Empower families and couples as an 
advanced Couple and Family Therapist.

Empower families and couples as an
advanced Couple and Family Therapist.

Overview: Doctoral Degree in Couple & Family Therapy

Adler University approved the creation of a Doctorate of Couple and Family Therapy (DCFT) program in fall 2012 with a launch date of fall 2014. The first cohort in the DCFT program began in September 2014. In October 2015, the core faculty voted to shift the doctorate from a DCFT to a PhD because the established degree requirements were consistent with other PhDs in the field including required research and the completion of a dissertation. This shift has been approved by the Board of Adler University and the Illinois Board of Higher Education and is currently under review by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The acronym for the doctorate will remain “DCFT” at this time. The DCFT program will continue to focus on training advanced clinicians consistent with Adler University’s three broad learning outcomes – Practitioner-Scholar, Integration of Science and Practice, and Socially Responsible Practice – as well as preparing graduates for careers in research and academia. Pending HLC approval, the PhD will be the only doctoral degree in the Department of Couple and Family Therapy.

  • Empower people as an expert clinician focused on positive relationship dynamics
  • Broaden your opportunities in research and academia
  • Earn your degree in four years of full-time study or choose from part-time options
  • Pursue your professional goals with real-world, advanced practical experiences tailored to your interests

Our doctoral degree in Couple & Family Therapy (DCFT) program prepares recent graduates of clinical master degree programs and experienced clinicians to be advanced practitioners in couple, marriage, and family therapy as well as leaders in research, teaching, and advocacy.

Our innovative program meets the standards of the Higher Learning Commission and trains clinicians to be socially responsible practitioners well-versed in major models of couple and family therapy. Through our unique focus on social justice, students learn to be professional Couple and Family Therapists who encourage positive change within personal relationships as well as larger social systems. Our immersive curriculum blends intensive coursework, clinical practicum experiences, dissertation, and a full-time internship.

We foster excellence and scholarship in clinical practice with a focus on applying empirically based research to therapy, training, and supervision. Adler University is nationally recognized as a pioneer in graduate education, training culturally competent clinicians who empower individuals and strengthen communities around the globe.

The mission of the DCFT program is to prepare professionals with the core identity of Couple and Family Therapist including the attainment of advanced skills in research, theory, and the application of a systemic framework and identity including an ethical consciousness, cultural competence, and social responsibility. This is achieved through a commitment to our Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes. As evidenced by the program’s mission, goals, and student learning outcomes, the Couple and Family Therapy Department is committed to diversity in a variety of ways including the composition of our faculty, supervisors, and students.


Our program is designed to prepare doctoral graduates with advanced specialized skills, knowledge, and experience for jobs including (but not limited to):

  • Advanced Couple and Family Therapist
  • Clinical supervisor for couple, marriage, and family therapists
  • Academic professor
  • Systemic researcher

Graduates of the program have the core professional credentials as a Couple and Family Therapist (CFT) qualified for membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and eligible for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Illinois.

Professional Development & Training

Learn in a collaborative environment with renowned experts who offer individualized mentorship and unique professional development opportunities. Our diverse faculty bring together real-world expertise with extensive scholarship and research in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Build your professional network and begin to establish yourself as a scholar-practitioner in the field. Through University partnerships with hundreds of community agencies, you will gain hands-on experience providing clinical therapy, supervision, and advocacy for underserved populations. Student scholarship is supported with opportunities to present your work at both state and national levels.

As part of successfully completing our program, you will complete an advanced clinical practicum and a fulltime internship tailored to your professional goals. We also offer world-renowned training for providing quality parent education within communities, as well as an in-depth curriculum for supervision of couple and family therapists that is the foundation for earning the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation.

Cohort Learning, Format & Support

Our program is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study. We also offer part-time options. Classes are typically two days a week with occasional weekend classes.

When you enroll, you join a cohort or group of students who will take classes together throughout the course of the program. This cohort model emphasizes collaboration, communication, connection, and camaraderie among students.

Our program environment is characterized by Adlerian encouragement, empathy, genuine care, and good will, with the expressed purpose of supporting the personal and professional growth of each of our students based on their interests and professional focus.

Upon graduation, you will become a member of the University’s Alumni Association, which along with our Office of Alumni Affairs, provides extensive ongoing networking and professional development opportunities.


A master’s degree in couple and family therapy, i.e. marriage and family therapy typically provides the requisite for licensure as an LMFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants for the DCFT will have their graduate coursework evaluated and a program of study designed will not only include the requirements for the doctorate, but also any additional necessary coursework to meet these licensure requirements. It is important for students be aware that LMFT requirements can vary significantly from state to state in their requirements of completed practicum hours and coursework for licensure. Clinical hours done in the context of practicum and internship requirements of the doctorate can typically be counted as hours towards licensure as long as the experience meets the requirements of both the degree and the state. Click here to learn more about licensure support.

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