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    Lee University
    Jun 20, 2024  
Lee University Catalog 2021-2022 
Lee University Catalog 2021-2022 [Archived Catalog]

College of Arts and Sciences Doctoral Studies in Marriage and Family Therapy

60 credit hours - Three Year Program

J. Matthew Melton, Dean

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy

Brandon Rodgers, Graduate Program Director
Kirstee Williams, Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director

MFT Doctoral Mission

The mission of the Lee University Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program is to prepare leaders in the marriage and family field that serves the underserved through Christian organizations and their surrounding communities. The core priorities of the program are to develop each student to become an innovative clinician, a proficient educator, a systemic supervisor, and a pragmatic researcher.

Program Philosophy

Recognizing the complexity of human relationships and the limits of our understanding, we seek to create a shared learning environment that authentically integrates faith, science, and experience into the clinical practice of marriage and family therapy. From our faith, we draw the concepts of hope, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, faithfulness, and commitment. From science, we embrace an empirical worldview where our treatments are evidence-based. We value our different experiences that may be based in our biology, culture, and environment.

We encourage a therapeutic stance based on curiosity, respect, and openness. We define our calling as one of service, reaching out to the underserved in a broken world. While recognizing reductionistic paradigms have some usefulness, we believe that a holistic approach which simultaneously considers the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of the human experience offers a more powerful framework for case conceptualization, relational diagnosis, and treatment. 

Program Outcomes


Graduates will demonstrate the knowledge needed for research, supervision, teaching, and advanced clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy.


Graduates will demonstrate systemic and relational skills needed for research, supervision, teaching, and advanced clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy.


Graduates will demonstrate competency with diverse, marginalized, and underserved communities through their research, supervision, and teaching in the field of marriage and family therapy.


Graduates will demonstrate their ability to produce original research contributing to the field of marriage and family therapy.


Graduates will demonstrate ethical decision-making skills appropriate for research, supervision, teaching, and advanced clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Academic Support Services

Lee University’s Academic Support Office provides support for students needing services and special accommodations in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disability ACT of 1990. The office works to ensure that students with temporary or permanent disabilities (physical, sensory, learning, and/or emotional), have equal access to educational opportunities and also provides information on issues of accessibility and reasonable accommodations. Services include alternative testing sites, extended test times, readers or scribes for examination, advising, note-taking facilitation and mediation between students and faculty.

Graduate students that pay the optional health fee will have access to licensed mental health services through our counseling center at no additional cost. Services include individual and group therapy. Those paying the health fee will also have access to the campus health clinic.

The Lee University Writing Center offers free tutorial help to both native and non-native English speakers by appointment. Writing Center tutors are available that can assist with APA Style. During business hours through the week, Information Services provides both walk-in and phone support to all students and faculty. Multiple computer labs are placed around campus for student use. The Financial Aid Office offers financial counseling for graduate students. The Center for Calling and Career offers services including resume review, interview preparation, mentor networking, strengths development, and individual career counseling.

The Center for Teaching Excellence offers a regular schedule of workshops and seminars in the fall and spring semesters. Doctoral students will be required to attend some of these experiences as part of their teaching practicum, but will be encouraged to make full use of the center’s services which include access to teaching coaches, confidential consultations, and individual instruction in teaching technology.

Each doctoral student will be assigned a faculty advisor who will follow academic progression throughout the program. The adviser will be in an ideal position to further direct an advisee to any additional resources needed to be successful in the program. Students will also be assigned a dissertation advisor beginning in the second year of their program. The Squires Library also offers graduate students access to a research coach with a PhD who specializes in research design. 


Governance of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program

The Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee (MFTGC) is responsible for developing all policies for the marriage and family therapy program. This committee is also responsible for admissions, assessments, hiring recommendations, and responses to student appeals and complaints. The program director is the chair of this committee, which includes all core marriage and family therapy faculty members. Major program and policy changes that are approved by the MFTGC are then brought to the Lee University Graduate Council for approval. The program director is responsible for leading the MFTGC and carrying out the policies in the program and the clinic set by the MFTGC. The program director has the responsibility to maintain oversight of the curriculum, clinical training, clinic and teaching facilities, services offered by the program, and the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the program. Core faculty exercise governance of the program through their voting membership on the MFTGC. All of these faculty share a commitment for our program mission and philosophy and implement this commitment through development of our educational outcomes.

