Best Online Marriage and Family Counseling Programs

Best Online Marriage and Family Counseling Programs

| Staff Writers

Best Online Marriage and Family Counseling Programs
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Online marriage and family therapy programs

open doors to a profession with an above-average projected job growth rate of 22%. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers should add 14,800 positions for marriage and family therapists (MFTs) through 2029. MFTs serve in integrated care teams, working with counselors who treat behavioral disorders, mental health issues, and substance abuse.

Online MFT programs train students to help clients face relationship challenges. Online coursework explores couples counseling, family therapy, and human sexual development, along with ethics and theories of psychotherapy. Distance learning may consist of recorded lectures or live online sessions. Students gain supervised clinical experience in person at work sites near their homes.

Check out our rankings below for information about the best online marriage and family therapy programs.

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

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Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

Best Online Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Rank School Location
1 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
2 Messiah College Mechanicsburg, PA
3 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
4 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
5 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
6 Concordia University - Wisconsin Mequon, WI
7 Amridge University Montgomery, AL
8 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA
9 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA
10 Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA
  • LeTourneau University
    Location

    Longview, TX

    Based in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University (LETU) operates as an interdenominational Christian institution of over 3,000 students. LETU offers a fully online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling.

    The degree prepares students for the Texas licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) credential, allowing graduates to work professionally in the state. The full curriculum consists of 66 credits, including six hours of clinical theology coursework. Core courses focus on human lifespan development, psychopharmacology, and counseling methods. Students specializing in marriage and family counseling also take courses such as family assessment and couples therapy.

    The program includes a one-semester practicum and two-semester internship, where learners can apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world situations under professional supervision. Students need at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate.

    LeTourneau University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Messiah College
    Location

    Mechanicsburg, PA

    With an interdenominational Christian affiliation, Messiah College enrolls students both on its Mechanicsburg campus in central Pennsylvania and online through distance learning. At Messiah, students pursue a master's degree in marriage, couple, and family counseling.

    The online MFT program prepares graduates to become licensed marriage and family therapists in Pennsylvania and other states. The full program consists of 60 credits, which students can complete in 2-4 years. Courses last eight weeks and follow a synchronous format, which means students must log on at specific times. In addition, distance learners must also travel to campus for one-week intensive courses in January and July.

    Curriculum covers group counseling, human sexuality, and lifespan development. Master's candidates also participate in a counseling practicum, which involves an initial 100-hour field placement. They then must complete two 300-hour internship experiences. Finally, Messiah requires all students to attend one conference.

    Messiah's counseling master's program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    Messiah College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • John Brown University
    Location

    Siloam Springs, AR

    Founded in 1919 in the northwest Arkansas town of Siloam Springs, John Brown University (JBU) operates as a private Christian school. JBU offers several undergraduate and graduate programs, including a master of science in marriage and family therapy.

    The 64-credit degree features a hybrid format. This means that students may attend courses on JBU's Little Rock, Rogers, and Siloam Springs campuses, in addition to completing one-third of courses online. Learners can choose the play therapy emphasis, which focuses on using play and creative therapy techniques to help children communicate. Degree-seekers can also opt for a double degree, which allows them to simultaneously pursue a master's in clinical mental health counseling along with their marriage and family therapy degree.

    Over the course of two practicum and two internship courses, students complete 500 direct client contact hours. At the end of the program, learners sit for a national certification exam in marriage and family counseling. Students can then apply for state licensure.

    John Brown University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Concordia University - Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    As a Christian liberal arts institution affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia University, Saint Paul (CSP) enrolls nearly 5,000 students. Aspiring family educators can pursue CSP's online master's degree in family science.

    The program consists of 36 credits, and the curriculum explores systemic dynamics of families, family decision-making and communication, and intimate relationships. Master's candidates can choose either a certified or noncertified track, depending on whether they want to obtain the certified family life educator credential. All students end the program with a three-credit capstone course which takes a comprehensive look at the entire curriculum.

    Online courses last seven weeks. Learners can study abroad, which allows them to gain first-hand experience as a family educator in a foriegn country. The master's program holds approval from the National Council on Family Relations.

    Concordia University, Saint Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA

    Nearly 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend Pepperdine University, a private, Christian university in Malibu, California. The school offers an online master's degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy.

    The program prepares students to apply for licensure in California as licensed marriage and family therapists or licensed professional clinical counselors. Distance learners complete 62-68 credits of coursework. Courses cover topics such as diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders as well as topics within family and marriage therapy. Learners examine individual, couple, and family development throughout the lifecycle.

    Degree-seekers complete four clinical practicum terms. Learners must fulfill 700 clinical hours. Candidates hoping for clinical counselor licensure need 280 face-to-face clinical hours with patients, while those aiming for marriage and family therapist licensure must spend 225 clinical hours with patients.

    Pepperdine University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • Concordia University - Wisconsin
    Location

    Mequon, WI

    Part of the nine-institution Concordia University system, Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The school offers distance learning degrees, including a master of science in family life.

