Get more information

Loading...

PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy (PhD-MFT)

3
Years to complete
60 credit hours
On-Campus
Apprentice model
With online options
$760
Per credit hour
10% partner discount

Become an advanced clinician and leader in your field

Combine research and clinical experience

Mount Mercy University’s PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy (PHD-MFT) provides personalized and student-driven learning following a unique apprenticeship-mentor model.

Our marriage and family therapy doctoral degree is designed to provide both research-based classes and clinical experiences through our on-site Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic.

Earn your PhD in marriage and family therapy from Mount Mercy, and help individuals and families live more productive lives.

What can you do with a doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy?

Through our PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy, you’ll gain the necessary skills to be a research-informed, advanced clinician and leader.

Mount Mercy’s PhD in Marriage & family Therapy is one of only a few programs with an underpinning in neuroscience. Here’s why this is important: Neuroscientific discoveries about the brain can lead to greater awareness of how environment and culture shape the individual—a critical foundation for marriage and family therapists.

Why a PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy from Mount Mercy?

PhD in marriage and family therapy programs are not all the same.

We provide leadership skills and advanced clinical skills that truly set our students apart. And all mental health provider license types are accepted—not just MFTs—with no GRE required. 

Our marriage and family therapy doctorate program is distinguished by three specialization tracks: Neuroscience and Psychophysiology, Leadership and Social Justice, and Advanced Couples Therapy.

  • Experience a curriculum that keeps pace with the times
  • Learn from practicing professionals
  • Join a supportive cohort that reinforces and celebrates belonging and diversity
  • Gain critical professional experience in our on-site Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic

As you work toward your doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy, you’ll advance your expertise and grow as a leader in the field.

Earn your marriage and family therapy doctorate degree on your schedule

Enjoy the flexibility to earn your doctorate degree in marriage and family therapy with a format that helps you balance work, school, and all your other responsibilities.

  • No GRE required
  • Flexible and part-time paths
  • Evening classes
  • 5- and 10-week classes
  • On-campus and online (live) classes
  • Complete your marriage and family therapy doctoral degree in three years

Lauren Wood

I’ve been very blessed with the faculty at Mount Mercy because they understand my goals, allow me to establish goals for myself and my practice, and work to support me—as opposed to other university systems that are not student-centered.

What can you do in our PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy program?

Our doctorate degree in marriage and family therapy combines classroom learning with hands-on clinical experience. Collaborate with professors who are practicing professionals. Gain beyond-the-classroom learning in our Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic.

Our PhD-MFT provides individualized and student-driven learning, allowing you to work alongside faculty within a highly personalized environment.

Meet our faculty

Customize your doctorate degree in education

Our PhD program is set apart by three specialization tracks:

Neuroscience and Psychophysiology

Learn how neurological and psychophysiological knowledge and skill can make you a stronger mental health care professional in this leading-edge area of comprehensive, integrated care. We integrate EEG and neurofeedback within our curriculum.

Leadership and Social Justice

Develop and enhance your ability to apply systematic principles in the context of mental health leadership and social justice advocacy. As you do, you’ll improve and enrich mental health care services in our communities.

Advanced Couples Therapy

Deliver quality and effective couples therapy in a wide range of challenging situations by cultivating knowledge and skills related to this dynamic area of clinical practice. The program prepares you to provide advanced clinical services for individuals, couples, and families.

What courses will I take?

Courses

MF 503 Family Systems: 3 semester hours

Marriage and family therapists emphasize the systemic viewpoint of human functioning, which hold that the individual is influenced in important ways by the family, then extended family and the society surrounding him or her. This course studies the family as a system, including family life cycle stages, tasks and difficulties. Communication patterns and interpersonal perceptions and expectations make up a large part of the therapeutic focus of marriage and family therapy. Students will be able to articulate how the systemic viewpoint differs from individual models of human functioning, and how the systemic model would conceptualize the goals of therapy, the process of change and the role of the therapist.

