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Northwestern University Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) online

Help families and couples from diverse backgrounds strengthen and heal their relationships as a Northwestern-trained marriage and family therapist.

About the program

  • Intensive clinical training: Work directly with clients for six consecutive quarters during practicum externships.
  • 24 months to complete: Earn your MFT master’s degree in as few as 24 months full time, or in 36 months part time.
  • Fully accredited program: The online MFT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

About The Family Institute at Northwestern University 

As a national leader in behavioral health, The Family Institute is focused on strengthening and healing children, couples, families, and individuals across the lifespan. Learners access top-tier research, education, and clinical services, and are fully equipped to advance their passion for relationship-based behavioral therapy. Above all else, The Family Institute is committed to educating the behavioral health leaders of tomorrow.

Tuition and fees

Tuition and fees are subject to change and may increase each academic year. Tuition does not include student fees, technology platform licensing, or support services. Learners are also responsible for travel and accommodation costs related to any in-person immersions or residentials.

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Featured courses

The 26-credit online MFT curriculum focuses on the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) approach developed by renowned Northwestern faculty. IST aims to systematically address client concerns from a relational and larger systemic perspective. As a learner in the online program, you will attend live, online class sessions, learn from qualified instructors with therapeutic experience, and gain hands-on training during immersive clinical experiences. You will graduate prepared to address complex issues and develop therapy plans to strengthen and heal families and couples from all walks of life. Featured courses include:

  • Basic Concepts of Systems Therapy: Learn the central theoretical underpinnings of systemic family therapy, using a basic framework for assessment of and intervention in the issues clients bring to therapy. 
  • Intimate Relationship 1: Study the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) approach for working with couples, which involves a focus on sequences of interaction, affective intensity, and subtlety of communication. Learn theoretical models, case conceptualization, and intervention from a cultural perspective by considering the social positioning of both the client(s) and the therapist.
  • Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents: Develop the practical skills necessary to work with families, children, and adolescents. Learn to consider the intersections of development and sociocultural systems as part of the assessment and intervention process.
  • Power, Privilege, and Difference — Practicing Cultural Curiosity and Humility in a Multicultural World: Gain insight into the influence of race, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, religion, nationality, and ability in the practice of marriage and family therapy. Uncover the assumptions, values, and beliefs about yourself and others as a means of working more effectively with diverse populations in the therapeutic process.
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Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. A degree in one of the following fields is preferred but not required: psychology, social sciences, behavior sciences, child and family services, human development and family studies, or family science. If you do not have an undergraduate degree in these fields, you must take (or must have taken) both a college-level psychology and human development course or their equivalents. To complete an application, you will need to submit:

  • Transcripts from all postsecondary institutions/programs attended

  • Two letters of recommendation (minimum)

  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae

  • Statement of purpose 

  • Official TOEFL scores (if applicable)

  • Application fee

Clinical experiences and immersions

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While enrolled in the MFT@Northwestern program, you will gain hands-on experience that will introduce you to the various responsibilities of a professional therapist. 

Clinical practicum: You will complete a total of 500 hours of clinical work —200 of which are relational hours — with clients at approved practicum sites. 

MFT@Northwestern placement specialists will work with you to find a site that aligns with your individual career goals and passions. 

Immersions: You will participate in one in-person immersion experience at the Chicagoland campus or another location, where you will develop your confidence as an MFT and strengthen your relationships with peers and faculty. 

The in-person immersion is part of credit-bearing courses, and financial aid can be used for this experience. Transportation and other travel expenses are not included in the cost of tuition.

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