Master of Science (MS) — Marriage and Family Therapy

Program overview

A family counseling graduate program with cultural and theological sensitivity

Training in a Christian context, you’ll become a family counselor and instrument of healing through ethical care in diverse clinical populations. Develop psychology skills through an integration of self-of-the-therapist, family systems models, bio-psycho-social-spiritual perspective, and our unique ORCA-Stance.

Discover more about this holistic, systemic, and relational view of clinical care.

Dr. Hee-Sun Cheon leads a discussion

Program Overview

About the program

Students in Seattle Pacific University’s cohort-centered Marriage and Family Therapy program learn to bring cultural sensitivity to family therapy practice. Development of competent skills occurs through an integration of self-of-the-therapist, family systems models, bio-psycho-social-spiritual perspective, and our unique ORCA-Stance. Training in a Christian context, students become instruments of healing through ethical care within diverse communities and clinical populations.

Graduates of the Master’s of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) program are prepared to demonstrate the following program goals:

  • Application of family systems theoretical models and clinical interventions to therapeutic work with diverse populations of individuals, couples, groups, and families.
  • Examination of personal and professional values that are integrated into an ethical practice of psychotherapy.
  • Awareness of sociocultural factors and professional trends that influence the practice of psychotherapy.

Students are assessed for competencies related to our student-learning outcomes which align with each of these program goals, based on the professional marriage and family therapy principles as regulated by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.


A strong self-of-the-therapist orientation undergirds the MFT program as well as the ORCA stance, a theological and multiculturally valuing exploration of persons through open, respectful, curious, and accountable social interactions.

  • A holistic, systemic, and relational view of clinical care from systemic/social-ecological perspectives. You will integrate biological, psychological, social, and spiritual resources for holistic clinical care.
  • Strong self-of-the-therapist emphasis on your understanding of the moral-values-spiritual dimensions of your own life, as well as how these dimensions interact with your clients’ lives. You become an instrument of healing through self-understanding and development.
  • Values-based (“ORCA”) stance. You will explore the worldviews of your clients with an “ORCA” (Open, Respectful, Curious, and Accountable) relational posture.
  • Our cohort-centered, intentionally sequenced curriculum with purposeful self-of-the-therapist development, while bringing cultural and theological sensitivity into the practice of family therapy.
  • This MFT program trains within a faithfully Christian context that respects a diversity of spiritual explorations. Our faculty and staff hold a Christian faith commitment; students are free to share any religious perspective or none at all.
  • You are prepared for supervised service in clinical and agency mental health organizations, educational settings, and private psychotherapy. Other professional opportunities include educator, consultant, mediator, administrator, and medical family therapist.
  • Graduates with post-master’s degree experience are eligible to apply for licensure through Washington state’s Department of Health. Five hundred hours of clinical practice and 100 hours of supervision may be applied toward Washington state MFT licensure if an applicant graduates from the SPU MFT program. (Licensure in other states often follows COAMFTE curriculum and supervision requirements.)

Medical Family Therapy Certificate (MedFT)

Due to complex treatment protocols and life effects of chronic illness, health care systems are struggling to provide adequate care. Post-graduate students with advanced training in medical family therapy are vital to today’s health care teams. MFT students can add the MedFT certificate through additional coursework during the program.

If enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy program

  • Add 14 additional credits (6 seminar and 8 supervision) focused on medical family therapy to receive the certificate.
  • Earn the certificate during or after completion of the MFT program. 
Back to top



As a master of Marriage and Family Therapy student, you are trained through academic coursework and supervised clinical practice in a seven-quarter practicum sequence. We also focus on two distinct areas:

Self of the therapist. Courses focus on developing the self of the therapist through the integration of theory, research, and practice — all within social-ecological and systemic perspectives, guided by Christian principles.

Moral-values-spiritual dimension. Courses emphasize your understanding of the moral-values-spiritual dimensions of your life and how these interact with your clients’ lives.

Course sequences

MFT courses are sequenced developmentally using a cohort training model. You may complete the degree in either a two-year (full-time) or three-year (part-time) sequence. In exceptional circumstances students may have up to four years to complete degree requirements.

To maintain active status in the program, you are expected to complete 24 credit hours per year. Exceptions are to be approved by the chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy program.

Courses are generally held during mid-afternoon and evening hours, Monday through Thursday, for 10 weeks. A typical full-time schedule is as follows:

  • First Year: Monday and Wednesday, 1:30–8:30 p.m.
  • Second Year: Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30–8:30 p.m.

Full-time employment is discouraged if you intend to pursue the two-year program. Full-time employment may be possible if you’re pursuing the three-year program, but part-time employment is preferable.

The program provides a seven-quarter practicum sequence that focuses on the development of the therapist and provides fundamental and comprehensive clinical training. This includes the following:

  • Supervised internship at an approved site (500 hours of face-to-face client contact, of which at least 250 hours must be couples or family therapy).
  • On-campus small-group supervision and individual/group supervision at an internship placement site. One hundred total hours of supervision is required, which will include at least 50 hours of live, video, or audio supervision.
  • A clinical portfolio, presented in the seventh quarter. This is an in-depth application of a theory to clinical practice and the integration of you, the therapist, with your clinical work. Supervisors and clinical practicum supervision group members attend the final presentation.

