The Most Affordable Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

The Most Affordable Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

| Staff Writers

The Most Affordable Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
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Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) help communities by strengthening families. This work includes assisting couples through crises and guiding them in overcoming negative behaviors. In turn, these couples can provide stable homes for their children, and the positive effects of this stability can continue into adulthood. Through these careers, therapists can make changes that affect generations.

Top 10 Most 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
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 22% increase in MFT positions by 2028. This projection indicates career opportunities for licensed individuals. Our guide examines the licensure process, including a review of marriage and family therapy programs, along with highlighting career opportunities in the field.


Also in This Article:

The Most Affordable Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs 2020

  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

     

  11. Mount Mercy University
    Location

    Cedar Rapids, IA

    Mount Mercy's MA in marriage and family therapy takes a systems approach that considers the various factors and life circumstances that cause individuals, couples, and families to seek psychotherapeutic assistance. Graduates leave prepared to pursue marriage and family therapist licensure in their respective states.

    The 60-credit program includes a final thesis through which students use what they have learned to research and address a practical problem in the field. Students also engage in 900 total hours of practicum experience.

    The MFT program accepts applications on a rolling basis. To apply, prospective students must provide their official college transcripts and two letters of recommendation. Applicants also must undergo a personal or group interview and possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution.

    As a private institution, Mount Mercy offers the same tuition to in-state and out-of-state residents. The university is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Courses Include:

    • The Cross-Cultural Family
    • Micro-Counseling
    • Psychopathology and the Family
    • Introduction to Play Therapy & Family Therapy
    • Neuroscience for Marriage and Family Therapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $69,012
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  12. Northwest Nazarene University
    Location

    Nampa, ID

    NNU offers a 60-credit MS in marriage, couple, and family counseling that takes about 33 months to complete. While most courses take place at the school’s campus in Nampa, Idaho, the program also provides some online and blended options. Graduates leave prepared to take and pass the national comp exam and National Counselor Examination.

    Students take part in at least 1,000 hours of internship or practicum experiences at program-approved sites. They also may seek internships with the university's nonprofit counseling center, where they directly assist individuals, couples, and children. Before they graduate, students complete and present a field research project.

    Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Those who do not meet this standard may submit their GRE scores to remain in consideration. Applicants also provide a resume, two professional references, and two essays.

    Courses Include:

    • Family Counseling Theories
    • Group Counseling
    • Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology
    • Addictions Counseling
    • Human Sexuality

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $30,900
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  13. University of Saint Joseph
    Location

    West Hartford, CT

    The MA in marriage and family therapy program at USJ combines theoretical learning with practical experiences that enable students to serve as competent professionals for couples, children, and families.

    The MFT degree features 500 hours of clinical experiences, which take place over 12 months. At least 250 hours must involve direct contact with children and families. As students take part in these experiences, they also attend a practicum class in which they present their work and receive input from instructors.

    Through the coursework, students explore couples and sex therapy, gender and diversity, collaborative healthcare practice, and ethical issues in marriage and family therapy.

    Each candidate must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. All applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation and a personal entrance essay.

    USJ is located in West Hartford, Connecticut.

    Courses Include:

    • Collaborative Healthcare Practice
    • Child Development and Play Therapy
    • Evidence-Based Practice in Family Therapy
    • Post-Modern Models of Family Therapy
    • Couples & Sex Therapy Models

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $41,940
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  14. Mercer University
    Location

    Macon, GA

    The Mercer School of Medicine delivers a master's in marriage and family therapy that encompasses systemic thinking, family and relationship theories, cultural contexts, research, and human development.

    The 48-credit program prepares students to become licensed marriage and family therapists in both Georgia and other states. It involves 13 in-person classes available during the day in Atlanta and in the evening in Macon, Georgia. Students can choose from electives in play therapy, group therapy, stress management, and grief and loss.

    Learners also take part in a series of professional development seminars and a 12-month clinical practicum. The program requires 500 total clinical hours, with 200 involving direct client contact.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Prospective students also submit their GRE scores and official college transcripts.

