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Adler University

PhD in Couple and Family Therapy Program

Chicago, IL


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Adler University


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Couple and Family Therapy

With a unique focus on social justice, the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Couple and Family Therapy prepares you to encourage positive change among parents/guardians and children and between partners and spouses — as well as larger social systems.

Designed to be completed in four years of full-time study, this immersive curriculum blends intensive coursework, advanced practicum and advanced practical experiences, including a dissertation and internship.

Upon completion of this Ph.D. program, you’ll have attained advanced skills in research, theory and application of a systemic framework and identity and, ideally, mastered diverse approaches to healing based on systems-theory grounded models of couple and family therapy.

Comprehensive curriculum

DCFT students complete a total of 102 credit hours. They may apply 39 credits from their master's degree programs, which should include a minimum of 15 credits, or five courses, in marriage and family therapy. Students take required courses in couples and family therapy (CFT), trauma and family systems, grief and loss, culture and diversity and qualitative and quantitative research.

Electives cover divorce mediation and conflict resolution, sex therapy, medical family therapy, LGBTQ competent therapy, integration of spirituality and religion in to couple and family therapy, gerontology and supervision. Students may take electives that provide the foundation for specialization or certification in areas such as medical family therapy and sex education.

Students also participate in practicums and practicum seminars, professional development, supervision of supervision training and research.

Foundation for AAMFT designation and LMFT licensure

Interested students may complete coursework and practicums within the DCFT program that provide the foundation for earning the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation. Students who do not have an LMFT licensure may complete the therapy and clinical supervision to obtain licensure.

The Ph.D. program is now also COAMFTE accredited (Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education). Currently, Adler University offers the only on-ground program with this accreditation in the state of Illinois.

Dedicated Training Department for practicums and internships

Adler University has a dedicated Training Department that partners with hundreds of community organizations, hospitals, clinics, medical centers, schools, and government agencies. These partnerships allow students to gain the clinical experience they need to develop the skills they need as couples and family therapists with a range of specialties.

Research and faculty with real-world experience

The faculty at Adler University are experienced real-world practitioners and committed researchers. Dr. Kristina Brown, the department chair, specializes in couples and families, endometriosis, chronic illness, medical family therapy, infidelity, divorce, parenting, and LGBTQ couples and families.

Dr. Cadmona Hall promotes the self-exploration of the therapist and researches the African American experience in marriage and family therapy and the barriers that must be overcome. She frequently presents on grief counseling at professional conferences and workshops.

Create Social Change at Adler University

Founded in 1952, Adler University graduates socially responsible practitioners — educated to be effective agents of social change in the pursuit of justice. Our rigorous programs and passionate faculty provide the tools, skills and real-world experience needed to address society’s most challenging issues.

Adler University offers graduate degrees designed for social change in psychology, counseling, family therapy and public service. Put your passion to work in a program uniquely dedicated to engaging communities and advancing social justice — online or at our Chicago or Vancouver campuses.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available? No

Location & Contact

Address 17 North Dearborn
Chicago, IL  60602
United States

Phone: 312-662-4000