What Is an MFT Degree?
Graduate MFT degree programs explore families and relationships. You’ll learn how relationships affect well-being. And you'll discover what you can do to help.
Find MFT Programs
Graduate MFT programs include core coursework. Plus, practicum experiences and an internship. They help students prepare for Marriage and Family Therapist career paths. And, they may prepare students to pursue state licensure.
written by Shannon Fandler
What Could You Do with a Graduate MFT Degree?
Marriage and family therapy programs could prep you to be Marriage and Family Therapist. These pros can work in diverse settings. For instance, they may have career paths at:
- Substance abuse treatment centers
- Outpatient care centers
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
- Others' private practices
- Their own private practice
MFT roles are projected to grow22% by 2029, a rate much faster than average. (That's per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.) Demand for therapists may be due to the growth of integrated care. That’s when a group of specialists work together. This lets them address diverse patient needs. So, MFTs could work alongside other kinds of mental health professionals.
You could also pursue various counseling career paths. Like, Substance Abuse Counselor. Counselors are most needed to work with under served populations. Like military veterans. Education requirements may vary widely in the counseling field. So, make sure you meet licensure criteria in your state.Dr. Paul HokemeyerLicensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Expert Insight We asked: How did earning an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy kick start your career? Earning a marriage and family therapist degree taught me to think systemically. No longer do I view things in isolation. I view them as interconnected to three levels of a person’s existence. Intrapersonal, interpersonal and social cultural.
What Kind of Degree Do You Need To Be a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Marriage & Family Therapists need to earn a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy. Or, you could earn a grad degree in psychology or a related field. Some students earn a dual degree in social work and marriage & family therapy. Note that an MSW or Master of Social Work could let you pursue a clinical social worker role. That could involve family counseling. But this degree is not the same as a Master's in MFT.
What Jobs Can You Get with a MFT Degree?
Earning your degree could help you pursue a career path as a marriage & family therapist. These pros help patients cope with relationship problems. Like issues with family members. That said, they treat individuals as well as couples and families. Along with that, you could pursue other human services career paths. Check out salary and employment for MFT roles, along with related career paths.
Marriage & Family Therapies may work in several different industries – from religion to health care. The industries that employ the most MFTs include:
- Individual and Family Services
- Offices of Health Practitioners
- Outpatient Care Centers
- State Government
- Residential Mental Healthcare Facilities
Popular MFT Degrees
Marriage and Family Therapy degrees are reported by NCES. Look under the category of health professions and related programs. Let's look at the most recent update of the data (2013). Across the U.S., 2,920 MFT degrees were awarded to grad students. The majority (97%) were Master’s degrees.
MFT vs Masters in Clinical Psychology
A Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy focuses on therapy strategies. These are used to help couples and families thrive. So this program could help you pursue an MFT career path. You’ll study areas like counseling, assessment, and treatment planning.
A Master’s in Clinical Psychology has a different focus. The program covers foundations in the field of psychology. But it may not include the clinical hours needed for counseling career paths. That said, there are exceptions. Some Master’s in Clinical Psychology programs offer a marriage and family track. This may help students prepare to become licensed therapists.
What about earning a Master’s in Clinical Mental Counseling? These programs cover counseling in a more general sense. But, many offer concentrations in Marriage & Family Therapy. And, these programs may be structured to help students meet state licensure requirements.
Whichever program you choose, note the requirements for your state and career path. Make sure your program is designed for your goals. Whether that’s launching an MFT career or pursuing more education.
|Marriage and Family Therapy Guide|
|M.S. in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy||M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy|
|Length of Program: 92 quarter credits||Length of Program: 74 credits|
|This program is designed for those pursuing licensed MFT career paths. It covers counseling knowledge areas for working with families and couples. The program also features practicum experiences, residencies, and internships.||This program offers foundations in professional counseling. It also covers the theory and practice of counseling families and couples. The program is designed for students who wish to pursue state licensure.|
|Marriage and Family Systems Couple and Marital Therapy Life Planning and Career Development Theories of Psychotherapy Systemic Approaches to Gender and Sexuality||Theories and Models of Counseling Counseling Skills Group Counseling Advanced Family Systems Theory Human Sexuality and Issues of Aging|
|This program is accredited by COAMFTE and CACREP||No specific program accreditation|
What is the Curriculum for a MFT Program?
