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Application Deadline: December 15

Applicants to the MS-MFT or MMFT program must submit a complete application (including application letter, transcripts, GRE or MAT scores, and contact information for references) to the School of Graduate Studies.

How to Apply - Marriage and Family Therapy

Applications for admission are processed online by the School of Graduate Studies. The School of Graduate Studies forwards completed applications to the department for review. Please contact the School of Graduate Studies for questions specific to the application process.

Admission Requirements

In order to be admitted to either the Master of Science Marriage and Family Therapy Specialization or the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program at Utah State University, application requirements are:

  • Curriculum vita or resume
  • MFT Cover Letter/Statement of Purpose (see below for details)
  • MFT Essay (see below for details)
  • E-mail addresses for three people (at least two from an academic) who can write about your academic and professional abilities. These individuals will be contacted via email, and will be prompted to upload their letter of recommendation to a link sent to them from the graduate school.
  • Undergraduate transcript(s)
    • Overall GPA of 3.0 for last 90 quarter credit hours or 60 semester credit hours.
  • GRE or MAT Scores
    • Minimum score at or above the 40th percentile on both the verbal and quantitative subscales of the GRE or at or above the 40th percentile on the MAT.
  • Students for whom English is a second language must demonstrate English proficiency on the TOEFL exam.
  • Prerequisite courses (these must be taken before you begin the program):
    • Social Science Research Methods
    • Statistics
  • During the application process, choose which degree you are seeking:
    • Human Development & Family Studies MS, with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy (Thesis option)
    • Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy (Non-thesis option)

MFT Application Process

Six-eight students are admitted each year. Selected finalists will be invited to participate in an interview in February. The purpose of the interview is to provide an opportunity for candidates and faculty to get to know one another so that each can make informed decisions about the appropriate fit of the program and student. Students will then be invited into the program. All finalists must be approved by the Human Development and Family Studies Department's Graduate Admission and Finance Committee. The selected students will be notified as soon as possible following the interviews and will have one week to respond. A letter of acceptance is required as well as a telephone call. Alternates also will be selected.

MFT Cover Letter/Statement of Purpose

Your application should include a cover letter/statement of purpose that is one page, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. The most important part of the cover letter is to include:

  • Which MFT-specific courses (MFT, Human Sexuality, Abnormal Psychology/Psychopathology) you have taken (include the course name and number).
  • List the prerequisite courses you have taken (university, course name, number, and semester taken). If you have not fulfilled the prerequisites, you need to explain how you intend to fulfill them prior to beginning the program (you do not have to have them completed before you apply).

MFT Essay

Your essay should be 4-5 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. Use headers. Please include your current address, email, and telephone number at the beginning or end of your essay. Use your best writing skills to convey your thoughts. Make sure you proofread and have other people read it. Your essay should cover the following topics/sections:

  • Tell us about your journey to choosing MFT as a profession. Of all the possibilities, why did you choose MFT?
  • Talk about the experiences that you have (personal and professional) that you feel have prepared you to pursue a graduate degree in MFT. What specifically did you learn (skill-wise and about yourself)?
  • Highlight the personal skills and attributes that you will bring to our program. In doing this, make sure to address how you plan to cope with the rigors of a graduate degree in MFT, including how you have overcome specific challenges in the past. Also, discuss what you expect to contribute to an MFT student cohort of 6-7 students.
  • What do you most want to get out of an MFT graduate program? In addition, what are your professional goals? (You don’t have to have it all figured out, but we want to understand more about your direction).
  • How do you anticipate that the USU program and faculty members can help you accomplish your goals? Be specific.

Your essay should contain all of the information above, but feel free to use your own creativity and writing ability to decide how to organize your essay. Keep in mind that the MFT essay is the most important part of your application and is the most effective way for us to gain insight into who you are as a person. We strongly suggest you read the tips for applying to graduate school and follow them, which will make you a more competitive applicant.