    Courses Include:

    • Diversity and Social Justice
    • Theories of Family Therapy
    • Assessment of Diagnosis in Family Therapy
    • Clinical Treatment with Children, Adolescents, and Families
    • Addiction in Family Systems

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $46,080
    • Credits Required: 48
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  15. Mississippi College
    Location

    Clinton, MS

    MC offers a 60-credit MS in marriage and family counseling degree that prepares students for LPC licensure and the national counseling certification exam. The program also helps students effectively serve individuals, couples, and families in agency, healthcare, educational, and faith-based settings. Its systems thinking methods empower students to take a comprehensive approach to addressing common problems in familial relationships.

    Enrollees take part in three clinical experiences to learn from faculty and established professionals in the field.

    The program's admission requirements include at least two letters of recommendation, a goal statement, an autobiographical statement, and a current resume. Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. MC is located in Clinton, a community in the central part of the state.

    Courses Include:

    • Techniques of Group Counseling
    • Systems Theory and Intervention Strategies
    • Addictions Counseling
    • Couple Dynamics and Counseling
    • Family Dynamics and Counseling

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $37,500
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  16. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Rochester's Institute for the Family offers an MS in marriage and family therapy program that embeds students in clinical and hospital settings, rather than the typical college campus. Thus, students spend a significant amount of time learning in a real-world environment, building their practical skills along the way. MFT degree students each complete 100 supervised and 500 total clinical hours.

    The 60-credit program also requires a master's project and the submission of a final paper featuring a case study, a review of relevant research, or an essay on a student's involvement with faculty-led research.

    Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. A candidate must also provide a statement of purpose, official college transcripts, and three recommendation letters. They also may submit resumes, research papers, and other writing samples to supplement their applications.

    Courses Include:

    • Clinical Assessment in Family Therapy
    • Family Therapy Ethics and Professional Practice
    • Gender, Human Sexuality, and Culture
    • Narrative and Integrative Approaches to Family Therapy
    • Family Therapy Practice

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $103,080
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  17. Pacific Lutheran University
    Location

    Tacoma, WA

    PLU in Tacoma, Washington, offers an MA in marriage and family therapy program focused on producing systemically oriented, contextually sensitive, and ethical professionals. The program features small class sizes of under 20 students.

    Enrollees train at the school's on-campus Couple and Family Therapy Center, where faculty members guide them through their first several courses. The program then places students at practicum sites throughout the area, where they will engage in 500-1,000 hours of direct client contact. Fulfilling this requirement prepares students to seek MFT licensure in Washington. Nearly 100% of graduates pass the national MFT exam.

    To apply, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a major in family studies, human services, sociology, psychology, social work, or a closely related discipline. The program does not ask applicants to provide GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Biopsychosocial Health and Development Across the Lifespan
    • Comparative Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Contextual Foundations of Systemic Practice
    • Systemic and Mental Health Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment
    • Professional Studies in Marriage and Family Therapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $49,680
    • Credits Required: 49
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  18. Thomas Jefferson University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Jefferson's MS in couple and family therapy features a unique partnership with the Council for Relationships, allowing students to take a biopsychosocial view of human behavior as they examine and address common challenges in family relationships. Enrollees may specialize in family therapy or sex therapy.

    The 66-credit, full-time program takes about two years to complete. Students must take part in 500 direct clinical hours, with 100 supervised hours and 50 hours of direct observation. Degree-seekers must also complete a master's project.

    Each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, along with minimum B grades in general psychology, abnormal psychology, and statistics. All candidates must also submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

    The program's curriculum is modeled after the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education's standards.

    Courses Include:

    • Systemic/Relational Assessment & Mental Health Diagnosis & Treatment
    • Life Span Development from a Systemic Perspective
    • Group & Community Based Interventions
    • Implications for Diversity in Practice
    • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Couple and Family Therapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $65,000
    • Credits Required: 66

     

  19. Palm Beach Atlantic University
    Location

    West Palm Beach, FL

    PBA offers an MS in marriage, couple, and family counseling that builds students' skills in providing Christian interventions for many relationship challenges.

    Students each complete 60 credits and must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate. They also take part in 700 hours of supervised internship and practicum experiences, working with a program-approved supervisor. At the end of the program, students take an exit exam.

