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.

The PhD in Family Therapy requires 69 semester hours of courses beyond the master’s degree. The doctoral degree plan must contain at least 90 graduate hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. At least 30 of the 90 hours must be research courses, including the university requirement of 12 semester hours of Research Tool courses or competencies, as approved by the majority of the student’s doctoral committee.  

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.) At least 30 of the 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 advisory committee 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.

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 dismissed 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.

Comprehensive Exams

All Family Therapy students are required to complete all course work on the degree plan with passing grades prior to taking comprehensive examinations. A student should enroll for the first semester of dissertation (FS 6983) during the semester when the comprehensive examination is taken.

The comprehensive exam covers all courses listed on the student’s degree plan. Students who pass the AMFTRB National Examination in Marriage and Family Therapy are exempt from a portion of comprehensive exams. The exams 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 business days. The written and oral exams may only be repeated one time. Failure to pass this exam results in dismissal from the program. 

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. Failure to pass this exam results in dismissal from the program. 

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. In addition, students must have completed an internship experience in their Master's degree program (minimum of 12 credit hours across 12 months & 300 (150 relational) direct client contact hours).
Lifespan Human Development
Family Sexuality
Theories of the Family
Statistics for Research in Family Sciences
Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Planning for Counselors
Multicultural Counseling
Research Methods in Family Sciences
Principles of Couple Therapy
Foundations of Family Therapy Theory
Family Systems
Family of Origin
Issues and Ethics in Professional Development
Health, Illness, and Families
Systemic Clinical Theory & Applications to Contemporary Challenges (9 hours)
FS 6243Advanced Applications of Family Therapy to Contemporary Challenges3
FS 6563Family Therapy II (Advanced Family Therapy Theory)3
FS 6863Family Financial Counseling3
Foundations of Teaching, Supervision, & Leadership (9 hours)
FS 6253Supervision in Family Therapy (Application required, with minimum of 100 relational client contact hours and instructor approval)3
FS 6343Effective College Teaching Methods3
FS 6433Grants Writing in Family Sciences3
Advanced Research (21 hours)
FS 6003Advanced Study of the Lifespan3
FS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences3
FS 6403Theory Building in Family Sciences3
FS 6443Research and Issues in Family Sciences3
FS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
FS 6893Multivariate Statistics3
Electives (18 hours)18
Students must select a minimum of 18 hours in electives, meeting the following requirements:
Special Topics in Family Therapy (6 hours) Examples:
Special Topics (Social Context and Health)
Special Topics (Advanced Research Methods in Marriage and Family Therapy)
Specialty Area/Career Goals electives (6 hours) Examples:
Academic Life and Scholarship
Psychopathology and Exceptionalities in Childhood and Adolescence
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Therapeutic and Crisis Interventions for Children and Adolescents
Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders In Children
Cross Cultural Psychology
Social Epidemiology
Foundations of Health Science
Health Advocacy and Leadership
Strategies in Health Education Delivery
History of Health and Medicine
Principles and Methods of Teaching Health Professionals
Global Health
Environmental Health
Seminar on Sociological Theory
Seminar on Social Organization and Disorganization
Research Methods and Data Analytic electives (6 hours) Examples:
Special Topics (Structural Equation Modeling & Dyadic Analysis)
Data Collection and Analysis
Qualitative Research
Advanced Qualitative Research Design and Analysis
Qualitative Research Methods
Seminar on Research Methods
Quantitative Methods and Design
Students should consult with their major advisor and the Doctoral Student Handbook when selecting electives. All electives must be approved by the student’s doctoral degree plan committee prior to enrolling in the courses.
Advanced Experience (6 hours)
FS 6913Independent Study (Advanced Practical Experience in Family Therapy Choose two of the following areas: Supervision, Advanced Research, Teaching, Advanced Clinical Theory & Practice, Grant Writing)3
FS 6913Independent Study (Advanced Practical Experience in Family Therapy)3
See Advanced Practical Experience section in Doctoral Student Handbook for application and course requirements.
Dissertation (6 hours)
FS 6983Dissertation3
FS 6993Dissertation3
Students are expected to complete their formal degree plan during a meeting with their major advisor and doctoral committee before completing 15 hours of courses.