Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to questions about application, academics, finances and tuition, clinical work, and more.

Note: For detailed information on the MFT program and its expectations, please refer to the Essential Guide provided to MFT students (PDF).

Jump to a Section


Program FAQs

The SDSU MFT program is now a 2 and a half year, full-time program. Link to more program details.
Yes, the Dede Alpert Center for Community Counseling and Engagement (CCCE). Most trainees will conduct initial client work at this site.
Location: Suite 215# 4283 El Cajon, Blvd. San Diego, CA 92105
The MFT program is a full-time master's program. It may be possible to work part-time. However, to do so places serious stress on the MFT trainee in being able to produce quality work and develop advanced clinical skills. Some semesters and summers are more intense than others. Much of the skills and knowledge obtained in the program is contingent upon how dedicated one is to learning the professional literature and the nature of the clinical environment.
This is a full-time program and the cohort start their classes together at the end of May. The cohort work closely together over 2 years and 3 summers. No part-time option is available at this time.

Classes will be held at the SDSU main campus and at the CCCE clinic, taking a 7-minute drive from SDSU. Check class schedule prior to purchasing the SDSU parking permit. There may be semesters where all classes are held at the Dede Alpert Center for Community Engagement.

Classes are grouped as a “cohort” and students complete all classes together. Each cohort consists of approximately 30 students per class. The first classes in the summer begin in a block format (6- to 8-hour blocks) and students participate in face-to-face learning using an experiential approach. Some classes are conducted in a circle format. Other classes include small practicums (6 people) where trainees deliver therapy services to clients under live supervision. There are also traditional lectures, small group collaborative learning, and field-work training experience.
There will be predetermined classes and schedules for each semester. Class spots are reserved for each student during registration. Students are expected to register for all required classes. Add codes to enroll in classes are typically sent out via email prior to registration times.
Class times will vary from semester to semester. All scheduling information will be provided to students via email. Students will stay predominately with their cohort throughout the entire program. In a small number of cases, classes may include more than one cohort.
Class times fluctuate by semester. As a full time program, classes may be held at any time Monday through Friday. Many of the classes are in the evening in the first year. Occasionally, there are one-day courses held sometime on a weekend.

We find that employment for student’s post-graduation is available. Students are encouraged to make connections throughout their graduate experience and connect with faculty and site resources for possible employment opportunities.

Graduate students optimize their chances for employment post graduation by immersing themselves in the clinical work at their traineeship sites prior to graduation.

Academic FAQs

The program training is guided by a philosophy that incorporates the following values and commitments:

  • A social constructionist-systemic orientation that regards knowledge as produced through social interaction and as, therefore, subjective rather than objective and true. Thus, therapists hold a tentative and inquiring stance in learning about clients' experiences and in considering the effects of their own perspectives on clients' lives.
  • Multicultural/cross-cultural development that invites examination of understandings of difference, language, history, and power and their effects in people's lives and advances the ability to address these factors in therapy and other relationships.
  • A community-focus to prepare for serving underserved and poorly served populations.
  • Social responsibility and change to consider the therapist's role in relation to social contribution, impact, and leadership for growth in mental health systems.
  • Personal growth, to support the exploration of one's own storied life, including cultural identities and experiences, consider the effects of experiences in social relationships, and open oneself to new personal behaviors and perspectives.

Classes consist of various learning outcomes and styles that vary from lecture, group work, and on-site experiences. Students can expect to participate in Micro-counseling Skills courses that allow members to practice counseling with each other to develop the fundamentals of working with clients.

Community-based work is also incorporated into the curriculum. Students are expected to work within different cultures and communities during the completion of course requirements.

Students are exposed to various ethnic and other cultural populations to strengthen cultural competencies to better prepare for therapy with diverse clients. Cultural competency is a vital part of this program.

Many of the classes are designed to educate students on how to work with different populations requiring mental health services.
While there are traditional lecture based courses, there will be classes that are guided by the students.