These programs explore the theory behind how families and relationships work. They also cover how to help patients resolve family challenges. You could study topics like psychotherapy and sex therapy. Plus, counseling people from diverse backgrounds.
Master’s in MFT programs are a common path for aspiring Marriage & Family Therapists. Coursework in a Master’s program covers standards and ethics for this profession. It also covers behavioral sciences. And you’ll study stressors that affect families. Like marital dysfunction. Or parenting concerns. And the main thing: you’ll explore ways to address these issues in therapy.
Courses you could take in marriage & family therapy Master’s programs include:
- The Counseling Process. This course covers counseling techniques and strategies. You’ll learn how to communicate with patients to get to the heart of their lives and relationships.
- Family Assessment. This course covers how to evaluate family dynamics and dysfunction. You’ll study characteristics of families, plus diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders that impact relationships.
- Couples Therapy and Treatment Planning. This course delves into the specifics of working with partners. You’ll learn models and techniques for counseling couples. And, you’ll learn how to put together an effective treatment plan.
- Counseling Children and Adolescents. Counseling children and teens calls for special approaches and considerations. This course covers the theory and practice of working with younger patients.
- Human Sexuality Counseling. This course considers aspects of human sexual identity and behavior. You’ll learn how personal attitudes and cultural values can impact sexuality. And, you’ll study sexual disorders.
What Do I Need to Know About the MFT Licensing (LMFT) Exam?
In all states, MFTs must pass a state-recognized exam to earn a license. The Association of Marriage & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) creates this exam. It covers domains, tasks, and knowledge areas important for MFTs, including:
- Managing crisis situations
- Designing and conducting treatment
- Ethical, legal, and professional standards
- Models of marital, couple, and family therapy
- Theories of personality
- Substance addiction
- And more
To take the exam, you must first apply to your state board. The board will determine your eligibility. Then it will send you an approval code. At that point, you can complete an online application. Then, pay your testing fees. And of course, schedule your exam. If you don’t pass the first time, you can try again. That said, you can’t take the exam more than three times in a 12 month period.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MFT License ?
The time it takes to get an MFT license varies by state. For example, in California you need two years of supervised clinical experience. Within those two years, you must complete at least 3,000 hours. And, 1,700 of those hours must be completed after you’ve earned your grad degree.
Other states have different requirements. But generally you’ll need to complete 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Some or all of the experience must be post degree. And, don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to study for and pass your license examination.
What Should I Know About COAMFTE Accredited Programs?
Graduating from a COAMFTE accredited program could be required or recommended for earning your therapist license. Certain employers, like the Veterans Administration, may need your program to be accredited.
The abbreviation stands for the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. They accredit the following marriage & family therapy graduate programs:
- Master’s Degree Programs
- DoctoralDegree Programs
- Post-Graduate Degree Clinical Training Programs
Choosing an accredited program could help you be confident in the quality of your education. Accredited programs offer potential benefits to students, including:
- They uphold the standards of the Marriage & Family Therapist profession
- Faculty members actively contribute to the field
- The curriculum is designed to prepare you for licensure and national/state examinations
- Coursework and requirements may be transferred to other accredited programs
- If you move, you may more easily meet qualifications for licensure in other states
How Long Does It Take to Be a Marriage & Family Therapist?
MFT Master’s programs usually call for 60 to 66 credits. The degree may take two to three years for fulltime students to earn. Besides earning a graduate degree, you’ll need to spend time on other requirements for licensure in your state. That includes post degree supervised clinical experience. Looking for more flexibility? Consider online programs. Earning an online degree could help you fit your studies into your schedule.
|University||# of Credits Required||Starts Per Year||Minimum Months to Complete|
|California State University-Northridge||55||1 (Fall)||20|
|Messiah College||60||3 (Fall, Spring, Summer)||36|
|Walden University||100-106 quarter credits||Multiple||54|
|Pepperdine University||62||1 (Fall)||24|
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy?
The average cost of earning a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. You may find programs that are more affordable than the average. And more costly, too.
