Where Compassion Meets Scholarship

Dive deep into historical and cutting-edge theories, research, and schools of family therapy to master the practice of couple and family therapy practice at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. The Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy is an 81–114 variable credit program designed to advance you to your career goal in work in academic, supervisory, clinic, or community-based settings. 

Enhance your clinical skills and become an expert in demonstrating the importance of qualitative and quantitative research through interdisciplinary studies, clinical internships, and specialized electives. Plus, you can pursue your licensure while learning, so you can step into new roles within the field right away.

Your Ambitions, Our Passion: Shaping Careers for Success

As a graduate of NSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine's Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy, you can look forward to a productive career as a professor, researcher, supervisor, or senior clinician in a variety of settings.

I am working in private practice with the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida specializing in kids, teens, and families. My two great passions in this field include expressive arts therapy and providing services to healthcare professionals impacted by vicarious trauma and grief in their line of work.

Cassie Cacace | M.s. graduate and Ph.D. student

Quick Facts


Visit the Tuition and Fees page for more information.

Credits & Requirements

The Ph.D. program is 81-114 variable credits, and requires both a clinical internship and a dissertation. Students must complete their Ph.D. degrees within eight years from the date of first enrollment. This means that students are expected to graduate with their Ph.D. degrees within this time period. 

Application Deadlines

For Fall Entry:
February 1: Priority Deadline
June 30: Final, Based on Seat Availability

Delivery Options

The Couple and Family Therapy Ph.D. is offered on campus at Davie/Ft. Lauderdale. Students complete practicums at the on-campus clinical facility, the Family Therapy Clinic at the Brief Therapy Institute.

Why Earn Your Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy at NSU?


NSU’s Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy is fully accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

This program meets the educational degree completion requirements for licensure in the state of Florida and many other states.

Graduate Achievement Data

Accredited programs report Graduate Achievement Data data for each cohort in the program. 

Graduate Achievement Data

Expand Your Career in Couple and Family Therapy with the NSU Edge

Doctoral student

Anyone who studies at NSU experiences the NSU Edge. As a student of Couple and Family Therapy, you’ll see it in the curriculum that’s consistently revised to make sure you’re learning the latest theories and the one-of-a-kind concentrations like Equine-Assisted Family Therapy and Solution-Focused Coaching. Plus, the flexibility to pair up your studies to meet the requirements for becoming a clinical member and approved supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

The NSU Edge is in everything that you do here. And even after you graduate, you’ll remain a lifelong learner continuing to make your career productive and valuable.

About the NSU Edge

Earning Potential

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Real Experience That Makes a Difference

When one of your classrooms is a live, supervised, on-site community clinic and you’ve got access to over a dozen community programs focused on the good health and well-being of South Florida’s residents, you’ll get the meaningful real-world experience that shapes your purpose.

Explore Community Outreach Opportunities
Couples therapy community

Ph.D. Curriculum

The Ph.D. in Couple and Therapy curriculum integrates systemically oriented theory, clinical practice, and research through a combination of pathway and core courses.

View Curriculum Requirements

Practicum and Additional Requirements

In addition to your classroom courses, you will also be required to complete internal practicums at the Brief Therapy Institute and an internship of three consecutive terms in the community. Completion of the Clinical Portfolio and Dissertation will also be required for graduation.

Students complete four internal practicums at our onsite training facility, the Brief Therapy Institute, under the live supervision of a program clinical supervisor, with a team of no more than 6 students, for 6 hours every week throughout the term (one practicum per term - a total of four terms of internal practicums). Details regarding the practicum and the clinic are available in the Policies and Procedures Manual of the Brief Therapy Institute. Policies and Procedures are required reading, and all policies are available online at https://osteopathic.nova.edu/ft/resources/bti-policies-procedures.pdf. In-depth discussions of all policies are a part of internal practicums.

Background checks and fingerprinting are required of all students. Drug screening is also required of all students in compliance with NSU policies. Students need to contact the program director for details related to these processes.

