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Family Therapy, M.A., Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s graduate family therapy programs can prepare you to specialize in marriage and family therapy. An emphasis is placed on providing service to individuals, couples, families and the community.

About the Program

Accredited by the COAMFTE, SLU’s graduate medical family therapy program recognizes the primacy and importance of scientific inquiry, diversity and social justice. Our students respect and accept multiple perspectives and strive to practice in a collaborative engagement with other professionals and the community.

The field of medical family therapy developed out of the intersection between marriage and family therapy and family medicine to help bridge the gap in care between both fields. Medical family therapists often seek a license to practice in marriage and family therapy offered by state licensing boards and is one of the five major mental health professions recognized by the U.S. federal government.

Medical family therapists are educated and trained as mental health professionals to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, families and couples including:

  • Mental disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Coping with chronic illness
  • Family and couple conflict
  • Interpersonal and domestic violence
  • Trauma and adverse events
  • Grief and loss
Master's Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s Master of Arts in family therapy is based on a systemic/relational view of individuals, couples and families. It fulfills the course and practicum requirements toward licensure in Missouri as a licensed marital and family therapist. A concentration in medical family therapy is also available.

The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond a bachelor's degree. Prerequisites include 18 credit hours in the behavioral sciences. Program requirements include didactic courses, two semesters of practicum, three semesters of internship in a community setting and a minimum of 500 hours of direct clinical contact. The concentration in medical family therapy prepares you to function as part of an integrated care team in addressing the biopsychosocial needs of individuals and families.

Ph.D. Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s doctorate in medical family therapy prepares you to work within an integrated health care setting in collaboration with medical and mental health professionals. Coursework focuses on theory, practice and research in the field of couple and family therapy, with an emphasis on intervention in primary care medical settings and as adjunct health providers in specialty care.

The doctoral program involves a minimum of 51 credit hours of coursework beyond the master's degree, plus comprehensive examinations and original research culminating in the dissertation (12-plus credit hours). The Ph.D. has a clinical component in which you will be trained in both mental health and medical settings as part of an integrated care team of health professionals. Students are required to complete a nine- to 12-month internship.

  • Craig W. Smith, Ph.D.
  • Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D.
  • Dixie Meyer, Ph.D.
  • Nancy C. Morrison, Ph.D. (Emeritus)
  • Douglas Pettinelli, Ph.D.
  • Max Zubatsky, Ph.D.
Graduates with a degree in medical family therapy go on to clinical positions in medical and mental health centers, private practice and consulting. You will also be prepared for academic, research or clinical positions.
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2017-2018 Tuition and Fees
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Financial Aid

Assistantships and Financial Aid

Graduate assistantships are awarded each spring for the following academic year. All current and newly admitted students are invited to apply for these assistantships on a competitive basis.

Assistantships include the following appointments:

  • Two 11-month appointments (July 1-May 31)
    One position serves as coordinator for the Center for Counseling and Family Therapy (CCFT) working under the supervision of the CCFT Director. The other position assists the CCFT coordinator. Both appointments provide opportunities for research, teaching and administrative activity. This appointment includes a stipend, tuition remission (summer, fall and spring), and individual health coverage for 11 months.
  • Nine-month appointments (August-May)
    These assistants will serve primarily as research assistants for faculty in the department as well as gain experience in teaching and administrative activities. All assistantships will provide opportunities for students to serve as members of research teams and be involved in data collection and management, data analysis, writing, presentations and publications. This appointment includes a stipend, tuition remission (fall and spring), and individual health coverage for nine months.


  • Be or become full-time students during the period of the assistantship.
  • Engage in 20 hours of work per week during the assistantship period.
  • As full-time students with 20 hours/week work responsibility, graduate assistants may not maintain other employment.
  • Attend mandatory graduate assistant orientation meeting.

