Most Accessible Online Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degrees 2021

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Marriage and family therapy graduate programs prepare students for careers in helping couples, parents, and children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, psychological issues, relationship problems, and substance abuse. A master’s in marriage and family therapy (MFT) qualifies graduates to pursue licensure and specialty certification.

The number of MFTs has increased 50-fold since 1970, and marriage and family therapy remains one of the fastest growing professions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22.3% increase in MFT employment from 2019-29.

Prospective MFTs can finish their online master’s degree in 2-3 years, including completion of onsite supervised clinical experiences. Distance learners can expect synchronous (scheduled virtual classes at set times) and/or asynchronous (pre-recorded lectures accessible 24/7) courses. If learners live far from campus, they can usually log their clinical hours in their home communities.

The typical MFT curriculum includes courses in practice, theory, clinical treatment, law and ethics, and multicultural issues.

Top 10 Most Accessible Online Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degrees

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

  1. LeTourneau University
    Location

    Longview, TX, TX

    A student at LETU in Longview, Texas, seeking an online master's in marriage and family therapy can earn a master of arts in clinical mental health counseling. The flexible program allows distance learners to access course materials from anywhere in the world. The curriculum integrates MFT training from a Christian viewpoint and includes in-person internships, along with topics in ethical decision-making, spirituality in counseling, and sensitivity when working with diverse populations.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited school, a 2.75 GPA, and coursework in psychology and statistics.

    Courses Include:

    • Addictions Counseling
    • Couples Therapy and Treatment Planning
    • Counseling Skills and Techniques
    • Counseling Theories and Family Therapies for Professional Counselors
    • Family Assessment

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $615/credit
    • Credits Required: 66
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

     

  2. John Brown University
    Location

    Siloam Springs, AR, AR

    The master's in marriage and family therapy at JBU leads to a master of science and state licensing. The program prepares students for counseling and ministry careers and boasts a 90% passage rate on national board exams. The hybrid course delivery combines online learning with in-person evening classes held once a week at Arkansas campuses in Siloam Springs, Little Rock, or Rogers. Students interested in working with children can opt to specialize in play therapy.

    The program takes 30-42 months to complete and includes the in-person clinical practicum and internship hours required for professional credentials. Each candidate must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited school. Those with lower GPAs can apply for provisional acceptance and may need to submit GRE scores.

    Courses Include:

    • Advanced Psychopharmacology
    • Child and Adolescent Counseling
    • Family Systems
    • Principles of Marital Therapy
    • Relationship Assessment

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $560/credit
    • Credits Required: 64
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

     

  3. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN, MN

    CSP in St. Paul, Minnesota, features a master of arts in family science among its many online programs. This top marriage and family therapy graduate program approaches MFT counseling from the perspective of the family as part of a larger societal system. The fully online course delivery follows an accessible and flexible format geared toward students' schedules.

    Each applicant must submit official transcripts and a personal statement of 400-1,000 words that describes their employment history, reasons for attending graduate school, goals, and a noteworthy personal and professional experience. Admitted students select a certified family life educator (CFLE) or non-CFLE track. Both tracks culminate in a capstone project. Students can also opt to study abroad.

    Courses Include:

    • Families in Society
    • Family Communication and Relationships
    • Intimate Relationships
    • Navigating the Oceans of Data and Information in Family Life Education
    • Systemic Dynamics of Families

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $395/credit
    • Credits Required: 36
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; National Council on Family Relations

     

  4. Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA, CA

    Christian-based Pepperdine, located in Malibu, California, offers one of the best MFT programs through its online platform. An enrollee can earn a master of arts in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy in as little as two years. The interactive, cohort-based distance learning model includes state board-required clinical training. The curriculum trains MFTs to assist couples and families dealing with depression, substance abuse, stress, and psychological disorders. Graduates pursue careers as licensed marriage and family therapists.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Each candidate submits official transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose focusing on goals and past experience.

    Courses Include:

    • Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families
    • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
    • Multicultural Counseling
    • Theory of Counseling and Psychotherapy
    • Trauma in Diverse Populations

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $1,585/credit
    • Credits Required: 62-68
    • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

     

  5. Concordia University, Wisconsin
    Location

    Mequon, WI, WI

    The marriage and family therapy program at CUW in Mequon culminates in a master of science in family life. Grounded in Christian faith, the program focuses on strengthening families through education and inspiration in the context of society.

    An interested candidate can apply to the CUW graduate school with a personal essay, a resume, two recommendations, and official transcripts. CUW prefers applicants who possess bachelor's degrees with 3.0 GPAs from regionally accredited schools.

    Enrollees work with online student advisors to help them navigate the online curriculum, including an accelerated learning option. Each student completes 120 practicum hours, along with a thesis. The program has applied to the National Council on Family Relations for certification.

    Courses Include:

    • American Family Today
    • Contemporary Issues in Family and Parenting
    • Human Development
    • Marriage and Family Relations
    • Professional Ethics

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $614/credit
    • Credits Required: 36
    • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

     

  6. Amridge University
    Location

    Montgomery, AL, AL

    Students considering master's in marriage and family therapy schools should consider Amridge in Montgomery, Alabama. Amridge offers an online master of arts in marriage and family therapy that prepares graduates for MFT licensing in their home state. Students can opt to take additional courses leading to dual licensure as an MFT and a licensed professional counselor (LPC). The seven-semester program includes in-person clinical training, which students must arrange.

