Two distinct degree credentials, MSW and MFT, provide a wealth of knowledge which is crucial to helping individuals and families in crisis.

The dual master’s degree program (MA/MSW) in Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work allows students to complete a master’s degree in two distinct professions in three years. The dual degree exposes students to philosophical and legal distinctions of both degrees. It introduces Marriage and Family Therapy students to a broader range of social work and social welfare course offerings, it creates a unique opportunity for MSW students to deepen their clinical training with couples and families, and introduces MFT students to the art of clinical diagnosis which is in the scope of practice of the Social Work profession.

This was the first dual MSW-MFT master’s degree program in the country. It combines the generalist practice orientation of the MSW foundation and the advanced theory, practice and skills content of the MSW curriculum with the intensive relational clinical training of the MFT degree.

The dual MSW-MFT degree will allow students to seek licensure in Social Work and/or Marriage and Family Therapy in any state in the country and assume a very competitive position for employment opportunities.

The MSW program at Syracuse University is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The MA in Marriage and Family Therapy curriculum— accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education—meets the academic requirements for clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is intended for students who have a strong commitment to clinical work with children and families.

Why this degree makes a difference in society today…tomorrow…

Social Workers work well within social institutional systems like health, education, work, welfare, law, justice, but these systems in themselves do not have the ability to support families in their shared concerns, unique structures and functions. Marriage and Family Therapist work well to understand the dynamics of the family unit and what is needed for the healing and stability of individuals and families. Bringing together both disciplines is essential to be able to intervene more holistically from an interpersonal level and from a community system level. To fully help families both Social Workers and Therapists are crucial and necessary.

A student graduating with a combined degree in MSW and MFT is provided an invaluable wealth of knowledge in both disciplines and will be able to use these skills to not only make a lasting effect on individuals and families in need but also help to bring about needed changes within the social systems that intervene with families.

The instability of families has become an increasingly important issue over the past half-century. According to U.S. News & World Report, marriage and family therapy is one of the fastest-growing mental health disciplines in the U.S. today. More than 50,000 marriage and family therapists treat individuals, couples, and families nationwide. Membership in AAMFT has grown from 237 members in 1960 to more than 25,500 in 2015. This growth is a result, in part, of renewed public awareness of the value of family life and concern about the increased stresses on families in a rapidly changing world.

Similarly, jobs in social work are expected to increase much faster than average for all occupations. Growth areas are anticipated in gerontology, mental health and co-occurring disorders (substance use disorders and mental health), child welfare, military social work, and health care.

Sample Courses

The course requirements and electives for the dual master's degree provide a thorough and comprehensive course foundation in theory, practice, and skills blended with intensive, hands-on field and clinical training. Sample courses include:

  • Social Welfare Policy and Services
  • Family Systems Theory
  • Psychopathology
  • Marriage and Family Therapy Ethics and Issues
  • Advanced Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups
  • Marriage and Family Therapy Theory and Techniques
  • Mental Health Policy
  • Couple Therapy: Theory and Techniques
View all course requirements and electives

Our Facilities

The Social Work department is located at 244 White Hall on the Syracuse University campus and provides faculty and student work space. In addition, the Social Work department offers field placement at any of the 200 social welfare, human services and health agencies from 27 counties in upstate New York.

The Marriage and Family Therapy department located at Peck Hall, 601 E. Genesee Street near main campus houses a newly renovated, state of the art, clinical training facility with 14 counseling rooms, observation rooms, and a digital recording system.

Peck Hall is situated adjacent to the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, enhancing collaborations with the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy specifically around issues of child and family trauma and giving students a technologically advanced, interdisciplinary training environment working with highly skilled and very dedicated mental health professionals. Additional long-standing community partnerships provide experience-rich learning opportunities for MFT students, including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Jewish Family Services, Vera House, and the Brownell Center at Liberty Resources, among many others.


Practicum

More than 200 social welfare, human services and health agencies from across Upstate New York provide graduate field instruction and clinical training opportunities. Social work students complete at least 1,000 hours of field placement experience during their two years of training; classroom and field learning are integrated. MFT students complete 500 hours of direct clinical client contact during their two years of field instruction. They spend one year providing therapy in the Falk College’s Couple and Family Therapy Center located on-site within the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy in the heart of the Syracuse community. MFT students additionally see clients in off-campus practicum sites after their first semester of client contact.


Careers

Both Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists work in similar settings including outpatient care centers, inpatient care facilities and hospitals, offices of health practitioners, schools, social service agencies, government agencies, substance abuse and addiction treatment centers, medical and mental health centers, employee assistance programs, within the legal and correctional systems, health maintenance organizations, Department of Veterans Affairs and military, within churches and religious settings, and in private practice.

Positions within these fields often ask for either a MSW or LMFT credential. Having both makes you invaluable to any employer and sets you up for further advancement in your career. Job titles with these credentials include:

  • Masters Level Therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Clinical Supervisor
  • Behavior Analyst
  • Psychiatric Social Worker
  • Outreach Administrator
  • Forensic Clinician
  • Crisis Care Specialist
  • Organizational Consultant, Talent Manager or Quality Improvement Specialist in corporate settings

Student Organizations

Students should maintain membership in AAMFT throughout their enrollment in the M.A. Students should apply for Student Membership in AAMFT their first term in the core program and maintain registration until receiving their degree. Students interested in working with faculty on research projects will find numerous projects available to them. Additionally, specialized opportunities based on a student’s interest are also available to broaden his or her professional skills. For example, the Gender Expansive Support Team (GEST) involves student therapists providing LGBTQ affirmative therapy and assisting clients who are preparing for gender transition. The GEST team provides a unique opportunity for students who want to gain training and experience working with transgender people and their loved ones. Students volunteering for this team attend specialized training, where they learn about a gender-affirmative approach to therapy and how to support transgender clients through the readiness process for medical gender transition.


Commitment to Diversity

Syracuse University’s Marriage and Family Therapy department and the School of Social Work both demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Faculty and staff prepare students to value the creation of socially-just, anti-racist, LGBTQ-Affirmative and anti-discriminatory environments. Students are expected to engage in cultural humility, awareness of self in relation to others, and an understanding of psychosocial and cultural contexts of issues presented in clinical practice and research. We believe that valuing each other’s similarities and differences helps us to deepen our understanding of relationships in systems. Students are required to see clients with diverse backgrounds/experiences and may not choose their caseloads based on race, class, gender/gender expression, sexual orientation, religion, culture, age, or other diversity category.


Financial Support

Merit-based financial support is awarded based on a student’s admission application. These awards are highly competitive and are available to both U.S. and international full-time students. Students may apply for several loan programs to cover the cost of attendance. (Federal Direct Loan, Program Federal PLUS Loans, Alternative Loan Programs).


Getting Admitted

Given the rigorous nature of this program only full-time study is allowed. Students who are admitted to the program and drop below full-time will not be able to continue in the dual program.

Students will initially apply to either the Marriage and Family Therapy MA or Social Work MS programs, with admission to the Dual MSW/MA program at the end of year one using an internal admission process.

Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate coursework. Application requirements include transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Admission requirement for this program include TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.

For additional admissions information, visit the course catalog or contact the Office of Admissions at falk@syr.edu or 315.443.5555.

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