Marriage and Family Therapy program graduates work with individuals, couples, families, and groups. You will become skilled in providing professional therapeutic techniques in the treatment of family and individual issues based on a systems/relational understanding of people’s lives.

Back to top



Stephanie Armes

Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy; Director of MFT Internships
PhD, University of Georgia

Phone: 206-281-2107
Office: Marston 112

Hee-Sun​ Cheon

Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy; Director of MFT Practicum
PhD, Iowa State University

Phone: 206-281-2251
Office: Marston 117

Peter Rivera

Chair and Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy; Director of MFT Research; IRB Coordinator
PhD, Florida State University

Phone: 206-281-2632
Office: Marston 120

Anne Prouty

Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy; Director of Medical Family Therapy
PhD, Purdue University

Office: Marston 108

Tamura Turney

Instructor of Marriage and Family Therapy
MS, MDFT, Seattle Pacific University

Phone: 206-281-2627
Office: Marston 306
First Generation student

Adjunct Faculty

William Collins

William​ Collins

Marriage and Family Therapy; Adjunct Faculty
PhD, University of Notre Dame

Claudia Grauf-Grounds

Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy
PhD, University of Southern California

Steven Maybell

Steven​ Maybell

Marriage and Family Therapy; Adjunct Faculty
PhD, La Jolla University

Back to top


2023–24 Tuition and Fees

money icon


per credit

dollar icon

$50; $150

application fee; one-time matriculation fee

See additional fee details.
textbook icon

70 credits

to complete

All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).

In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific University’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), and the SPU Library.

Scholarships and financial aid

Scholarship and other financial aid is available to newly admitted and continuing students in the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. For more information, visit Graduate Students Resources in Student Financial Services.

Resources available to graduate students to offset costs may include:

  • Student loans. Includes amounts that exceed tuition and provide for living expenses.
  • Graduate research fellowships. Department and grant-funded research and administrative assistant positions are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria within each graduate department.
  • Merit scholarships. Offered by the University as an offset to tuition.
  • Department scholarship and awards. Selection is based on established criteria within each department. May not be distributed every year.
  • The Dickinson Fellowship. Provides training and tuition to undergraduate and graduate students who have a calling to work with persons and their families who are impacted by chronic mental health conditions.

Student employment

For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:

Back to top


Applying to the Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) Program

To be considered for admission into the Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) program, you must apply online. Find the help you need with the admissions process of the program of your choice through Graduate Admissions

If you are an international student, also refer to International Graduate Students information about additional admission requirements. 

Admission process

The Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Admissions Committee will complete an initial applicant screening process based upon your online application materials only.

  • Finalists are invited to meet with members of the committee for an all-day group interview process at the end of March or the beginning of April. It is highly recommended that you participate in the group interview process. Telephone interviews are permissible, but only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Admission to the graduate program depends upon recommendation by the MFT faculty and approval from the chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy program. The entire process is usually completed within 12 weeks of the final deadline date for applications.
  • All students are admitted on a probational status in order to allow faculty to be certain they are fully prepared for placement in an internship site. Full admission is required for placement in an internship site to occur.

To be considered for full admission, you must complete a minimum of 11 units in the MFT program, with a average GPA of 3.0 or better in all courses, and must be recommended for continuance by MFT faculty.

Admission requirements

  • Online application and $50 application fee.
  • Bachelor’s degree
    • From a regionally accredited institution in any field.
    • A minimum grade-point average of 3.0* in the last 45 quarter credits (30 semester credits) of coursework completed before applying for admission, or in all undergraduate work, whichever is higher.
    • Courses in social and behavioral sciences, 18 semester credits or 24 quarter credits, are preferred but not required.
  • Prerequisites
    • A course in applied statistics, and a course in individual lifespan development completed at a regionally accredited institution prior to full admission to the program.
    • If you have not already taken sufficient courses in this area, you are encouraged to take courses from the following areas: theories of personality, theories of counseling, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology or family studies.
    • You may elect to take the psychology subject test of the GRE. Those who earn a score of 500 or higher may waive any unfinished prerequisite coursework, with the exception of the statistics and individual life span development courses.
  • Official transcripts
    • Official transcript(s) from any college or university that granted you a degree or degrees, and from any institution attended since that time.
  • Testing
    • Minimum score of 293* (only verbal and quantitative, 950 for the older version of the test) for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), or 388 scaled score (35 raw score) for the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) is preferred.
    • Administered within five years of the deadline date for application to the program.
    • If you previously earned a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and submit an official transcript that includes the master’s degree, the GRE/MAT will be waived.
    • We consider graduate admissions holistically. The GRE is currently an optional component of the application. We understand that some individuals may have had barriers to taking the GRE. If you have taken the GRE, please feel free to submit scores to give us another point of data to review. If you have not yet taken the GRE, we will consider the other aspects of your application for a holistic review of your preparation for graduate school.
  • Letters of recommendation
    • One from a person professionally qualified to recommend for a field of this nature (e.g., mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, pastoral counselor, psychologist)
    • One from a person qualified to evaluate your academic ability (e.g., educator)
    • A personal recommendation that may include a reference from an employer and/or supervisor from a volunteer experience
      • Recommendation forms are included in the online application.
      • Your recommendations must be submitted on the forms provided and sent to you in sealed and signed envelopes to be included with the application package.
  • Personal statement, typed
    • Three to four pages, demonstrating your writing and grammatical skills
    • Explain your career objectives
    • Rationale for seeking the degree and choosing to attend Seattle Pacific University
    • Personal interest in marriage and family therapy
    • Professional and personal strengths as they apply to the mental health profession
    • Related volunteer or work experiences
    • The way in which your personal and professional life experiences have converged to motivate application to the MFT program
    • Other insights as deemed appropriate by you

