collage of counseling sessions

Crean College

» Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program is specifically structured to prepare students for licensure in California as Marriage and Family Therapists.

Of the 92 state accredited or approved MFT programs, Chapman's is one of only eight programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE).

+ - Upcoming Events

Wednesday, September 13:  Information Session Webinar – 12 p.m. - Register

+ - Our Mission

Our mission is to provide students with the academic and professional training to become multiculturally competent, ethical and systems-oriented marriage and family therapists who are critical consumers of research in the field.

+ - Onsite Clinical Practicum

For one year, all MFT students conduct individual, couple, and family therapy under direct supervision of licensed mental health professionals at Chapman’s MFT Training Clinic, the Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy, which opened a new state-of-the-art clinic in January 2011. With eight large observation rooms, each equipped with digital cameras used to record sessions for instructional purposes, the clinic not only provides students with valuable real-world training, but it also strives to improve the quality of life in the greater community.

Very few MFT programs possess an onsite clinic, which enables students to work toward the 3,000 hours they must complete prior to taking the MFT licensing exams in California. Several of our graduates have cited this part of the program as one of the best aspects of their education, as it is very difficult to get this kind of hands-on experience elsewhere.

+ - Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy

Frances Smith Center for Individual & Family Therapy

Established in 1965 by faculty and students concerned about helping families and individuals affected by the Vietnam War, the Frances Smith Center for Individual and Family Therapy (also known as the Chapman University Community Clinic) has grown into a well-respected training facility offering psychological treatment services to the local community.

Under the auspices of Chapman University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program (a nationally-accredited program by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education-COAMFTE, the Center operates as a non-profit clinic for individuals, couples, families, and children.  The dual mission of the Center is to provide high quality and affordable mental health services to the local community and to provide an excellent training and research environment to the graduate students in the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program at Chapman University. 

MFT trainees are under the direct supervision of licensed clinical faculty. The Center is composed of eight therapy rooms, including a play therapy room for child therapy, and larger rooms for family therapy.  In addition, these rooms are equipped for direct observation and/or recording of sessions by clinical supervisors, as part of the extensive training and supervision of our graduate students.

In addition, the Frances Smith Center is also open to (1) Chapman graduate students who have not elected to pay the university health and counseling fee; and (2) Chapman undergraduates who have been referred to the Frances Smith Center.  Chapman students will be assessed the minimum fee of $15 per session.


At the Center, therapists treat a wide range of issues which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adult survivor issues
  • Divorce recovery
  • Pre-marital counseling
  • Stress management
  • Relationship loss
  • Stepfamily issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Infertility issues
  • Parent-child issues
  • Couple conflict
  • Family stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bereavement
  • Trauma
  • Chronic illness
  • Parenting skills
  • Self-esteem

Please read the following questions below.  If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you would benefit from a higher level care than our training clinic can provide.  Please contact 211 for a list of other counseling centers in the area, or go to

  1. Are you having suicidal thoughts at this time?
  2. Have you been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons within the past 3 years?
  3. Are you hearing voices and seeing things that are not there, having disorganized or rapid thoughts and not under the care of a psychiatrist?

NOTE:  The Center does not offer services to individuals or families requiring documentation for child custody, court-related matters and cannot complete documentation for disability or any other type of evaluative services.  The Center also does not serve clients who are using any kind of substances including prescription marijuana.

 Making a First Appointment

In order to schedule a first appointment, please call the Center at (714) 997-6746.  If you do not reach a staff member immediately, a voicemail system will take your message and a clinical staff member will return your call as soon as possible. If leaving a message, please leave your name, telephone number, and a good time to reach you as part of your message.

A clinical staff member will then contact you to complete a brief telephone interview (approximately 10-15 minutes). Fees are established on a sliding scale based on monthly gross income, so you will know what your fee will be at the time of this interview.

After completion of the telephone interview, your information will be given to the Associate Director of the Center who will assign a therapist to call you for your first appointment. Assignments are based on availability, as well as the type and nature of the presenting concerns.

At your first appointment, you will be asked to arrive approximately 30 minutes early to complete paperwork

Hours of Operation

Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Fees are established according to a sliding scale, based on the individual or family’s monthly gross income (employment, unemployment, disability, SSI/SSA, worker’s compensation, alimony/child support, etc.).

Fees may range from $15.00 to $60.00 per session.  These fees cover only a small portion of the cost of providing services.  Payment is due at the time of the session, cash or check only.  The Center has a 24-hour cancellation policy or the full fee will be charged for the late cancellation.

