Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Counseling (M.A.)
The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling is a 60-hour graduate level residential program designed to meet the Virginia requirements for licensure as a marriage and family therapist (LMFT). The faculty provide quality professional training of marriage and family therapists from a faith based perspective. Our mission is to produce ethically and spiritually aware marriage and family therapists who possess the knowledge, values, skills, and personal disposition to promote the mental health and holistic wellness of individuals and families across diverse populations. Our mission is achieved, in significant measure, through offering rigorous academic programs, dynamic interaction with mentors, faculty, and carefully structured practica and internships.
Program Learning Outcomes
The student will be able to:
- Apply the ethical and professional principles, standards, and expectations that are integral to a professional counselor's role and identity.
- Apply the social and cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills required to work with diverse populations at all developmental stages across the lifespan in a culturally sensitive and ethical manner.
- Assess the individual and group counseling skills necessary to establish and build a therapeutic relationship and will form a preliminary theoretical framework when counseling individuals at all developmental stages across the lifespan.
- Use developmentally appropriate assessment relevant to the client’s academic/education, career, personal, and social development and identify ethical, social, and cultural factors related to assessment.
- Evaluate research and apply it to their counseling practice in accordance with best practices, and identify social and cultural implications for interpreting and reporting results.
- Integrate faith and spirituality into counseling where appropriate in an in an ethically competent manner
- Synthesize theories of family systems and dynamic into a comprehensive systems approach to counseling that informs assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning for marriage, couples, and family client(s) with a broad array of presenting problems.
Program Specific Admission Procedures
In addition to the General Admission Procedures outlined in this Catalog, applicants to the M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling program must have:
- Apply online or download application for admission and submit via mail.
- Fax/scan unofficial college transcripts.
- Please Note - Unofficial transcripts can be used for acceptance purposes with the submission of a transcript request form.
- Mail official college transcripts (sealed, unopened copy).
- Regionally or Nationally accredited bachelor's degree with at least a 2.7 GPA for good standing. Applicants who have earned a master’s degree or at least 12 graduate credits from an accredited institution may be assessed on the basis of the master’s-level degree work. NOTE: Once accepted into the program, a 3.0 graduate GPA is needed to maintain good academic standing in the program.
- Students without the following coursework on their undergraduate transcript will be required to complete the following class upon admission to the program:
- 3 credit hours in Statistics (can be MATH 201 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (3 c.h.))
- Admission to this program requires:
- Two Letters of Recommendation from professional sources (i.e., not family/friends).
- These individuals should be qualified to address the applicant's ability to complete the graduate level work, disposition and ability to become a counselor, maturity, motivation and ethics. Some examples of individuals that may be suitable include professors, employers, or leaders in an organization where the applicant volunteers.
- Statement of Purpose- In a 1,000-1,200 word typed and double-spaced document, address your past and current helping experiences, your future goals in the field of Marriage and Family Counseling, and your personal qualities that will enable you to be an effective counselor. Please also address how your interests and goals match the mission of Liberty University and the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling degree program. Please see the program handbook for Department's mission statement.
- Students seeking to be admitted into this program and plan to finish it outside of the US will be required to sign an International Disclosure Agreement.
- Two Letters of Recommendation from professional sources (i.e., not family/friends).
- Students must agree to the Department of Counselor Education and Family Study’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling Mission Statement and Diversity Statement, which is available at the following link: https://www.liberty.edu/behavioral-sciences/counselor-ed/.
Notification of Admission
Admission decisions normally are made within a few days following the receipt of all of the student’s documentation and faculty review of the application packet. Official notification of admission, and of any conditions attached to that admission, is sent by letter to the applicant by the Office of Graduate Admissions. Correspondence or notification from other sources does not constitute official notice of admission. The term for which the applicant is admitted is stated in the official admission letter from the Office of Graduate Admissions.
Transfer of Credit
Students may transfer up to 30 hours of coursework into the Marriage and Family Counseling program. For a transferred course to replace a Liberty University course, the following requirements must be met:
- The school at which the course was taken must be appropriately accredited.
- The course credit must be at least three semester hours or five quarter hours.
- The student must have earned a grade of B- or better in the course.
- The course must overlap one of Liberty’s courses by at least 80%.
Courses related to counseling that meet all but the last criterion may be transferred in as elective courses. Course work must have been completed within the previous 10 years. Transfer credits will not be accepted for the following courses:
|CEFS 602||Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning in Marriage and Family Counseling||3|
|COUC 500||Orientation to Counselor Professional Identity and Function||3|
|COUC 501||Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling||3|
|COUC 505||Counseling Techniques and the Helping Relationship||3|
|COUC 506||Integration of Spirituality and Counseling||3|
|COUC 512||Group Counseling||3|
|COUC 698||Counseling Practicum||3|
|COUC 699||Counseling Internship||3|
Credit will not be awarded for life experience or continuing education workshops.
Liberty University’s Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies 60-hour Marriage and Family Counseling program (CACREP) is designed to provide academic course work in all areas required by the Virginia Board of Counseling for licensure as an LMFT in Virginia. Students interested in seeking licensure in another state after graduation are required to contact the licensing boards of those states to obtain copies of their licensing laws and regulations. These will help students ensure they take all courses necessary for licensure in those states.
