Letter to Prospective Students

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Dear Prospective BYU MFT Masters or Doctoral Student:

We would like to welcome you to apply to our program at BYU.  It is one of the premier Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) graduate programs in the United States! We would welcome you as students, friends, and colleagues joining us in the development of our profession!

The MFT Program at BYU began in 1967 and is among one of the first academic institutions in the United States to train marriage and family therapists. Currently, we are one of the few universities offering both the master and doctoral degrees in MFT.   We were among the first to receive AAMFT Accreditation for both programs and have been accredited since that time. Utah passed legislation to license MFTs in 1971, making it among one of the first states to do so. BYU MFT graduates are in clinical and academic positions throughout the United States, Canada and the rest of the world.

All of our master’s degree students complete a thesis.  Our master’s degree program is designed to help students meet the requirements for licensure.  All of our graduated students who have taken the AMFTRB National Exam have successfully passed.  Finally, all of our graduated students (MS) who apply to doctoral programs are accepted. 

The doctoral students who graduate from our program all complete a dissertation, submit papers to professional journals for publication, present at national conferences, and they complete the supervision requirements to become approved supervisors. These qualifications make them extremely competitive when applying for academic positions and administrative/clinical positions.

Graduate Program Handbook has been developed to assist students as they begin and progress through their studies. A copy of the handbook is available on the website at this location. Specifically, the Handbook  

·         Describes policies and procedures unique to the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program.

·         Outlines expectations and procedures related to the academic curriculum.

·         Identifies the resources available at BYU including faculty, staff, library, computer resources, and financial aid, etc.

Application for Admission

The BYU Graduate Studies application deadline is December 1. The application is available online and can be accessed through the MFT application page. All of our candidates for admission are reviewed at the same time.  This occurs during December, January, and February of the year that admission is desired, and final decisions are made on or before April 1st of each year. 

Our admission process includes evaluation of your grade point average (GPA) both overall and for upperdivision coursework; the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections of the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE); at least three letters of recommendation (preferably from university faculty who know you well); your letter of intent and interviews with the faculty.  Those students selected for in-person interviews will be contacted and invited for a specific interview date.  

The interview process is a day-long introduction to our programs, faculty and current students, as well as a review of your goals and interests.  After the interviews, each faculty makes his/her own selection of students with the advice and consent of the other MFT faculty.  Faculty decisions are based primarily on the perceived "fit" between a student's interests, interests of the program, the interests of the individual faculty member(s), and the number of students each faculty member can reasonably advise with their normal work load.  Each of the ten faculty members will usually select one or two new students each year depending on program needs and constraints.

Our selection process was developed as a way of establishing a close working relationship between faculty and students early in the program.  This selection process also represents a commitment by the faculty to the progress and success of each student we accept; however, we do not require that students and faculty continue to work together throughout their program.  There is flexibility in the advising process as both students and faculty are free to make new advising arrangements as they see fit.

Foreign applicants living outside the United States and other applicants who are unable to attend the interview are invited to send a video recording of him or herself responding to interview questions if he/she cannot arrange to visit campus for the interview date.

We are interested in a diverse and engaging group of students.  We take life experiences and circumstances into consideration as we review applications.  However, in general, successful applicants to our program have had a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 310 or above and their writing scores are 4.5 or above.  Their GPA for the last 60 hours of upper division coursework is generally 3.5 or higher; they have strong letters of reference from university faculty and other professionals who know them well, and have clear goals and reasons for wanting to become a Marriage and Family Therapist.

All of our students are eligible for financial aid and most students receive some sort of assistance.  In most cases it is in the form of tuition remission and employment as a graduate research or teaching assistant.  Our financial aid policy is to provide aid equally to all of our students who need it.  There is no competition between students for tuition remission or assistantships.  Our financial aid package is generally better than that provided by most other universities.  We have allocated our funds in this way to help students focus primarily on their academic courses and clinical experiences.  We strongly discourage students from working outside the program while engaged in their program of studies.  Most students who attempt outside employment are not able to maximize their experiences and often do not meet the required level of expertise.

In addition, our department and college have a generous number of scholarships and grants available for continuing students.  These scholarships and grants are awarded on the basis of need and performance and are somewhat competitive.  All students are encouraged to apply for these supplemental awards, although a priority is given to continuing students.  Additional financial aid information is available from the University Financial Aid Office (A-41 ASB).

In a review of scholarship productivity across COAMFTE-accredited doctoral programs in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, BYU’s MFT program was ranked as the most productive MFT program from 2000 to 2005 and as the second-most productive for the 1990s (DuPree, White, Meredith, Ruddick, & Anderson, April, 2009). The same study indicated that four of the eight most prolific researchers across COAMFTE-accredited doctoral programs are BYU MFT faculty: Drs. Crane, Larson, Miller, and Sandberg; furthermore, two of the six most cited researchers are also BYU MFT faculty: Drs. Crane and Larson (Dupree et al., 2009).   

We have an exciting and very active research program at BYU which includes students and faculty.  Many students use the opportunities provided by the faculty research programs to work collaboratively with faculty, collect data and/or use collected research data for their thesis and dissertations.  The current faculty includes: 

Shayne Anderson, Ph.D. whose research interests include: understanding the change process in couple and family therapy, in particular, common predictors and mediators of change across different models of therapy.

Lauren Barnes, Ph.D., Clinical Director of Training, whose research interests include: Cultural, familial, and other systematic influences on body image and eating disorders, women’s issues such as body image, eating disorders, reproductive issues and relationship struggles

Roy A. Bean, Ph.D. whose research interests include: Parent-adolescent relationships in ethnically diverse families, culturally competent therapy for Hispanics/Latinos

Angela Bradford, Ph.D. whose research interests include: Effectiveness and moderators of change in couple interactions; mechanisms of change in intervention; emotional regulation in couple therapy

Lee N. Johnson, Ph.D. whose research interests include examining the relationship between physical exercise, improved sleep, and reduced stress on marital and family therapy outcomes; emotional regulation process in clinical couples and families; and the therapy alliance

Richard B. Miller, Ph.D. whose research interests include:  Marital relationships over the life course; Aging families; Multi-cultural families.

Jonathan G. Sandberg, Ph.D., program director, whose research interests include:  Couples and Health; Medical Family Therapy; MFT Outcome Research; Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

Jason Whiting, Ph.D. whose research interests include: Couple conflict, including abuse, control, and deception. Mindfulness, wellness, MFT theory, and qualitative inquiry. 

Alyssa Banford Witting, Ph.D. whose research interests include: trauma symptom intervention, understanding how contextual and cultural factors relate to the maintenance of distress in mass trauma, war and disaster exposed women in Sri Lanka specifically, clinical processes related to traumatic symptom reduction and furthering the understanding how various therapeutic factors and techniques can be shaped to reduce the social, physiological, and psychological distress resulting from traumatic exposure. 

Two great BYU undergrad courses for students interested in learning about MFT before grad school are the SFL 465 Survey of MFT and Educational Interventions and SFL330 Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy.  Other universities have similar courses.

There are a variety of Marriage and Family Therapy programs from which to choose.  We believe Brigham Young University has one of the finest programs available.  We hope you will consider us carefully.  You are invited to contact me or any of the other faculty if you have questions. 

We wish you the best in your decision making and look forward to your participation in, and contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy as a profession.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Sandberg

Professor and MFT Program Chair

jonathan_sandberg@byu.edu