plan.
  10. Safety Planning: Screen and develop adequate safety plans for substance abuse, maltreatment of children and vulnerable adults, domestic violence, physical violence, suicide potential, and danger to self and others.
  11. Collaboration: Work collaboratively with stakeholders, including family members, other significant persons, and professionals that empower clients to navigate complex systems of care.
  12. Law and Ethics: Practice within state, federal, and provincial laws/regulations and professional ethical standards.
  13. Supervision and Consultation: Contribute to supervision and consultation by providing rationales for interventions, assessment information, and systemic understanding of clients’ context and dynamics.
  14.  Self-of-Therapist: Monitor personal reactions to clients and treatment process (e.g., family of origin, boundaries, triangulation, current stress level, current life situation, cultural context, transference [*effects of client dynamics and counselor dynamics on counseling interactions], supervision) and their impact clinical outcomes practice.
  15. Measure Effectiveness: Measure the effectiveness of one’s own clinical practice, using outcome measures, and client feedback.
  16. Research: Use current MFT and behavioral health research to inform clinical practice.


Note: For more information about our program, academic requirements, and more, see MFT-FAQs.

For specific term dates, please see the University's Academic Calendar


Year 1: Summer

  • CSP 600 (2): Cross-Cultural Counseling
  • CSP 600L (1): Cross-cultural Counseling- Lab
  • CSP 606 A (3): Law and Ethics
  • CSP 609 (3): Family Life Cycle Development
  • CSP 625 (3): MFT Theories I
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Year 1: Fall

  • CSP 615 (3): Multicultural Counseling
  • CSP 626 (3):  Theories of MFT II
  • CSP 687 (1-3): Substance Abuse Treatment & Motivational Interviewing
  • CSP 662 A (3): Interventions with Children & Adolescents
  • CSP 755 (3): Beg Practicum

Year 1: Spring

  • CSP 618 (3): Mental Health Recovery and the DSM
  • CSP 765 (3): Adv Practicum
  • CSP 650 (1-3): Crisis and Trauma
  • CSP 670 (2-3): Group Process and Counseling

Year 2: Summer

  • ED 690 (3): Methods of Inquiry
  • CSP 785 (2): Optional:Traineeship/Adv Practicum

* depending on the student's rate of clinical experience hours collection, additional summer enrollments may be needed to meet the graduation requirements

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Year 2: Fall

  • CSP 710A (3): Master's Project: Research
  • CSP 785 (3): Traineeship/Adv Practicum
  • CSP 692 (3) : Couples Therapy

Year 2: Spring

  • CSP 635 (1-3): Sex & Intimacy
  • CSP 694 (2-3): Psychopharmacology
  • CSP 710B (3): Clinical Presentation of chosen Theory of Therapy
  • CSP 785 (3): Traineeship/Adv Practicum

Final Summer

  • CSP 785 (2): Traineeship/Adv Practicum (required if 2 units of 785 was not completed during summer of YR2. Also required if 500 direct clinical hours are not yet completed)

* depending on the student's rate of clinical experience hours collection, additional summer enrollments may be needed to meet the graduation requirements

See Our Faculty page for information about and contact information for our faculty and lecturers.

MFT Core Faculty


MFTs are focused on the interpersonal and relational aspects of human behavior, as well as the social contexts in which problems occur. They can work in a variety of settings such as:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Educational organizations
  • Health care organizations
  • Private Practice
  • Read more about the MFT

2022 Cohort

Meet Our Cohorts

Learn about some of the many accomplishments of the extraordinary students in SDSU's Marriage and Family Therapy Program. 

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The members of the MFT program at SDSU unequivocally stand in solidarity with communities of African descent who experience racial discrimination, bias, trauma, and violence. We strongly condemn anti-blackness and racist ideologies and practices, and white supremacy that permeates the entire system of social relations in which we exist. 