Students in the first summer and fall participate in an “unstructured group,” an activity in which students have the opportunity to engage with their cohort in experiential personal-professional growth. Courses structured in this fashion are intended to allow for a safe space for growth while encouraging cultural or familial self-exploration.

Students learn significantly about cutting-edge counseling theories and practices that meet the needs of our diverse communities. Strength-based counseling models and the introduction to recovery practices for those with mental health issues are significant elements of the program.

The professors in the program are highly involved with the MFT classes, the training, supervision, and monitor and pay attention to student’s experiences. The professors and other department members are readily available and diligently pay attention to students' needs.

Students get to know the professors on both an academic and personal level. Many of them work from a Constructionist and Systemic school of thought, which is incorporated into their teaching styles. They collaborate with students and recognize their different needs while acknowledging that “one size does not fit all”.

  • “My professors played a vital role as I grew, not only into a therapist, but a better version of myself” –Sabrina, MFT Alumni
  • “The professors are very involved. They are caring and passionate. They push you to be the best therapist you can be.” –Sheila, MFT Alumni
  • “The faculty are very approachable, supportive and helpful.” –Turkan, MFT Alumni

While the theoretical orientation varies among the faculty, many position themselves within a constructionist-systemic orientation that regards knowledge as produced through social interaction and is, therefore, subjective rather than objective and true. Thus, therapists hold a tentative and inquiring stance in learning about their clients' experiences and view the client as the expert on their own lives. The therapeutic task is viewed as helping clients access their own strengths, resources and under-utilized knowledge.

Theory courses are offered early on in the program, exposing students to various approaches and philosophies. While many of the classes emphasize post-structural and social constructionist thoughts, students are in no way expected to conform exclusively to these ideas. Students are encouraged to follow what best fits them. Faculty members are knowledgeable on many theoretical levels and are available to provide you with any helpful information.

The MFT program offers classes that focus on qualitative research methods to help prepare students in the area of research. Students will also be required to take a Research-focused course. This can help students build on these research experiences that can begin the preparation for doctoral work. Students are able to explore different options and have questions answered, including identifying differences between the Ph.D., Ed.D and Psy.D. In addition to this, students are welcome to interview for the chance to work alongside a faculty member's current research.

Application FAQs

You will submit 2 applications:

  1. Cal State Application 
  2. Program-specific application

Both are online and may have different deadlines and requirements. Both the SDSU requirements and the MFT program requirements are needed in order to complete applications.

For more information, see our admissions page.

Applicants may submit their Cal State Application for another program at SDSU and still qualify to have their application reviewed by the MFT program. However, in order for the application to be reviewed by the MFT program they must also complete the program specific application through Interfolio.

For more information, see our admissions page.

There are no specific coursework or degrees required to apply to the MFT program.

For more information, see our admissions page.

GRE scores are not required. Please note, submitted GRE scores will not be reviewed.

For more information, see our admissions page.

The minimum GPA required by the university is 2.85 for domestic applicants or 3.00 for international applicants. If you don't meet the GPA criteria, your application will not be reviewed. 

For more details on graduate admissions, please see SDSU Graduate Admissions.

Due to the incredibly large volume of applications we receive each year the program director and graduate assistant will not meet individually via phone, video-conference, or in-person with potential candidates prior to the conclusion of admissions.

Two information sessions are held in the fall each year. For more information, see our admissions page.

For general information about the College and Education and to learn more about the university you may contact the Graduate Admissions office

Applications are available once a year, and opens in early fall (October). Please check our website regularly for updates.

For more information, see our admissions page.

Past applicants have submitted letters from former employers, professors, community leaders, and other people who know them well. A recommender’s background in psychology or counseling area is not required. The best recommendations come from those who can speak to a student’s professional qualifications and interpersonal qualities.

For more information, see our admissions page.

All documents must be submitted through the online application. Emails, faxes, or mailed copies will not be accepted.

Approximately 6-10% of applicants are accepted into the program.

