About the Program

What is the difference
between the M.A. and the Psy.D.?

The M.A. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy is focused on training individuals for the primary role of psychotherapist/counselor. It is focused on clinical practice in a variety of settings, such as public mental health organizations, community mental health agencies, private practice, faith-based counseling agencies, and residential treatment facilities. Most graduates pursue licensure as an LMFT or have the option of pursuing licensure as an LPCC after obtaining their degree.

The Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology is more extensive, focusing on training individuals to become practitioner-scholars. Practically, this means graduates of the Psy.D. program become psychotherapists but also engage in psychological assessment and clinical research. There are also opportunities for teaching, consultation, and administration. Most Psy.D. graduates pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist after obtaining their degree.

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You Set the Pace

In designing your approach to MFT study, the blueprints can be laid out in a two-, three-, or four-year program. The timeline is up to you. Depending on the course of action you choose to complete this 66-unit degree, you may take 6–15 units each term.

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A Schedule that Meets Your Needs

At APU, we recognize there is more to your life than graduate school. You have other responsibilities, including work. That is why the MFT Program was thoughtfully designed so you can work while completing your degree. The program offers most courses in blocks of time, typically between 4-10 p.m., reducing your required days on campus during the week.

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About Our Students

The MFT program student body consists of roughly 75 percent female students and 25 percent male students. Half enter straight from undergraduate work, and approximately 80 percent work while they complete their degree. Lecture classes consist of 25-30 students, and clinical settings average 12-15 students. The enrollment includes African-American, Asian, Caucasian, and Latino students.

What Are They Doing Now?

Graduates from APU's MFT Program put their degrees to work in a variety of fulfilling careers. The following list highlights just a few of the roles they enjoy:

  • Agency directors, therapists, and/or staff
  • Church counseling center administrators
  • Hospital staff
  • Nonprofit managers
  • Private practice counselors
  • Professional speakers
  • Supervisors
  • Teachers
  • University administrators
  • Writers/contributing editors for professional journals

Student Stories

Read what program graduates have to say about their APU MFT experience.

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Community Counseling Center

The Community Counseling Center (CCC) at Azusa Pacific University is directly affiliated with the Department of Graduate Psychology, and is an American Psychological Association-approved clinical psychology training program. Initiated in 1989, this program continues in steady growth and development, addressing the mental health needs of individuals and groups throughout the community.

The CCC encompasses four programs, each coordinated by a clinical psychologist to ensure high-quality service and collaborative efforts. The counselors are marriage and family therapy trainees and interns, Psy.D. trainees, MSWs, and postdoctoral fellows. The center seeks to match staff members and clients according to their needs and strengths, facilitating the therapeutic process or consulting project.

Before therapy begins, clients are evaluated to determine the severity of their current dilemma and discuss the process that will lead to goal achievement. To assist the therapeutic process and ensure the quality of treatment, sessions are audio- or videotaped and reviewed under supervision. Occasionally, clients view or listen to the tapes, providing the unique opportunity to experience their therapy sessions from a third-person perspective. Developing new insight through this technique, many clients are able to contribute significantly to the progress of their treatment. To preserve client confidentiality, all tapes are kept private and erased after review or within one month after the recording session.

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Interdisciplinary Integration

Azusa Pacific University has a strong Christian heritage and commitment to integrating evangelical Christian thought into the university programs. The APU Psy.D. expresses this heritage and commitment through an emphasis on the integration of psychology with ethics, theology, and spiritual formation. This unique perspective provides students with the opportunity to consider and critically examine psychological theory using ethical and theological frameworks. Students are encouraged to explore the role and importance of moral and spiritual identity formation in the process of psychotherapy.

Individuals from any religious tradition may be admitted to the APU Psy.D. Program. However, it is important for prospective students to recognize that coursework and training are structured using Christian values and principles. Students are asked to learn and thoughtfully interact with the content of courses that house the emphasis, as well as to reflect on their own beliefs and values as they relate to preparation for professional practice.

In addition to providing students with an interdisciplinary framework from which to understand psychological theory and practice, the emphasis also facilitates and enhances the development of competency with respect to addressing religious and spiritual diversity in clinical practice. The APU Psy.D. is sensitive to the reality of pluralism regarding the development of competency in the provision of psychological services to clients of diverse religious and spiritual traditions. Students often express appreciation for education they receive in interdisciplinary studies and integration, regardless of their personal religious or spiritual identity.

Interdisciplinary integration coursework provides both a programmatic conceptual framework and a systematic applied framework. The following courses specifically address these foci:

In addition to curricular offerings, APU sponsors two annual Voices in Interdisciplinary Studies and Integration conferences. This conference series draws to the APU campus nationally known authors, academicians, and clinicians who represent a range of perspectives on interdisciplinary studies and integration. Conference speakers have included Everett L. Worthington Jr., Mark McMinn, Don Browning, Nancy Boyd-Franklin, Ed Shafranske, and Harry Aponte. All students are required to attend these conferences.