NOTE:  Because graduate students provide services, insurance plans including Medicare, Medi-Cal, CalOptima, Healthy Families, etc., do not cover these services.


501 W. Palm Avenue
Orange, CA  92868
Telephone: (714) 997-6746
Fax: (714) 744-7879

The Crean Building is located on Palm Avenue next to the railroad tracks just west of Cypress Street.  The entrance to the Center is through the large black doors at the front of Crean Building  facing Palm Avenue  The Center lobby is located in Room 122.

Parking is available in the lot directly across the street, in non-Chapman parking stalls parallel to the railroad tracks.  The Center is now closer to public transportation (two blocks north of the Orange Metrolink station).


From the south:

  • Take the 5 Freeway North
  • Change to the 55 Freeway North
  • Exit on Chapman Avenue West and turn right
  • Make a right on Tustin Avenue
  • Make a left at first signal (Palm)
  • Stay on Palm until you cross the railroad tracks (approx. 1.5 miles)
  • Crean Hall is the brick building on the right side just next to the railroad tracks

From the north:

  • Take the 5 Freeway South
  • Change to the 22 Freeway East
  • Exit on Main Street exit and turn right and proceed to signal (Main St.), and then make a right
  • Continue on Main to Palm and make a right
  • At the signal before the railroad tracks, make a right into the parking lot
  • Crean Hall is the brick building across the street – enter through the black doors nearest the tracks

All clinical staff are graduate students in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Chapman University.  The students are Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees (or MFT Trainees) and are under the direct supervision of licensed clinical supervisors, ensuring high quality clinical services in a training environment.

Center Administrators

Naveen Jonathan, Ph.D., LMFT
Clinic Director
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Susan Jester, M.A., LMFT
Associate Clinic Director
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist


Clinical Supervisors

Suzanne Benko, M.S., LMFT
Adjunct Faculty 
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Lori Breeden-Gomez, M.S., LMFT
Adjunct Faculty 
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Heather Hargis, M.S., LMFT
Adjunct Faculty
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Linda Karmelich, M.A., LMFT
Adjunct Faculty 
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Brennan Peterson, Ph.D., LMFT
Associate Professor
MFT Program Director
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Ann Worley, M.A., LMFT
Adjunct Faculty
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

+ - Admission Guidelines

There is a priority review deadline for those applicants who submit their application along with all required supplemental materials by October 1 for Spring admission and February 1 for Fall admission.


You must possess a bachelor's degree in psychology (or equivalent discipline) from an accredited college or university, or you must provide evidence of a satisfactory academic background in all of the following:

1. Introduction to psychology
2. Abnormal psychology
3. Developmental psychology or human development
4. Research methods

*You must be enrolled in or have completed 3 of the 4 required prerequisite classes by the admission deadline.  All prerequisites must be met by the time you have completed your first semester. You will need to submit proof of completion of or enrollment in the required prerequisite courses when you apply by submitting official transcripts from the institution(s) where you completed or are currently taking the required courses.  In addition, you will need to have earned a grade of C+ or higher in each course.

Admission Requirements:

  • Online application for admission (which includes $60 non-refundable application fee)
  • Official transcript from degree granting institution and institution(s) where prerequisite courses were completed (if applicable).
  • Graduate Admission Test Scores – If your bachelor degree cumulative GPA is below a 3.3, you may be considered for admission by submitting a satisfactory Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score which are listed as previous version test scores and new version comparative test scores, respectively:

                             Verbal:  500/153
                             Quantitative:  550/146
                             Analytical Writing: 4.5

  • Letters of recommendation – two letters of recommendation are required from persons actively engaged in teaching and/or the practice of counseling who are familiar with your academic and personal qualifications.
  • Personal Statement – no more than three double spaced typed pages in length. Address how each of the following have contributed to your career objectives and prepared you to begin graduate studies in marriage and family therapy:

                a) Educational background
                b) Professional work experience (clinical internships or volunteer work) in
                    mental health, human services or related fields
                c) Personal or family background and experiences

  • Resume – a resume or curriculum vitae is required
  • Non-Discrimination Policy and Licensure Notification Form – complete, sign and submit with application.
  • TOEFL (International Students Only) – applicants who have completed their undergraduate degree outside of the United States are required to achieve an acceptable score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), minimum 550 (paper-based), or 80 (internet-based).
  • Financial Certification Form (International Students Only)

+ - Alumni Spotlight

Where are our most recent graduates working?
  • Community Mental Health 25%
  • Residential Care 25%
  • School Setting 25%
  • Drug and Alcohol Center 18.75%
  • Hospital 6.25%
  • Non-profit Organization 6.25
How long did it take them to find employment?
  • 1 month 62.5%
  • 2 months 6.25%
  • 3 months 6.25%
  • 4 months 6.25%
  • 4 months 18.75%

This MFT program may also serve as the foundation for further graduate study in psychology or one of the related disciplines, a number of our students decide to pursue a doctorate degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2012), it is estimated that the number of LMFT jobs will increase by 31% over the next decade-much faster than other occupations.

