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

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

Doctor of Philosophy in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Empower couples, families, and youth as an expert clinician focused on relationship dynamics and social justice.
  • Broaden your professional opportunities in research and academia working with expert faculty.
  • Earn your Ph.D. in four years of full-time study at our state-of-the-art Chicago Campus.
  • Pursue your goals with real-world experience, including study abroad opportunities, tailored to your interests.

Our Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy is the only Ph.D. program in Illinois that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Our 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. Faculty are licensed Marriage and Family therapists and AAMFT Approved.

Supervisors provide students personalized mentorship with a focus on self-of-the-therapist development to cultivate a systemic framework and identity, including an ethical consciousness, cultural competence, and social responsibility.

Through our unique emphasis on social justice, we prepare professionals with the core identity of Couple and Family Therapist to encourage positive change within personal relationships—among parents/guardians and children; between partners and spouses—as well as within larger social systems. Our immersive curriculum blends intensive coursework, advanced practicum, and experiential learning, including a dissertation and internship.

Our Ph.D. in Couple & Family Therapy program fosters excellence and scholarship in clinical practice with a focus on applying empirically based research to therapy, training, and supervision. As evidenced by the program’s mission, we are committed to diversity in a variety of ways.

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 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.

The CFTD program collects Student Achievement Data from its’ current students and graduates including graduation rates, job placement, and licensure.

Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training culturally competent clinicians who empower individuals and strengthen communities around the globe.


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 identity 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 full-time internship tailored to your professional goals.

Additionally, you will complete a doctoral dissertation, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in in-depth scholarship on an important issue in the field of couple and family therapy; it provides students the venue to demonstrate their skills in advanced research.

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 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.


Incoming students with a master’s degree in couple and family therapy, i.e. marriage and family therapy, or medical family therapy are typically eligible to apply for licensure as an LMFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants for this program with a master’s degree in another field, i.e. counseling, psychology, or social work, will have their graduate coursework evaluated and a program of study designed to meet the requisites of our Ph.D. programs and recommendations of coursework to help meet the licensure requirements for the LMFT in the state of Illinois. The program cannot guarantee this evaluation of coursework on behalf of the state. 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.