Marriage & Family Therapy FAQ

About Academics & Clinical Training

How large are classes?

Each cohort has 28 students.

Are professors actively involved in research? What opportunities are available for students to get involved in research?

We have three primary ongoing research projects at The Family Institute in which interested students can get involved (please see the Research section of our site for project descriptions). Other faculty members also engage in scholarly writing projects in which students can get involved. In the past, industrious students interested in PhD programs have sought out research opportunities with other professors throughout Northwestern University including the Psychology Department, School of Education and Social Policy and the Medical School.

Is a thesis required?

No

How many classes do students typically take?

Generally, 4 courses in the fall, winter and spring, and 3 courses in the summer. Your clinical internship is one of the courses

How long does the program take to complete?

The program takes two years to complete. That includes two academic years consisting of three quarters each and summer school between the two academic years.

When can students start seeing clients?

We believe in a "learn by doing" approach. Thus, our students begin seeing clients right away toward the end of the first quarter of our program.

About a Career in Marriage and Family Therapy

Should I consider marriage and family therapy if I am considering returning to graduate school?

Yes, whether you want to change careers or have had a career raising children, MFT is a great career choice. Within four years of entering graduate school, you can be fully licensed. That’s two years of graduate school and two years of pre licensure experience. That’s a fast track to a new career as a professional.

If you raised a family, your years of parenting experience will be put to great use and you will already seasoned with life experience.

If you are a career changer, you will be able to translate the interpersonal aspects of your current career directly into therapy with clients.

The Program values all forms of diversity and we aspire to have a class that has age diversity.

What can I do with an MSMFT degree?
  • Practice all forms of psychotherapy
  • Become licensed in marriage and family therapy and a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Provide qualified mental health care
  • Work in a range of educational, health and social service institutions or have a private practice
  • Pursue a doctoral degree
How does this degree and training compare to other degrees in mental health?

This program focuses on marriage and family therapy as a separate and distinct mental health discipline. The Federal government has designated marriage and family therapy as one of the five (5) core mental health professions. Currently 48 states regulate the profession by licensing marriage and family therapists. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is the association that represents the field of MFT. For more information see http://www.aamft.org.

Our program is also unique in that we use state of the art technology to perform 21st Century therapy. We have developed an integrative approach to family therapy. Please see the September 2011 issue of Family Process for a description of our approach.

We require students to obtain a minimum of 500 hours of face-to-face clinical experience, which is a higher standard of direct supervised clinical experience than is required in many other Master’s therapy-training programs. We believe this gives our students an advantage when looking for a job.

How will this program help me find a job after graduation?

The Family Institute's MSMFT Program offers a unique combination of classroom hours integrated with a minimum of 500 hours of face-to-face client work, and over 250 combined hours of group and individual supervision. Such intensive and direct involvement in clinical work and supervision often places our graduates at a distinct advantage in finding professional employment in the field. One of our Core Faculty members coordinates the Jobs Pod, which aims to provide focused career seeking resources in conjunction with the Northwestern University office of Career Advancement. Additionally, the TFI alumni board hosts an annual Career Guidance Night, which provides an opportunity for students to learn directly from the experiences of seasoned and recent alumni who are working in the field. A panel discussion on job-seeking strategies and professional opportunities for making a difference are presented in a format, which also provides active and useful alumni networking opportunities. Individualized job search networking and consultation from our staff and faculty is available to students on request. As is the individualized guidance and support at the Career Advancement office. And perhaps it goes without saying, the national prestige of Northwestern University and The Family Institute generally give our graduates a mark of distinction in any job market in the United States.

What sorts of jobs do graduates of this program typically find?

Graduates of our program report finding jobs in the following areas:

  • Community mental health centers
  • Public and faith-based family counseling centers
  • A variety of specialty treatment programs and clinics (such as eating disorders, chemical dependency)
  • Hospitals (working in inpatient or outpatient family therapy)
  • Residential schools (working with children and families)
  • Family business consultants and therapists
  • Hospice programs
  • Administration in mental health programs
  • Human Resources or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Private practice
  • Integrated health care settings
What is the placement rate of our graduates?

Of those seeking employment, 100% secure a job within one year of graduation.

Does this program prepare students interested in getting their PhD?

Yes. Each year, approximately 20-30% our graduating students enter PhD programs. Our graduates generally apply competitively to the top programs and are viewed favorably at their respective choice schools. The TFI Program Faculty can provide helpful guidance in discerning and pursuing that endeavor.

About living while attending graduate school

Where do students live?

Some students live near campus in Evanston, while others prefer to have an urban experience and live in Chicago. Public transportation to and around Evanston is excellent. For on-campus housing information, see http://www.northwestern.edu/gradhousing/. Most students live off campus, either in Evanston or Chicago. Rental costs vary, but a tool to see averages based on location can be obtained at http://www.rentometer.com/.

Do I receive health care coverage?

Full-time students are required to have health insurance. For information about Northwestern University's Student Health Insurance, please see http://www.nuhs.northwestern.edu/evanston/insurance.aspx.

About the Application and Selection Process

Can I attend the program part-time?

No. The MSMFT Program is a full-time, two-year program, including continuous enrollment over the summer quarter in the first year.

Is the application process competitive?

We generally receive approximately 100-120 applications per year. We interview about 70 of those applicants and eventually make offers to approximately half of them.

Do I need to submit a GRE score with my application?

We do NOT require the GRE.

Other questions

Do I need an undergraduate degree in a certain field to apply to the program?

No, although an applicant may be asked to complete Introduction to Psychology, Human Development, and/or Research Methods.

Can someone apply to both the MSMFT & MA in Counseling Programs?


No. One may only apply to one Northwestern University program at a time.

When should I apply to NU's graduate MSMFT program?

You may submit an application from September 1 through December 31.

How is my application evaluated?

We weigh each part of the application and consider academic performance, life experiences, intellectual and interpersonal capability, and references. The paper application is given a score and the top 72 applicants are invited for a group interview. While academic credentials matter, it is through the interview process that we get to know the applicants and gain a sense if they are a good fit for our program.

If you have any additional questions, please contact us:
Telephone: 847- 733-4300, ext. 206
Fax: 847-733-0390
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.