For detailed salary information for MFTs in California and throughout the United States, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website:

+ - Core Faculty

Our faculty are licensed professionals specializing in a broad range of approaches, including family systems, cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, and post-modern.  As students will be tested on several different theories as they attain licensure, the availability of multiple areas of faculty expertise has proven invaluable for alumni.

Naveen Jonathan Ph.D., LMFT Program Director
Research Interests: Gender roles and equality in couple relationships, elderly clients and their families, and multicultural issues in therapy.
Clinical Interests: Children/teens and their families, couple relationships, LGBTQ community, college/university students, and solution focused therapy.

Brennan Peterson Ph.D., LMFT Associate Professor
Research Interests: Coping with infertility, fertility awareness, and oocyte cryopreservation.
Clinical Interests: Couple/Individual therapy, emotion-focused therapy, and mindfulness.

Arpita Lal Ph.D., LMFT Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Families coping with chronic illness, and multicultural and gender related issues.
Clinical Interests: Couples therapy, teens, young adults, multicultural, and gender issues.

+ - COAMFTE Accreditation Benefits

The COAMFTE accreditation allows for ease of transferability of coursework, clinical hours, and credits completed among COAMFTE-accredited programs, oftentimes easing the licensure process after moving to another state. Students are encouraged to check with their preferred state regarding specific educational requirements.  More information regarding individual state regulatory board requirements can be found at

+ - Student Learning Goals and Program Outcomes

Program Goals
  1. Teach a comprehensive curriculum emphasizing relational/systemic theories and techniques (KNOWLEDGE)
  2. Train students to be competent in the practice of marriage and family therapy (PRACTICE)
  3.  Promote an environment of inclusion and respect for diversity in all its forms throughout curriculum offerings and clinical training (DIVERSITY)
  4. Teach students to critically evaluate research in the field and use it to inform and enhance clinical practice (RESEARCH)
  5. Train students to apply MFT professional and ethical standards (ETHICS)
Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Students will demonstrate a knowledge of family systems theories by incorporating theory and technique when working with different treatment units.
  2. Students will be able to successfully apply systemic theories in clinical practice.
  3. Students will demonstrate an awareness of and respect for diversity issues and their own social location in relation to their clinical experience.
  4. Students will be successful consumers of research by demonstrating an understanding of basic research methods and integrating this knowledge into clinical practice.
  5. Students will be knowledgeable of and successfully apply appropriate legal and ethical guidelines necessary for the competent practice of marriage and family therapy.

+ - Sample Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is solidified with the Program Manager upon admission

 3 yr plan

+ - Student Testimonials

Giovanna Camponovo - "Besides being very competitive, the program has a good emphasis on cultural diversity, and I don’t mean just the community.  The program itself includes ‘cultural heritage’ as an ingrained component. I’m able to look into my own and other cultures, which is especially important for an MFT in California.”

Christy Zail - “It is rare for a graduate school to have a site on campus where students can complete practicum, and it is one of the great benefits that sets Chapman apart from other institutions.”

Tal Feingold - “The amount of personal attention I’ve received has been impressive.  There’s never been a point where I didn’t have someone to consult.” 

Angela Liang - “Chapman has created a great network within the community to provide students and interns with jobs post-graduation via its alumni who work in various agencies.  The MFT field is important because it offers support, assistance and guidance in areas that are often forgotten yet very important for people to function successfully.  The camaraderie that I have developed with my classmates, as well as the faculty and staff, has been a blessing, adding to both my academic and professional experiences.”

Lea Mendoza – “My training at the clinic was valuable for three reasons.  First, it’s rare to find an MFT training clinic within a master’s program because this is normally found at the doctoral level.  Second, the diversity and depth of experience and knowledge of the clinic’s supervisors enriched my learning experience tremendously.  And third, the clinic’s faculty and staff made themselves available to us to ensure our educational and personal growth and success.”

