Marital and Family Therapy (DMFT Online) | School of Behavioral Health | Loma Linda University
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Now accepting applications for Fall 2021! Apply by 4/30/21. Earn your Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy degree from the only COAMFTE-accredited online DMFT program in the nation. Applications are reviewed as they are received until all spaces are filled.

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Weekly Online Info Sessions

Questions about our programs? Join the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences for weekly online info sessions on Wednesdays from 6-7 PM (Pacific).


At a Glance

  • Fully online DMFT curriculum with synchronous and asynchronous courses
  • 3-year, 121 quarter unit program or 2-year, 78 quarter unit program (if student has completed a COAMFTE-accredited master's program)
  • 1000 client contact hours and 200 hours of clinical supervision (or 500 client contact hours and 100 hours of clinical supervision if completing the 2-year program)
  • Only COAMFTE-accredited DMFT program in the United States
  • Areas of focus include clinical practice, program development, implementation, and evaluation
  • Students can become AAMFT-approved supervisors prior to graduation
  • Qualify for advanced MFT positions in VA settings without taking the MFT national exam
  • Christian environment emphasizing integrated learning and compassionate whole person care
  • Embedded professional self-care

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Program Director: Nichola Ribadu, DMFT, LMFT

Program Overview

The Loma Linda University School of Behavioral Health Department of Counseling and Family Sciences offers a Doctorate of Marital and Family Therapy (DMFT). The DMFT rests on a relational/systemic philosophy, follows the practitioner-evaluator model and focuses on applied skill development for use in clinical practice, supervision, and administrative positions. The DMFT is a 78-121 unit program requiring two to three years of full time study for completion. Students having completed a COAMFTE-accredited master's program will complete the 78-unit program. Additional program units include courses that allow students who may have a master’s degree in a related behavioral health field or a non-COAMFTE-accredited master's program to meet all requirements to sit for MFT licensure within the State of California. Co-requisite courses may be brought in through advanced standing on a case-by-case basis. The program is available online only and is authorized in these states.

The DMFT prepares graduates to systemically intervene and address mental health disparities at family and community levels. Graduates of the DMFT program are well prepared to serve as ethically-competent leaders in communities and advance the MFT profession as therapists, clinical supervisors, program developers, evaluators, grant writers, and clinic administrators. Graduates of the DMFT program are multi-culturally informed and well prepared to serve as ethically-competent leaders who advance the marital and family therapy profession. Our alumni most often work as program directors, grant writers, program evaluators, advanced clinicians, and clinical supervisors across the nation and even outside of the United States. We also have some alumni who enter the university setting as faculty members and adjunct professors.

The DMFT is a dynamic program that is committed to the development of the selves of the practitioner. Sensitive to issues of cultural context and human diversity, the DMFT curriculum is focused on the development of the self of the professional. The program assists students in integrating cultural heritage, life experience, past education and training, and personal creativity into personalized professional development plans that enable students to build upon their background as they continue to acquire skill and competency in identified areas of interest.

The DMFT program offered by Loma Linda University is the only DMFT program in California that has been granted accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), the accrediting body associated with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Anti-Discrimination Policy

Loma Linda University’s policy on anti-discrimination states the following: The University is committed to equal education and employment opportunities for men and women. While Loma Linda University (LLU) gives preference in its selection processes to students and employees who are aligned with the faith-based mission of the University and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, LLU does not and shall not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, medical condition, physical handicap, mental condition, veteran’s status, or age in the provision of any of its services. In the department of counseling and family sciences, we adhere to this policy and additionally do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of socioeconomic or relationship status.

Program Goals & Outcomes

The goal of the DMFT program is to prepare doctoral level marital and family therapists to serve as program developers as well as evaluators-administrators and thereby promote the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. This goal works in combination with the larger university mission of advancing health services that attend to the whole person by developing practiced-based knowledge in marriage and family therapy.

There are two overall program outcomes. These outcomes integrate our university’s commitment to diversity and quality training of health care professionals with the need for diverse doctoral level practitioners skilled in program development/evaluation and administration. The program outcomes are:

  1. The program will graduate a diverse student body prepared to advance the field of marriage and family therapy through practiced-based leadership, founded on the consumption of current and reliable research.
  2. The program will prepare doctoral level family therapy professionals to apply the systemic/relational principles of the field to develop, evaluate, and administer ethically competent programs that contribute to MFT practice.

Admission Requirements

Acceptance into this program is based on an integrated evaluation of the following criteria:

  • Complete online application
  • MS degree in Marital and Family Therapy or equivalent
  • Master's GPA of 3.3 or higher
  • Three letters of reference
  • Interview with faculty member
  • Background check

Note: No GREs are required for application to the program.

Admissions FAQ

Curriculum Guides

  • 2-Year (with prior COAMFTE-accredited MFT MS)
  • 3-Year (with prior non-COAMFTE-accredited master's degree in MFT, or related degree)

Course Descriptions

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will develop a professional identity as doctoral-level marital and family therapists aligned with national practice standards.
  2. Students will become adept in systems/relational practice, demonstrating sophistication as therapists, program developers, evaluators, grant writers, and administrators of marital and family therapy services.
  3. Students will be able to use marital and family therapy, human development, and family science literatures to design and evaluate programs, clinical protocols, organizational structures, and service-delivery processes.
  4. To further benefit families and communities, students will demonstrate the ability to use research and evaluation methodologies to improve human service program performance and outcomes.
  5. Students will be responsive to the societal, cultural, and spiritual contexts in which health and well-being are embedded.
  6. Students will develop an ethical consciousness that guides their practice in all aspects of professional work.

For information on our student demographics, as well as student and faculty achievement information, please click here.

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