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Master’s Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy

Location: Pasadena

The Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy degree program offers a multidisciplinary, inclusive curriculum—studying development and family systems through evidence-based theory and practice.

60 credits required for completion
2½ years full-time or 4 years part-time
This MFT degree program prepares graduates to sit for the Marriage and Family Therapy California exam.

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M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) master’s program is a unique  degree program for developing clinically-skilled, culturally-attuned marital and family therapists and counselors. This MFT graduate program integrates a commitment to understanding the power of culture, oppression, and society on the developmental process.

By understanding various cultures and the impact of social-political context on the developing mind and behavior, this master of Marriage and Family Therapy program provides a sound foundation for graduates to work effectively as therapists that exhibit integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Program Specializations

Students pursuing a degree in any of our three culturally centered MFT specializations may choose to add a secondary specialization in Trauma Studies. Those MFT degree students interested in this additional specialization must submit a request to their academic adviser prior to the completion of their second semester.


This M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program satisfies all of the requirements of SB 33 and the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) (Business and Professions Code Sections 4980.36c, d e 4980.39, 4980.40, and 4980.41).

Pacific Oaks’ Marriage and Family Therapy degree programs prepare graduates to sit for the California MFT exam and to earn a Marriage and Family Therapist License awarded by the California BBS.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Specialization

MFT degree students wishing to qualify additionally for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the state of California may do so via selection of the LPCC Specialization, which requires 280 face-to-face hours of clinical training before graduation and includes the following courses, totaling 5 credits:

  • MFT 670 Career Development Theories and Techniques (3 credits)
  • MFT 681 Advanced Topics in Addictions Counseling (1 credit)
  • MFT 683 Advanced Topics in Psychopharmacology (1 credit)

Fieldwork Requirements

Students must complete 225 hours of the pre-graduate portion of the 3,000 supervised hours required for the California MFT licensing exam to qualify for graduation. Most students secure clinical training placements within community agencies in California in the Los Angeles and Pasadena areas.

Sample Marriage and Family Courses

Communication and Counseling Skills

This is an introductory MFT degree class in developing basic interview/communication skills for use in interpersonal relationships, working with students and parents in educational settings, and an emphasis on the counseling relationship. This class is designed to train the student to see oneself in social interactions in light of one’s social/cultural/ethnic context, and to be able to communicate to others clearly, effectively and cross-culturally. There will be a strong emphasis on the skills of active listening, consisting of the skills of empathy, clarification, reflection of feelings, confrontation, as well as others. This will empower the student to function in the helper role of facilitator and counselor.

Interface of Society and Human Development

This M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy course integrates a variety of theories of human development, with a variety of societal issues, forces, and dynamics including politics, economics, race, culture, gender, class, sex, privilege, and oppression. Using the students’ lived experiences and critical thinking, alongside classic and contemporary texts, the course will explore how and to what extent society impacts, influences and/or shapes human development, identity and life choices ─ and, in turn, becomes a possibly significant factor in the development of mental health stressors, issues, symptoms, and needs in individuals and families.

Clinical Theories of Child Development

The purpose of this MFT course is to provide the student with a basic understanding of the clinical theories pertaining to child and adolescent development. The physical, social, cultural, emotional, and cognitive aspects of growth and development will be discussed as well as how they manifest intrapsychically and interpersonally. The theoretical material covered in the course will include psychodynamic, ego psychology, object relations theory, attachment theory, and cognitive and social learning theories. Theories will be looked at critically and the influence of gender, social economic status, and culture on child development will be studied.

Admission Requirements

  • Demonstrated commitment to the mission and values of Pacific Oaks College
  • Completed application for admission
  • Application fee
  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Two letters of recommendation; one must be from a current or previous supervisor
  • Interview
  • Essay for specialization
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