    The curriculum centers on skills training and cultural sensitivity. Each applicant must submit official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Amridge prefers prospective dual MFT/LPC applicants to hold degrees from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    Courses Include:

    • Community and Social Systems
    • Counseling for Abusive Relationships
    • Ethics and Professional Identity
    • Marriage and Family Development
    • Theories of Personality Development

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $650/credit full time; $750/credit part time
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

     

  7. Touro University Worldwide
    Location

    Los Alamitos, CA, CA

    A student attending TUW in Los Alamitos, California, can earn a master's in marriage and family therapy online. The comprehensive program offers three tracks: clinical, requiring 500 additional clinical practicum hours; non-clinical, with no clinical requirements; and licensed professional clinical counseling (LPCC), requiring four additional LPCC courses and 500 clinical practicum hours. Graduates emerge ready to apply for California MFT licensing.

    The program spans 18-30 months and focuses on understanding interpersonal relationships to treat mental health issues. Students complete their degrees entirely online, except for in-person clinical practicums. Admission requires either a bachelor's degree, graduate transfer status with a 2.75 GPA, or a cumulative 2.5 GPA.

    Courses Include:

    • Aging, Illness, and Long-Term Care Concerns
    • Contemporary Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Couples Counseling
    • Development within the Family Life Cycle
    • Studies in Human Communication

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $500/credit
    • Credits Required: 54-82
    • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

     

  8. City University of Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA, WA

    CityU ranks among the best colleges for marriage and family therapy with its master of arts in counseling. The 2-3-year program features a mixed-mode curriculum that includes in-person classes, online learning, and clinical training. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

    Students can select among four tracks: clinical mental health counseling, leading to licensure as a mental health counselor (LMHC); marriage, couple, and family counseling, meeting requirements for LHMC and licensed MFT; addiction counseling, preparing graduates for careers as LHMCs or substance abuse disorder professionals; or K-12 professional school counseling.

    Courses Include:

    • Advanced Child Development and Play Theory
    • Introduction to School Counseling
    • Loss and Grief Counseling
    • Child and Adolescent Psychopathology and Psychopharmacology
    • Trauma Counseling and Disaster Mental Health

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $630-$695/credit
    • Credits Required: 90
    • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs

     

  9. Fresno Pacific University
    Location

    Fresno, CA, CA

    One of California's top MFT programs offers a master of arts in marriage and family therapy. The blended curriculum at FPU includes online classes, integrating professional practice and personal development with theory and theology. Students graduate ready to complete state-board required internships and take the California MFT licensure exam. The program boasts a 71% pass rate on the 2018 licensed clinical exam and 100% on the law and ethics exam.

    Admission requires GRE scores and 50 hours of client counseling experience. Applicants must submit official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, along with coursework in abnormal psychology, human development, and introduction to psychology. Additional submissions include a personal profile, short essay responses, and three references.

    Courses Include:

    • Aging and Long-Term Care
    • Counseling Children
    • Discipleship and Ethics
    • Family Violence
    • Person, Family, and Culture

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $530/credit
    • Credits Required: 65
    • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission

     

  10. Abilene Christian University
    Location

    Abilene, TX, TX

    ACU in Abilene, Texas, boasts one of the top MFT programs in the state. Each online enrollee can earn a master of marriage and family therapy that includes a 500-hour internship and prepares them for the MFT national examination. The program spans a minimum of 33 months, and students can opt to specialize in child and adolescent therapy, medical family therapy, or treatment of trauma.

    Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA from an accredited school, official transcripts, three recommendation letters, and a statement of purpose. The program director may request to take part in video conferences with applicants.

    Courses Include:

    • Addictive Disorders
    • Couples Therapy
    • Ecology of Trauma and Crisis for the Therapist
    • Intervention in Family Medical Therapy
    • Systemic Diagnosis and Assessment

     

    Unique Features:

    • Cost: $825/credit (coursework); $470/hour (internship)
    • Credits Required: 60
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

     

Applying to an Online Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Degree Program

Master’s programs for marriage and family therapy accept students with a bachelor’s degree in fields such as psychology, social work, nursing, counseling, and education. Accredited MFT programs typically require transcripts showing a 2.5 or higher grade point average (GPA), 2-3 recommendation letters, personal statements, and resumes. Some admission requirements include Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores, paid or volunteer experience in mental health, and/or prerequisite coursework in undergraduate human development, psychology, and statistics.

After completing the master of marriage and family therapist degree, graduates spend approximately two years gaining additional supervised clinical experience, then sit for their state licensure exams. Many states use the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards examination. Optional national certification exams lead to credentials in one of three specialty areas: addictions, clinical mental health, and school counseling.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a marriage and family therapist do?

    Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice using a variety of methods to help clients, including cognitive behavioral theory to help replace harmful thoughts and emotions with alternative or more objective ways of thinking. MFTs also guide clients’ decision making for moving forward, help them develop strategies for managing challenging situations, and refer clients to other resources.

  • What are the requirements to become licensed as a marriage and family therapist?

    MFTs need a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited program, two years of postgraduate supervised clinical experience, and a passing score on a licensing exam. Requirements vary by state, but common titles include licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed marriage and family counselor, licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, and certified marriage and family therapist.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation demonstrates that an MFT program undergoes regular and rigorous curricular review, and meets high academic standards that prepare graduates for professional counseling and therapy roles. The main accrediting organization for marriage and family therapy programs is the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

  • Where do marriage and family therapists work?

    Just over one-third of MFTs work in individual and family services, and 21% find employment in offices of other health practitioners. The remainder can be found in outpatient care centers, self-employment ventures, and state government agencies. Other work settings include employee assistance programs, hospitals, mental health facilities, and substance abuse treatment centers.


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