Frequently Asked Questions

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Is the GRE required for admission?

No, we believe your previous coursework and experience allow us to make an informed decision about your potential for success (as evidenced by your transcripts and letters of recommendation).


What is the difference between a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Social Work, and Professional Counseling?

In truth, all three fields overlap somewhat, and all three degrees prepare you to do therapy, but their different emphases are important. You should choose based on your passion and which best fits your idea of helping. On average: (1) MFTs believe all things are connected and that the quality of our relationships to one another are what matter most when it comes to healthy human development. Whether an MFT works with stressed individuals, couples or families, s/he will assess the mutual influence of the individual in relationships with others. For example, a MFT is more likely to assess a child's symptoms in terms of stress that s/he might experience at home or in school. Likewise, an MFT is more likely to recognize an adult's depression as a symptom of stressful relationships at home or work. Anxiety disorders often occur as the result of past interpersonal trauma. Even people with serious and chronic disorders benefit greatly from reduced stress in their social network. By contrast, individually oriented therapists tend to be medically-modeled and assess for problems within an individual. They are less likely to think relationally or have the skills to facilitate therapy when more than one person is present. Treatment is more often targeted at the individual level. (2) Both Professional Counseling and Clinical Social Work programs tend to have a wider array of course work that varies from one program to the next, while MFT programs are usually more tightly focused in their curriculum, especially accredited programs such as ours. Our program also offers an on-campus clinic where all students receive direct supervision while working with clients from the community. This feature is atypical of non-MFT programs. Finally, (3) because coursework varies between programs, be sure that whatever program you attend provides the training you need to qualify for state licensing following graduation! (Ours does.)


Does your program offer specializations?

No, we do not. As mentioned elsewhere on our website, we have an extensive curriculum that meets COAMFT accreditation standards and state licensing requirements. It takes more than just a couple of random MFT courses mixed into a generic masters degree to train a competent couples and family therapist, or to become licensed as an MFT. Our program "specializes" in MFT training. There is plenty of opportunity to build specializations starting as soon as you graduate. You will be required to get continuing education (i.e.: build specializations) for the rest of your professional career!


Are your students successful?

Yes. As of 2007, 97% of the students we admitted to our program have been able to complete the degree. A survey of our graduates going back 10 years (we had an excellent survey return rate of 67%) showed that 87% of our graduates report working in the MFT field (those not working in the field are pursuing a doctoral degree or gave a variety of mostly personal reasons). Roughly 50% had jobs before they graduated and 84% had jobs within six months. Also, 75% of survey respondents report that they either have or are seeking state licensure as an MFT, and because 100% of them have the proper educational training and report they have passed the national exam, they will qualify for the license once they gather the requisite postgraduate experience. About 25% of our grads find jobs that don't require a license (but don't pay as well on average). The vast majority of pre-full license graduates work in non-profit centers doing in-home family therapy and day-treatment work. The average pre-licensed salary reported over the last 10 years was $30,342. Once a person receives full license they tend to move into clinical agency settings and their income increases. The average salary reported was $41,128. Employment rates and salary is expected to increase because "graying" therapists are now entering retirement. US News and World Report named marriage and family therapy as one of the top 50 careers in 2010.


What are state requirements for licensure?

In both Wisconsin and Minnesota you must gain a specified number of client contact hours working under supervision for a minimum of two years following graduation before you qualify for a full license that allows you independent practice. More information on this can be found on-line at the Marriage and Family Therapy section of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing, or the Minnesota Board of Marriage and Family Therapy. The licensing process is the same for ALL clinical mental health professionals (MFTs, PCs, SWs) due to state requirements for licensure. Our program meets the educational requirements in both states. Most states have similar requirements.


What is UW-Stout's tuition and is there financial aid?

UW-Stout's tuition is reasonable compared to other universities, especially private. Tuition and financial aid is constantly changing. The most current information can be found by going to the UW-Stout Graduate School homepage and following the appropriate links. Minnesota students may qualify for in-state tuition through reciprocity.  There are specific programs for minority and disadvantaged students. Financial savings can be substantial even when one factors in the cost of commuting to UW-Stout. 

Learn more on the Graduate Studies website.


Is it realistic to commute to campus?

Students with the longest commute have come from as far away as La Crosse, Madison and Green Bay. These students stay overnight in the Menomonie area on Mondays. Some have acquaintances in proximity to Menomonie who will provide a place to stay; others team up with classmates who live in the Menomonie area and negotiate a proportional "sub-rental" fee. If a hotel is needed, students often team up to share a room and can generally negotiate a reduced fee with the hotel if it knows the students will be staying there on a frequent basis. Some students from the twin cities/eastern Minnesota area elect to spend Monday night in Menomonie while others drive back and forth each day (however, it is a quick turn-around time and you might feel like an across-the-road-trucker :) ). Bad weather driving conditions occasionally play a deciding role.


Is there time to work or have a family while attending this program?

Yes, but it depends on your resources (time, energy, supportive family and friends). Most students work part time 10 to 30 hours, however fullt-time employment is not realistic. The program is compressed into two full days (M&T), with an additional couple of days (average) at an off-campus practicum site (close to your home) In the second year. You will also need time to do homework. This takes a great deal of energy. Parents who attend the program seem to do well so long as they can arrange dependable secure coverage for their children. The advantage to this schedule is that instead of attending a program, part-time, for many years, students are fully immersed in their education and have a clear graduation date to plan for. We believe this makes for a higher quality educational experience.

Is a research project required?

No, it is not required, but it is highly advisable if you plan to pursue a doctoral degree sometime in the future. The 2 credit research will be in addition to the 54 credits required by the program.


How competitive is the application process; what happens when an applicant is invited for an on-campus interview; what is the admission timeline; and what if I missed the application priority deadline?

The MFT program's priority application deadline is published on the UW-Stout Graduate School website. The number and quality of applications varies widely from year to year (the range might be 30 to 60 applicants, for example). Within a week or two after the deadline we contact 24 people to invite to an on-campus interview. (International students or those from distant states may be allowed the option of a Skype interview.) In the morning you will have an individual interview with the MFT clinical faculty and a current MFT student, and in the afternoon you will do a brief therapy role play with our current MFT students and have time for discussion with them and some of the other program applicants. The UW-Stout Graduate School will let all applicants know of their status within a week or two of the interview. On average, 12 people will be admitted to the program each year. The entire process is generally completed within five weeks of the application deadline. If for some reason an opening occurs in the program before fall registration is closed, other applicants will be considered. Thus, if you missed the priority deadline you are still encouraged to contact the program because there is a chance your application could still be considered. Otherwise we encourage you to consider next year's application if you would like.


If I'm accepted to the program, when do I start?

Because of our cohort design and tight curriculum, all students start in the fall semester and go through the program together.


What if I'm not accepted into this year's program?

You can apply again next year (we interview once a year for a fall start). On average, applicants who have a related degree (e.g.: human development family studies, psychology, sociology, etc.), a good GPA and supportive letters of recommendation are more competitive if they have more work/volunteer experience in a helping setting compared to other applicants. This is especially the case if you are "weak" in one of the other areas. Use your time between applications to strengthen your credentials and tell us about it in your next application. Some applicants have found the second time to be a charm. Unrelated degrees may still qualify if you have demonstrated aptitude and experience with helping others.