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PhD in Couple and Family Therapy

Program Overview

Program Mission 

The Drexel PhD in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) program is a scholar/practitioner research program that prepares students for a variety of leadership roles in couple and family therapy.

Our goal is to develop the next generation of couple and family therapy scholars with expertise in diversity, self of the therapist, research and social justice.

Program Philosophy and Description

The PhD curriculum in Couple and Family Therapy is based on the Doctoral Curriculum set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Students are trained from a couple and family systems perspective using both cultural diversity, social justice theory and evidenced informed practices as programmatic anchors. A major goal of the program is to graduate scholars with a knowledge base to effectively serve underserved and marginalized individuals, couples and families and communities through education, research and clinical services. The education and training experience has the following components:

  • Theory
  • Research
  • Policy
  • Teaching, Clinical and Supervisory Skills
  • Self of the Therapist
  • Cultural Diversity and Social Justice

Clinical training with a diverse client population affords students the opportunity to deal with a full range of individual, couple and family problems that impact underserved populations. Our PhD program is structured around a research mentorship approach. Each year a limited number of faculty members accept doctoral students. All accepted students are assigned a faculty mentor prior to beginning the program. With the occasional unforeseen circumstance, your research interest should be somewhat aligned with the faculty mentor.

What you'll learn

The PhD in Couple and Family Therapy curriculum prepares students to serve a culturally diverse society.

Graduates of this program go on to develop successful careers in academia, health care administration, private practice, research and behavioral health.

What makes the Drexel PhD in Couple and Family Therapy program unique?

  • Commitment to underserved populations and focus on health disparities.
  • Applicants are matched with CFT faculty based on research interest.
  • Mentored research and clinical training with experienced and internationally recognized CFT faculty.
  • Supervised clinical experience
  • Teaching experience and practicum.

About the Mentoring Model

Our program is a mentoring model.  Each year a limited number of faculty members accept doctoral students.  You should confirm that the faculty members that you are interested in doing research with are taking applicants prior to completing your essay for admission into the doctoral program. Your research interest should be somewhat aligned with the faculty that you are interested in working with.

PhD in Couple and Family Therapy Faculty Mentors



The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admission Requirements

Admissions: Fall Quarter Only

A master's or post-master's in related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Standardized Tests:
GRE test scores are required in all cases, even if the applicant is enrolled in another institution that did not require the GRE and has good grades. The GRE score range for admission varies each application cycle and scores are evaluated in relation to application pool.


  • Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
  • Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
  • If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency
  • Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions


Three letters of recommendation required, preferably addressing your work in human services, community, or mental health. Recommendation letters must include address, phone number, and signature of recommender. The envelope must be submitted unopened.

  • Recommenders should be faculty from prior programs that you have attended unless you have been out of school for a while in which case you may request recommendations from employers as well. All letters of recommendation should be submitted in one of three ways: 1) through Drexel recommender portal, 2) Mailed to Drexel in an envelope with the outside flap signed by the recommender, 3) Recommender can email the Program Manager directly. 
  • If a recommender prefers to submit an original, hard copy letter, please remind them that it must include an ink signature and be submitted in a sealed envelope.  

Personal Statement/ Essay:

The CFT PhD program at Drexel University uses the research/practitioner model. Our primary mission is to train family therapy researchers who will be ready to serve as the next generation of research, policy and clinical leaders.   In addition, we offer excellent clinical training in two empirically supported treatment models.  Students are expected to reach proficiency in one of these treatments. In order to evaluate your readiness for our program, please respond to the following questions.  

Research Goals.  (Limit to one and a half pages)

  • The program is mentorship based. Students should apply with the intent of working in a research lab with a particular faculty member.  Please identify the mentor with whom you would like to and what about their research interests you.  We recommend that you look closely at the work of each family member before applying.  Include a brief but specific description of your own related research questions and ideas, and how you think they would fit with the global research agenda of the target faculty member.

 Clinical Goals. (Limit to one page per question)

  • All CFT PhD students will become proficient in one empirically supported treatment model: Attachment-based Family Therapy or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.  Please identify the model in which you are most interested, any experience you have using it, and how it fits into your larger career goals. 
  • Please describe a family or couple therapy case that you treated that did not go well.  After a brief presentation of the case, discuss what challenge or factors you think led to this poor outcome. Include an exploration of how your own personal and professional strengths and weakness may have contributed to the outcome of this case.

Working with Underserved Population. (Limit to one page)

  • The Couple and Family Therapy Department is committed to working with underserved populations with the intent of increasing our understanding of the social and systemic variables that impact health outcomes, mental health service access, and treatment delivery.  Please describe how you believe your research interests will incorporate these factors and help promote social justice in the health care field. 

Mandatory personal interview.



Clinical/Work/Volunteer Experience:
While specific experience not required, previous related work experience may make applicant more competitive.

International Applicants:

International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must meet one of the following requirements:

If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have:

  • a minimum combined score for listening, writing, and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher.
  • a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken  English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.

Additional Requirements for International Applicants:

  • Transcript Evaluation: All international students applying to a graduate program must have their transcripts evaluated by the approved agency: World Education Services (WES), 212.966.6311, Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 5087, New York, NY 10274-5087, Web site:
  • TOEFL: Applicants who have not received a degree in the United States are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). An official score report must be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service. For more information visit the Web site:, then click on TOEFL.
  • I-20/DS-2019 and Supporting Financial Documents (international students only): Please print, complete, and submit the I-20/DS-2019 Application Form (PDF). 

Tuition and Fee Rates:
Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central

Funding Note:
Some applicants will receive tuition stipends and or research stipends depending on availability and faculty resources.


MSA: Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.