    One of the core courses focuses on how to diagnose, prevent, and treat substance abuse in ways that positively affect couples, children, and families.

    To apply, each prospective student must provide their official college transcripts, an essay, and professional recommendations. All candidates must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and take part in an interview.

    PBA is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. All graduate students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state.

    Courses Include:

    • Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
    • Family Therapy Theory and Techniques
    • Substance Abuse: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
    • Faith, Spirituality, and Counseling
    • Dynamics of Marriage and Family Systems

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $65,760
    • Credits Required: 60

     

  20. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Appalachian offers a master's in marriage and family therapy program that prepares students for licensure in North Carolina and across the United States. The 45-credit program includes thesis and non-thesis options.

    Many students complete their clinical hours at the Appalachian Family Therapy Clinic, which meets the needs of underserved populations throughout the region. Enrollees complete at least 500 clinical hours, with a minimum of 250 hours focused on relational counseling.

    Each applicant must submit their GRE scores, three professional references, a resume, and answers to a questionnaire. Every candidate must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students can begin the MFT program in the fall, spring, or summer.

    Appalachian State is located in Boone, North Carolina.

    Courses Include:

    • Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Mediation and Divorce Therapy
    • Substance Abuse in Family Systems
    • Individual and Family Development
    • Ecotherapy

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $16,014 in-state; $42,878 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 45
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  21. University of the West
    Location

    Rosemead, CA

    UWest offers an MA in psychology with a marriage and family therapy emphasis. The 63-unit program incorporates both Buddhist psychology and Western evidence-based practices to give students a unique and cohesive educational experience. Enrollees learn about the impact of recovery-oriented practice, mindfulness, commitment therapy, emotionally focused therapy, and more.

    The program offers a Buddhist psychology track and a multicultural generalist track. All students engage in a six-credit practicum experience. They also must maintain a 3.0 GPA to graduate with an MFT degree.

    Application requirements include three letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and a statement of purpose. Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants do not need to provide GRE scores.

    UWest is a private university located in Rosemead, California. All graduate students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state residency.

    Courses Include:

    • Multicultural Counseling
    • Counseling Children & Adolescents
    • Counseling Across the Lifespan
    • Buddhist-Inspired, Evidence-Based Practice
    • Poverty, Dislocation & Stigma

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $39,249
    • Credits Required: 63

     

  22. Friends University
    Location

    Wichita, KS

    Friends offers an MS in family therapy among the best marriage and family therapy programs in the nation. The program incorporates Quaker values into the educational experience, preparing students to improve relationships among individuals, couples, and families.

    The 60-credit program features mostly afternoon and evening classes and includes a 16-month supervised clinical experience. Most full-time students graduate within 24 months of starting the program. Graduates leave prepared to take and pass MFT licensing exams in Kansas, Missouri, and most other states.

    Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA and undergo an interview. All applicants submit a statement of goals, a brief autobiography, and two professional references. Prerequisites include courses in statistics, family studies, psychology, and human development.

    The degree includes on-campus classes in Wichita or Kansas City.

    Courses Include:

    • Developmental Influences of Emotion, Attachment, and Trauma
    • Intergenerational Family Theories
    • Postmodern Theories of Therapeutic Intervention in MFT
    • Family Development, Stress, and Violence
    • Social and Cultural Diversity in Human Development

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $35,400
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  23. Amridge University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL

    The master's in marriage and family therapy at Amridge combines theory, research, and practical experiences to help students tackle common challenges facing couples, children, and families. Graduates leave prepared to seek MFT licensure in Alabama and most other states, while pursuing employment opportunities in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

    The 60-credit MFT program allows for part-time or full-time learning -- and most full-time students can graduate in just seven semesters. Enrollees must take part in at least 250 hours of relational and 500 total hours of clinical experience involving direct client contact. At least 100 of the clinical hours feature supervision.

    Eligible candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. The program does not maintain minimum GPA requirements, nor does it ask for applicants' GRE scores.

    Amridge is located in Montgomery, Alabama. All graduate students pay the same tuition for this private, nonprofit school, even if they reside out of state.

