The Marriage, Couples, and Family (MCF) concentration usually requires eight or nine semesters or about three years (including summers) to complete and consists of coursework, supervised field experiences, and counseling internships. This concentration prepares students with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve couples and families in a multicultural society, interact effectively with colleagues and referral resources, and conduct themselves according to accepted professional, ethical, and legal guidelines. The UAB MCF curriculum has been approved by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy and graduates are eligible to pursue licensure in Alabama as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in any major from an accredited institution and apply through the UAB Graduate School. Admission candidates must also have a GPA of 2.75 or higher and must submit an official transcript, a personal statement, and GRE test scores. International applicants must also submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores to the Graduate School.

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Coursework and Degree Requirements

MCF students take courses such as Lifespan Human Development, Group Counseling Process and Procedures, Research and Program Evaluation in Counseling, Counseling Children and Adolescents, and Intersections of Family and Community Systems in order to understand the psychological, physiological, and sociological influences on human behavior. They learn strategies for empowering clients to make the kinds of decisions that ultimately resolve their problems and improve their lives. Courses are typically scheduled in the evenings starting at 5 PM. Students concentrating in MCF sit for a comprehensive examination after they have completed their core courses and are required to attend eight sessions of personal counseling themselves before beginning their clinical experiences.

Clinical Experiences

All students pursuing a master's degree and concentrating in marriage, couples, and family must complete three clinical experiences (a total of 9 semester hours) through supervised fieldwork (ECG 695 Practicum II) and counseling internships (ECG 697). The Clinical Placement Coordinator works closely with students to identify training opportunities best suited to their interests and career goals. MCF graduate students intern at the Alabama Resource Family Center, IMPACT Family Counseling, Family Connections, Family Guidance Center, Oasis Family Counseling, and Clay House among other organizations.

Near the end of their coursework, students complete a 3-hour practicum, spending a minimum of 100 hours in a clinical setting, 40 hours of which must be in direct counseling contact with clients either individually or in groups. Each student also spends an hour or so each week with his or her campus supervisor and participates weekly in 90-minute group supervision experiences with the advisor and other practicum students.

The internship, which is the culminating experience of this master's degree program, requires a minimum of 600 hours onsite in an approved clinical setting. A minimum of 240 of those hours must be spent in direct counseling contact with couples, families, and even individuals if counseled using a family system approach. (The majority of those 240 hours, however, must be devoted to counseling couples and families.) Students may complete their internships over two or three semesters but are required to spend a minimum of 15 hours each week on site.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of our program apply to become Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Interns and must obtain signed supervision contracts with supervisors who have been approved by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy (ABEMFT). As Interns and in partial fulfillment of the requirements to become an MFT Associate, they must complete a specified number of supervision hours and direct client contact hours, many of which must take place with couples and families in the therapy room. Once Interns become MFT Associates, they are eligible to sit for the National Marital and Family Therapy Examination. Once Associates pass the exam and fulfill all further experience requirements, they apply to ABEMFT to become Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT).

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, although focused more broadly on family systems, counsel individuals as well as couples and families and work in a variety of mental health facilities and agencies including family services and child advocacy organizations, outpatient care centers, inpatient care facilities, churches and religious settings, legal and correctional systems, and private and group practice.