Kathleen Mates-Youngman - “It’s so important to work in a clinical setting with high-quality supervision during your internship.  And the fact that you can do your hours and get this valuable training right there on campus, under the supervision of your own professors, makes the experience and the education even more valuable.”

+ - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can I contact for more information about the program?

The MFT program manager, Cassidy Manton, can answer any questions you may have about the program and is available to schedule in-person appointments.  We also encourage prospective students to attend one of our Information Sessions where they receive detailed program information, meet our program director and tour our on-site MFT training clinic.  You may contact Ms. Manton at (714) 744-7837 or via email at for further information or to schedule an appointment.  

What are the admission periods for the program?  When will I know if I’m accepted?

Chapman University’s MFT program has two admission deadlines, February 1 for Fall, and October 1 for Spring.  All applications are carefully reviewed and prospective students may be invited to our university for an interview.  You will be notified of our admission decision via mail within 4 to 6 weeks of the admission deadline. 

Is the GRE required for admission?

If your GPA is less than 3.3, you’ll need to submit a copy of your GRE scores with your application.  Otherwise, GRE score submission is optional.

Is there a preference for who writes my recommendation letters?

We encourage you to submit letters from individuals who can best speak to your academic and professional strengths and abilities.  Typically students submit letters from professors from their academic institution and from supervisors of their clinical or volunteer work. 

What is the likelihood I will be accepted into Chapman University’s MFT program?

On average, we admit 30% of our total applicants.

How many units will I have to complete and what is the cost of tuition?

This MFT program requires successful completion of 60 units (20 courses) for graduation.  For tuition cost per unit, see the Chapman University Financial Aid webpage and click on the Tuition and Fees link for the desired school year.

Is Financial Aid available?

Yes. Students may apply for financial aid through FAFSA. We also offer fellowships to aid in recruiting top candidates to our program. 

How long does the program take to complete?

The program takes full-time students 2 ½ to 3 years to complete.  Students may also choose to attend the program on a part-time basis.  Our students work with the MFT program manager to develop a plan of study that works best for them.

What days and times are the courses offered?

Most of the classes are offered from either 4-6:50 p.m. or 7-9:50 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  In the final year of study, schedules vary, as students attend clinical supervision meetings and meet with clients in our clinic to complete their practicum requirements.

What is the average class size?

Our MFT program strives to maintain small class sizes to create opportunities for increased engagement, discussion and faculty accessibility.  Classes average around 20-25 students.  

Does Chapman University assist with clinical practicum experience?

All MFT students complete 3 semesters of practicum at our onsite MFT training clinic.  At the clinic, students receive supervised clinical experience treating adults, couples, families and children.  Student clinical training includes video-based supervision and clinical case presentations as well as live observation of therapy sessions.  Students may also elect to participate in external traineeships for additional clinical experience.

What are the requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist?

In California, applicants for MFT licensure need to have a qualifying Doctor’s or Master’s degree, have completed of 3,000 supervised work hours and have passed both state licensure exams.  Students typically complete 500-700 hours during the program and must complete the remainder as an MFT intern following graduation. See the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) website at for more details.

What happens if I move to another state after I graduate?

Chapman University’s MFT program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).  Although licensure requirements vary from state to state, more than half of state licensure boards accept COAMFTE accredited coursework.  

What is the value of COAMFTE accreditation?

COAMFTE accreditation compels programs to raise standards and improve program efficiency.  Students receive higher quality training due to increased emphasis on program improvement.  Of the 70 MFT programs in California, only 7 others are COAMFTE accredited.

How long does it take to get licensed?

Students who work full-time after graduation typically take 2 to 3 years to complete the remaining hours for licensure. 

What kinds of jobs are available to me in this field?

Career paths in mental health are an individual choice.  Most LMFTs find careers in private practice, outpatient centers, government agencies, health practitioner offices, and residential care centers.  For more statistics on LMFTs in the field, see the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.


+ - Diversity

Student program demographics

faculty demographics

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Student Achievement Criteria

You can find COMAFTE Student Achievement Criteria (SAC) for Chapman University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program including graduation rates, job placement rates and licensure exam pass rates here.

Our class schedules accommodate working professionals

We are on a traditional 16-week semester system, with weekly evening held in the fall, spring and summer.  Students may attend courses on a full-time basis or work with our program manager to develop a plan of study that works best for them.

Why MFT?

According to US News and World Report, a marriage and family therapist ranks at #51 of the 100 best careers in America and #2 in social service jobs.