    Courses Include:

    • Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Theories of Personality Development
    • Interpersonal and Family Dynamics
    • Counseling for Abusive Relationships
    • Systemic Treatment of Substance-Related Disorders

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $40,500
    • Credits Required: 60

     

  24. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Located in Philadelphia, Drexel delivers a master's in family therapy degree that prepares students to serve in diverse healthcare settings and find solutions to the variety of public health challenges that individuals, couples, and families face. The program also trains future therapists in working with LGBTQ+ populations, individuals dealing with substance abuse, and children and teens at risk of suicide.

    The 90-credit program includes a 12-month clinical experience through which each student completes 100 supervised hours and 500 total hours of practicum. At least 250 hours must involve couple and family therapy.

    Each prospective student must submit a three-page essay, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and official GRE scores. An eligible student possesses a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All candidates also undergo an interview with program staff.

    Courses Include:

    • Child Therapy in Couple and Family Therapy
    • Contextual Family Therapy
    • Family Life Cycle
    • Research in Couple and Family Therapy
    • Legal and Ethical Implications in Couple and Family Therapy Practice

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $59,040
    • Credits Required: 90
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

  25. University of Houston-Clear Lake
    Location

    Houston, TX

    UHCL offers a 60-credit MA in family therapy program aimed at helping students achieve licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist status in Texas. The curriculum includes a course on cross-cultural issues in psychology that allows students to explore global approaches to practices and outcomes.

    Each enrollee takes part in a clinical internship, logging 400 hours of direct contact with clients at an approved location in the Houston area. All students also must join the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy while enrolled in the program.

    Applicants must provide their official GRE scores and official transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended. Each candidate must also provide three letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose and goals, and transcripts demonstrating a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

    Courses Include:

    • Child and Adolescent Family Therapy
    • Substance Abuse: Causes and Treatments
    • Psychotherapy Skills and Professional Orientation
    • Couples and Sex Therapy
    • Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Family

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $20,070 in-state; $40,750 out-of-state
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     


What to Expect in a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Program

Individuals who intend to pursue marriage and family therapy licenses should enroll in related master’s programs. These programs examine the needs and structures of families, as well as mental health and behavioral concepts that influence family dynamics. The following sections address marriage and family therapy programs and licensure in more detail.

Master’s in MFT Admission Requirements

For master’s-level marriage and family therapy programs, applicants must apply to the university and some may need to contact the individual program. The following list represents common admission requirements for these pursuits, but specific criteria vary by school.

Bachelor’s Degree

Admission typically requires a bachelor’s degree related to marriage and family therapy. Departments may also accept degrees in other fields if candidates complete prerequisite coursework in areas like psychology and research. Each applicant also generally needs a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0.

Letters of Recommendation

Master’s admission often calls for three recommendation letters from professors, employers, or supervisors. These letters may address topics like work ethic, character, experience, and field knowledge that can help the applicant excel in a marriage and family therapy program.

Essay

Applicants submit personal essays that outline field interests, accomplishments, and goals. Departments may consider writing skills while reviewing these documents and insist on a minimum and maximum word count.

Graduate Record Examination

Graduate programs often require scores from the GRE, which assesses writing and reasoning skills. Registering for the GRE general test costs $205 in most locations.

Resume/CV

A resume or CV should document all of the candidate’s experiences that relate to marriage and family therapy, including volunteer opportunities. Applicants should also consider skills and interests that benefit therapists, such as strong communication and research abilities.

Online MFT Program Length

A master’s in marriage and family therapy generally takes 2-3 years to complete and requires 45-60 credits. Students in some programs may request course overloads where they take classes beyond full-time expectations. Departments may also accept transfer credits from other universities or colleges. These approaches can shorten program time frames.

Program coursework explores topics like family dynamics and structure, lifespan development, mental health, and research. In addition to standard classes, candidates may also complete practicums, research projects, and clinical experiences. Program requirements, however, vary among schools.