MF 518 Models of Marriage and Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This graduate seminar is designed to introduce models of marriage and family therapy. These include strategic, structural, Bowen, intergenerational, contextual, communications, behavioral, cognitive, object relations, solution-focused, narrative, and collaborative language systems. Current trends in assessment and intervention in marriage and family therapy will also be covered. If a student has not taken an undergraduate course in individual theories of counseling and psychotherapy, supplemental reading will be expected. Students will be able to conceptualize cases from each perspective, stating the goals of therapy, the process of change and the role of the therapist.

MF 524 Human Development and the Family: 3 semester hours

This course is designed to supplement material taught in lifespan development, PS 124 Developmental Psychology (or equivalent). The course is designed to emphasize how developmental issues impact systems, especially families. The course will emphasize the family life cycle and family subsystems. Students will be able to describe their own developmental path, as well as the predicted outcome of several developmental issues.

MF 545 Micro-Counseling: 3 semester hours

This experientially-based course will review the values, knowledge and skills necessary to work theoretically with individuals, counselors and families. Counseling practice with peers and community volunteers is required. If a student has not taken an undergraduate course in basic counseling skills, supplemental reading an practice will be required. Students will be able to demonstrate listening and basic helping skills.

MF 546 Pre-Practicum: 3 semester hours

This course is designed as an orientation to the clinic, including observation of counseling through a one-way mirror, or by way of a video camera. Students also discuss cases, learn a model for an intake interview, demonstrate skill in conducting an intake interview and learn to write case notes. Prerequisites: MF 518, MF 524 and MF 545.

MF 550 Systemic Sex Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course is designed to supplement material taught in SW 250 Human Sexuality (or equivalent). The course is designed to emphasize how normal and abnormal sexuality affect family systems, including sexual addiction. If a student has not taken an undergraduate course in human sexuality, supplemental reading will be expected. Students will be able to describe the categories of sexual disorders and interventions to treat them, as well as stating strategies for sexual enrichment.

MF 569 Ethical and Professional Issues in Marriage and Family Counseling: 3 semester hours

This course deals with ethical, legal and professional responsibilities of MFT counselors. The ethical code of the AAMFT will be examined and ethical dilemmas will be discussed. Students will examine legal responsibilities and liabilities of MFTs, issues in independent practice and the role of the professional organization. Students will be able to state categories of ethical concerns and apply ethical principles to hypothetical cases. They will be able to state legal responsibilities of MFTs and apply the law to hypothetical cases.

MF 571 Introduction to Play Therapy & Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course offers an overview of the essential elements and principles of play therapy. The course will address both theoretical and practical interventions for using play therapy in the treatment of a variety of presenting problems. This course will include a review of the history of play therapy and the profession, the role of the play therapist in a variety of settings. Participants will discover basic and advanced play therapy techniques. In addition, the process for becoming credentialed as a play therapist will be examined along with the increasing international demand for therapists with specialization in play therapy. Students will be introduced to the Association for Play Therapy and the State of Iowa branch for play therapy.

MF 582 Models of Couples Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course focuses on dynamics in dyadic relationships. A variety of therapeutic interventions and therapeutic models intended to enhance and improve couples' relationships will be examined. Special attention will be given to Evidence Based Methods (Gottman and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, Johnson). Marital Enrichment and pre-marital programs will also be considered.

MF 590 Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy I: 4 semester hours

The practicum courses are intended to place the student in a professional counseling setting where they will provide direct client services under the supervision of a licensed mental health care provider. Students will be encourages to develop sites that are of particular interest to them or to choose from a list of approved sites. Students will be required to accumulate 300 direct client contact hours providing therapeutic services and a minimum of 60 hours of supervision over the course of three courses. In addition to on-site supervision students will receive supervision in a weekly group supervision section at the University.