Experiences of anti-blackness, racism, inequity, and violence can profoundly influence how families, couples, and individuals of African descent relate within and outside of their familial system. Further,  race-related stress can cause considerable mental and physical health challenges that are often perpetuated by race-related disparities in healthcare accessibility and quality. Despite the intra and interpersonal harm caused by anti-blackness and racism, clinicians, including MFT’s continue to silence Black voices while upholding a system of white centering and white supremacist ideology.  As MFTs, we must unite in our collective power to diligently and persistently eradicate white supremacy from our field. 

To help protect and promote the wellness and needs of the Black community, we in the MFT program at SDSU are committed to taking the following actionable steps:

  1. Acknowledge that racism is embedded into our organizational structures and acknowledge that we, as a program, need to continuously educate ourselves to be agents of positive and impactful transformation for our students, alumni, and community of African descent.
  2. Encourage our students, faculty, and staff to disrupt and dismantle racism, systemic oppression, white supremacy, and white nationalism. 
  3. Educate and train students using decolonial pedagogies 
  4. Educate and prepare students to adopt culturally responsive clinical ideologies and practices (e.g., promoting non-pathologizing frameworks and interventions ) in therapy
  5. Collaborate with traineeship sites that also condemn anti-blackness and racist clinical practices
  6. Carefully listen to our students, faculty, and staff of African descent to understand their campus and off-campus experiences to make our program and university a more welcoming, healthy, and anti-racist community for them and others in our community.  
  7. Promote the accomplishments and excellence of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni of African descent.
  8. Continue to ensure that our education and training opportunities are accessible to all of our students of African descent, providing more support and working to reduce barriers.
  9. Call upon our faculty, students, alumni, and affiliated community members who hold unearned power and privilege to take up the responsibility to fight against systemic racism and oppression in their clinical work with couples, families, and individuals. 
For millennia, the Kumeyaay people have been a part of this land. This land has nourished, healed, protected, and embraced them for many generations in a relationship of balance and harmony. As members of the San Diego State community, we acknowledge this legacy. We promote this balance and harmony. We find inspiration from this land, the land of the Kumeyaay.

The MFT program's diversity statement is consistent with that of the College: The College of Education at San Diego State University is a vibrant community of scholarly engagement and professional practice where diversity, equity, and inclusion drive innovation across our teaching, learning, counseling, research, and community service endeavors. We draw on our strengths as a college within a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) — uniquely positioned in the San Diego-Tijuana transborder region and ancestral land of the Kumeyaay Nation — to effect educational and social change at local, regional, national, and international levels.

As a diverse and interdisciplinary community of educational researchers and professional practitioners, we are committed to sustaining a responsive and supportive teaching, learning and working environment for all members of our community, and to establishing collaborative partnerships with local, regional, national and international universities, community agencies and organizations that embrace this mission, particularly with regard to educating, serving, and supporting students, faculty, staff, and community members across the spectrum of races, ethnicities, cultures, social classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, linguistic identities, body identities, religious or secular beliefs, spiritual traditions, creeds, political views, ages, abilities, citizenship, and veteran status.

We intentionally acknowledge the value of the diverse backgrounds from which we approach our work and endeavor to advance personal, educational, and social well-being drawing upon the variety of human experiences, perspectives, identities, and positionalities that enrich our university and college community.

We critically recognize that educational institutions and other related service organizations often function within extant neo-colonial structures of racial-ethnic, socio-cultural, and socio-economic oppression that systematically function to reproduce social injustices and inequality. In the same way, we also acknowledge the power and responsibility of these institutions to serve the ethical imperatives of social transformation.

As such, we commit to working to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, belongingness, and social and racial justice through the identification and implementation of democratic, transformative, and anti-racist practices in all our endeavors. In addition, we commit to harnessing the creative dynamism and power found in true participatory and democratic approaches to institutional engagement.

As a reflective and supportive community committed to social and racial justice, we strive to be socially aware, collaborative, mindful, and fearless in our inclusive, equitable, and democratic pursuits.