*Candidates with significant qualifications and exceptional recommendations but fail to meet the GPA or GRE/MAT preferred minimum scores may still be considered for admission to the MFT program, as the program admits all students on a probationary status.

Transfer of credit

If you wish to apply master’s degree level coursework completed at a regionally accredited institution prior to application, you must provide applicable transcripts and/or syllabi. Each course must be at least three graduate-quarter credits and be equivalent to courses taught in the MFT program at Seattle Pacific University.

A minimum grade of “B” will be needed for transferred work, and a maximum of nine quarter credits may be transferred.

International students

In addition to the SPU general and the Marriage and Family Therapy program’s additional admission requirements, international students must also submit:

  • An official confidential affidavit of financial support covering the first year of intended enrollment. Without this document, SPU cannot issue an I-20 immigration form.
  • Students holding undergraduate or graduate degrees from colleges, universities and/or seminaries located outside the U.S. are expected to have their transcripts evaluated by a professional credential agency. Such an evaluation is required before an application for admission to SPFC can be granted and before any graduate credits taken elsewhere can be applied to a SPFC degree.
  • If you earned an undergraduate degree in a country other than the United States, or your degree is in progress, an official course-by-course credential evaluation must be submitted from a NACES member-recognized credential service. Acceptable credential services include, but are not limited to, World Education Services (WES) and Foundation for International Services (FIS).
  • In addition to the evaluation report, we also require official transcripts and diplomas to be submitted, in English. International applicants are responsible for all costs associated with this service.
  •  English language proficiency: If you do not speak English as your first language, you must also submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 600 on the TOEFL paper or 250 on the TOEFL-CBT, or 100 on the TOEFL-iBT is required. ACE scores will not be accepted.
Back to top


Career opportunities

Students who graduate from a COAMFTE-accredited program, such as the Seattle Pacific Marriage and Family Therapy (MS) program, are highly sought by employers. Just some options include:

  • Social worker
  • substance-abuse counselor
  • marriage and family therapist
  • Psychologist
  • School guidance counselor
  • Rehabilitation counselor

Graduates are now employed in a variety of places including private practice, hospitals and outpatient centers, social service agencies, the military, residential care facilities, and schools.

Supporting the careers of our MFT students and alumni is a high priority for the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. The following career resources are available:

  • Resources for Current Graduate Students offers online vocational resources and résumé tips, workshops, and events (Sponsored by SPU’s Center for Career and Calling).
  • Provide a Career Day in our practicum sequence prepares students for practice contexts, CV/résumé building, professional organizations, and licensure/credentialing processes.
  • Our Alumni Facebook page offers networking and connections with alumni across graduating cohorts.

Portability of degree for credentialing

Seattle Pacific University offers a Master of Science degree accredited by COAMFTE with a minimum of 70 quarter credits. Credentialing for Marriage and Family Therapy licensure is regulated at the state level (provincial level in Canada). You must review specific state requirements for each state where you are interested in becoming licensed and a listing of state licensing requirements is available here. You can also access a table outlining how your degree from SPU will facilitate licensure in other states here. We have structured our program so that students who plan on practicing in California (or other states which require a minimum of 72 quarter credits) are easily able to take additional elective courses to meet those requirements. 

Alumni MFT resources

MFT Alumni Association

Our SPU MFT Alumni Association has been started recently, and through this organization we hope to enhance services to our alumni. We invite you to join in.

Professional organizations

Jobs and classifieds

Send information on jobs, office space, or other services available to Information will be forwarded to the alumni list.

Professional training through the Medical Family Therapy training program

SPU’s Medical Family Therapy training program was the first in the U.S. to focus on the interplay of all components of a person’s life and health — the biomedical, psychological, relational, and spiritual.

Medical family therapy training seminars are available to you as MFT alumni. In these affordable one-day seminars, SPU opens up its expertise in this specialized area to the broader community of health and mental health professionals. Each seminar also gives you five hours of CEU credit.

  • Convenient. Seminars are offered one Friday a month.
  • Relevant. Get access to practical tips and the latest information covering a range of topics.
  • Connected. Network with professionals who handle family therapy with medical issues.
  • Distinctive. Seattle is one of two cities on the West Coast with specialized training in medical family therapy.

Register today for this opportunity to enhance your skills, knowledge, and work experience.



Back to top