MF 602 The Cross-Cultural Family: 3 semester hours

This course will examine the impact of culture on individual and family functioning. The course will emphasize the family in social context, both historically and contemporarily. It will study the impact of changing social conditions on individual and family functioning. Students will be able to describe how culture has impacted him/herself, as well as hypothetical clients.

MF 605 Neuroscience for Marriage and Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course will introduce students to the basic facts of developmental neurobiology, brain structure, relation of structure to function and the physiological and psychological effects of environment on the brain. Special emphasis will be placed on the reciprocal influence of relationships on brain development and the influence of brain development on relationships and their effects on couples and families.

MF 610 Treatment of Substance Abuse with Marriage and Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course will introduce students to the basic theoretical and practical dimensions of Marriage and Family Therapy in the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders (SA). The course will examine the etiology, progression and short and long term effects of SA on individuals, families and society. Traditional and investigational models of SA treatment will be discussed and opportunities for assessment, treatment planning and treatment options will be provided.

MF 626 Psychopathology and the Family: 3 semester hours

This course will provide systemic and relational perspectives for the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of the American Psychological Association (DSM) as well as an introduction to the how the DSM is organized and the diagnostic categories and content of the Manual. A biopsychosocial and systemic framework will be utilized to conceptualize and understand the cause and effect of mental illness as well as alternative conceptualizations of mental illness from a systemic epistemology. Students will be able to describe the symptoms of major categories of mental illness, distinguish between different diagnostic categories and demonstrate competence in assigning DSM diagnoses and relating those diagnoses to relational and family issues.

MF 630 Trauma, Violence & Addiction: 3 semester hours

This course will explore a foundational understanding for working with clients that have presenting concerns of current or historical trauma, violence and addiction. This course will highlight some of the neurobiology/physiological underpinnings of trauma, violence and addiction and their interrelatedness. This course will also explore traditional and systemic frameworks for assessment and treatment and building resource connections with the community at large. Prerequisites: MF 503, MF 518, MF 569, MF 626.

MF 640 Research Methods for Marriage and Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course will introduce students to basic research methods in the social sciences, research methods used predominantly in MFT, and exposure to both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Students will be able to access, read and interpret research articles in primary MFT and related mental health journals in order to critically evaluate and apply research findings to clinical practice.

MF 647 Medical Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

Extant research and practice suggests that integrating medical and psychotherapy services significantly improves treatment outcomes, patient health, and provider satisfaction. Consequently, there is burgeoning interest—locally and nationally—in developing and maintaining better integrated healthcare services within outpatient and inpatient medical settings. In this course, you will examine the theoretical frameworks that inform medical family therapists, study and apply a psychosocial typology for understanding chronic and acute illness, and you will practice the skills and techniques required to succeed as a systemic therapist practicing within integrated medical teams. Further, you will examine how your own experiences with illness have shaped your self of the therapist.

MF 655 Spirituality and the Family: 3 semester hours

This course will explore the place of spirituality in the family functioning, including mindfulness, meditative practice, spiritual disciplines and forgiveness. The role of spirituality in mental health, addictive behavior and substance abuse will be explored. Interventions with a spiritual focus will be addressed. Students will state how spirituality affects their own functioning, as well as describing how a hypothetical family is affected by spiritual issues.

MF 665 Applications of Play Therapy: 3 semester hours

Applications of Play Therapy will provide students with the opportunity to further their education and training in play therapy following completion of the course MF 571. Students will learn and practice a variety of evidence based play therapy theories such as Adlerian Play Therapy, Filial, Theraplay, and Sand Tray Therapy. Students will learn how to discern which theories to use based on child and family assessment, how to apply theories and interventions, treatment planning and how to work through the stages of therapy with each specific approach. Prerequisite: MF 571.

MF 671 Therapeutic Techniques with Parents and Children: 3 semester hours

This course covers interventions in families with children and teens. Students will be trained in assessment of children and adolescents, and in therapeutic techniques in families, such as parent education, behavior modification and play therapy. Students will be able to conceptualize cases from each perspective, including describing interventions from that perspective.

