Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy


The Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy is committed to providing accessible and inclusive training of couple and family therapy scholars from varying backgrounds and experiences. Through active and collaborative mentorship, students engage in individualized opportunities that prepare them to be systemic leaders who serve their diverse communities as advanced clinicians, researchers, supervisors, educators, and leaders.

The Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Critically consume research literature​.
  2. Academic/scholarly writing skills​.
  3. Quantitative and qualitative research skills​.
  4. Grant writing skills.
  5. Higher education teaching skills.
  6. Clinical supervision skills


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

The academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 54 semester credit hours beyond the master's degree, including 6 semester credit hours for dissertation. 30 of the 90 credit hours must be research courses. 

Special Requirements

No grade below B is accepted towards any graduate degree in the Department of Human Development, Family Studies, and Counseling (HDFSC). If more than one grade below B is earned while enrolled in any HDFSC graduate program, the student will be dismissed from the program and will be ineligible to re-enroll in any program within the department for a period of 8 years.

The Ph.D. in Marriage & Family Therapy requires students to complete a 9-month experiential doctoral internship (MFT 6813 Advanced Practical Experience in MFT) that represents application of advanced training and contribution to the field of marriage and family therapy. The MFT program offers areas of experience consistent with COAMFTE accreditation and the program's mission, goals, and requirements, including MFT systemic supervision, teaching, advanced clinical theory and practice, grant writing, research, leadership, and policy.

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.

Degree Plan

Students must submit a degree plan which follows the degree requirements listed below. The degree plan should be developed in collaboration with the student's advisor and committee, and it should be filed after the student has completed 18 hours of course work.

Research Tools

The Department of HDFSC requires students to complete 12 hours of research tools. The department has a list of courses that meet the research tool requirement, and these courses are part of the degree requirements listed below. They are also included in the 30 hours of research focused course work required by the Graduate School.

Qualifying Exam

The Department of HDFSC administers a qualifying exam for each student prior to admission to candidacy. The student must complete the required research tools before being eligible to take the exam. Students must take the qualifying exam in their last or second-to-last semester of course work. In no case may a student be excused from the qualifying exam, and students may not register for dissertation hours (HDFS 6983 and HDFS 6993) until they have successfully passed the exam and have been admitted to candidacy. The qualifying exam may only be repeated once. Students who fail two attempts at the qualifying exam will be dismissed from the program.

Dissertation and Final Examination

All students are required to complete a dissertation. Upon completion, the student will participate in an oral defense of the dissertation and the research upon which it is based. The student's advisory committee will determine the outcome of the exam. The final examination may only be repeated one time.

Required 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 Marriage & Family Therapy doctoral degree program. These courses align with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education foundational curriculum and practice component.

  • Foundations of Relational/Systemic Practice, Theories, & Models (6 semester credit hours)
  • Clinical Treatment with Couples and Families (3 semester credit hours)
  • MFT professional identity, law, ethics, and social responsibility (3 semester credit hours)
  • Biopsychosocial health & development across the lifespan (3 semester credits hours)
  • Systemic/relational assessment & mental health diagnosis and treatment (3 semester credit hours)
  • Diverse, Multicultural and/or Underserved Communities (3 semester credit hours)
  • Master’s level Statistics (3 semester credit hours)
  • Master’s level Research Methods (3 semester credit hours)
  • Clinical Internship (minimum of 12 semester credit hours across 12 months & 300 (100 relational) direct client contact hours)
Systemic Clinical Theory & Applications to Contemporary Challenges
MFT 6243Advanced Applications of Family Therapy to Contemporary Challenges3
MFT 6563Advanced Family Therapy Theory3
MFT 6903Special Topics (Rotating topic - must be approved by advisor)3
Foundations of Teaching, Supervision, & Leadership
MFT 6253Systemic Supervision in Marriage and Family Therapy3
HDFS 6343Effective College Teaching Methods3
HDFS 6433Grants Writing in Family Sciences3
Advanced Research
HDFS 6193Advanced Statistics for Family Sciences3
HDFS 6203Frameworks and Ethics for Qualitative Research in Family Sciences3
HDFS 6693Advanced Quantitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
HDFS 6793Advanced Qualitative Research Methods In Family Sciences3
HDFS 6893Multivariate Statistics3
HDFS 6873Dyadic and Longitudinal Analyses with Structural Equation Modeling3
Select one of the following:3
Theory Building in Family Sciences
Research and Issues in Family Sciences
Specialty Area/Career Goals
All electives must be approved by the student’s doctoral degree plan committee prior to enrolling in the courses.
Select 3-4 SCH from the following3
Supervision Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy
Academic Life and Scholarship
Family Financial Counseling
Principles and Methods of Teaching for Health Professionals
Social Epidemiology
Environmental Health
Global Health
History of Medicine, Public Health, and Health Promotion
Theoretical Foundations of Health Promotion
Strategies in Health Promotion Planning and Delivery
Advocacy and Leadership in Health Promotion
Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders In Children
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Multicultural Psychology
Psychopathology and Exceptionalities in Childhood and Adolescence
Therapeutic and Crisis Interventions for Children and Adolescents
Foundations of Literacy
Nature of Literacy in the Adolescent Years
Social Psychology Theory
Advanced Experience
MFT 6813Advanced Practical Experience in Marriage and Family Therapy (two semesters)6
HDFS 6983Dissertation3
HDFS 6993Dissertation3
Total SCHs54