2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    Jul 18, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Counseling and Human Resource Development (M.S.) - Marriage and Family Counseling Specialization

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Program Coordinator/Contact

Staci Born, Assistant Professor
Department of Counseling and Human Development
Wenona Hall 301, Box 507

Program Information

Students who successfully complete this 60-credit hour specialization will earn a Master of Science in Counseling and Human Resource Development specializing in Marriage and Family Counseling. Upon successful completion of the core requirements, and those of the Marriage and Family Counseling specialization and with the successful completion of the comprehensive written and oral examinations, graduates are endorsed as having constructed appropriate entry level knowledge and as having met appropriate skill acquisition to be recognized as professional marriage and family therapists. Students in the Marriage and Family Counseling specialization are also responsible for having taken supporting area courses which supplement or enhance their chosen specialty.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Understand and advocate for positive attention to developmental needs of individuals, couples, families, and groups;
  • Effectively identify needs of individuals, couples, and families as they relate to human development and sexuality over the lifespan; 
  • Appreciate cultural, ethnic, and gender differences as they relate to perceptions and expectations of counseling; (Transferable Skill: Diversity Awareness)
  • Apply ethical, legal, moral, and professional standards to all aspects of professional counseling services; (Transferable Skill: Ethics - Moral Decision Making/Moral Reasoning)
  • Respond to the mental health needs of a variety of individuals, couples, and families, through a wide spectrum of services including support, education, assessment, and treatment;
  • Understand and be able to appropriately select and apply a variety of service or treatment modalities;
  • Be prepared to pursue licensure as a professional marriage and family therapist.

Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure


The Master of Science in CHRD specializing in Marriage and Family Counseling, is seeking accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). 


All Master of Science students are eligible to begin the process for the National Certified Counselor certification. Upon graduation, Marriage and Family Counseling specialization students are eligible to apply to complete the National Marriage and Family Therapy Examination.


Graduation from this program does not grant immediate licensure as a marriage and family therapist. Licensure differs by state and is obtainable by completing additional client contact hours after graduation. Students are responsible for researching licensure requirements for the state in which they plan to practice.

The Marriage and Family Counseling specialization is designed to meet the requirements of the South Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners. Graduates of this specialization are eligible for training supervisee status under the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors. Once graduates complete an approved plan for the remainder of the supervised clinical experience, they are eligible for licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

Course Delivery Format

Instruction occurs through didactic (classroom) and clinical experience. Most classes are enhanced with internet supplement.

Available Options for Graduate Degrees

Master of Science Option A - Thesis 61 Credit Hours
  Option B - Research/Design Paper 60 Credit Hours
  Option C - Coursework Only 60 Credit Hours

Select one of the following options

Option A - Thesis

Option B - Research/Design Paper

Option C - Coursework Only

  • Electives (Any prefix and course should be related to counseling) Credits: 4

Total Required Credits: 61 (Option A), 60 (Option B & C)

Additional Program Requirements

  • All Master of Science students are required to purchase and carry professional liability insurance throughout the duration of the program. M.Ed. students will be required to purchase and carry professional liability insurance if enrolled in clinical courses.
  • Clinical course registration is completed by the department.
  • Students enrolled in the M.S. CHRD program need to complete a 100-hour practicum and an approved 600-hour internship. These experiences allow students to learn by doing, with active, sound supervision. Within their internship, a focus on family systems theory should be emphasized and at least 10% of direct client contact hours should be conducted with two or more clients present in session.

Additional Admission Requirements

GRE: Not required
TOEFL: Department requirement of 525 paper-based, 71 Internet-based
IELTS: 5.5

Formal Application Process

In addition to applying for Graduate School, applicants must also apply to the CHRD program by April 1 for fall admission or by October 1 for spring admission. Admission is competitive; late applications will not be considered.

The CHRD department requires all applicants to submit the documents below by the appropriate admission deadline:

  • CHRD Disclosure Statement
  • Resume
  • A typed, one-page goal statement discussing your aspirations to the counseling field
  • Two completed CHRD Recommendation Forms (do not use the Graduate School reference forms).

Based on the rating score of the applicant’s file, the applicant will either be invited to the group screening interview top continue the admissions process or denied admission.

Criminal Background Check Requirement

Applicants who successfully complete the interview will be required to successfully complete and pay for a criminal background check before an official offer of admission is secured.

General Requirements

Graduate students should consult with their advisor before registering for graduate coursework.

For additional information refer to the Master’s Degree Requirements .

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