Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to questions about application, academics, finances and tuition, clinical work, and more.
Note: For detailed information on the MFT program and its expectations, please refer to the Essential Guide provided to MFT students (PDF).
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- Program FAQs regarding the MFT program set-up and logistics
- Academic FAQs regarding theoretical orientations, academic expectations, and faculty
- Application FAQs regarding application requirements and process
- Client Work (Clinical) FAQs regarding clinical training and experience to be gained in the MFT program
- Finance & Tuition FAQs regarding costs, funding opportunities, and scholarships
Location: Suite 215# 4283 El Cajon, Blvd. San Diego, CA 92105
Classes will be held at the SDSU main campus and at the CCCE clinic located 7 minutes drive from SDSU. Check class schedule prior to purchasing the SDSU parking permit. There will be semesters where all classes are held at the Dede Alpert Center for Community Engagement.
All courses are being held virtually until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We find that employment for student’s post-graduation is available. Students are encouraged to make connections throughout their graduate experience and connect with faculty and site resources for possible employment opportunities.
Graduate students optimize their chances for employment post graduation by immersing themselves in the clinical work at their traineeship sites prior to graduation.
Here are a few examples of employment our graduating class of 2012 has reported:
- Facilitators for Family Forward in North County
- Jewish Family Services
- School-based family therapists out of Logan Heights Family Counseling Center
- SDSU’s CCCE as a LEAD (Linguistically and Ethically Diverse) program intern.
- Interning as a therapist for Union of Pan Asian Communities, a San Diego County contracted psychiatry outpatient clinic
- Interning at Therapy Connection with the intent to build private practice
- San Diego's VAST (Victim's Assistance Support Team), providing wrap around services to developmentally disabled populations.
- Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crisis Counselors
- Emergency Shelter Resident Assistants
The program training is guided by a philosophy that incorporates the following values and commitments:
- A social constructionist-systemic orientation that regards knowledge as produced through social interaction and as, therefore, subjective rather than objective and true. Thus, therapists hold a tentative and inquiring stance in learning about clients' experiences and in considering the effects of their own perspectives on clients' lives.
cross-cultural development that invites examination of understandings of difference, language, history, and power and their effects in people's lives and advances the ability to address these factors in therapy and other relationships.
- A community-focus to prepare for serving underserved and poorly served populations.
- Social responsibility and change to consider the therapist's role in relation to social contribution, impact, and leadership for growth in mental health systems.
- Personal growth, to support the exploration of one's own storied life, including cultural identities and experiences, consider the effects of experiences in social relationships, and open oneself to new personal behaviors and perspectives.
Classes consist of various learning outcomes and styles that vary from lecture, group
work, and on-site experiences. Students can expect to participate in Micro-counseling
Skills courses that allow members to practice counseling with each other to develop
the fundamentals of working with clients.
Community-based work is also incorporated into the curriculum. Students are expected to work within different cultures and communities during the completion of course requirements.
Students are exposed to various ethnic and other cultural populations to strengthen cultural competencies to better prepare for therapy with diverse clients. Cultural competency is a vital part of this program.
Many of the classes are designed to educate students on how to work with different
populations requiring mental health services.
While there are traditional lecture based courses, there will be classes that are guided by the students.
Students in the first summer and fall participate in an “unstructured group,” an activity in which students have the opportunity to engage with their cohort in experiential personal-professional growth. Courses structured in this fashion are intended to allow for a safe space for growth while encouraging cultural or familial self-exploration.
Students learn a lot about cutting edge counseling theories and practices that meet the needs of our diverse communities. Strength-based counseling models and the introduction to recovery practices for those with mental health issues are significant elements of the program.
The professors in the program are highly involved with the MFT classes, the training, supervision, and monitor and pay attention to student’s experiences. The professors and other department members are readily available and diligently pay attention to students needs.
Students get to know the professors on both an academic and personal level. Many of them work from a Constructionist and Systemic school of thought, which is incorporated into their teaching styles. They collaborate with students and recognize their different needs while acknowledging that “one size does not fit all”.