Evaluation and Retention
Students are responsible for meeting the academic and professional standards of Liberty University and the counseling profession. The following requirements apply to all students:
- Students are expected to use the American Counseling Association “Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice,” this Catalog, the Graduate Student Honor Code, and the Liberty Way as guides for their behavior throughout their program. Students will undergo periodic evaluation by the Counseling faculty for suitability as students and prospective counselors.
- Students must remain in good academic standing, are required to maintain high ethical standards, and must demonstrate evidence of functional competency in fulfilling the professional roles required by the discipline.
- Students must pass a comprehensive examination that requires the ability to analyze, synthesize, and integrate the core curricular content within the counseling discipline.
Consult specific program sections of this catalog for additional requirements.
The M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling program (60-hour) consists of a minimum of 60 hours of counseling courses that provide students with a thorough curricular experience in the areas of integration of faith and spirituality into practice; individual and group counseling theories and skills; clinical practice; ethical, professional, and legal issues in counseling; social and cultural factors in counseling; human development across the lifespan; career counseling and development theories and interventions; appraisal and assessment issues in counseling; and the application of research methodology and statistics to understand mental health issues. Students take an additional 12 hours of specialized coursework in marriage and family counseling. This degree prepares individuals for licensure and national certification and careers in mental health agencies, hospital programs, private practices, faith based counseling centers, and other public and private facilities.
Detailed information, policies, and procedures regarding the various programs offered are provided in the Student Handbook. Students should familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook before they begin their studies and before they register for classes every semester.
Students enrolled in the Marriage and Family Counseling program must take a comprehensive examination. The examination should be taken after the student has completed at least 39 hours of graduate coursework, including all of the COUC 500-level core coursework and CEFS 602 Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning in Marriage and Family Counseling (3 c.h.). The study guide for the comprehensive exam is available online at the departmental website. Students will be given three attempts to successfully complete the exam. Students who have failed the CPCE© twice are required to complete a CPCE© Third Attempt Plan (CTAP) form and prepare for an additional minimum of one semester before registering for their final attempt. If after three attempts, a student has not been able to pass the comprehensive examination, the student will not qualify for a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. At that point, students may choose to apply to the Human Services Counseling program for possible conferral of the MA in Human Services Counseling degree.
This examination is offered periodically throughout the year. To register for the Comprehensive Exam, please contact the Comprehensive Exam Coordinator at least 30 days prior to the exam date. (See the Counseling Comprehensive Examination website for scheduling information).
Students will be eligible for Administrative Dismissal from the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling if any of the following are true:
- It will be mathematically impossible for them to raise their cumulative Graduate GPA to 3.00 with their remaining required courses.
- They do not have a cumulative Graduate GPA of at least 3.00 at Gate 2 (Completion of Early Core) or Gate 3 (Practicum).
- They have two (2) grades of C+/C/C- applying to their degree and they have applied the repeat policy for the maximum allowed six (6) hours, and they earn two (2) or more additional grades of C+ or lower.
- They earn two (2) grades of D+ or lower.
To graduate, students in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling program must:
- Complete a minimum of 60 hours.
- Pass the Comprehensive Exam.
- A maximum of 50% of the program hours may be transferred if approved and allowable, including credit from an earned degree from Liberty University on the same academic level.
- Complete their required curriculum with a cumulative GPA of 3.00.
- No more than two grades of C (includes grades of C+ & C-) may be applied to the degrees.
- No grades of D (includes grades of D+ & D-) may be applied to the degrees.
- For information regarding the repeat policy, please refer to “Course Repeat Policy” in the Academic Information and Policies section of this Catalog.
- Liberty course work that is more than ten (10) years old must be repeated.
- The degree must be completed within ten (10) years.
- Submission of Degree Completion Application must be completed within the last semester of a student's anticipated graduation date.
Delivery Format: Residential Only
- Christian Counselor
- Legal and Correctional Systems Counselor
- Mental Health Agency Counselor
- Public or Private Practitioner
- Social Services Manager
This course considers the dynamics of marriage and family relationships from a systems perspective. The emphasis is on understanding family and other systems theories, the structure and function of marriage, various aspects of the marital relationship and family systems, and models of family and systemic interventions. Considerations from a historical perspective are presented along with current developments within marriage and family systemic models.
Prerequisite: HSMF 601
This course is an experiential exploration of selected, major treatment approaches utilized in premarital, marital and family counseling. Development of practical skills, interventions and techniques constitute the primary focus.
Offered: Resident and Online
This course introduces students to a variety of approaches that have been developed for thorough premarital counseling. The course also teaches students a conceptual model for understanding the variety of ways marriages can become dysfunctional, and introduces them to short-term methods that can be used when those kinds of problems develop.
Offered: Resident and Online
The developmental and psychological needs and problems of children are examined through the analysis of personality types and family structure. Counseling techniques (e.g. play therapy) for children are also examined.
This course examines the transitions of adolescence emphasizing family, social, spiritual/moral, and physical issues. Counseling theories and practices for working with adolescents are explored. Opportunities for application of theory are provided.
This course examines the most common problems women bring to counseling, including both developmental and situational crises. It explores biblical perspectives and the most effective treatments for these situations.