The Most Affordable Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

The Most Affordable Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

| Staff Writers

The Most Affordable Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
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The marriage and family counseling field may experience a 22% growth rate over the next nine years, which translates to 14,800 new positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes this growth to an increase in integrated care, in which marriage and family therapists collaborate with other types of mental health counselors.

Marriage and family counseling master’s programs train therapists to help couples and families address and resolve a full spectrum of issues, including behavioral and mental health challenges and substance abuse. Students can graduate in two years of full-time study and specialize in such areas as military family, couples, and child and adolescent therapy. Courses cover topics like diversity and social justice in systematic family therapy, foundations of couple and family therapy, professional ethics, and theory and methods.

Read on to explore our rankings of the most affordable marriage and family therapy programs.

 
 

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

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Best Affordable Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 Brigham Young University-Provo Provo, UT
3 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
4 Wheaton College Wheaton, IL
5 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
6 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
7 University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD
8 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
9 Harding University Searcy, AR
10 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    UF offers a dual specialist and master's in marriage and family counseling that trains students to assist diverse families, couples, and children. The 72-credit program prepares students to secure registered intern status and achieve Florida state licensure as marriage and family therapists or mental health counselors.

    Each enrollee must also complete a practicum, along with an internship that takes place over their final summer and fall terms. Through these experiences, students learn from established professionals and observe them advising clients. Most students graduate with their degree within three years.

    Eligible applicants must hold at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.5 GPA in all upper-division coursework. They also must demonstrate an ability to perform well at an advanced level and undergo an interview. The program's admission requirements do not include GRE scores.

    UF is located in Gainesville, Florida.

    Courses Include:

    • Counseling Theories and Applications
    • Assessment in Counseling and Development
    • Multicultural Counseling
    • Sexuality and Mental Health
    • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $25,480
    • Credits Required: 72
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  2. Brigham Young University-Provo
    Location

    Provo, UT

    BYU offers one of the top marriage and family therapy programs in the nation. Graduates leave prepared to take and pass the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards national licensing exam.

    The MFT program offers a research track and a clinical track. Both paths require students to complete 62 credit hours and at least 500 clinical hours. Most full-time enrollees graduate within two years.

    Each applicant must submit their GRE scores and a bulleted list of their research and clinical experience. Every candidate also engages in a video interview and undergoes a criminal background check. The program requires incoming students to hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

    BYU is a private research university located in Provo, Utah.

    Courses Include:

    • Research Methods for Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Analysis and Treatment of Human Sexual Development
    • Theoretical Foundations of Marital and Family Therapy
    • Family and Multigenerational Psychotherapy
    • The Individual and Family Over the Life Course

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $29,160
    • Credits Required: 62
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  3. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Northwestern offers a master of science in marriage and family therapy program with course and practicum requirements that prepare students to serve as licensed MFTs. Students take a 21st-century, multicultural, and social justice-oriented approach to addressing issues of mental health and breakdowns in relationships.

    The MSMFT degree features a six-quarter intensive clinical internship with The Family Institute. All enrollees engage in 500 hours of therapy practice, at least 400 of which must involve interacting directly with clients. The clinical experience also includes at least 250 hours of supervised instruction. The program encompasses 17 total courses. Most full-time students graduate in two years. Students complete capstone projects toward the end of the program.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Prospective students also submit two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and their official GRE or GMAT scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Intimate Relations
    • Behavioral Medicine in Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Systemic Assessment
    • Family Research
    • Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Marital and Family Therapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $113,382
    • Credits Required: 23 units
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy

     

  4. Wheaton College
    Location

    Wheaton, IL

    Located in the Chicago suburbs, Wheaton offers an MA in marriage and family therapy program that takes a Christian perspective to the challenges facing children, couples, and families. Students spend the first year largely focused on coursework, while the second year blends classroom learning with a three-semester practicum experience. Most full-time students complete the MFT program's requirements within two years.

    Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants must submit their official GRE scores, a resume, and four recommendation letters, along with a signed community covenant and a statement of faith. The admissions process also includes a personal interview with a faculty member.

    Once enrolled, all Wheaton students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of location.

    Courses Include:

    • Individual and Family Life Cycle Development
    • Families in Context: Culture, Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexual Identity, and Religion
    • Theological Anthropology
    • Psychopathology and the Family
    • Couple Therapy: Systemic Assessment and Intervention

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $43,560
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  5. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    The 63-credit MA in marriage, couple, and family therapy at UCF focuses on the practical skills and experiences students need to serve as effective licensed therapists. Rather than finding their own placements, each student completes their required 800 clinical hours at the UCF Community Counseling and Research Center. There, enrollees observe established professionals and have opportunities to apply what they have learned through direct contact with clients.

    Before graduating, all students must submit a portfolio and take a professional exit exam.

    Each applicant to the master's in marriage and family therapy program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution or its international equivalent, along with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. A candidate must also submit their GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a goal statement.

    UCF is located in Orlando.

    Courses Include:

    • Diagnosis and Treatment in Counseling
    • Foundations of Multicultural Counseling
    • Addictions Counseling
    • Human Sexuality and Relationships
    • Group Procedures and Theories in Counseling

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $23,288 in-state; $75,223 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 63
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  6. Duquesne University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Located in Pittsburgh, Duquesne delivers an MS in marriage, couple, and family counseling with evening classes designed to meet the needs of working professionals. The MFT program prepares students to pass the licensed professional counselor exam and seek national counseling certification.

    The marriage and family therapy program's areas of focus include wellness, holism, community engagement, relationship-building, and experiential learning. Class sizes range from 6-30 learners, and students can choose from several clinical settings to fulfill their practicum requirements.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All candidates must also submit a resume, graduate education essay, and contact information for two references. Students taking at least six credits per semester receive a 25% tuition discount, and most individuals graduate within two years.

    Courses Include:

    • Multicultural Issues and Strategies in Counseling
    • Psychotherapeutic Aspects of Human Sexuality
    • Counseling and Consultation Theory
    • Diagnosis and Treatment Plan Professional Counseling
    • Career Development and Counseling

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $80,160
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  7. University of Maryland-College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    University of Maryland, College Park

    UMD offers an MS in couple and family therapy that emphasizes therapeutic skills, professional ethics, and intellectual curiosity for those driven to help families overcome a variety of challenges. The program offers a thesis and a non-thesis option, and most full-time students graduate in two years.

    The program offers a course focusing on play therapy, which features didactic teaching and experiential learning through a child-centered approach. Students also engage in at least 500 hours of clinical experience, 400 of which must involve direct contact with clients.

    To apply, each prospective student must submit their official college transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Candidates must hold bachelor's degrees from regionally accredited institutions.

    Courses Include:

    • Normal and Abnormal Individual and Family Development
    • Sex Therapy: Theory, Skills, and Practice
    • Theory and Techniques of Family Mediation
    • Treatment of Emotional and Mental Disorders in the Family Context
    • Advanced Application of Marriage and Family Therapy Models and Techniques

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $22,680 in-state; $48,212 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  8. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    USC's Rossier School of Education offers one of the nation's top marriage and family therapy programs, with a master's degree that prepares professionals to serve as leaders in clinics and schools nationwide. Students learn how to identify and address stressors, dysfunction, and behavioral issues in individuals, couples, and families.

    The program prepares students to pursue California MFT licenses, which each require 3,000 supervised clinical hours -- 1,700 of which an individual must complete after graduating with an MFT degree. Students in the program may also opt for a pupil personnel services school counseling credential, which involves 23 additional units.

    To apply, each prospective student must submit two essays, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. They also undergo a timed writing assessment about 48 hours after submitting their application. Eligible students must possess bachelor's degrees from regionally accredited colleges or universities.

    USC, located in Los Angeles, provides the same tuition rate to in-state and out-of-state students.