- “My professors played a vital role as I grew, not only into a therapist, but a better version of myself” –Sabrina, MFT Alumni
- “The professors are very involved. They are caring and passionate. They push you to be the best therapist you can be.” –Sheila, MFT Alumni
- “The faculty are very approachable, supportive and helpful.” –Turkan, MFT Alumni
While the theoretical orientation varies among the faculty, many position themselves within a constructionist-systemic orientation that regards knowledge as produced through social interaction and is, therefore, subjective rather than objective and true. Thus, therapists hold a tentative and inquiring stance in learning about their clients' experiences and view the client as the expert on their own lives. The therapeutic task is viewed as helping clients access their own strengths, resources and under-utilized knowledge.
Theory courses are offered early on in the program, exposing students to various approaches and philosophies. While many of the classes emphasize post-structural and social constructionist thoughts, students are in no way expected to conform exclusively to these ideas. Students are encouraged to follow what best fits them. Faculty members are knowledgeable on many theoretical levels and are available to provide you with any helpful information.
The MFT program offers classes that focus on both qualitative and quantitate research methods to help prepare students in the area of research. Students will also be required to take Research focused course. This can help students build on these research experiences that can begin the preparation for doctoral work. Students are able to exploring different options, and have questions answered, including identifying differences between the Ph.D. Ed.D and Psy.D. In addition to this, students are welcome to interview for the chance to work along side a faculty members current research.
You will submit 2 applications:
- Cal State Application
- Program-specific application
Both are online and may have different deadlines and requirements. Both the SDSU requirements and the MFT program requirements are needed in order to a complete application.
For more information, see our admissions page.
The minimum GPA required by the university is 2.85 for domestic applicants or 3.00 for international applicants. If you don't meet the GPA criteria, you may still be accepted but be on probational acceptance.
For more details on graduate admissions, please see SDSU Graduate Admissions.
Applications are available once a year, and opens in early fall (October). Please check our website regularly for updates.
Past applicants have submitted letters from former employers, professors, community leaders, and other people who know them well. A recommender’s background in psychology or counseling area is not required. The best recommendations come from those who can speak to a student’s professional qualifications and interpersonal qualities.
All documents must be submitted through the online application. Emails, faxes, or mailed copies will not be accepted.
Both SDSU requirements and the MFT program requirements are needed in order to have to have a complete application.
Client Work (Clinical) FAQs
The practicum is where students begin to work with clients and this is conducted at the Center for Community Counseling & Engagement during the first fall and spring semester. Students participating in a practicum are now referred to as MFT Trainees who are qualified to see clients. They provide mental heath services to clients under direct supervision by a selected supervisor. The Practicum commitment is typically 5 hours per week.
The traineeship is where trainees collect the majority of their required client hours. Trainees will commit to anywhere between 15-25 hours per week at their chosen site. For every 10 hours of client work trainees are required 2 hours of individual supervision, which will be provided as part of the traineeship.
The internship occurs once trainees have graduated with their degree. The trainee
submits a request for an intern number once all pre-requisites are met and then becomes
an MFT Associate. Associates will then have the opportunity to complete the remaining hours for licensure,
if they chose to do so.
Practicum and trainee work is not paid. Associates will seek employment and once employed are paid at a rate lower than a Licensed MFT.
Class schedules are structured to support students in completing their hours. There tends to be anxiety around completing the required hours at various sites. Most of our sites have the means to complete both relational and individual hours. Sometimes this is contingent upon a student’s ability to reach out to their sites and expose themselves to different avenues and resources that are available to them. It is important to keep track of hours and know where you stand at all times. During the traineeship, students should be averaging 15 client hours per week to collect the required hours.
Students are required to be enrolled in a traineeship course at all times, while working with clients. The traineeship course is intended to allow a space for students to communicate questions around collecting hours, documentation required for graduation, questions regarding their site supervisor, and any other inquiries about a particular site or client work.
Students will need 500 hours total for graduation. 250 hours out of the 500 are for individual therapy, and 200 out of the 500 are relational (this can be family, couples, and siblings). The Majority of your hours will be completed at your traineeship site.
In addition to client hours, students will need to complete 50 live supervision hours. Supervisor will need to accompany students during session or through a two-way mirror. Live supervision can also be in the form of audio or video.
The program is structured to best optimize ones eligibility to graduate on time. It is important to attend all traineeship courses, keep track of hours, and keep in continual open communication with the traineeship professor. If at any point students feel unsure of their status, they are encouraged to reach out to the program.
In the case that hours are not completed in time for graduation in May, students have the opportunity to finish the remaining hours and apply for graduation in August.