Once a year, all MFT students elect a second-year MFT student to serve on the MFTGC as a full voting member. Minutes of the MFTGC Meeting are sent to all current students. All MFT students are encouraged in the program handbook to express concerns to the representative and to the program director. Any MFT student may request to address the MFTGC on any issue. MFT students may submit complaints following the process outlined in the program handbook. MFT students are also encouraged to meet in the monthly student concerns meeting held by the program director during the fall and spring semesters. Current MFT students annually assess the program, the program director, the faculty, and the supervisors in the program.  

Degree Completion Time frames

Degree requirements must be completed within seven years after formal admission into the program. Course work completed more than ten years prior to admission is generally not accepted toward meeting degree requirements.

Recruitment and Anti-Discrimination

Lee University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program welcomes all students regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, health status, religion and spiritual beliefs and/or affiliation, and/or national origin. Requirements for admission include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (or foreign equivalent). Admission preferences will be made for students with degrees in the social sciences. Although marriage and family therapists can and do often work with individuals, students applying into this program should specifically be interested in working with couples and families and becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist. The Lee University Marriage and Family Therapy Program prohibits the discrimination of students on the basis of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, health status, religion and spiritual beliefs and/or affiliation, and/or national origin with regard to the recruitment, admission, codes of conduct, hiring, retention, or dismissal of students. The marriage and family therapy program will not remove a student solely on the basis of identifying with a group, class, or category in the above mentioned groups provided he or she is otherwise in compliance with Lee’s Lifestyle Expectations for Graduate Students. 

Lifestyle Expectations for Graduate Students

Graduate students will be expected to adhere to all of the rules and policies of Lee University while on campus. Lee University is a smoke-free, alcohol-free, drug-free campus. Graduate students are expected to respect campus norms. Sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual advances, extra- or pre-marital sexual conduct, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature will not be tolerated on campus. Students who are subjected to harassment should promptly contact the Vice President for Student Development.

Disciplinary Process

If a student, staff, or faculty have a complaint against a student, this complaint is made to the program director. If the complaint cannot be resolved by discussion with the parties involved, the complaint is then taken to the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee. The student may provide a written defense or may appear before the committee. The committee may require in some circumstances for the student to appear before the committee.

Student Complaint/ Grievance Process

If a student has a complaint or grievance regarding the program, faculty, or fellow students, the student should submit a written complaint to the program director, unless the complaint is against the director, in which case the complaint should be given to the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department Chair. The complaint will be reviewed by the appropriate committee, usually the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee, depending on the nature of the complaint. The student may appear before the committee when the complaint is reviewed.

Admission Policies

After submitting the application, fee, essays, transcripts, teaching video, recommendations, and GRE score (if required), potential students will be scheduled for an interview. While in-person interviews are preferred, full consideration will be given to applicants needing phone interviews due to distance from Cleveland, Tennessee. Role-plays will be conducted during the in-person interviews. After completion of the interview, the Marriage and Family Therapy committee will meet to determine whether an offer of admissions will be made.

Doctoral Tuition and Fees

Itemized Expenses Per Semester (including summer) for Full and Part-time Students

Tuition per credit hour $825
Registration Fee (required per semester) $25
Technology Fee (required per semester) $75

Additional Fees

Other expenses for all students, when applicable, include:

Audit Fee (per credit hour) $75
Auto Registration and Parking Fee (per vehicle registered, per year) $40
Deferred Payment Plan Fee (per semester) $100
Academic Transcript (per copy) $7.50
Graduation Application Fee $150
Late Graduation Application Fee $180
Returned Check Fee (per check) $130
Schedule Change Fee (per transaction) $10
Late Enrollment Confirmation Fee $50


Note:  There are fees for optional, specific services that students may choose.  See Graduate Studies Tuition and Fees.