Below, we’ve put together graduate tuition costs for 4 institutions. (All have Marriage & Family Therapy Grad Programs.) These are reported by the NCES. We then compared those costs to the typically most affordable college options. And the most costly. (These are also reported by NCES.)
|Instate/Out Of State Tuition||School|
$9,000 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota $11,617 Average Public Institution University $14,516 Capella University $14,784 Average Private For Profit Institution Tuition $16,864 Northcentral University $21,213 The Chicago School of Professional Psychology $26,551 Average Private Nonprofit Institution Tuition sponsored
Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy Costs per Credit
Cost per credit varies for each college or university. State universities may also have in-state costs vs. out-of-state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by schools offering marriage and family therapy Master’s programs.
|University||# of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
|Houston Baptist University||60||$575||$34,500|
|Loma Linda University||90 quarter units||$830||$18,675|
|Grand Canyon University||74||$515||$38,110|
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Schools with Top Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) Graduate Programs
|Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Therapy||Thomas Jefferson University||MFT|
|Counseling Psychology and M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy||Southern Nazarene University||MA|
|Marriage and Family Therapy Program||Argyle Institute of Human Relations||N/A|
|Marriage and Family Therapy||Reformed Theological Seminary||MMFT|
|Post Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy||Bethel Seminary||N/A|
|Marriage and Family Therapy||University of New Hampshire||MMFT|
|Marriage and Family Therapy||St. Thomas University||MMFT|
|Family and Consumer Sciences||West Virginia University||MS|
|Marriage and Family Counseling||Duquesne University||MMFT|
|M.A. Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy||The Chicago School of Professional Psychology||N/A|
GradSchools.com offers 132 Top Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) Graduate Programs
Regardless of the bachelor's degree you hold, you will need a master's degree to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). While doctoral options in psychology are available for those interested in teaching or research, they usually aren't necessary for counseling roles.Are MFT worth it? ›
Obtaining your marriage and family master's degree can be beneficial and worthwhile if you want a career with high job satisfaction, a substantial salary, and an excellent work-life balance.What is the largest organization of family therapists? ›
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is the professional association for the field of marriage and family therapy. We represent the professional interests of more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists throughout the United States, Canada and abroad.What can you do with an MFT California? ›
As a California marriage and family therapist, you can provide your services in mental health clinics, residential care homes, state government, outpatient care centers, private practice, and other sectors and institutions where mental health services are required.What is the fastest field in counseling? ›
Career counseling is another one of the fastest growing fields in the counseling profession. One reason is because there is consistent demand across a wide range of educational organizations for vocational counselors. This means that career counselors work with all ages in different settings.
MFT stands for Marriage and Family Therapist; while LMFT stands for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. The difference between an MFT and an LMFT is comparable to the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.Who makes more money MFT or MSW? ›
Though professional LCSWs earn a little more than MFTs, their salaries are roughly similar. Marriage and family therapists earn an average of $62,746 per year , while licensed clinical social workers earn an average of $68,947 per year in the U.S.What is the most expensive MFT? ›
- 1- The Merge – $91 800 000. ...
- 2- Beeple Collection _ Every day: The First Five Thousand Days – $69 346 250. ...
- 3- Human One – $28 985 000. ...
- 4- CryptoPunk #7523 – $11 800 000. ...
- 5- CryptoPunk # 4156 – $10 350 000. ...
- 6- CryptoPunk # 7804 – $7 560 000. ...
- 7- CryptoPunk # 3100 – $7 510 000.
