Mission, Goals, and Outcomes

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MSMFT) Program

MSMFT Program Mission Statement

The mission of the MSMFT Program at Northwestern University is to educate students to become knowledgeable, competent, systemic, culturally sensitive, ethical, and empirically-informed Marriage and Family Therapists. Graduates of the program are expected to exhibit a beginning level of competence with a variety of presenting problems, utilize the Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST) framework to integrate knowledge from the field into practice, demonstrate multi-cultural sensitivity and ethical competence in their work, and have an appreciation for research, particularly research on family relationships and the process and outcome of therapy. With further education and experience, graduates of the program will go on to become outstanding practitioners and future leaders in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.

The program’s mission is embedded in that of The Family Institute (to strengthen and heal families and individuals from all walks of life through clinical services, education and research) and Northwestern University (excellent teaching, innovative research, and the personal and intellectual growth of its students). Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), the program reflects the Professional Marriage and Family Therapy Principles.

Program Goals and Associated Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Train entry-level Marriage and Family Therapists who are knowledgeable, systemic, integrative, and empirically-informed

  • Foundational knowledge base
    Outcome: Students will become knowledgeable of the core concepts, common factors, and major models of marriage and family therapy.

  • Integration of concepts, models and techniques
    Outcome: Students will learn to utilize a systemic, integrative and empirically informed approach to planning and staging therapy.

  • Integration of research
    Outcome: Students will learn to be critical consumers of research, incorporate research findings into their clinical practice, and utilize progress research data to make informed clinical decisions.

Train competent entry-level therapists who are informed by a multicultural perspective and awareness of self

  • Clinical competence
    Outcome: Students will develop a strong beginning level professional competence in the conduct of systemically-oriented family, couple, and individual therapy.

  • Diversity and multi-cultural sensitivity
    Outcome: Students’ clinical work will incorporate multicultural sensitivity and respect for diversity across a range of cultural contexts including race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.

  • Development of the self of the therapist
    Outcome: Students will develop awareness of their own reactions to clients and clinical responsibilities and develop means of managing their reactions and using them, when appropriate, in the context of therapy. 


Graduates achieve identity as Marriage and Family Therapists and observe the AAMFT code of professional Ethics.

  • Professional identity as marriage and family therapist
    Outcome: Students will clearly identify themselves with the profession of Marriage and Family Therapy.

  • Professional and ethical conduct
    Outcome: Students will develop an understanding of legal and ethical standards and demonstrate the ability and commitment to apply them in the professional practice of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Graduates have learned to practice Integrative Systemic Therapy (IST)

  • Understanding and utilization of IST
    Outcome: Students will demonstrate comprehensive understanding of IST in their Capstone.