San Diego State University does not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation in its education programs or activities. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and certain other federal and state laws, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation in employment, as well as all education programs and activities operated by the University (both on and off campus), and protect all people regardless of their gender or gender identity from sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.

The MFT program stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. We unequivocally denounce the perpetual and widespread intolerance, bigotry, xenophobia, and violence towards Asian-American communities across the United States. The sharp increase in violence and hate crimes against AAPIs stands in sharp contrast to the values and practices of the MFT program and its members and should have no place in our community and society.

The scapegoating and targeting of the AAPI community in the US extend back to the mid-19th century. Racist and hateful rhetoric and actions against the AAPI community in this country tend to escalate during national crises. As of recent, AAPIs have been fighting against two pandemic crises, COVID-19 and hate. According to Stop AAPI Hate, there have been 3,000 + recorded anti-AAPI attacks nationwide since the pandemic escalated in March 2020. In contrast, in the year prior, there were only 100 such incidents reported. A federal report released in February 2021 warned that an estimated 40% of bias-motivated incidents and hate crimes went unreported to authorities; those reported were treated as a low priority for police to investigate. This indifference by law enforcement reflects the history of racism, and violence toward AAPI communities is deeply rooted in white supremacist ideologies and practices, which have long fostered and perpetuated the harmful stereotype of Asians as model minorities.

The MFT program will continue to collaborate with community members and organizations to uplift the voices of AAPIs, develop cross-cultural coalitions, and promote trauma-informed and culturally responsive mental wellness services. Further, we encourage supporting AAPI run or owned businesses/organizations and implore leaders at the local, state, and national level to adopt equitable policy solutions that provide long-term protection and assistance to AAPI communities.


Info Sessions 

Information sessions will be held twice in Fall 2021 to provide prospective students more information about the admissions process, the program, and its faculty. Some faculty and current students from each cohort will be in attendance.

Prospective students are encouraged to read through the MFT program website prior to attending an information session. Due to our large applicant pool, we will not schedule individual consultations with prospective students. Instead, we will encourage interested candidates to join our information sessions.

Information session # 1: October 21st, 4:30-6pm, via Zoom
Information session # 2: November 4th, 4:30-6pm, via Zoom
Please RSVP for an information session.

Important Resources

  • Tuition cost
    Visit the Office of Admissions Estimated Cost of Attendance page for the latest information about the cost of university tuition. 
  • Financial aid
    All courses are eligible for Financial Aid. Contact the SDSU Financial Aid Office and speak to a financial aid officer familiar with loans for special programs.


COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria Data for SDSU MFT Program

Advertised Program Length*: FT:  2.5 years

Accredited: 2006

All data are for full-time students.

Cohort Year Students Entered Program* # of Students in Program  Graduation Rate (%)* Job Placement Rate (%)** National Exam Pass Rate (%)***
2011–2012 24 87.5 85.71 100
2012–2013 30 93.3 83.33 100
2013–2014 29 96.55 87.50 100
2014–2015 30 96.66 100 100
2015–2016 28 92.85 100 100
2016–2017 29 96.55 100 100
2017–2018 28 46.42 100 100
2018-2019 30 73.3 100 100
2019-2020 31 96.66 in progress in progress
2020-2021 30 in progress in progress in progress

Programs are only required to provide data on the past 10 years/cohort or since the program was initial accredited, whichever is shorter.
* Programs should report graduation rates for program’s Advertised Length of Completion. The Advertised Length of Completion is how long the program is designed to complete as written.
The advertised length of the program was extended to two and a half years beginning 2019-2021.
**This is defined as the percentage of graduates from the cohort year listed that are employed within 3 years of their graduation utilizing skills learned in the COAMFTE accredited program. Masters and Doctoral programs are required to provide this information. Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public.

*** Master programs are required to provide this information. Doctoral and Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public. For Master’s programs only, COAMFTE has established a benchmark of 70% pass rate for each cohort. Programs in California can use the California Law and Ethics exam for MFTs to meet this requirement.