Frequently Asked Questions

Who ‘accredits’ COAMFTE?

Accrediting organizations can elect to be ‘recognized’ by the US Department of Education and/or Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

COAMFTE is recognized as the provider of quality assurance of higher education in marriage and family therapy. The Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA), the successor to the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA), officially granted recognition to the COAMFTE in 1994. In 1997, CORPA was dissolved and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) was created. CHEA is a non-governmental organization that recognizes accrediting bodies and works to foster and facilitate the role of accrediting bodies in promoting and ensuring the quality and diversity of American postsecondary education. CHEA has recognized COAMFTE since its inception. With the mission that aligns with the purpose and focus of accreditation, CHEA provides accrediting agencies with a system of checks and balances, and creates a process parallel to accreditation that requires accrediting agencies to self-evaluate and improve. COAMFTE benefits from CHEA recognition because it provides external validation and appropriate recognition for COAMFTE as a specialized professional accreditation and agency.  At the November 2012 meeting, COAMFTE determined that the cost of maintaining USDE recognition outweighs the benefits and voted not to pursue renewal of recognition by the USDE, effective April 15, 2013. In making this decision, COAMFTE also determined that such a course of action at that time would not prevent COAMFTE from pursuing such recognition in the future if things changed, such that USDE recognition was determined to be relevant and vital for COAMFTE and its accredited programs. COAMFTE has prepared and published a white paper that puts forth the rationale for this decision.

What types of programs can be COAMFTE-accredited?

The COAMFTE's scope of accreditation includes three types of programs:

  • Master's Degree Programs provide students with broad areas of theory and practice in marriage and family therapy. These programs provide entry level educational requirements for independent clinical practice in the profession. They are designed to prepare individuals for beginning a career in marriage and family therapy by providing basic didactic and clinical skills, as well as professional development and socialization.
  • Doctoral Degree Programs prepare students for academic careers, research, advanced clinical practice and supervision. The doctoral curriculum includes advanced instruction in marriage and family therapy research, theory construction and supervision.
  • Post-Graduate Degree Clinical Training Programs provide clinical education in marriage and family therapy to trainees with a master's or doctoral degree in MFT, or in a closely related field. A program may allow for specialized training in a particular modality or treatment population.

Can online MFT programs be COAMFTE-accredited?

Some of the COAMFTE-accredited programs have “Distance Learning”.  Distance education is defined as a method of instruction where the faculty and/or supervisors and the student engage in the teaching/learning process without being in the same physical location. The Commission may determine whether any program utilizes distance education.

What is the difference between accreditation and certification?

Accreditation is the process whereby a program providing the education and training is reviewed against quality standards and fulfills the requirements designated by the accreditation organization.  Certification is the process by which a non-governmental association or agency grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications specified by that association or agency.

How does a stakeholder provide input to the Commission?

Questions and comments can be sent to coa@aamft.org. COAMFTE holds a public comment period and public hearing during its standards revision process. Additional information on these will be published during the revision process.

Does COAMFTE accredit programs outside of the United States?

COAMFTE has accredited programs in Canada in the past. Currently, COAMFTE does not have any accredited programs in Canada.

How is a complaint about a program brought to the attention of COAMFTE?

If you wish to submit a complaint about a COAMFTE accredited program, please follow the COAMFTE Compliant Procedure by using this form.  

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