So, what does the future hold for the MFT system? With more than fifty lens manufacturers producing lenses for the system and the number of hybrid shooters it will continue to survive in some form for the foreseeable future.What type of therapist is in high demand? ›
Employment of relationship therapists, clinical social workers, mental health counselors and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners is projected to grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
|Total Marriage And Family Therapist Jobs:||2,949|
|Highest 10 Percent Earn:||$108,000|
Psychiatry is one of the highest-paying fields tied to psychology. However, salaries can vary considerably within this field depending upon your specialty area, where you are employed, and the type of work you perform.What is the 90 day rule MFT? ›
The “90-day rule” is a clause in the law that allows applicants for registration as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, or Associate Clinical Social Worker (Associate), to count supervised experience gained during the window of time between the degree award date and ...How much do Lmft make per hour in California? ›
As of Nov 13, 2022, the average annual pay for a MFT in California is $105,572 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $50.76 an hour.What is the average pay for Lmft in California? ›
|State||Employment (1)||Annual mean wage (2)|
|New Jersey||4,120||$ 81,330|
To be licensed at the highest level in most states, particularly for mental health counselors, school counselors, and marriage and family therapists, a master's degree in counseling is the norm.What are the best therapist credentials? ›
The specific credentials you should look for are licensed professional counselors (LPC) who have a master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) or licensed social worker (LSW).What are the 3 types of counselor? ›
So, what are the three main types of counseling? Psychodynamic, humanistic, and behavioral approaches are the most common and each support different individual therapies.Can Lmft diagnose PTSD? ›
If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of PTSD, a marriage and family therapist (MFT) can help. As systemic therapists, MFTs have expertise in assessing, diagnosing, and treating a range of mental health disorders.Can you diagnose MFTs? ›
Marriage and family therapists are mental health professionals with a minimum of a master's degree, two years' supervised clinical experience and are licensed to independently diagnose and treat mental health and substance abuse problems.
What are Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for MFT Associate Jobs.
|City||Deer Park, CA|
MFT's are trained to address mental, emotional and interpersonal disorders specifically linked to couples and family. LCSW's, who generally earn a higher salary and encounter more job opportunities than an MFT, mostly treat patients and clients by concentrating on the individual.Should I pursue MFT or MSW? ›
Those interested in helping clients with their relationships may wish to pursue their master's in MFT. Those looking to help people with mental health disorders may be more interested in an MSW. If compensation is the deciding factor, a master's in MFT may help you earn slightly more than an MSW.What is the highest paying job with a MSW? ›
- #1 Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. ...
- #2 Professor of Social Work. ...
- #3 Employee Assistance Program Counselor. ...
- #4 Veteran's Affairs Social Worker. ...
- #6 Social Science Researcher. ...
- #7 Director of Development of a NPO. ...
- #8 Housing & Community Development Director.
How much do NFTs sell for? The average price of an NFT can vary anywhere from $100 to $1,400, depending on its scarcity, utility, and popularity. Additionally, fluctuations in the value of the underlying cryptocurrency may impact a non-fungible token's price.How much does it cost to make Mfts? ›
On average, the cost of creating NFT ranges from $0.05 to over $150. The cost of creating NFTs depends on various factors such as the cost of blockchain, gas fee, marketplace account fee, listing fee etc. Ethereum and Solana are the most expensive and cheapest blockchain, respectively.Can anyone make an NFT? ›
Non-fungible tokens can be created directly on NFT platforms, allowing you to mint (the process of creating or producing something) and upload your artwork on a blockchain.Will Micro Four Thirds survive? ›
No, the Micro Four Thirds or m43 system is not dead. A Micro Four Thirds camera (MFT – m43) is a mirrorless camera that features a Four Thirds sensor.Is the MFT multiple choice? ›
The LMFT California Law and Ethics Exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions over 90 minutes. You must pass this exam first; then, you can apply to take the Clinical Exam.What percentage of people pass the national MFT exam? ›
In 2019, our pass rate for the social work exams was 95% and our pass rate for the MFT exams was 96%.
But it turns out that it's more than possible to generate six figures as a private practice therapist. In this article, I'm going to take it a step further and share how I generate six figures a year while working part-time as a private practice therapist. … it can be done!Where do therapists get paid the most? ›
- Clinical and Counseling Psychologist.
- Licensed Social Worker.
- Marriage and Family Therapist.
- Licensed Professional Counselor.
- Licensed School Psychologist.
- Creative Arts Therapist.
- Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse.
- Empathy. Clients often seek counselors during the most difficult moments of their lives. ...
- Communication. ...
- Analytical Thinking. ...
- Business Know-How. ...
