Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy

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All degree plans are developed in consultation with the student's advisory committee and are based on current departmental requirements as well as individual student needs and objectives.  No grade below B is accepted toward the doctoral degrees described below.

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 90 semester credit hours above the bachelor’s degree, including 6 semester credit hours for dissertation. (Proficiency in statistics is required as part of the program, including completion of a 6000-level statistics course.) 30 of 90 hours must be research courses. Consult with advisor for appropriate/approved research courses.


Two-thirds of the total semester credit hours will determine the major.

Note: The specific course requirements and total semester credit hours are developed in cooperation with and approved in a meeting of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The department chair also approves individual doctoral degree plans based on current departmental requirements.  If a grade of C or below is earned two times while in any Family Sciences doctoral program, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Research Tools

The Department of Family Sciences requirement is currently consistent with the university requirements as described in the Graduate School General Requirements section of this catalog. Check with the department for any possible additions in acceptable courses to meet the research tool requirement. These requirements of 12 student credit hours are a part of the 90 semester credit hours minimum described above and are included in the 30 hours of research courses required.

Qualifying Exams

A student seeking the doctoral degree in Family Studies must take a 4-part First Year Program Examination in Family Studies before completing 18 semester credit hours. An acceptable passing score for each section is required.  Only one re-take is allowed.

All students are required to complete all course work on the degree plan prior to taking qualifying examinations. The only exception to this rule is that a Family Therapy student may complete the final semester of internship during the semester when the qualifying examination is taken. A student should enroll for the first semester of dissertation (FS 6983) during the semester when the qualifying examination is taken.

Family Studies and Family Therapy students will take a three-day written comprehensive qualifying exam that is two-thirds on the major and one-third on the minor or related field. The exam will be prepared by the chair of the advisory committee from questions submitted by the committee members. An oral exam and debriefing will follow successful completion of the written exam, normally within 10 days. The written and oral examination may be repeated one time.

Early Childhood Development and Education students will take a two-day written comprehensive qualifying exam administered on campus.  Upon successfully passing the exam, students will be given five days to write a research proposal, which they will defend at an oral examination. Details of the examination procedure and expectations can be found on the ECDE website .  Both written and oral examinations may only be repeated one time.

Final Examination

A comprehensive oral examination will include a defense of the dissertation and the research on which it is based, as well as questions concerning the major. The final examination may only be repeated one time.

Committee Requirements

Dissertation Committee

All dissertation committees are comprised of a minimum of three graduate faculty members.  At least two of the committee members must represent the major discipline (component). The committee chair must have full graduate faculty standing.  Additional committee voting members must have associate or full graduate faculty standing. 

External committee members may be requested by the committee chair by submitting a CV and request to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval.  They serve in addition to the required three member committee as an ex-officio committee member.

Degree Plan Committee

All degree plan committees are composed of five graduate faculty members. 

Criminal Background Check

Passing a criminal background check may be required by TWU and/or certain facilities associated with the required clinical work or for certifications/licensures. If students are unable to be cleared on any of these requirements, they may not be eligible to continue in the program or become certified/licensed.

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy Program of Study (90 semester credit hours, including relevant master's coursework)

The following prerequisite courses, or reasonable equivalents, will be completed in the student’s Master's degree program; if not, they must be taken during the Family Therapy doctoral degree program.
Lifespan Human Development
Family Sexuality
Theories of the Family
Statistics for Research in Family Sciences
Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning for Counselors
Research Methods in Family Sciences
Health, Illness, and Families
Family Therapy Core (24 hours)
FS 5553Principles of Couple Therapy3
FS 5563Family Therapy I3
FS 5853Family Systems3
FS 5883Family of Origin3
FS 6233Issues and Ethics in Professional Development3
FS 6243Theories and Strategies for Intervention In Family Therapy3
FS 6563Family Therapy II3
FS 6863Family Financial Counseling3
Professional Competencies (19 hours)
FS 6343Effective College Teaching Methods3
FS 6544Advanced Internship in Family Therapy16
Research Core (15 hours)
FS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6873Applied Multivariate Statistics for Family Sciences3
FS 6983Dissertation3
FS 6993Dissertation3
Doctoral Core (12 hours)
FS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan3
FS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences3
FS 6413Current Research and Issues in Family Sciences3
FS 6423Readings in Family Sciences3

Grading Specific to the Family Therapy Program

As stated earlier, all Family Therapy students are required to earn grades of "B" or better in all graduate courses.  If less than a "B" is earned, students must retake the course the next available semester the course is offered.  If a student earns two non-passing grades in any courses during their program, they will be removed from the program.  Even though students have retaken a course and earned a passing grade for one (1) course, it does not negate the consequence associated with this two non-passing grades requirement.