MF 690 Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy II: 4 semester hours

The practicum courses are intended to place the student in a professional counseling setting where they will provide direct client services under the supervision of a licensed mental health care provider. Students will be encourages to develop sites that are of particular interest to them or to choose from a list of approved sites. Students will be required to accumulate 300 direct client contact hours providing therapeutic services and a minimum of 60 hours of supervision over the course of three courses. In addition to on-site supervision students will receive supervision in a weekly group supervision section at the University.

MF 692 Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy III: 4 semester hours

The practicum courses are intended to place the student in a professional counseling setting where they will provide direct client services under the supervision of a licensed mental health care provider. Students will be encourages to develop sites that are of particular interest to them or to choose from a list of approved sites. Students will be required to accumulate 300 direct client contact hours providing therapeutic services and a minimum of 60 hours of supervision over the course of three courses. In addition to on-site supervision students will receive supervision in a weekly group supervision section at the University.

MF 695 Thesis: 3 semester hours

The thesis is a culminating experience that provides a record of a student's achievement in the program. The thesis requires research leading to the discovery of new knowledge or enhancement of existing knowledge in the field of interest. A project that helps solve a practical problem may also be acceptable. The thesis is a complete documentation of the research study, including the theoretical back-ground, description of the problem, the method used to investigate or solve the problem, presentation of results, interpretation of results, and explanation of the significance of the results. The thesis is optional but is recommended for students considering an advance degree.

MF 699 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

If a student wishes to independently study or research a particular topic, he/she may propose to work with an appropriate faculty member within their discipline. No more than 2 courses may be taken as independent study by any student.

MF 700 MFT Practicum IV: 1 semester hour

MF 700 - 703 are designed to provide additional registrations for students who do not complete the required number of hours during the regular sequence of practicum courses. Students select the course number based on the number of hours remaining to be acquired.

MF 701 MFT Practicum IV: 1 semester hour

MF 700 - 703 are designed to provide additional registrations for students who do not complete the required number of hours during the regular sequence of practicum courses. Students select the course number based on the number of hours remaining to be acquired.

MF 702 MFT Practicum IV: 2 semester hours

MF 700 - 703 are designed to provide additional registrations for students who do not complete the required number of hours during the regular sequence of practicum courses. Students select the course number based on the number of hours remaining to be acquired.

MF 703 MFT Practicum IV: 3 semester hours

MF 700 - 703 are designed to provide additional registrations for students who do not complete the required number of hours during the regular sequence of practicum courses. Students select the course number based on the number of hours remaining to be acquired.

MF 704 Advanced Family Systems: 3 semester hours

Advanced Family Systems will provide an in depth analysis and integration of primary sources and advanced theoretical discussion and application of systemic epistemology as applied to MFT theories.

MF 718 Advanced Models of MFT: 3 semester hours

This course will offer students the experience of applying and integrating advanced thinking and analytic skills to the practice of family therapy. The course will integrate advanced knowledge with practice through clinical experiences and teaching of theories.

MF 740 Advanced Research Methods I: 3 semester hours

This course will introduce students to basic research methods in the social sciences. If a student has not had a graduate research methods course, supplemental reading will be expected. Students will be able to access, read, and interpret research articles in primary counseling journals in order to evaluate evidence based best practices in counseling and therapy. In addition, students will learn the basics of statistical procedures and multiple research methodologies including quantitative and qualitative. Students will be able to design and interpret a basic research study.

MF 750 Professional and Community Leadership in MFT: 3 semester hours

Professional and Community Leadership in MFT will provide students with the skills, knowledge and tools to integrate systemic principles and analysis into leadership roles in Mental Health and in particular leadership advocacy for MFTs and systemic theory and therapy in organizations. As a specialization course within the Leadership specialization in the DMFT program this course will provide essential knowledge for those seeking to increase their position in the field.

