Jul 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Medical Family Therapy, PhD

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Director/Program Coordinator: Kayla Fitzke (338 West Rivers Building; 252-328-6850; fitzkek23@ecu.edu)

The objective of the Medical Family Therapy, PhD program is to graduate individuals who will collaborate with health care providers and families to resolve biopsychosocial issues inherent with acute and chronic illness. Students must complete a standard curriculum for doctoral programs as stipulated by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The program includes: research (14 s.h.), theory (12 s.h.), clinical practice (3 s.h.), clinical supervision (3 s.h.), cognates (6 s.h.), electives (6 s.h.), dissertation (6 s.h.), and internship (9 s.h.). Students are expected to complete the program with no more than five years. Students completing the program will be expected to fulfill educational and clinical requirements for marriage and family therapy licensure.

The degree requires a minimum of 59 s.h. as follows:

Degree Requirements

5. Cognates - 6 s.h.

(If a course counts as a cognate, it cannot count as an elective.)

6. Electives - 6 s.h.

(If a course counts as an elective, it cannot count as a cognate.)

7. Dissertation - 6 s.h.


Applicants must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related discipline. Applicants from a related field should have completed a course of studies that demonstrates competencies in basic marriage and family therapy studies and clinical experience. Additional requirements for admission include: a cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale in graduate work; a sample of scholarly writing which may be a thesis, a published or unpublished reprint, or a research paper; as well as a statement of purpose that summarizes the reasons for pursuing doctoral study in medical family therapy; a personal interview with the program faculty; and other requirements included in the Graduate School’s application packet.

Client Contact Hours and Supervision Requirement

Before graduating from the PhD program, students are required to complete 500 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of supervision. Hours completed under an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy approved supervisor during their master’s program may be eligible. All students must complete at least one semester of practicum (HDFS 8404) and must be clinically active at the ECU Family Therapy Clinic until they successfully pass their clinical competency exam. If students have never practiced as a family therapist in a medical setting for a minimum of 4 months, they are required to enroll in HDFS 8404 and HDFS 8405 at a minimum.

Students who already hold a valid marriage and family therapy license will be asked to submit a copy of their license to the program director. All students must take HDFS 8404 and pass the clinical competency exam regardless of whether they are licensed or not. If it is determined that the student is not ready for the clinical competency exam, or did not successfully pass the clinical competency exam, he/she will continue to register for practicum credits until the exam is passed. If a student does not pass the exam on his/her second attempt, he/she will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Doctoral Candidacy Requirements

Admission to candidacy for the PhD requires students to pass a preliminary examination testing basic knowledge in medical family therapy. Subsequent to passing the preliminary examination, students will be permitted to complete a dissertation and a nine-month internship.

Thesis or Thesis Equivalency Requirement

All students preparing to enter the PhD program should have a candidacy project (i.e., thesis or thesis equivalency) near completion by the start of the PhD program. Students must provide evidence of a completed thesis or evidence that the candidacy project is at least 75% complete prior to the start of the program. This evidence must be provided to the PhD program director no later than the first day of classes.

If a candidacy project is unsuccessfully completed by the end of the first academic year (April 30), the student will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 9 s.h. of course work taken beyond the master’s degree may be applied toward the doctoral degree at the discretion of the medical family therapy faculty, the department chair, and the dean of the Graduate School.

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