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Program: M.S., Counseling

Marriage and Family Therapy

Program Description

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling offers five options: (1) Career Counseling, (2) College Counseling and Student Services, (3) Marriage and Family Therapy, (4) School Counseling and (5) School Psychology. Students must successfully complete all prerequisite courses before formal admittance to a master’s degree program. Only students admitted to a Master of Science degree program may take classes in that program.

The MFT degree option meets master’s course requirements for both the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC) licenses. Both the MFT and PCC licenses may be pursued concurrently by MFT students.

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling with an option in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling prepares students for licensure as both a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California and in most other states. The state-of-the-art curriculum is designed to teach professional skills to prepare students to work in public mental health, community agencies, hospitals medical settings, schools, private agencies and private practice, and/or to pursue clinical doctoral study. The curriculum emphasizes strengths-based approaches, diversity, evidence-based practices and development of the person-of-the-therapist, while providing depth in numerous areas of clinical specialties, including children, adolescents, couples, groups, parenting, sexual abuse, substance abuse, psycho-education, severe mental illness and career interventions. Students can further develop their areas of specialty through culminating experiences, which include a master’s project, master’s thesis or individually tailored comprehensive exams. Well prepared with extensive practicum experiences in the first year, students begin intensive training in the field during the second year at community mental health agencies, public mental health, school-based and other mental health-related placements. The program’s curriculum is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for MFT licensing and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The curriculum also integrates the Marriage and Family Therapy Core Competencies to ensure that it adheres to the highest national standards and guidelines.

Admission into programs leading to licensure and credentialing does not guarantee that students will obtain a license or credential. Licensure and credentialing requirements are set by agencies that are not controlled by or affiliated with the CSU, and requirements can change at any time. For example, licensure or credentialing requirements can include evidence of the right to work in the United States (e.g., Social Security number or tax payer identification number) or successfully passing a criminal background check. Students are responsible for determining whether they can meet licensure or credentialing requirements. The CSU will not refund tuition, fees or any associated costs to students who determine subsequent to admission that they cannot meet licensure or credentialing requirements. Information concerning licensure and credentialing requirements is available from the department.

Program Requirements

A. Admission Requirements for Classified Standing

  1. Complete University application and requirements.
    1. Have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
    2. Have been in good standing at the last institution attended.
    3. Have at least a 2.5 GPA in the last 60 semester/90 quarter units attempted.
    4. If cumulative undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, score at or above the 50th percentile on one of the three sections of the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examination (i.e., verbal, quantitative or analytical) or on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Applicants to the School Psychology Program are required to take the GRE or MAT.
    5. Pass Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam by earning a score of 8 or higher.
  2. Complete a department application for admission to graduate programs.
    1. Submit two recommendations, either as letters or on the departmental form.
    2. Participate in the admission’s interview process.
    3. Be accepted by Departmental Student Affairs Committee.
  3. Complete all required prerequisite courses with a grade of “B-” or better within the past 7 years. (Equivalent courses may be substituted with approval from the program coordinator.)
    1. EPC 430 Development and Learning in Early Childhood Education (3)
    2. EPC 451 Fundamentals of Counseling and Guidance (3)
    3. EPC 600 Educational Statistics for Research and Measurement (3)
    4. PSY 310 Abnormal Psychology (3)

B. Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Counseling

1. Counseling Core Courses (12 units)

EPC 643 Diversity in Counseling (3)
EPC 655 Seminar in Counseling Theory and Practice (3)
EPC 657C Career Interventions in Mental Health Counseling (3)
EPC 671M Law, Ethics, and Professional Issues in Family Therapy (3)

2. Marriage and Family Specialization Courses (24 units)

EPC 656 Therapy with Children, Adolescents, and Their Families (3)
EPC 670A Systemic Family Therapy Theories and Their Evidence Base (3)
EPC 670B Postmodern and Cognitive Family Theories and Their Evidence Base (3)
EPC 670C Psychoeducational and Process Groups in Family Therapy (3)
EPC 673 Community Mental Health (3)
EPC 674 Family Development Across the Lifespan (3)
EPC 675 Substance Abuse and Addictions Treatment (3)
EPC 677 Couples and Sex Therapy (3)

3. Clinical Assessment and Research Courses (12 units)

EPC 603 Clinical Research and Program Evaluation (3)
EPC 672 Mental Health Assessment and Diagnosis (3)
EPC 678 Psychopharmacology and Neurobiological Foundations (3)
EPC 679 Clinical and Outcome-Based Assessment (3)

