Preparing advanced practitioners,  
leaders in research, teachers, & advocates.

Preparing advanced practitioners,
leaders in research, teachers, & advocates.

Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Couple & Family Therapy

  • Empower couples, families, children and youth as an expert clinician focused on relationship dynamics
  • Broaden your opportunities in research and academia
  • Earn your Ph.D. in four years of full-time study
  • Pursue your professional goals with real-world, advanced practical experiences tailored to your interests

Our Ph.D. in Couple & Family Therapy (CFTD) 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—among parents/guardians and children; between partners and spouses—as well as larger social systems. Our immersive curriculum blends intensive coursework, advanced practicum and advanced practical experiences, including a dissertation and 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 CFTD 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 acheived through a commitment to our Program Goals and Studen 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

Additionally, advanced Couple and Family Therapists serve in a broad range of positions in social service agencies, child protective services, school systems, nursing and residential care facilities, the military, and church and religious settings.  

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 experts who offer individualized mentorship and unique professional development opportunities. Our diverse faculty bring together real-world expertise with scholarship and research experience 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 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.

The Couple and Family Therapy Department Handbook (“CFT Handbook”) is available here for applicants and current students. This contains the most up-to-date information regarding the department and our degree and certificate offerings.

Cohort Learning, Format & Support

Our program is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study. 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 serves as the requisite for licensure as an LMFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants for the CFTD 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. Learn more about licensure support.

Click here to request information.

Accepting applications for Fall 2017. Apply today.

Apply now.