(2)]: (1) CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy.How many hours can a Lmft supervise an ASW? ›
A maximum of six (6) hours of individual, triadic, or group supervision in any week may be credited.How does the 90 day in 180 rule work? ›
You can stay 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area. calculated individually for each of these states. For instance, after a 90-day stay in the Schengen area, the person can immediately travel to Croatia and stay for another 90 days there. The 180-day reference period is not fixed.Who is exempt from the 90 day rule? ›
Who is exempt from the 90-day rule? Those who have a dual intent visa, such as the L-1 or H-1B visa, are exempt from this rule because the visa explicitly permits the visa holder to arrange a way to relocate to the U.S. on a permanent basis.Is becoming an MFT worth it? ›
Obtaining your marriage and family master's degree can be beneficial and worthwhile if you want a career with high job satisfaction, a substantial salary, and an excellent work-life balance.How much do Lmft make in NYC? ›
The base salary for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist ranges from $61,883 to $93,158 with the average base salary of $73,139. The total cash compensation, which includes base, and annual incentives, can vary anywhere from $62,068 to $93,779 with the average total cash compensation of $73,223.
How much does a MFT make in Los Angeles, California? As of Nov 9, 2022, the average annual pay for a MFT in Los Angeles is $115,185 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $55.38 an hour. This is the equivalent of $2,215/week or $9,598/month.How much do Lmft make in San Francisco? ›
The average Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist salary in San Francisco, CA is $75,996 as of October 27, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $64,301 and $96,798.How much do Lmft make in San Diego? ›
How much does a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist make in San Diego, CA? The average Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist salary in San Diego, CA is $65,610 as of October 27, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $55,513 and $83,568.How much do therapists make in California with Masters? ›
How much does a Masters Level Therapist make in California? The average Masters Level Therapist salary in California is $57,962 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $53,096 and $63,141.What major is best for counseling? ›
There are few undergraduate degrees specifically in school counseling, but degrees in education, psychology, sociology, and even business administration and management are generally considered to be adequate preparation for a master's in counseling.What qualifications do you need to be a relationship Counsellor? ›
Typically, employers require relationship counselors to have their master's degree in relationship therapy or a similar field, like marriage and family therapy. Many master's programs also require a one-year internship for mental health professionals.How long does it take to become a marriage and family therapist? ›
Master's degree (2-3 years) – Many prospective therapists go on to earn a Master's degree in marriage and family therapy, or a similar program. Most programs will include clinical hours, while some also require a thesis.Are marriage counselors and therapists the same? ›
Couples therapy is typically pursued when the couple is experiencing problems, big or small, in their relationship and wants to understand the “why.” Marriage counseling, on the other hand, is often attended by newlyweds and sometimes even required of couples before getting married.What colleges are best for being a therapist? ›
|NAME/RANK||PEER ASSESSMENT SCORE|
|University of California--Berkeley Berkeley, CA #1 in Psychology (tie) Save||4.8|
|Harvard University MA #3 in Psychology (tie) Save||4.7|
|University of California--Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA #3 in Psychology (tie) Save||4.7|
Licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCC) offer treatment and counseling to those with mental health and substance abuse issues. Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) professionals also provide counseling, but they focus on families and individuals whose problems are social and relationship based.
Therapists work to help their patients address similar issues, and often provide the same advice that counselors might. However, a key difference is that therapists often seek to go deeper by helping the patient understand the how and why behind a challenge.Can I be a counsellor with no qualifications? ›
There are no set entry requirements to become a counsellor as it is a profession that benefits from many skillsets. Often people move into this career later in life, allowing them to apply a broad range of skills and experience, often motivated by their own challenges to help others.How can I become a counsellor fast? ›
Your core practitioner training should be at the minimum level of a diploma in counselling or psychotherapy, but could be a bachelor's degree, master's degree or doctorate. These courses usuall run at further or higher education colleges or universities.What are the cons of being a marriage and family therapist? ›
- Emotional effects. ...
- Challenging work. ...
- Educational requirements. ...
- Nontraditional work hours or settings.
Working with people can be as draining as it is invigorating. Helping clients cope with trauma, hurt, and bad relationships day in and day out is stressful. MFTs need to have a strong support network and effective coping strategies.What is the difference between marriage and family therapy and marriage and family counseling? ›
Marriage counseling focuses on the needs of the couple. Family counseling can include any number of people in the family – parents, children, grandparents, co-parents, etc. Family counseling may only involve one parent and one child, or it may include an entire household.What are marriage therapist called? ›
Marriage counselors — usually Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) — are specifically trained to help couples diagnose their problems and work on solutions.What is a marriage and family therapist called? ›
Essentially, Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) are mental health professionals and practitioners trained in psychotherapy and family systems, with clinical practice experience averaging 13 years.