If you have any questions about the basic components of the application, please call or email Tara Jones at

Tips for Applying to Graduate School

Do Your Research

  • Decide what you want from graduate school: training in research, clinical training, preparation for doctoral programs, teaching in a university.
  • Consider geography, costs, and the populations with whom you would like to work.
  • Talk to professionals in the field as well as faculty in programs. Know why and be able to articulate your preferences.
  • Find a list of current graduate students and their email addresses. Email them and ask a few specific questions.
  • Find out where recent graduates are working.
  • Get to know the research interests and publications of the faculty to which you are applying.
  • Demonstrate your similar interests and specify the faculty with whom you would like to work.
  • Read materials carefully and respond to each part exactly; limit extra material.

Satisfy Requirements

  • Get a 40% or higher on the GRE (PhD, Master's) or MAT (Master's). You can take both exams more than once.
    • Study tips: Refresh your basic math and college algebra; or do crossword puzzles or other word games to improve vocabulary. Use the study guides. Practice so that you are familiar with the test format.
  • Get letters of recommendation:
    • Ask program directors about their preferences. We require three letters.  For the PhD, these three should come from faculty or researchers in academia who can speak to your educational and research skills. For grad programs in MFT, two must be from people who can speak to your academic ability, and one should be from someone who can speak to your clinical skills and/or aptitude as a "people" person. Four letters are acceptable. Some programs prefer letters for which the candidate has waived rights to read; others are the opposite.
    • Ask the person if they are willing to write you a "good," "solid," or "excellent" letter. If they can't write a terrific letter, thank them nicely and find someone else.
    • Give potential referees information that will help them: GRE or other entrance scores, GPA on last 2 years of coursework, copies of papers you have written for them, copy of resume, etc. Ask them what they would like. This is especially important if you did not get to know any professors well or if it's been a long time since they saw you in class.
    • If you want them to speak to particular interests, accomplishments, or abilities, tell them so. We look for people who are smart, grasp new concepts quickly, are able to apply and integrate information, are enthusiastic about human development, family relations, family finance, marriage and family therapy, and relate well to people
    • Give recommenders plenty of time to write the letter, but remember that most people are very busy from late November through December. It is a good idea to ask them if they have written the letter about a week before the due date. If they have not, ask them nicely if they think they are going to be able to and be ready to find someone else
  • Get research experience. With our research emphasis, we want to know about your research interests, experience, and abilities.
  • For Master's programs, get practical experience with children, youth, older adults, and/or families.

Follow the Etiquette

  • Type everything you send, using a font no smaller than Times New Roman 12; Do not use fancy fonts.
  • Personal contact is a good thing, but not necessary in all cases.
  • Write the personal statement as requested. It is obvious when essays have been written for other schools, then copied.

Think It Through

  • Remember that the foundational education you get in graduate school is very important. You should feel good about the quality of the education you are receiving as well as the experience itself. Are the faculty available, friendly, professional? Does it feel like a place you can do this very hard work and feel supported?
  • Some people look at geography, wanting to stay near home or in the east or west, etc. Remember that grad school is just a few years out of your lifetime and balance geography with quality of program and fit between you and the program.

Follow up on Your Application

  • Check with the places you have sent the materials to see if they have arrived. Note that some programs want materials sent to more than one place (e.g., the graduate school or admissions committee; the program director). Graduate schools and admissions committees at larger universities are very busy around due dates; be patient when you call. Many let you check your status online. 

MFT Tips

  • Know the difference between MFT, social work, counseling, and psychology. Fit is very important because clinical professions are different.
  • Look on the AAMFT website for possible accredited schools:
  • Email or call the program director with your questions after you have read the materials.
  • Don't list John Bradshaw or John Gray as great MFTs that you've read. Learn something about MFT if you haven't had a course of introduction. Read Nichols & Schwartz, The Contemporary Context of Family Therapy (undergraduate) or Family Therapy Concepts and Methods (graduate) for an excellent overview.
  • Don't be discouraged if you are not selected for your first choice program. Remember that this field is competitive and there are many reasons good applicants are selected or deselected for programs: fit with marriage and family therapy, fit with the particular program, qualifications relative to the rest of the pool of applicants. If you are not selected and your passion is MFT, be persistent! Ask what you can do to improve your application, then do it; try again; try elsewhere.
  • If you have any other tips, please share them!