MF 755 Advanced Spirituality and the Family: 3 semester hours

Advanced Spirituality in MFT will offer students the opportunity to direct and develop spiritual and holistic interventions and experiences for themselves and clients. A deep integration of alternative and complimentary healing strategies will be presented.

MF 760 Gender Affirming Couple and Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

This course is designed to deepen students’ understanding of best practices for offering gender affirming care for transgender and gender non-binary individuals and their couple and/or family system. Students will be challenged to deconstruct gender norms, learn best practices for supporting youth and adults in exploring their gender identity and expression, and learn how to assist parents and partners in exploring what it means to be transgender or gender non-binary. Students will learn the GRACE model, a family therapy model for transgender youth and their families. Student will explore the intersectionality of gender diversity and neuro divergence. Students will also explore how to assist couples and families in navigating social and medical transitions and ways to best support their child or partner.

MF 769 Advanced Ethics and Professional Issues in MFT: 3 semester hours

Advanced Family Therapy will offer students the experience of applying and integrating advanced thinking and analytic skills to the practice of family therapy. The course will integrate advanced knowledge with practice through clinical experiences and teaching of theories.

MF 782 Advanced Models of Couples Therapy: 3 semester hours

Advanced Models of Couples Therapy will provide an opportunity to become proficient in the application and function of models of couple’s therapy beyond the introductory level of the master’s class. Students will have the opportunity to integrate theory with practice in class role plays and in actual client contact in the clinic. Students who have not had the Master’s level introductory courses will have to do additional readings and in class work to demonstrate competency.

MF 802 Advanced Cross Cultural Families: 3 semester hours

This course will take a deeper dive beyond the introductory level of the master class, examining the impact of cross-cultural factors and social justice issues on the individual and family functioning of the clients we serve. The course will emphasize the family in social context, both historically and contemporarily. It will study the impact of changing social conditions on individual and family functioning. Students will connect these cultural factors and issues of social justice to the professional mandate as a Marriage and Family Therapist in our code of ethics of the “commitment to service, advocacy, and public participation. The areas of service, advocacy, and public participation are recognized as responsibilities to the profession equal in importance to all other aspects (AAMFT, 2015)”. This will be demonstrated by identifying cultural factors or social justice needs in our community and completing a service or advocacy project to address it as the capstone of this course. Students who have not had the Master’s level introductory courses will have to do additional readings and in class work to demonstrate competency.

MF 805 Neurophysiological Essentials for Treatment: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on the knowledge needed to assess and design treatment protocols for application of EEG Biofeedback. Emphasis will be placed on the functional aspects of the brain, especially as measured by EEG. Detailed knowledge of how the brain produces, uses, and integrates electrical aspects into human abilities and normal function will be gained. The ability to discern how and where and in what ways dysfunction in electrical function interferes with normal function will also be discovered. Basic knowledge of brain structure, integration with other physical systems, effects of injury and disease and effects of medication and relational aspects will all be discussed and integrated into a model for effective intervention.

MF 811 Mental Health Public Policy: 3 semester hours

This course will consist of an advanced examination of mental health public policy and the impact of policy on mental health care. This will include examining the implications for mental health access, funding, and services delivery based on local and national policy initiatives. The course will consider these topics through a social justice lens to identify the systemic and cultural implications of public policy on maintaining systems of oppression within the context of mental health policy and practice. Students will also gain advanced knowledge of policy-making within the field of marriage and family therapy. The advocacy and policy efforts of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). This course will prepare students to fulfill the ethical mandate of marriage and family therapists to maintain a “commitment to service, advocacy, and public participation. The areas of service, advocacy, and public participation are recognized as responsibilities to the profession equal in importance to all other aspects (AAMFT, 2015)”.

MF 820 Communication Processes in Couples: 3 semester hours

This course will enable students to observe, analyze and intervene in the communication processes of couples. Principles of communication theory and systemic processes of communication will be studied and applied to intimate human communication with the intent of being able to interrupt or modify dysfunctional patterns and establish healthy ones.

