Psychology Department

MS in Marriage and Family Therapy

Program Description

This three-year program provides an integrated course of study that meets the educational requirements for the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license as specified in California State law (SB-33; Section 4980.36). The 60-unit program is designed to train exemplary professional therapists to work in public mental health agencies, private practice, and other similar settings. Skill acquisition is emphasized by a strong core of introductory laboratory courses and on-campus practica in our Counseling Training Clinic (CTC), culminating in an off-campus traineeship at a local agency. Theoretical background and training are provided in a variety of theoretical approaches, with emphasis on core “common-factors” that span all therapy practice. The program is designed to emphasize three overarching facets of clinical training: academic research, clinical practice, and personal growth. Self-care and personal growth are recognized as equally important processes to clinical learning as is academic ability. Program faculty aim to present themselves as models of ethical, professional, and passionate therapists.

Our Mission

The mission of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at California State University, Chico is to train exemplary, passionate, research-informed, culturally-sensitive, client-centered, systemic therapists capable of excelling in a multitude of mental health settings through innovative and experiential learning.

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Specific Details About our Program

  • 1. What are the Program Learning Objectives?

    Program Learning Objectives include:

    1. Preparing students to provide mental health services to the population of Northern California by meeting the specific needs of predominantly rural and multi-ethnic communities.  
    2. Challenging students to continually develop an ethical and professional foundation to their therapy practice, including emphasis on developing a culturally sensitive practice.
    3. Training students to use a systemic framework to conceptualize varied individual, child, couple, family, and group concerns in therapy.
    4. Developing research and feedback-informed clinicians capable of critically evaluating and applying research in practice.
    5. Obtaining skills in the assessment and diagnosis of psychopathology and related clinical issues.
    6. Encouraging students toward personal growth and the development of effective self-care strategies so as to maintain efficacy and longevity in the field;
    7. Helping students place their role as a therapist in the larger healthcare landscape by teaching them effective collaborative skills.
  • 2. Tell me more about the cohort model you are using

    The CSU Chico MFT program utilizes a “cohort model”. The cohort program model brings students together, with shared goals and skills to learn, develop skills, and collectively progress through the MFT program. This model allows students to learn from a planned sequence of coursework and effectively monitor personal growth and development.

  • 3. What does a typical program of study look like?

    The MFT program adheres to a full-time, three (3) year program of study. Upon entering the MFT program, all students agree to adhere to the MFT Program of Study (See Below). The program organizes the curriculum to ensure that fundamental courses address foundational knowledge, and subsequent coursework is dependent on the prerequisite semester's experience.

    MFT Program Sample Course Schedule with Course Numbers
    Semester 1Semester 2Semester 3Semester 4Semester 5Semester 6
    573670673B673C687*687*
    600673A641665678696M, 697P, or 699T
    672643674671
    679675677603
    Red text indicates clinical training sequence classes.
    * 6 units of 687 are required for the MS in Psychology degree.

    NOTE: This is just a sample schedule and is subject to change upon enrollment.

  • 4. What does a typical weekly class schedule look like?

    Most MFT program courses are offered during the week, Monday-Friday, between 8AM – 6PM. Students can expect to be on campus three to four days a week for the first two years of the program. The third year consists of the community traineeship program, where students will be obtaining clinical experience at a local agency/organization. Students can expect to be at these sites for about 20 hours during the week.

    Below is a sample course schedule for a first-year student in the Fall semester:

    • 573 – Introduction to Counseling Psychology
      • Lecture: Tuesday 12 – 2PM
      • Lab: Wednesday 8AM – 11AM
    • PSYC 600 – Research and Evaluation Methods
      • Monday – 2PM – 5PM
    • PSYC 672 – Multicultural Issues in Therapy
      • Monday – 8AM – 11AM
    • PSYC 679 – Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy
      • Thursday – 11AM – 2PM

Clinical Training Information

  • 5. What are the clinical training opportunities?

    The CSU, Chico MFT program emphasizes experiential clinical training. This means students will be practicing clinical skills upon first entering the program. We believe the most important learning happens through doing. Thus, our 3-year program is designed around providing our students with ample opportunities for hands-on learning. The below diagram outlines our clinical training sequence: Diagram showing the progression of clinical training opportunities during the three years of the program.

  • 6. What is the Counseling Training Clinic?

    Students begin their first experience as an MFT trainee in our Counseling Training Clinic (CTC). Here, new MFT students will see individuals, families, couples, and groups under the supervision of program faculty. Clients in the clinic come from both the university as well as the broader community. Services offered at the CTC are free of charge. All hours gained at the CTC count toward your eventual licensure.

    If you are someone looking to receive counseling services at the CTC, please visit the Counseling Training Clinic page.

  • 7. What is the Community Traineeship Program?

    During the third year of the program, MFT program students complete a clinical traineeship at one of our partner sites in the community. Students work on-site under the supervision of site staff with that organization’s clientele. MFT students are not placed or “matched” with a site, but instead are able to choose the site that best fits their interest. Every Spring semester we host a “Traineeship Forum” where students can meet with our community partners. Typically, we have more organizations interested in hosting our MFT trainees than we have students available. For many of our students, their traineeship site becomes their place of employment after graduation.

  • 8. Will I be able to obtain clinical hours?

    Almost all of the hours of clinical experience obtained during your time in the MFT program count toward licensure as an MFT in California. Students must obtain a minimum of 225 face-to-face clinical hours in order to graduate, but almost all of our students finish the program with much more than that. On average, our students obtain 400-500 hours of clinical experience upon graduation.

Admission Requirements

If you are interested in applying to the CSU, Chico Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program, please review our application instructions.