Curriculum for an MFT Program

  • Group Therapy: Although the curriculum varies by program, departments often explore therapy techniques for group settings. These courses address how group structure affects communication and how groups change over time. Learners may consider ethical, cultural, and legal issues that arise in therapy groups and develop leadership skills for guiding these sessions.
  • Couples Therapy: Classes address common problems between married couples, along with techniques for working through negative behavioral patterns. Students build leadership and intervention skills for assisting couples through these issues. Departments may also cover how factors like finances or addiction can influence a couple’s health.
  • Crisis Counseling: Courses enhance communication skills for listening to patients and guiding them through crises. Learners examine crisis typologies and intervention strategies for different situations. Other topics may include how details like culture and age can affect crisis response and how crises can influence behavior and mindsets.
  • Ethical and Legal Issues: Degree-seekers learn theories and regulations for ethical practices in marriage and family therapy. Coursework may also cover strategies for making ethical choices and address therapy concerns like confidentiality. Departments often emphasize codes and laws for the school’s state. For this reason, in-state students benefit the most from these classes.
  • Cross-Cultural Therapy: Departments address how culture can influence therapy sessions. In particular, patients from diverse cultural backgrounds may hold different values, history, and social expectations, and therapists must determine effective approaches in each situation. These courses may train learners to assess patients’ needs and perform cultural research to find the best therapy options.

Graduation Requirements for MFT Graduate Students

Completing a marriage and family therapist degree requires more than coursework. For example, many programs insist that students complete supervised practicums in related settings. Other programs may require a thesis or research project. These experiences ensure students can apply course knowledge to real-world practice. The following list outlines possible requirements, though these criteria vary among programs.

  • Practicum Experience: Marriage and family therapy programs often require clinical practicums that students complete in supervised settings. These experiences occur at organizations that offer relevant treatment. Required hours vary, but may surpass 1,000 hours. Practicums train degree-seekers to apply their knowledge in real-world settings and may lead to employment opportunities by increasing students’ professional networks.
  • Capstone or Thesis Project: Learners may complete research projects or papers that address marriage and family therapy topics to earn MFT degrees. Students typically present and defend their findings in front of faculty members after spending a year or more researching and creating their projects. Departments often must approve topics before research begins.
  • Comprehensive Exam: Comprehensive exams cover all courses from marriage and family therapy programs. These tests may require prior registration. Departments can deliver exams in written or oral formats and may allow students to substitute the test for a thesis or research project.

Interested in finding your ideal master’s in marriage and family therapy program? Check out this page to learn more about the top programs and the importance of accreditation.

Best Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Salary and Employment for Marriage and Family Therapists

MFTs can work in different industries and settings, but factors like industry, location, and experience affect salaries and influence job availability. Licensed MFTs with at least 20 years of experience earn $62,000 on average, which is $18,000 more than entry-level therapists. Candidates in Hawaii enjoyed the highest salaries and took home an annual mean wage of nearly $80,000 in 2018. Degree-seekers should consider all of these details when choosing work settings.

Top Paying Areas for Marriage and Family Therapists

The following sections list areas and industries that offer high pay or significant career opportunities. Candidates can use this information to determine where to pursue MFT jobs.

StateHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Hawaii$38.30$79,660
Maine$36.28$75,460
Colorado$36.01$74,900
New Jersey$34.80$72,380
Utah$34.11$70,960

Source: BLS

StateHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Provo-Orem, UT$45.99$95,670
Urban Honolulu, HI$41.56$86,440
York-Hanover, PA$39.25$81,640
Eugene, OR$37.57$78,150
Fayetteville, NC$37.09$77,150

Source: BLS

Common Employers for MFT Professionals

  • Outpatient Care Centers: Outpatient care centers provide treatment for patients who do not need overnight care. Typical treatments may involve check-ups, tests for common illnesses, and surgeries that do not lead to extended stays. According to the BLS, these centers offer the second-highest median pay for MFTs, among industries.
  • Substance Abuse: Substance abuse facilities help patients overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol. These addictions can influence family wellness by instigating physical or verbal abuse, depression, or neglect. The family structure can also positively or negatively affect recovery. Due to these connections, substance abuse organizations may hire MFTs.
  • Private Practice: Candidates with master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy may also open their own practices. These individuals typically determine their own schedules and work in independent offices with hired staff. This industry ranks among the largest employment settings for MFTs.
StateHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
California$24.98$51,950
New Jersey$34.80$72,380
Florida$24.37$50,680
Pennsylvania$28.08$58,400
Arizona$23.26$48,390

Source: BLS

Licensure Requirements for Marriage and Family Therapists

MFTs in every state must obtain licenses. Some states offer more than one license for these professions, such as credentials for associate, graduate, and clinical MFTs. Licensure steps vary by credential and licensing state, so individuals should consult their local boards to determine the appropriate steps. In general, MFTs must hold advanced degrees. Acceptable majors for these degrees include marriage and family therapy and psychology.