 In rare instances, up to 9 approved units can be awarded to transfer students if 1) they have completed course work from another COAMFTE accredited program and 2) the coursework is closely aligned (ideologically, theoretically, and practically), to courses offered in our program. Additionally, transfer students must meet all the SDSU and MFT standard admissions requirements needed to enter the program (this includes applying to the program as a new student). 

You will find information about the admissions process to the university for international students at SDSU's International Student Center.

Both SDSU requirements and the MFT program requirements are needed in order to have a complete application.

TOEFL scores are required for international students. TOEFL 80 iBT/ 550 PBT or higher. Test score must be from within the past two years.

For more information on applying to SDSU as an international student, please see these steps to apply.

Client Work (Clinical) FAQs

The practicum is where students begin to work with clients and this is conducted at the Center for Community Counseling & Engagement during the first fall and spring semester. Students participating in a practicum are now referred to as MFT Trainees who are qualified to see clients. They provide mental heath services to clients under direct supervision by a selected supervisor. The practicum commitment is typically 5 hours per week.

The traineeship is where trainees collect the majority of their required client hours. Trainees will commit to anywhere between 15-25 hours per week at their chosen site.

The internship occurs once trainees have graduated with their degree. The trainee submits a request for an intern number once all pre-requisites are met and then becomes an MFT Associate. Associates will then have the opportunity to complete the remaining hours for licensure, if they choose to do so.

Practicum and trainee work is not paid. Associates will seek employment and, once employed, are paid at a rate lower than a Licensed MFT.

Check out the list of our community traineeship agencies that serve a wide array of ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse groups. 

Class schedules are structured to support students in completing their hours. There tends to be anxiety around completing the required hours at various sites. Most of our sites have the means to complete both relational and individual hours. Sometimes this is contingent upon a student’s ability to reach out to their sites and expose themselves to different avenues and resources that are available to them. It is important to keep track of hours and know where you stand at all times. During the traineeship, students should be averaging 15 client hours per week to collect the required hours.

Students are required to be enrolled in a traineeship course at all times, while working with clients. The traineeship course is intended to allow a space for students to communicate questions around collecting hours, documentation required for graduation, questions regarding their site supervisor, and any other inquiries about a particular site or client work.

Students must acquire a minimum of 300 direct clinical contact hours (in-person or through telehealth with individuals, couples, families or other systems) to graduate. A minimum of 100 of the 300 hours must be relational hours. The majority of your hours will be completed at your traineeship site.

In addition to client hours, students will need to complete 100 supervision hours, 50 of which must be live supervision. A supervisor will need to accompany students during session or through a two-way mirror. Live supervision can also be in the form of audio or video.

The program is structured to best optimize one's eligibility to graduate on time. It is important to attend all traineeship courses, keep track of hours, and keep in continual open communication with the traineeship professor. If at any point students feel unsure of their status, they are encouraged to reach out to the program.

In the case that hours are not completed in time for graduation in May, students have the opportunity to finish the remaining hours and apply for graduation in August.

The practice component requirements in the MFT program include at least 18 months of clinical practice in total."The core clinical experience component of the program requires completion of a minimum of thirteen (13) academic units that are divided into two separate components: six (6) units of Practicum (CSP 755 and 765) (two semesters) and a minimum of three Traineeship CSP 785 classes made up of a total of eight (8) units. 

Finance & Tuition FAQs

See the SDSU tuition and costs page for details. Tuition is subject to change. Contact the Office of Admissions for up-to-date information.

Summer tuition is dependent on the number of units taken.

For further questions, contact Student Account Services: 619-594-5253

Merit-based and need-based scholarships are available, as well as financial aid. See the College of Education's Financial Aid & Scholarships page for more information.
You could find opportunities to get Teaching Assistantship, Graduate Assistantship or Research Assistantship positions when you connect with faculty who are involved in projects with budgets--these are available based on their individual grants and projects. You can inquire about them by contacting the faculty directly or in person when you are a student in the program.