Have questions? Explore our frequently asked questions and our checklist for rating marriage and family therapy programs.
A Checklist for Rating Marriage & Family Therapy Master’s Programs
This checklist will help you compare PNW’s program with other marriage and family therapy master’s programs.
YES! Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is important—it ensures the quality of the program, and is helpful in that the curriculum meets educational requirements for licensure in most states.
YES! Purdue University Northwest graduates have maintained an over 95% employment rate within the field after graduation.
YES! Most students are employed as Graduate Assistants, which provides tuition remission as well as a monthly stipend. Financial assistance is dependent on funding availability, students’ work performance, and satisfactory progress in the program.
YES! Because Purdue University Northwest is located in an urban area, students are provided with the opportunity to work with diverse clientele with a wide array of presenting problems during their practicum and externship experiences.
YES! Diversity issues are infused in all of our courses as well as in the practicum experience. You will be challenged to examine yourself in terms of your multiple, intersecting identities (including but not limited to gender, age, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, ability status, religious/spiritual beliefs), and how your identities impact your work with clients. We make explicit connections between family systems and larger societal systems that impact therapists and clients.
YES! Faculty, staff, and many students have completed on-campus Safe Zone training. All faculty are committed to training therapists to be competent in working with the LGBT community. In fact, we expect all students to be able to work with this population; this is a strongly-held value of our program.
YES! The core faculty have published several books used by training programs in the MFT field as well as multiple journal articles and book chapters, and are active in publishing—often with students—in leading MFT journals. Core faculty maintain part-time private practices.
YES! The faculty of the master’s program at Purdue University Northwest uses primary source material—original writings of founders of the field. The ideas, theories and practices discussed come directly from the primary authors not from secondary sources that interpret the primary authors.
YES! Students have to write a thesis in order to graduate because we believe that designing and conducting a quantitative research project is the best preparation for understanding research conducted in the field of marriage and family therapy. Only therapists who are able to read and interpret research will always be up to date long after they graduate. Moreover, most PhD Programs require applicants to have written a thesis, so writing a thesis will provide you with the widest range of opportunities for your future.
YES! Purdue University Northwest only offers face-to-face coursework. Courses are small and rely heavily on student participation via discussion.
YES! The Couple and Family Therapy Center (CFTC) recently moved to a new space on Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond, which contains seven therapy rooms, two observation rooms with one-way mirrors, and a large remote observation room for group supervision. We have new high-tech pan/tilt/zoom cameras in all therapy rooms, with the ability to record sessions and store them on a local, secure server. Students can splice together clips of sessions to show in supervision. The CFTC uses TheraNest, an electronic health records system, so students are trained on the latest software systems for recording client information.
YES! Students start their practicum experience in our on-site Couple and Family Therapy Center (CFTC). After spending 3 semesters at the CFTC, students are placed at an externship site in the community, where they accrue the remainder of their required client contact hours.
YES! Purdue University Northwest provides strong theoretical training with an emphasis on primary source material, rigorous research experiences (including a master’s thesis and research opportunities), and solid clinical training with a wide array of client presenting problems.
YES! Many students at Purdue University Northwest have published articles, received state and national research awards, presented at various conferences, and conducted workshops in the surrounding communities. The faculty are very supportive and encourage students to seek out these opportunities.
YES! Purdue University Northwest students are viewed as highly competitive for top PhD Programs in Marriage and Family Therapy. Our graduates have gone on to receive their Ph.D.s from MFT Programs including Virginia Tech, Florida State, Texas Tech, Kansas State, East Carolina University, Michigan State, and the University of Georgia.
YES! The Purdue University Northwest MFT Program is very highly regarded by professionals across the country as well as being known internationally. Many of our alumni have gone on to be directors of MFT Programs, own their own agencies, or bring systemic ideas to their home countries around the world.
YES! We accept a small cohort of nine students per year. We find that this helps students develop close and supportive relationships with their colleagues; many of these relationships last well beyond students’ time in the program.
YES! We are located 20 miles from downtown Chicago, with access to both urban and rural areas. We experience all four seasons. Furthermore, there are many cultural enclaves within a 50-mile radius representing ethnic groups from all over the globe.
Frequently Asked Questions
We look at the entire application package that prospective students send to us. That is, perhaps you have spent several years in the helping professions, either by employment or through volunteering, that would help you stand out in another way. Or you might have a stellar GPA but find taking tests to be difficult. That being said, entry into the Marriage and Family Therapy Program is quite competitive, so the lower one is on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the more emphasis we place on other types of experience and expertise to balance out a low GRE. Applicants are encouraged to explain special circumstances in their statement of purpose or their autobiographical statement.
We prefer undergraduate majors from psychology, sociology, social work and human development and family studies; however we have taken outstanding applicants from other majors.
We strongly suggest you take a statistics course prior to starting our program. If you have a major that is different from those stated in the previous question, then we strongly recommend you take coursework in human development and/or family studies.
We strongly believe that through conducting your own research, you learn how to be an educated consumer of research, meaning that you know how to critically read and evaluate research that others have done, as well as knowing how to conduct your own research studies. We value the scholar-practitioner model, which says (in part) that competent clinicians are effective consumers and producers of research, and vice versa.
As the mental health profession becomes more accountable for its effectiveness in the marketplace (e.g., to insurance companies), clinicians will need to know how to record evidence of effectiveness—this is another important reason why clinicians need to know about research.
Finally, many of the graduates from our program go on to PhD Programs in Marriage and Family Therapy—most of which require a completed thesis. We like to provide as many possibilities for our students to be successful in different ways; writing a thesis opens up the possibility for PhD work in our graduates’ futures.
We look for letter writers who can speak to your skills and abilities that are applicable to graduate school in general and specific to being a (future) therapist; therefore, we prefer letter writers to know who you are in an academic or work capacity. We suggest that you work closely with one or two faculty members on a project or task for a semester or two, so that you can learn more about research and academia. Similarly, we like to see applicants who have experience volunteering in the field, so a letter writer who has overseen your volunteer work tends to be a good reference for you as well.