    Courses Include:

    • Counseling through the Lifespan
    • Psychopathology for Marriage and Family Therapists
    • Measurement Procedures for Counselors
    • Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents
    • Group Counseling: Theory and Process

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $115,680
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges

     

  9. Harding University
    Location

    Searcy, AR

    Harding delivers a full-time, cohort-based master's in marriage and family therapy program that encourages students to work together to explore the field and build their skills. The program provides all students' required clinical hours, which means they do not need to find their own clinical experiences.

    All students engage in 500 total hours of direct client contact. At least 200 of those hours focus on family or relationship issues. The 67-credit program prepares students to become a licensed marriage and family therapist or licensed professional counselor.

    Qualified applicants possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. Prospective students also submit their GRE scores, three recommendation letters, and a resume. Accepted students may begin the MFT program in the fall, spring, or summer.

    All Harding graduate students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state. The university is located in Searcy, Arkansas.

    Courses Include:

    • Crisis, Abuse and Trauma Counseling
    • Advanced Human Growth and Development
    • Postmodern and Communication Based Models of Counseling
    • Modern Models of Counseling/Therapy
    • Multicultural Counseling

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $36,649
    • Credits Required: 67

     

  10. John Brown University
    Location

    Siloam Springs, AR

    JBU offers an MS in marriage and family therapy program that combines quality classroom instruction with diverse clinical experiences to prepare individuals for successful careers as licensed MFTs. The program includes a specialization in play therapy, through which students learn how to use creative arts to connect with children and improve family relationships.

    The MFT degree encompasses 64 credit hours. Students may also pursue a joint MFT and MS in clinical mental health counseling by completing an additional 15 credit hours. The program makes about one-third of its classes available online, while the rest involve in-person instruction at JBU's Little Rock, Rogers, and Siloam Springs campuses.

    Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates with 2.75-2.99 GPAs may submit their GRE scores to remain under consideration.

    JBU provides the same tuition rate to in-state and out-of-state students.

    Courses Include:

    • Christian Foundations in Counseling
    • Advanced Psychopharmacology
    • Professional Development and Ethics
    • Child and Adolescent Counseling
    • Principles of Marital Therapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $35,840
    • Credits Required: 64

     

Applying to an Affordable Marriage and Family Therapy Program

Prospective marriage and family therapists must hold a bachelor’s degree. Some schools expect candidates to hold a degree in psychology, social work, or a related mental health major. Programs may also expect a minimum GPA, GRE test scores, and a year or two of professional experience.

Other common submission requirements include transcripts, 1-3 recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal statement that discusses the applicant’s professional goals and reasons for pursuing a family counseling degree.

All 50 states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. Criteria for licensure vary by state, but typically include a master’s degree and 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised postgraduate clinical experience. Licensure candidates must also pass an examination administered by the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • How long does it take to become a marriage and family therapist?

    Aspiring marriage and family therapists must first earn a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years. The next step, a master’s degree, typically requires 2-3 years of study. After obtaining a master’s degree, licensure candidates must log 3,000 hours, on average, of supervised clinical work.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation shows licensure and certification boards, along with potential employers, that a program meets rigorous academic standards. When choosing a program, students should look for those accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), or the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

  • What is the difference between a marriage and family therapist and a psychologist?

    Most psychologists, particularly those in clinical practice, hold a doctoral degree and can administer more psychometric testing for patients. Marriage and family therapists need only earn a master’s degree. Psychologists can focus on helping couples and families, but may also specialize in a variety of patient populations.

  • How much do marriage and family therapists make?

    Marriage and family therapists make an annual median salary of $49,610, with the highest 10% earning $87,700. The top-paying states for this occupation include Utah, New Jersey, Maine, Colorado, and Illinois. Provo-Orem, Utah, pays the highest annual mean wage among U.S. metro areas at $85,240.

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Advertisement BestCounselingDegrees.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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