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

The SDSU MFT program is now a 2 and a half year, full-time program. Link to more program details.
Yes, the Dede Alpert Center for Community Counseling and Engagement (CCCE). Most trainees will conduct initial client work at this site.
Location: Suite 215# 4283 El Cajon, Blvd. San Diego, CA 92105
The MFT program is full-time masters program. It may be possible to work in paid employment part-time. However, to do so places serious stress on the MFT trainee in being able to produce quality work and develop advanced clinical skills. Some semesters and summers are more intense than others. Much of the skills and knowledge obtained in the program is contingent upon how dedicated one is to learning the professional literature and the nature of the clinical environment.
This is a full-time program and the cohort start their classes together at the beginning of June. The cohort work closely together over 2 years and 3 summers. No part-time option is available at this time.
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.
Classes are grouped as a “cohort” and students complete all classes together. Each Cohort consists of approximately 30 students per class. The first classes in the summer begin in a block format (6- to 8-hour blocks) and students participate in face-to-face learning using an experiential approach. Some classes are conducted in a circle format. Other classes include small practicums (6 people) where trainees deliver therapy services to clients under live supervision. There are also traditional lectures, small group collaborative learning, and field-work training experience.
There will be predetermined classes and schedules for each semester. Class spots are reserved for each student during registration. Students are expected to register for all required classes. Add codes to enroll in classes are typically sent out via email prior to registration times.
Class times will vary from semester to semester. All scheduling information will be provided to students via email. Students will stay predominately with their cohort throughout the entire program. In a small number of cases, classes may include more than one cohort.
Class times fluctuate by semester. As a full time program classes may be held at any time Monday through Friday. Many of the classes are in the evening in the first year. Occasionally, there are one-day courses held sometime on a weekend.

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

Academic FAQs

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.
  • Multicultural/ 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.

Application FAQs

You will submit 2 applications:

  1. Cal State Application 
  2. 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.

There are no specific coursework or degrees required to apply to the MFT program.

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.

We do not have a minimum GRE score required, and do not keep a record of the average scores of admitted students as we look at the application package as a whole rather than just the numbers. We also do not require the GRE Psychology test.

Some applicants may already have graduate degrees or PhDs. In these cases, the GRE requirement may sometimes be waived by the Admissions Office. To find out if you meet this criteria, please contact [email protected]

For more details on graduate admissions, please see SDSU Graduate Admissions.

Orientations with faculty are held twice in the fall. Email [email protected] for information or check our program's homepage for dates.

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.

Yes. Please submit official scores to San Diego State University and self-report on our online department application.
Persons with graduate degrees from schools that are institutional members of the Council of Graduate Schools are not required to take the GREs.
Approximately 15-20% of applicants are accepted into the program.
You must apply to the program as a new student. Up to 9 approved units can be awarded to transfer students in they have the necessary content.
You will find information about the admissions process to the university for international students at SDSU's International Student Center.
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.

The MFT program offers trainees clinical sites that provide a range of different experiences and a variety of populations to work with. The program will assist students in gaining a placement and is proactive in terms of helping trainees find what fits best. Our current trainees are providing clinical services at our clinic (CCCE), Project IMPACT, St. Vincent De Paul, three High Schools, a Middle School and four elementary schools, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, San Diego Hospice, CCCE In-home therapy, YMCA, Breaking Cycles, Human Resource Associations, License to Freedom, Families Forward, Mental Health Systems and more.
The initial summer semester entails rigorous coursework, which is designed to best prepare students for working with clients. The sites students will be working with understand the experience level and are eager to work with students at their own pace. Supervisors will be assigned to each site and help in anyway they can. Many of the sites offered to our students tend to work with underserved populations that lack mental health services. Many of the sites are thrilled to have MFT students become a part of their team to assist clients who would not otherwise have access to these services.

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). Relational hours are doubled, requiring students to only need 100 hours which will later double to 200. 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.

Finance & Tuition FAQs

See the SDSU tuition and costs page for details. Tuition is subject to change. Contact the Office of Admissions for up to date information.

Historically, California residents can expect to pay approximately $4,016 (fall 2013 tuition) for basic tuition as a full time student (6.1 units or more) during Fall and Spring semesters.

Summer tuition is depended on the number of units taken.

For further questions contact Student Account Services: 619-594-5253

Merit-based and need-based scholarships are available, as well as financial aid. See the College of Education's Financial Aid & Scholarships page for more information.
You could  find opportunities to get Teaching Assistantship, Graduate Assistantship or Research Assistantship positions when you connect with a faculty here who are involved in projects with budgets--these are available based on their individual grants and projects. You can inquire about them by contacting the faculty directly or in person when you are a student in the program.