Boards may insist that degree programs fulfill certain criteria. For instance, programs may need to include coursework in areas like mental health or child development. Other criteria may include accreditation through agencies like the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Boards may insist that degree programs fulfill certain criteria. For instance, programs may need to include coursework in areas like mental health or child development.

States also require field experience for licensure. This experience typically involves supervision in clinical settings and a minimum of 2,000 hours.

Applicants must also take licensing exams, such as the marital and family therapy national examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). Local boards must approve candidates to take the test, and individuals must then apply and register for the exam, which costs $365. Candidates must complete the test in four hours by completing 180 questions.

Marriage and family therapy licenses require renewal, usually every 1-2 years. States may insist on continuing education hours that relate to marriage and family therapy. Acceptable continuing education experiences may include workshops, publications, and courses, though these details vary by state.


Scholarships for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Students

To manage the costs of marriage and family therapy graduate programs, students can apply for financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can also apply for scholarships through schools and private organizations. Organizations award scholarships based on details like ethnicity, financial need, athletic accomplishments, and major. For example, marriage and family therapy students can apply for the following funds.

  • American Addiction Centers Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program Who Can Apply: Candidates in fields related to behavioral health, such as marriage and family therapy, can apply for these scholarships if they maintain minimum GPAs of 3.2. Applying requires an essay describing your interest in the field.
    Amount: Varies
  • Association of Illinois Township Committees on Youth Graduate Scholarship Who Can Apply: Eligibility requirements include graduate enrollment in fields like family therapy, social work, counseling, and psychology. However, applicants must specialize in assisting youth. Undergraduate students can also apply for a $500 scholarship.
    Amount: $1,000
  • Future Counselors of America Scholarship Who Can Apply: Psychology students who intend to work as relationship counselors can apply by submitting essays related to virtual dating. Essays must contain 500-900 words and MLA citations, if applicable.
    Amount: $1,000
  • Lindsey Hoskins and Associates Scholarship Who Can Apply: Mental health degree-seekers can earn this scholarship if they focus on relationships. Applicants must respond to questions that concern interests and goals in the field. Recipients may use funds for undergraduate or graduate programs.
    Amount: $500
  • Minority Fellowship Program-Youth Who Can Apply: Recipients can use this funding for marriage and family therapy master’s programs but must commit to assisting racial or ethnic minorities for at least two years.
    Amount: N/A

Resources for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Students

Professional organizations and resources can help marriage and family therapy degree-seekers determine licensure steps in their region. Students can also use publications from these groups for class projects and pursue group certifications, which can increase employment chances. Organizations may also host events where students can network with professionals. To obtain these benefits, marriage and family therapy enrollees can explore the following options.

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy AAMFT connects users to licensing boards in different states and COAMFTE-accredited programs. The association also offers information on relevant career opportunities.
  • National Council on Family Relations NCFR hosts events and publishes journals that address marriage and family therapy concepts. Candidates can browse career opportunities, search for relevant programs, and participate in group discussions through the site. The council also offers the certified family life educator credential.
  • Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards Individuals can search for their local board’s information through AMFTRB’s website. The association also offers preparation for the marital and family therapy national examination and details licensure processes in different states, including education, experience, and exam requirements.
  • American Psychological Association APA delivers resources on topics related to family and marital therapy, such as parenting, children, emotional health, and addictions. The website also provides information on graduate programs, including accreditation, dissertation strategies, and financial aid.
  • Therapist Aid This resource offers materials for therapy sessions, such as worksheets and videos. Students of marriage and family therapy programs can use the site’s articles on concepts like ADHD and relapse for their academic projects.

Online College Resources

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