4. Practicum and Fieldwork Courses (13 units)

EPC 659A Communication Skills in Counseling (3)
EPC 659B Practicum in Counseling (3)
EPC 659P Fieldwork in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling (3)
EPC 659Q Fieldwork in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling (3)
EPC 659R Fieldwork in Marriage and Family Therapy (1)

Note: State regulations require that trainees who see clients as family therapists in the community be enrolled in a university practicum course. For this program, qualifying courses include EPC 659B, 659P, 659Q and 659R. For students who continue to see clients after their required fieldwork courses are completed for the degree, EPC 690 Advanced Fieldwork and Professional Development, is required by the Board of Behavior Science. Students must be enrolled in one of these courses to legally see clients as a marriage and family therapy trainee for each and every semester during which clients are seen, including summers, until they have received their degree. This requirement applies even if the student has received an incomplete during another semester and/or is seeing clients after finishing the minimum fieldwork requirements.

5. Culminating Experience (3-6 units)

EPC 697C Directed Comprehensive Studies (3)
or EPC 698C Thesis/Graduate Project (3-3)*

*Note: The majority of students require two semesters (6 units) to complete their culminating experience.

C. Online and Hybrid Courses

Some of the classes in the MFT/C program are offered in a hybrid (partially online) and/or online format. Consult the Schedule of Classes for current offerings, which are indicated in the notes for specific sections.

D. Course Sequencing and Cohorts

All students move through the program with their entry cohort following the same sequence of courses.

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 64-67


Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling
Chair: Alberto Restori
Education (ED) 1218
(818) 677-2599
(818) 677-2601

Graduate Coordinator: Shyrea Minton
(818) 677-4976

Student Learning Outcomes

To fulfill the department mission, faculty engages in University and professional activities to develop and provide undergraduate and graduate programs for the preparation of professionals. At the conclusion of their program of study, students will be able to:

  1. Develop and apply expertise in their fields of study.
  2. Think critically and engage in reflective, ethical and legal practice throughout their education and professional lives.
  3. Develop empathetic, respectful and congruent interpersonal skills and abilities to work successfully with groups and individuals from diverse backgrounds in educational, community and mental health settings.
  4. Communicate effectively using oral, written, listening and nonverbal attending and observational skills.
  5. Become information-competent scholars and researchers capable of utilizing current technology in work environments, while engaging in and disseminating creative, empirical and applied research studies and program evaluations.
  6. Collaborate skillfully and respectfully as leaders, consultants and team members in a variety of settings.
  7. Develop skills necessary to assess and evaluate individuals and groups and to utilize current technology in work environments.
  8. Maintain a multicultural and global perspective, emphasizing social justice, gender and educational equity, access and support.
  9. View their roles as preventative, educative and therapeutic in promoting well-being, healthy relationships, academic success and career mastery.
  10. Provide service through a wide variety of field-based partnerships informed by theory, research and practice.
  11. Act as advocates with initiative, perception and vision to lead and transform the practices and policies of those who provide services to individuals, families, schools, organizations, communities and policymakers.
  12. Pursue lifelong professional and personal development through such mediums as continuing education, information, technology, psychological counseling, participation and leadership in professional organizations, and doctoral study

In addition to the department’s learning objectives, the Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling program is designed to enable students to do the following:

  1. Develop empathetic, respectful and collaborative relationships when working with individuals, children, couples and families from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic classes, as well as with other professionals.
  2. Conduct psychosocial, family, clinical, diagnostic, crisis and client progress assessments of clients that account for family system dynamics and larger sociopolitical and cultural contexts.
  3. Utilize family therapy and counseling theories to conceptualize client situations and develop treatment plans that address diverse client needs based on the current evidence base.
  4. Provide effective, evidence-based and culturally responsive therapy interventions for individuals, children, couples, families and groups dealing with mild to severe mental health, addiction, family and/or relational issues.
  5. Identify the legal, ethical and documentation standards of marriage and family therapy practice, and understand how they apply in different service contexts, such as private practice, schools and public agencies, and with diverse populations.
  6. Engage in reflective practices that promote personal growth and self awareness, enabling students to critically and accurately evaluate how their beliefs, values, behaviors and cultural context affect clients and shape their perceptions of clients.
  7. Locate and use research to implement best-practice strategies with diverse clients and issues.