An elective opportunity is also offered in the form of monthly brown-bag seminars hosted by graduate faculty. Held during the break between evening classes, these seminars provide students with the opportunity to interact with faculty on issues related to faith and practice. Informal case presentations are made with a focus on application of integrative perspectives in psychotherapy.

Additional Requirements

The specialized field of marriage and family therapy calls for a unique set of skills and a propensity for open, honest communication. Please consider the following requirements and important issues specific to the MFT program during your decision process.

Progress Review and Faculty Recommendation

The progress of all students in the M.A. and Psy.D. Programs are reviewed each semester in order to encourage professional development and completion of the program. Progress of each student is reviewed by members of the faculty in the Department of Graduate Psychology.

Since personal characteristics are important to competency in professional psychology, students will be evaluated regularly by faculty on categories determined in the literature to be important to the development of marriage and family therapists (MFTs) and psychologists. The evaluation form, noting the dimensions for evaluation, is provided to students upon entrance to the program (or earlier by request). Students who evidence behavior rated unsuitable for an M.A. or Psy.D. student by faculty will be required to meet with their advisor and the Clinical Training Committee to determine a personal development plan. Students who fail to improve according to their development plan are subject to dismissal from the program.

Faculty Recommendation

At the conclusion of each of the first two semesters of study, the progress and suitability of each student are reviewed by members of the faculty in the Department of Graduate Psychology. Continuation of course work beyond each of the first two semesters is based on faculty recommendation.

Student Disclosure of Personal Information

Faculty of the Department of Graduate Psychology may ask students to disclose personal information regarding sexual history, history of abuse and neglect, psychological treatment, and relationships with parents, peers, and spouses or significant others, if the information is necessary to evaluate or obtain assistance for students whose personal problems could reasonably be judged to be preventing them from performing their training or professionally related activities in a competent manner or posing a threat to the students or others.

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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

How many units does the student need to graduate?
66 units

What is the cost of the program?
$669 per unit

How many years does the M.A. take?
Two, three, or four years, depending on how many courses the student wants to take per semester, and when the student begins the program.

NOTE: Students starting in the spring taking full-time coursework will need 2½ years to complete the program.

Approximately how many classes/units per semester for each track?
Remember that Individual Therapy and Practicum is in addition to courses:

  • 2-year track = 4–5 courses in fall/spring (12–15 units); 1–3 classes in summer (3–7 units)
  • 3-year track = 3–4 classes in fall/spring (9–12 units); 1–3 classes in summer (3–6 units)
  • 4-year track = 2–3 classes in fall/spring (6–9 units); 1–2 classes in summer (3–4 units)
How long is a semester?

Fall and spring are generally 15-week terms. Summer (May–June) is 8 weeks.

How many hours does each class session require?

Fall and spring classes meet once a week for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Summer classes meet once a week for 6 hours.

How many evenings per week do I attend classes?

Students generally attend class two to three nights per week.

What time are the classes?
Classes are Monday–Thursday, 4–6:30 p.m. and 7:30–10 p.m. Attendance is dependent on the chosen track (see above).

Are there specific requirements for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)?
Students who are pursuing LPCC licensure upon graduation from the MFT program have specific additional requirements with respect to academics and hours of clinical experience. They are as follows:

  • Completion of PPSY 555, Career Development Theories and Techniques
  • Completion of 280 hours of direct clinical experience (face-to-face counseling). This does not include client advocacy hours.

What are the differences between the MFT and MSW?
The MFT program has a clinical strength in that there is emphasis on working directly with families, individuals, couples, and children to strengthen relationships. It uses more of a systems perspective along with instruction in various theoretical approaches. The MSW program works toward case management and advocating for the client. While it does have a clinical perspective, it also has more of a social justice perspective. Also, the MSW program is full time, whereas the MFT program is set up for the working student and can be done in 2, 3, or 4 years.

Admission Information

When is the M.A. application deadline?

  • Fall (semester begins in September) initial application deadline: March 1. Interviews for fall enrollment will be scheduled in March and April.
  • Spring (semester begins in January) final application deadline: October 1. Interviews for spring enrollment will be scheduled in October and November.
  • Summer applications are no longer accepted unless by special request to the director.

What is included in the application process?

  • Application for Graduate Admission and $45 application fee
  • Three letters of reference (all from professionals who have current knowledge of applicant’s academic or clinical ability and potential (e.g., professors, clergy, supervisors, employees)
  • Official academic transcripts in a sealed envelope (from all schools attended)
  • Essay answering six questions (described in brochures or on website)
  • Final interview

What is the minimum GPA to get accepted into the M.A. program?
A 3.0 grade-point average from a regionally accredited university or college. There are a limited number of provisional acceptances for those with a GPA of 2.7–2.99.