Students also complete an internship of three consecutive terms, designed to provide them with a full-time advanced practice experience. Students must complete all curriculum requirements and pass Clinical Portfolio before registering for the internship.

Students are mentored through weekly supervision with program clinical supervisor while they are enrolled in the internship courses. If the program clinical supervisor is unavailable, the program director arranges weekly supervision coverage for the students.

We stress a commitment from our students to serving clinical populations in an affirmative, supportive, and competent manner including but not limited to underprivileged, diverse, underserved, minority, and socially oppressed groups, ethnic, racial, religious groups, LGBTQIA+ individuals, foreign nationals, individuals with different levels of ability both physical and behavioral, as well as individuals of various genders, ages, health, socioeconomic and relationship statuses.

A total of 1,000 clinical hours and 200 supervised hours are required to complete the program. At least 400 of the 1000 required clinical hours must be relational with couples and/or families in the room. Out of 1000 client contact hours, 200 hours can be alternative. A minimum of 200 supervision hours with at least 100 hours via observable data live/video/audio is required. If students are unable to complete their hours within 4 terms of internal practicum and 3 terms of internship, they will need to continue to register for the internship course until they have completed the required hours. Students must keep a copy of all completed and signed forms and documents during their entire program and for future needs.

The Clinical Portfolio is a capstone experience designed to assess how students met various aspects of the program’s learning objectives and outcomes. Similar to a doctoral-qualifying exam, the Clinical Portfolio is an important benchmark in progressing toward candidacy. Students demonstrate the full range and depth of their clinical skills, theoretical knowledge, and scholarly writing.

As part of the graduation requirements, all students who have not met the requirements of starting their dissertation process must have an Annual Review at the end of each year. This Annual Review consists of an evaluation of the student’s academic progress, clinical progress, professional and ethical conduct, and level of attainment of the program’s student learning outcomes. The Annual Review is also utilized for the collection of feedback from students about the program and support services by the institution. This review is conducted in a manner needed for each individual student, such as, but not limited to, a meeting with a faculty advisor or program director, or via email. 

After completing the research courses and meeting all other curriculum requirements, students are required to complete a dissertation. Ph.D. students conduct an original research study in the field of couple/marriage and family therapy under the mentorship of their dissertation committee members. Students are required to have a minimum of one monthly meeting with their dissertation committee chair. A minimum of 9 dissertation credits (three credits per term for three terms, for a duration of one year) are required to complete the dissertation. If students are unable to complete their dissertations within nine dissertation credits (three credits per term for three terms), they will need to continue to register for dissertation credits until they have completed their dissertations.

Prospective students are expected to review the Ph.D. Professional Licensure Disclosure Statement and sign and submit the Ph.D. Informed acknowledgment of potential differences in MFT licensure requirements across state/provincial regulatory bodies Form to the program office before making enrollment decisions and financial commitments. The program director and faculty discuss the information with the prospective students, as mentioned in the links below, during the admission interviews. Prospective students are welcome to contact the program director in case of inquiries (see links below for more information).

Professional Licensure Disclosure Information

Acknowledgement Form

Ph.D. or Professional Doctorate: Which Is Right for Me?

The Department of Couple and Family Therapy at NSU offers two postgraduate tracks: the Doctor of Philosophy in Couple and Family Therapy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (D.M.F.T.).

The biggest difference? The D.M.F.T. degree program seeks specifically to produce professionals whose chief contributions will be in the clinical rather than academic sphere. Still, there is some overlap in the core curriculum between the two programs.

Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy

Earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 81-114 credit hours.

Advanced leadership in the field of couple/marriage and family therapy

  • Prepares you for a productive career as a professor, researcher, supervisor, or senior clinician in the field

Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (D.M.F.T.)

Earn a professional doctorate degree in 75–108 credit hours.

Clinical-focused, terminal degree

  • Expand and enhance your existing clinical skills
  • Advance your career as a family therapist

Family Therapy Admission Requirements

Ready for the Next Step?