MF 822 Attachment and Differentiation in Couple Therapy: 3 semester hours

A growing body of research over the past 60 years has compelled counselors, therapists and psychologists to take into account the experience of attachment and differentiation in individuals and families. Additional study has revealed that the influence of attachment and differentiation on individual development has a profound effect on how a couple is able to form and provide healthy interactions and human bonding. This course will seek to better understand how attachment theory is integral to couple’s happiness and function. It will also examine how to use this understanding to best effect change and growth is distressed or unhappy couples.

MF 823 Couples in Crisis: 3 semester hours

MFTs tend to experience two sorts of couples as initiators or seekers of therapy. One type realizes that things are not going as well as they might and they are unhappy and the seek therapy as a possible resource to improve their relationship. Another type of couple is one that is in severe crisis and who present as needing a sort of “emergency” treatment. This may be as a result of domestic violence, a trauma experienced by one or another of the members, a sudden and unexpected shift in attachment and relationship. This course will train students to know how to assess and intervene in “emergency” situations presented by the second type of client. Students will learn what theories are most suited, what things to be cautious of, when to refer for more extensive or perhaps medical treatment and the all-important, when to say no.

MF 840 Advanced Research Methods II: 3 semester hours

In this course students will move from a basic understanding of research to full implementation and analysis. Students will design, interpret and complete an independent research project that was conceptualized in the first research course. Students will be required to understand and apply statistical or qualitative methodology appropriate to a wide range of projects, as well as demonstrate knowledge of alternative methods and research principles. The course focuses heavily on appropriate data analysis and interpretation of results. Prerequsite: MF 740.

MF 841 Neuroscience and Emotional Regulation: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on attachment influences on behavior throughout the life cycle, with an emphasis on concomitantly changing neuroscience. The course will give students the opportunity to inquire into relationships from both an emotional and neuroscientific stance. The course will examine attachment with respect to etiology, intervention, assessment and diagnosis, and treatment from a systemic perspective. In addition the course will include discussion about evaluation of study designs and outcomes.

MF 843 Complementary and Alternative Healthcare: 3 semester hours

Students in this course will have the opportunity to learn about and experience some of the many complementary and alternative healthcare practices. Mental health care has been involved in integrating a wider range of healing practices into standard mental health care efforts. These include meditation, breath work, acupuncture, neuroscience, supplements, nutrition and diet, and exercise. Students will learn more about these and other practices, how they work, the mechanisms of effect and how to integrate them into MFT. The class will include both theoretical and experiential aspects.

MF 844 Principles and Application of Neurofeedback: 3 semester hours

This course will enable students to record, analyze, interpret and apply EEG recordings in order to design and apply protocols to address and change dysfunctional EEG patterns related to distressing symptoms of mental or physical dysfunction. Students will have a hands-on opportunity to set-up and record 19 channel EEG. They will learn to analyze the EEG using computer based normed databases and determine specific training protocols for the individual. They will learn to apply the protocols through individual electrodes or with full cap 19 channel LORETA z score training. They will learn how to provide ongoing assessment and follow-up to insure effective outcomes.

MF 847 Advanced Medical Family Therapy: 3 semester hours

Extant research and practice suggests that integrating medical and psychotherapy services significantly improves treatment outcomes, patient health, and provider satisfaction. Consequently, there is burgeoning interest—locally and nationally—in developing and maintaining better integrated healthcare services within outpatient and inpatient medical settings. In this course, you will be have opportunities to teach masters level graduate students on topics related to medical family therapy. Further, you will demonstrate how you are integrating hallmarks of medical family therapy—collaboration, systemic conceptualization of disease, innovation—into your clinical practice. Finally, you will identify gaps in the research of medical family therapy and will design a related study.

MF 890 Internship I: 4 semester hours

Internship is an application course in which students provide clinical services independently while under the supervision of assigned faculty or other designated supervisors with appropriate experience and credentials. Students will have the opportunity to provide and practice a variety of clinical skills and theories to community members who come to the Olson Clinic for issues and problems in their lives. Continued enrollment is required each term of attendance (fall, spring, summer) once course is begun until successful completion.

