What Is COAMFTE Accreditation?
If you’re looking to learn what is MFT degree, how to become an MFT, and obtain a degree in marriage and family therapy and have started researching potential programs, you may have come across a term you hadn’t seen before: COAMFTE Accreditation.
What does it mean and why should you care?
COAMFTE stands for Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and imposes professional, industry-specific standards on related educational programs. This guide will cover how a training or degree program becomes accredited and some of the benefits of accreditation. As you’ll quickly start to recognize, COAMFTE accredited programs are some of the most reputable and consistent when it comes to marriage and family therapy degrees.
COAMFTE, in its current incarnation, has been in existence since 1978. It’s recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation as the only accrediting agency for graduate degree and clinical training programs in marriage and family therapy. The types of psychology degree programs it accredits include:1
- Master’s Degree programs
- Doctoral Degree programs
- Post-Graduate Degree clinical training programs
The purpose of the accreditation process is to “promote best practices through the establishment, review and revision of accreditation standards and policies.”2 In other words, they assure that these psychology degree programs meet set educational standards that yield well-prepared practitioners.
How A Program Gets Accredited
For a degree program or training program to receive accreditation by COAMFTE, it usually takes two years. There are seven steps on the road to accreditation:3
- Prepare – During this stage, psychology degree programs review resources provided by COAMFTE, gather data for two years prior to applying for accreditation, and attend accreditation training workshops and webinars.
- Submit a Letter of Intent – Six months before submitting their eligibility criteria, health science programs must submit a letter of intent stating that they will be seeking higher education accreditation.
- Submit Eligibility Criteria – During this stage, schools submit many different documents showing they meet all the requirements and are therefore eligible for accreditation. Once reviewed and accepted, the higher education accreditation process can begin.
- Submit a Self-Study – During a self-study, the school evaluates its own MFT program, based on the requested information. This can help health science programs become more effective by clarifying their goals, assessing achievements, identifying problems, and implementing needed changes.
- Conduct a Site Visit – After the self-study, a COAMFTE team will visit the school for two days and write an assessment of the school’s family therapy program.
- Wait for review and a decision – After all the above steps, a commission meeting will take place where all documents and assessments will be reviewed. Within thirty days of this meeting, a decision will be made to either grant accreditation or to provide the school with stipulations they need to meet before being granted full accreditation. The school will have two years to meet these stipulations.
- Maintain accreditation – Following approval, schools are required to submit annual reports showing they still meet all requirements. Initial accreditation lasts for six years before renewal is necessary. Renewals are then granted for seven-year periods.
As you can see, the accreditation process is involved; this allows the commission to effectively assess an MFT program’s eligibility. Only programs that meet these stringent requirements will be COAMFTE accredited.
Benefits of Accreditation
So, after all that, what does a COAMFTE accredited program get you? There are several benefits to students:
- Quality education – By attending a COAMFTE accredited program, most students feel confident in the quality and applicability of their education, as the curriculum, standards, faculty, and goals all align with industry-specific expectations. The process is both time-consuming and rigorous, and will only result in accreditation for programs that meet all requirements.
- Licensing – Marriage and family therapists generally have to be licensed in the state they practice in. Most states require you to have graduated from COAMFTE accredited programs or provide some equivalency to receive licensure.
- Loan reimbursement – If you work in an underserved area for two years, you may be eligible for up to $50,000 in loan reimbursement (in addition to your salary) from the National Health Service Corps. To qualify, you must have graduated from a COAMFTE accredited program.4
Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at Alliant University
Now that you know what COAMFTE accreditation is and how it benefits students, you can see why we’ve ensured that each of the marriage and family therapy programs at Alliant are COAMFTE-accredited. At our California School of Professional Psychology, we offer programs to pursue your MA or PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy.
Our programs offer you a tailored schedule with day, evening, and executive-format courses which are available at all of our campus locations. We also have one of the only programs in the country to provide a COAMFTE-accredited online option. If you’re ready to start your degree in marriage and family therapy, Alliant can be the next step you’ve been looking for.
- “About COAMFTE.” Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. https://www.coamfte.org/COAMFTE/About_COAMFTE/COAMFTE/About_COAMFTE/Abo…. Accessed: January 5, 2022.
- “Accreditation Process at a Glance.” Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. https://www.coamfte.org/COAMFTE/COAMFTE_Resources/Accreditation_Process…. Accessed: January 5, 2022.
- Caldwell, Ben. “Choosing the MFT Program That's Right for You.” National Council on Family Relations. https://www.ncfr.org/resources/career-resources/students/choosing-mft-p…. Accessed: January 5, 2022.