Let’s get started! First things first, to apply, you must have—or be in the process of completing—a master’s degree. And you must possess a master's degree from a licensing degree before you can begin doctoral studies.

A Note about Deadlines

Due to the competitive application pool, it is recommended that you start your application process at least 1-2 months prior to the deadline dates. The Office of Admissions processes applications on a year-round basis.

Priority application deadline for Fall/August admission: January 15 Late application deadline for Fall/August admission: June 30 (based on seat availability)

Go to Application

Complete the online application form and pay the $50 nonrefundable fee

If you’re a first-time user, be sure to create a Graduate Account to begin.

Request your transcripts

Request transcripts from all schools attended and/or agency evaluation of foreign degree be mailed to the address below or sent electronically to electronictranscript@nova.edu.

Submit GRE scores*

GRE scores* are not required if you have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. If you have less than a 3.5 GPA, a total score of 300 or higher on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE taken within the past five years is required.

Please have your official scores sent to the mailing address below.

*International students should submit TOEFL scores, if applicable. Visit Requirements for Obtaining a 1-20 for more information.

Write a statement of interest

Please briefly explain (500-word minimum) why you are interested in the program for which you are applying, as well as your professional goals, your assessment of your abilities to manage the challenges of graduate school, and any other information you would like to provide.

Send a sample of academic or professional writing

Choose your best piece of professional writing and send it to the address below.

Request three letters of recommendation

Provide three academic or professional letters of recommendation, written in the past year and sent to the address below.

Send in a resume or curriculum vitae

Please send to the email address below.

Submitting Your Materials

Please email all documents to: admitdocs@nova.edu

Mailing Address (Domestic)

Nova Southeastern University
Enrollment Processing Services
Attn: College of Osteopathic Medicine
3301 College Avenue, P.O. Box 299000
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33329-9905

Fax unofficial documents to (954) 262-3609 or email the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Mailing Address (International)

For International Students: Nova Southeastern University
Attn: Enrollment Processing Services
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33329-9905

Please note that NSU reserves the right to rescind or place conditions upon admissions offers should information become available that calls into question an admitted student’s academic performance or character, including that which reflects a violation of NSU’s Code of Student Conduct.

Transfer students must meet the program admissions criteria. The courses that may be transferred into the program will be determined on a case-by-case basis and must be deemed comparable in level, content, and rigor to those within the Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy program.

Foreign nationals who reside outside the United States at the time of application and whose native language is not English must present evidence of proficiency in English by satisfactorily completing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Score requirements are as follows: minimum paper score = 550; minimum computerized score = 213; minimum Internet score = 79. A score of 6.0 on the International English Language Testing System (ILETS) exam is accepted in lieu of the TOEFL.

For a full list of English proficiency tests that are accepted by the university, please visit NSU's International Students web page. Test scores must be submitted to the admissions office. For a TOEFL application information, visit the website at TOEFL or write to:

Educational Testing Services
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
(609) 771-7100

Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institutional equivalence. While there are several credential evaluators, the most widely used companies are listed below, or visit NACES.

World Education Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 745
Old Chelsea Station
New York, New York
(212) 966-6311

Josef Silny & Associates
7101 SW 102nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33173
(305) 273-1616

Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
P.O. Box 514070
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203-3470
(414) 289-3400

International students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Student Services at (954) 262-7240 or 800-541-6682, ext. 27240, or by emailing International Students or visiting the International Students web page.

Resident Alien students are required to submit a copy of their Resident Alien card.

After Applying, What Happens Next?

If selected, you’ll receive an invitation from the Department of Couple and Family Therapy to schedule an interview. This personal interview is the next step and does not guarantee admission. An ample amount of time and notification will be given for you to make appropriate arrangements.

Depending on the time of year, the review process may take a few weeks. You can check your application status at any time via the online application portal. Once a decision has been made, notification is sent via email to the address on file.

Take The Next Step