MF 891 Internship II: 4 semester hours

Internship is a non-academic course in which students provide clinical services independently while under the supervision of assigned faculty or other designated supervisors with appropriate experience and credentials. Students will have the opportunity to provide and practice a variety of clinical skills and theories to community members who come to the Olson Clinic for issues and problems in their lives. Continued enrollment is required each term of attendance (fall, spring, summer) once course is begun until successful completion.

MF 892 Internship III: 4 semester hours

Internship is an application course in which students provide clinical services independently while under the supervision of assigned faculty or other designated supervisors with appropriate experience and credentials. Students will have the opportunity to provide and practice a variety of clinical skills and theories to community members who come to the Olson Clinic for issues and problems in their lives. Continued enrollment is required each term of attendance (fall, spring, summer) once course is begun until successful completion.

MF 895 Dissertation: 11 semester hours

Dissertation/capstone project is the culmination of doctoral studies. Students will be required to enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours. Students will choose a mentor who will serve as their dissertation/project advisor. Generally, this would be the faculty member in their area of specialization. The student will work closely with their mentor in the design, implementation and completion of their dissertation, research or project. The student will also solicit a committee to aid in the direction and evaluation of the dissertation/research/project. The final results will be presented in a public oral presentation/defense. Continued enrollment is required each term of attendance (fall, spring, summer) once course is begun until successful completion. Course can be taken for a range of 1 - 11 hours. Prerequisite: Completion of all required program coursework.

MF 896 Dissertation Continuation: 1 semester hour

Students will take one credit hour of dissertation continuation until the dissertation has been successfully completed and approved by the student’s dissertation chair and committee. Students must maintain continuous enrollment in dissertation to satisfy program requirements for graduation. Prerequisite: Completion of all required program coursework.

MF 897 Dissertation Defense: 1 semester hour

This course is required for students who have completed at least 11 hours of dissertation direction in order to complete their defense. Prerequisite: Completion of all required program coursework.

What will you learn in our PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy program?

In our marriage and family therapy doctorate program, take essential core courses such as Advanced Systems Theory, Advanced Family Therapy Models, Advanced Ethics, and Advanced Research.

Explore both qualitative and quantitative methods—building your skills along the way. Four courses from your chosen track and one elective from the other tracks help you focus on your goals.

How can I afford a PhD in marriage and family therapy?

PhD-MFT Fellowship Program: Fund your PhD by serving your community.

What you do:
  • Provide up to 15 hours of therapy through a community partner
  • Teach a master's or undergraduate level course
What you get:
  • Full funding for your PhD
  • Up to $12,000 stipend

You may be eligible for scholarships and loan programs.

The first step is to complete your FAFSA, which helps determine state and federal aid available to you. Our federal school code is 001880. Contact our Financial Aid Office with any questions.

Get started on your marriage and family therapy doctoral degree

Applications are accepted and reviewed year-round for our August start. Our graduate admissions team is here to help you reach your educational goals and answer your questions.

If you have any questions about applying, please contact Ciji Fox, graduate program recruiter for Marriage and Family Therapy.

  • Complete your application
    • We will begin reviewing applications for the 2024 doctoral cohort in February of 2023. Applications should be submitted no later than March 15.
  • Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Email to gradprograms@ay-yasida.com or mail to:

    Graduate Programs
    Mount Mercy University
    1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-4797
  • Hold a master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university or an equivalent degree from an accredited institution outside the United States. Documentation of degree equivalencies must be submitted by an agency authorized to do so.

  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 in graduate level coursework.

  • Submit the names and contact information for three individuals who can speak to your ability to succeed in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. (See application for further instruction).

  • Personal interview with program faculty.
  • No GRE required. All mental health provider license types are accepted, not just MFTs.