Criteria for Selection

  • Strong academic record
  • Strong computer and writing skills
  • Research experience is strongly preferred
  • Flexibility in timing, ability to work with minimal direction and ability to work collaboratively with a team
  • The benefits of an assistantship toward your career goals
  • Financial need

Application Process

The deadline for submission of graduate assistant applications is January 15. To apply, complete the graduate assistantship application form and email to The subject line should read: Application for Assistantship followed by your name. If you cannot email your application, please mail it to:

MFT Program
Attn: Admission Committee
Saint Louis University
Morrissey Hall, Suite 1101
3700 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108

If you have any questions, please contact the Medical Family Therapy Program at 314-977-7108.

Learn about financial aid options at Student Financial Services.

Learning Outcomes

The family therapy program has established five overarching goals to reflect SLU's mission. These goals guide the efforts of the faculty in the development of curriculum, clinical training and research as well as providing a basis for the student learning outcomes and objectives.

Within each goal there are one or more student learning objectives that, when achieved, will demonstrate your attainment of professional competencies, skills and knowledge commensurate with your degree. These goals and objectives reflect the professional accreditation standards, core competencies and educational standards established by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

Goal 1: Scholarship and Knowledge
To train sound clinicians who are equipped to work with a wide variety of presenting problems and a diverse array of families.

  • Objective A: Students will demonstrate an expanded knowledge of theoretical and clinical practice in marriage and family therapy.
  • Objective B: Students will demonstrate advanced competency in clinical practice.
  • Objective C: Students will demonstrate competency in a student-selected area of clinical specialization or expertise.

Goal 2: Intellectual Inquiry and Communication
To foster and develop rigorous and original scholarship for both faculty and students.

  • Objective A: Extend the knowledge base of MFT through original research and intellectual inquiry.
  • Objective B: Attain basic competency in providing clinical supervision.
  • Objective C: Contribute to the field through the development of effective teaching skills.

Goal 3: Community Building
Students will be trained to be adept at understanding and working with clients from a variety of multicultural backgrounds, with a specific emphasis on the concerns of poor and underserved populations.

  • Objective: Attain an increased cultural competence in working with diverse populations.

Goal 4: Leadership and Service
To educate professionals who are knowledgeable and skilled clinicians and leaders in their profession and community; and promote social justice among all people.

  • Objective: Demonstrate personal and professional skills that promote social justice through involvement and leadership in the community.

Goal 5: Spirituality and Values
To prepare reflective practitioners who understand themselves in relation to those they serve and who incorporate spiritual, moral and ethical principles into their personal and professional lives.

  • Objective: Understand and effectively communicate your personal, spiritual and professional values and demonstrate how they guide your personal and professional lives.

Applicant Criteria

M.A. applicants are required to have a minimum of 18 credit hours of undergraduate coursework in the social sciences.

Prerequisites for the Ph.D. program include a master's degree with a marriage and family therapy program accredited by COAMFTE or a related mental health area with coursework equivalent to a COAMFTE accredited program.

You’ll need the following items to apply:

Application Requirements

Online application and fee
Three letters of recommendation
GRE scores
Professional goal statement
Doctoral program only: scholarship sample (e.g., thesis, manuscript, journal article)

Please send your transcripts to:

SLU Graduate Admissions
1 N. Grand Blvd.
DuBourg Hall - Room 450
St Louis, MO, 63103

Transcripts can also be sent electronically to Our program office and email cannot accept transcripts.

Your professional goal statement should be up to two pages and answer the questions:

  • Why do you want to pursue a degree in MedFT or MFT?
  • How will this program fit into your future professional goals/vision?

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadline

Students should apply by Jan. 15. After applications are received, students may be invited to campus for group and individual interviews with program faculty. Interviews for the 2018-19 school year will be held Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, 2018.


Accredited by COAMFTE

The medical family therapy programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), 112 S. Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 703-838-9808.

In accordance with the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Recognition Standard 12B and Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) policies, programs must publish their Student Achievement Criteria (SAC) - M.A. and Student Achievement Criteria (SAC) - Ph.D.