FAQ

General

What is MFT@Northwestern?

MFT@Northwestern is the online Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Family Institute (TFI) at Northwestern University. The program mirrors our on-campus program and meets the academic eligibility requirements necessary to sit for the national licensure examination(s).

The program is designed to lead students to eligibility for an Associate Marriage and Family Therapy (AMFT) license within Illinois. States typically have additional post-license requirements to become eligible for an independent practice license, including additional hours under supervision and testing. In Illinois, the independent practice license is the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) licensure. Other states may have a different license name.

Once fully licensed, LMFT professionals can provide psychotherapy to individuals, families, couples, and groups in private practice, academic, mental health agencies, medical settings, and other environments.

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What is The Family Institute?

Through research, education and clinical services, The Family Institute at Northwestern University is one of the nation’s leading relationship-based behavioral health organizations. For more than 50 years, TFI has been committed to strengthening and healing youth, adults, couples, and families. TFI is home to two premier online graduate programs—an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy and an MA in Counseling.

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How does this program differ from the on-campus program?

The online and on-campus programs differ only in means of delivery. MFT@Northwestern utilizes a live, online classroom to deliver their curriculum to students around the country. The online program has the same curriculum, academic standards, requirements, and the same degree and diploma as on-campus students. 

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How is MFT@Northwestern different from other MFT programs?

Students receive extensive in-person clinical training through our unique “learning by doing” model. The MFT@Northwestern curriculum provides six quarters of clinical work at approved practicum sites, where students are supported by intensive group and individual supervision. Our dedicated team of placement specialists will work closely with you to find appropriate sites in or near your community that support your development as a marriage and family therapist.

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What is the difference between Counseling@Northwestern and MFT@Northwestern?

Both are accredited online programs offered by The Family Institute at Northwestern University. However, while Counseling@Northwestern prepares future counselors to intervene in relation to both individual and social systems functioning within family, work, and community settings, MFT@Northwestern is focused on a systemic framework that looks at relationships while teaching students to practice family, couple, and individual therapy from a relational perspective. Each program paves  its own distinct path to licensure through separate professional entities.

Counseling@Northwestern is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and MFT@Northwestern is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

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Is MFT@Northwestern accredited?

Yes. The on-campus and online branches of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Northwestern University are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE): coa@aamft.org. A COAMFTE-accredited program provides the graduate education required for students to be license-eligible in most states. Each state also requires an examination and a specified amount of supervised postgraduate, clinical work for licensure.

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How long does it take to complete the program, and how many credits are required?

MFT@Northwestern can be completed full time in as few as 21 months, and part time in as few as 36 months. The program is 24 credits in length. Please note that, in this program, one credit is earned per class, but the program itself is equivalent to a 60-plus credit hour program for schools that operate on a semester-based system.

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Can I work while I complete the program?

If working is necessary while in the program, we recommend you consider the part-time option.

Live, weekly class times and in-person internship visits are required throughout the program and will require flexibility within a work schedule. Please note that working while on the full-time track is strongly discouraged.

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Will I have the opportunity to visit the Northwestern campus?

As a student, you will participate in one in-person immersion experience at our Chicago campus or another location. Immersions are excellent opportunities to further develop your MFT identity while strengthening your relationships with peers and faculty. Additionally, you will be invited to participate in commencement on campus upon graduation. However, this is optional. 

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Is there an indication on my diploma that my degree was earned online?

No. MFT@Northwestern graduates receive a diploma stating they earned an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University. There is no indication of the form of delivery. 

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Can I complete this program from any location?

Currently there are a limited number of states in which we are able to offer this degree. Although we are COAMFTE accredited, placement opportunities for internships are currently limited to these states. We are actively working to make this degree available for students in additional states.

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What can I do with an MFT degree?

A Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy is the first step toward preparing for LMFT licensure, which varies by state. Once fully licensed, LMFT professionals can provide collaborative care to families, couples, and individuals in private practice, academic, mental health agencies, medical settings, and other environments. Licensed practitioners provide a diverse array of services, including:

  • Family Psychotherapy
    • Treatment for couples
    • Individual psychotherapy
    • Supervisory roles

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How much does an average MFT make?

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was $51,340 in May 2020. There is a need for qualified MFT graduates, and the demand is only projected to increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030—much faster than average for all occupations.1

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How do I know that this program will suit my skills and career goals?

MFT@Northwestern is designed for students with a passion for improving and transforming relationships. If you’re seeking a career in strengthening and healing families from all walks of life, with sensitivity to multicultural and ethical issues in your community, an MFT may help you meet your goals. Our admissions counselors are also available to discuss any questions about the program you may have.

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Admissions: 

Do I need a minimum cumulative GPA to apply?

While average applicant GPAs are above 3.0, exceptional applicants with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 may be considered for admission.

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Do I need a specific undergraduate degree to apply?

A degree in behavioral or family sciences is preferred, but applicants with a background in another field are welcome to apply, though they must take (or have previously taken) an Introduction to Psychology and a Human Development course. These courses can be taken at an outside institution.

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Do you require standardized test scores?

No. The GRE and GMAT are not required for admission.

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Can I apply if I am not a United States citizen?

Yes.  

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Can I apply if I am not currently living in the U.S.?

No, you must be living in the United States while enrolled in the program and are actively taking classes. Each student is responsible for understanding, securing, and obtaining a visa that is conducive to completing all their required coursework and clinical training responsibilities.

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What are the admissions requirements for the program?

To apply to the online MFT program, you must submit the following: 

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  • Transcripts 
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Resume/CV
    • Statement of purpose 
    • Diversity statement
    • Application fee
    • You will also undergo a background check and participate in an interview.

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Is an interview required?

Yes, an interview is a required component of the admissions process. After your application is complete, you may be invited to participate in a peer-group interview with faculty members and a small group of prospective students in our online classroom. Please ensure you have a stable internet connection, and choose a professional setting that is quiet and distraction free.

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Is there an application fee?

Yes, there is an application fee of $95. Please contact an admissions counselor before submitting your priority application in order to receive an application fee waiver.

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Do you accept transfer credits?

No.

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Field placement


Do I secure my own placements?

No. We have a dedicated clinical placement team that you will work with to secure your placement. Every site must be Northwestern-approved and meet TFI’s high standards of excellence. 

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How much time should I expect to spend at my placement site?

Hours will vary according to supervisor and client availability. Students are responsible for tracking their own hours and advocating for themselves if they feel they are not receiving enough clinical hours to graduate on time.

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Can I complete my placement at my current place of employment?

No.

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How far do I have to travel for my placement? What if I do not have a car?

Trainees can be placed up to 75 miles away based on site availability and program requirements.If you do not have a car, our team of placement specialists will do everything they can to secure placements that our students can access. However, not having transportation may delay a student’s placement. 

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Are placements flexible?

Field placement hours must be completed during your site’s business hours to align with agency activities and client meetings. Field hours vary from site to site, but most agencies operate during regular business hours (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.). Hours may also be available later in the evening or on the weekend. You are required to adjust your schedule to accommodate both your site’s and your supervisor’s schedules.

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When do I start my field placements?

Full-time students complete a pre-internship class their first term and the remaining six quarters include the internship hours. Part-time students take a pre-internship course during their fifth term, and the remaining six quarters will include internships.

California policy states that MFT students may not begin the field placement portion of a program until they have completed 18 credit hours. Therefore, full-time MFT@Northwestern students will begin placement in Term 3 instead of Term 2 (as was previously stated). An extra term will be added to their curriculum, leading to program completion in 24 months.

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1Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Accessed March 30, 2022. arrow_upwardReturn to footnote reference