Settlement of Accounts

Students should be prepared to pay full semester charges on or before confirming enrollment. Money may be submitted in advance to the Student Financial Services Office. This payment will facilitate confirming enrollment. Off-campus or part-time students are required to pay fifty percent down on or before confirming enrollment according to the deferred payment plan. Students who are unable to pay their accounts in full must either borrow the necessary funds or enroll in the university’s deferred payment plan. Students who will have difficulty paying the full charges within the semester are encouraged to make advance arrangements for borrowing the needed funds. The university also offers services by which students may use Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express to make payment on their accounts.  Note:  If a student confirms enrollment on or after the first day of class, a $50 late enrollment confirmation fee will be applied to their account (this applies to fall, spring, and summer).

Deferred Payment Plan

Students desiring to participate in the deferred payment plan are required to pay fifty percent of the total charges at the time of confirming enrollment and the balance of semester charges in two equal monthly payments on the dates mentioned below. The same financial requirements apply to veterans and others in cases when money is not sent directly to Lee University.  Students enrolling in the deferred payment plan will be charged a $100 fee for this service. This fee will apply to all students owing a balance in excess of $500 at the time of confirming enrollment.

Fall Semester

Students must pay fifty percent of their total charges.  The balance must be paid as follows:

  • First payment by September 30
  • Final payment by October 31

Spring Semester

Students must pay fifty percent of their total charges.  The balance must be paid as follows:

  • First payment by February 28
  • Final payment by March 31

A bill will be sent to the student’s permanent address, unless otherwise indicated, each month. However, the student is still responsible for timely payments, even if a bill is not received. If payment is not made on the due date, a $35 late fee will be assessed.

Deferred Payment Plan for Summer School

Students are ordinarily required to pay the full charges for all sessions at the time of confirming enrollment. However, those unable to pay the full amount may defer up to 50% of the charges for a maximum of 30 days.  Students enrolling in the deferred payment plan will be charged a $100 fee for this service. This fee will apply to all students owing a balance in excess of $500 at the time of confirming enrollment. 

A bill will be sent to the student’s permanent address, unless otherwise indicated, each month. However, the student is still responsible for timely payments, even if a bill is not received. If payment is not made on the due date, a $35 late fee will be assessed.

Refund Policy

No reduction of charges will be granted unless application is made within two weeks of any change in program or departure of the students. STUDENTS WHO WITHDRAW FROM THE UNIVERSITY AFTER THE FIFTH WEEK OF CLASSES WILL RECEIVE NO ADJUSTMENT ON TUITION, FEES, AND ROOM (includes Carroll Court Apartments). Those whose study is interrupted by the university for discipline reasons will receive no adjustment on tuition, fees, and room after the fifth week of classes. When a student withdraws from the university or moves out of on-campus housing, his or her ROOM (includes Carroll Court Apartments) CHARGES WILL BE ADJUSTED ON THE SAME SCHEDULE AS TUITION AND FEES.  Board charges will be prorated from date of withdrawal. If a student withdraws during a semester and requests a refund of advanced payments, the following rules will determine the amount of adjustment, provided the student withdraws formally through the Center for Student Success.

  1. Tuition, fees, and room (includes Carroll Court Apartments), with the exception of matriculation and registration fees, will be adjusted on the following percentages:

o    During first two weeks of semester



o    During third week of semester



o    During fourth week of semester



o    During fifth week of semester



o    After fifth week of semester



  1. Board will be adjusted by the full amount unused at the date of withdrawal.
  3. No person who registers as a full-time student and is later permitted to drop enough courses to place him/her in the classification of a part-time student will be entitled to an adjustment or prorated tuition after the fifth week.
  4. Mandatory refunds and repayments to Federal Title IV student financial aid programs will be calculated based upon earned and unearned aid percentages as outlined by the Federal Government. The formula for such calculations is based on the number of days in a given semester and the number of days attendance completed by the student prior to his/her withdrawal. Refunds mandated by the calculation could possibly increase the amount a student must pay after he/she withdraws from school. Please refer to “Return of Federal Title IV Financial Aid Policy”  in the Undergraduate Financial Aid section.