    The program, which teaches students how to work as family life educators with a Christian perspective, consists of 36 credits. Courses include family law and public policy, human sexuality, and individual and group counseling. Master's candidates must complete a thesis in addition to 120 practicum hours. CUW runs an academic resource center for online students, including a writing lab and tutoring services. The university also offers several uncommon scholarships for adult and nontraditional learners.

    Although the program does not possess a certified family life educator designation from the National Council on Family Relations, CUW is in the process of applying for this designation.

    Concordia University Wisconsin is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Amridge University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL

    Amridge University, based in Montgomery, Alabama, was one of the earliest higher education institutions to offer online courses, first offering distance learning through the web in 1993. One of the online programs offered at this private university is a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.

    The online MFT program trains students in the clinical practice of marriage and family therapy, preparing them for licensure in the field. The curriculum includes 60 credits of coursework, with courses such as counseling for abusive relationships and marital and family systems.

    Required courses include two clinical training practicums. Distance learners must independently make arrangements for their supervised clinical work. Students can enroll part time or full time. Many learners graduate after seven semesters. Master's candidates who also enroll in the professional counseling program can pursue a dual degree.

    Amridge University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Touro University Worldwide
    Location

    Los Alamitos, CA

    Touro University Worldwide operates as the distance learning institution within the Jewish-affiliated Touro University system. The school offers an online master's in marriage and family therapy.

    The program includes clinical, nonclinical, and licensed professional clinical counseling tracks. Students must complete 72-82 credits, depending on their chosen track. While distance learners complete their coursework entirely online, they must also fulfill practicum hours onsite at a therapy clinic. Candidates pursuing the clinical and licensure tracks must complete 500 direct contact hours with clients. Students on the nonclinical track can avoid these practicum requirements. The California Board of Behavioral Sciences approves the marriage and family therapy program, so master's graduates qualify for state licensure.

    The marriage and family therapy program is also currently in the process of applying for accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

    Touro University Worldwide is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

  • City University of Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    As a private, nonprofit institution, City University of Seattle (CityU) offers several on-campus, hybrid, and online programs to its 7,000 students. The hybrid master's degree in counseling allows students to pursue a marriage, couple, and family counseling track for individuals hoping to become marriage and family therapists.

    The degree consists of 90 credits. Students will complete coursework both on campus and online. CityU provides a full-time option, which students can finish in two years, and a part-time option for working professionals, which typically takes three years to complete. Students take four practicum courses and three internship courses to fulfill their clinical requirements. At the end of the program, they must also complete a capstone project and pass a comprehensive exam that evaluates their curriculum knowledge.

    The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    City University of Seattle is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • Fresno Pacific University
    Location

    Fresno, CA

    Located in Fresno, California, Fresno Pacific University (FPU) runs a biblical seminary that offers graduate degrees and certificates. Among these programs, the master of arts in marriage and family therapy teaches students how to become counselors from a Christian perspective. It also prepares students for state licensure as a marriage and family therapist.

    The 65-credit program operates in a blended format, meaning students complete both online and on-campus coursework. Courses explore topics such as grief counseling, family violence, and substance abuse. The curriculum also integrates bible-related courses, such as theology for integration and discipleship and ethics. Learners can opt to study in Israel during the summer or attend FPU's Hispanic Summer Program. Degree-seekers must participate in at least two practicum courses.

    The marriage and family therapy program is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

    Fresno Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Applying to an Online Marriage and Family Counseling Program

Many marriage and family therapy master’s programs online require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in a mental health or related field with a 2.5 GPA or higher. Candidates submit transcripts, 2-3 letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors, and a resume. Applicants may also need to provide GRE scores, personal statements, and prerequisites in psychology, human development, and statistics, although work or volunteer experience may substitute for specific coursework.

All U.S. states require MFTs to be licensed, so students should ensure that their programs hold accreditation. After earning their marriage and family therapist degree online, graduates must log 2,000-4,000 supervised clinical experience hours and pass a licensing exam. Aspiring MFTs should check with their state’s specific licensure requirements for additional details.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

    The process includes earning a four-year bachelor’s degree and a 2-3-year MFT master’s degree, followed by participation in a postgraduate internship or residency, which takes about two years to complete. Students can expect a time commitment of at least eight years, which may vary with full- or part-time enrollment.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation indicates that an online MFT program meets rigorous academic standards and prepares graduates to pass their licensing exams. Students should look for programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council.

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

    MFTs counsel couples and families struggling with relationship dynamics and problems. Psychologists specialize in a range of patient populations, some of which — such as couples and families, substance abusers, and those with mental health issues — overlap with MFT clients. Psychologists, however, generally earn doctoral degrees and must satisfy different educational and licensing criteria.

  • How much do marriage and family counselors make?

    MFTs earn an annual median wage of $49,610. According to the BLS, MFTs who make higher salaries work for state governments and earn a $72,230 median annual wage, along with those working at outpatient care centers, who earn $52,140. Top-paying states for MFTs include Utah, New Jersey, and Maine.

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