What if the GPA is below 2.7? What options does the applicant have?
The Department of Graduate Psychology requires a minimum of 2.7, but any GPA below a 2.7 will be reviewed and decided upon by the M.A. director. Further questions regarding low GPAs should be directed to Graduate Admissions.

What is the minimum TOEFL score for international applicants whose first language is not English?

Is the GRE or MAT required to get into the M.A. program?

How many units can be transferred into the M.A. program?
Up to 12 units and by approval only.

Does APU give transfer credit for work experience?
No, we can only give transfer credit for courses passed with a grade of B or better from a regionally accredited school within the past eight years.

How long is a course good for transferring (including transferring prerequisites)?
Classes have to have been completed within the last eight years.

What are the prerequisites for the M.A. program? How does the student prove completion?

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Growth and Development/Developmental Psychology (Lifespan) OR General Psychology

Can I take the MA prerequisite courses in the first semester along with my first year in the program?
Generally, no. Some exceptions are made but must have prior approval of the M.A. director. Generally, students on the 2-year track must have the prereqs completed prior to starting the program. Other tracks may differ sequentially and exceptions are made by the M.A. director. However, applicants may apply to the program before completion of the prerequisites.

Are scholarships available?
APU does not offer scholarships for graduate programs. Therefore, many students choose to take a Stafford loan.

Program Information

What is required to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California?

  • Master’s degree that meets California’s educational requirements for MFT licensure
  • Completion of 3,000 hours of experience as a trainee or intern (our department requires 225 hours of direct client contact, but the additional supervision hours are counted toward licensing) in various areas of child, adolescent, couples, and family
  • Successful passing of 2 written examinations with the state of California

Note: Other states may vary in their requirements for licensure.

What is required to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in California?
Students who are pursuing LPCC licensure upon graduation from the MFT program have specific additional requirements with respect to academics and hours of clinical experience. They are as follows:

  • Completion of PPSY 555, Career Development Theories and Techniques
  • Completion of 280 hours of direct clinical experience (face-to-face counseling). This does not include client advocacy hours.

Will I have to complete a thesis, dissertation, or capstone project?
No, the equivalent requirement is a comprehensive examination taken toward the end of the program (see the last question of this FAQ).

What clinical practice hours are required for graduation for students pursuing an MFT?
A total of 225 hours of client contact (e.g., individual, couples, families, children, and group therapy performed by the student) are needed to graduate from the M.A. program. Of these, 150 are direct client contact and 75 may be client-centered advocacy.

What clinical practice hours are required for graduation for students pursuing an LPCC?
A total of 280 hours of client contact (e.g., individual, couples, families, children, and group therapy performed by the student) are needed to graduate from the M.A. program. NO client-centered advocacy hours count toward the required 280 hours.

When do I take the Clinical Competency Exam, what is involved, and how much does it cost?
The M.A. program’s Clinical Competency Exam (CCE) is designed to evaluate the level of clinical skills and knowledge developed by each student during the program, in an effort to ensure student readiness to enter the field as a marriage and family therapist intern. The CCE is composed of questions pertaining to all course content in the MFT program and is administered online in two separate exams, two weeks apart from each other. The student will sign up to take the CCE in either PPSY 593 or 598, depending on his/her graduation date. The first exam is a legal and ethical exam, and the second is a clinical exam. Students who graduate in July will take these exams in the summer semester (May/June) prior to graduating. Students who graduate in December will take these exams near the end of the fall semester (Nov./Dec.) right before graduation.

Two-, Three-, and Four-Year Academic Plans

Participation in the full-time, two-year academic plan requires class attendance during the evening, two to three days per week. Classes meet once weekly. Classes are offered each evening (beginning at 4:05 and 7:30 p.m.). An additional 8–10 hours per week for clinical placement training is required once trainee status is obtained. Please see the sample two-year sequence which follows.

Participation in the reduced-load, three-year plan also requires class attendance during the evening two to three days per week, but the student generally takes only three classes per semester rather than the four classes per semester required by the two-year program. Approximately 8–10 hours per week for clinical placement training is required until the student has accumulated the required 225 hours (MFT) or 280 hours (LPCC) of direct clinical contact.

Participation in the reduced-load, four-year program requires the student to take only two classes per semester. Students must also accumulate a minimum of 225 hours (MFT) or 280 hours (LPCC) of direct clinical contact in their practicum setting prior to graduation.

Two-Year Course Sequence

First-Year Courses


Second-Year Courses


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Note: This information is current for the 2014-15 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.