Refund Policy for Summer School

  1. Withdrawals during the first week of classes will receive 50% credit on tuition and room. THERE IS NO REFUND AFTER THE FIRST WEEK.
  3. If you register for multiple sessions and withdraw prior to the beginning of the second or third session, you will receive full refund for the second or third session (whichever is applicable).

Accounts Must be Paid Prior to Final Examinations

Written commitments for aid from Lee University or other sources are the only substitutes for the required down payment. Therefore, students should assume responsibility for applying for aid in advance and for seeing that the proper letters or cash arrive at the Student Financial Services Office by registration day.

While we recognize the problems involved in increasing costs to the student, education with a Christian emphasis is the greatest personal investment available today. The university will assist students in every way possible to finance their education. If you need financial assistance, please check with our Financial Aid Office.

Accounts with the school must be settled in full before a diploma is released, a transcript of credits is issued, or a letter of honorable dismissal is granted. ACCOUNTS MUST BE PAID BEFORE FINAL EXAMINATIONS ARE TAKEN. NO STUDENT WILL BE ALLOWED TO GRADUATE UNTIL HIS/HER ACCOUNT IS PAID IN FULL.

In the event of default in payment of the account with the school, and if the same is placed in the hands of a 3rd party collector, the student must pay all costs and expenses incurred by the university for collection efforts which may be based on a percentage of no more than 33% of the amount owed to the school.  Delinquency of the account will be reported to the credit bureau and may negatively impact the credit score of the student.  The amount owed to the school is considered a student loan and is not dischargeable under Bankruptcy Law.

Retention, Remediation, and Dismissal

Satisfactory progress toward the degree is required. A student may be disqualified from further graduate work if a 3.0 grade-point average is not maintained. In the event that the grade-point average drops below the minimum level, the student may be given one enrollment period to raise it to the satisfactory level. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation. Special advising will be offered to students in this situation to help raise their GPA. If problems occur regarding competency in the practicum and internship, the supervision team will meet with the student to develop a remediation plan for improvement. If that improvement does not occur within the specified length of time allotted, students may be terminated from the program. Certain serious ethical violations (academic or clinical) can result in immediate termination from the program.

Transfer Credit

Lee University will allow up to six semester credit hours of a graduate program to be comprised of transfer credit from a regionally accredited graduate program when the grade received is a “B” or better. The individual program committee must approve application of transfer credits. Exceptions to this policy may be determined by the respective graduate program committees.


In the first week of the final semester when all coursework will be completed, MFT students should submit an application for graduation through Portico. All client hours must be completed prior to graduation with a copy of the client log turned into the faculty supervisor. The graduate students must defend their dissertation and pass the comprehensive examination 10 days prior to graduation. Students must have completed all state requirements for MFT licensure including 1000 client hours and 200 supervision hours.

Portability of Degree

This program prepares you for licensure as a marriage and family therapist in the United States. No guarantees are offered regarding this degree for any other type of professional license or for any other country. Although the degree requirements are built around national models and Tennessee licensure requirements, other states may have additional requirements that are not offered in this program. It is the responsibility of the student to determine and achieve the requirements for MFT licensure in the states in which they wish to practice in.

Grading Policies

The Lee University graduate programs use the following system of grading and quality points for all graduate-level courses. These letter grades are assigned grade point values as follows:

A 4.0 quality points

A- 3.7 quality points

B+ 3.3 quality points

B 3.0 quality points

B- 2.7 quality points

C+ 2.3 quality points

C 2.0 quality points

F 0 quality points

I Indicates the student’s work was incomplete

P Passing credit (no quality points)

IP In Process

W Student officially withdrew from the class without penalty

A grade of “I” indicates the student’s work is incomplete. The grade becomes “F” if the work is not completed by the end of the following semester unless a written extension has been approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. A grade of “I” is given only to students who encounter some personal difficulty such as a severe illness or an extreme family emergency near the end of the semester. The “I” grade is not given in order to allow students additional time to complete assignments.


A grade of “W” (withdrawal) is assigned to a student who, for any reason, officially withdraws or is withdrawn by the official semester date. This “W” is assigned without quality point penalty to the student.