Choose the Best MFT Degree + Online Options

This article will show you how you can choose the best marriage family therapy degree. You will find out about what a marriage family therapy degree is and the courses that you need to take in such a program. Also, we will provide information about top online programs available, and accreditation information.

What Is a Master’s in MFT Degree?

A marriage family therapy degree is most often a master’s degree, as this is the minimum requirement for you to work as a therapist in the US. For professionals who want to work in private practice, it is required for you to later earn your doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy.

Some master’s programs are designed to be terminal programs, with no further degree after it. Others are designed as part of a doctoral degree in psychology, which can be a Ph.D. or a Psy.D.

Earning a master’s in marriage family therapy will offer you many chances to work as a marriage and family therapist, and to help couples to deal with their most challenging relationship problems.

Most marriage and family therapists earn a Master of Arts degree in mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy. These degrees take approximately two years to complete on a full time basis.

Most marriage family therapy master’s programs will teach you to about how families, marriages and relationships work and how they affect one’s emotional and mental health issues. You will learn skills that you need to help people to change their perceptions and behaviors, and to improve communication among members of a family.

Marriage and family therapy programs will help you to recognize the most common symptoms of marriage and family problems, and how to help couples solve them with effective counseling techniques. Some of the common courses that you may take in this type of master’s program include:

  • Basic Concepts of Systems Therapy
  • Systemic Assessment
  • Family Therapy Treatment Models
  • Methods of Systems Therapy
  • Intimate Relations
  • Theory and Interventions
  • Marriage and Family Therapy Internship

Why Earn a Master’s in MFT Degree?

Students who earn their master’s in this field are licensed as professional marriage and family therapists and may work in public and private schools, mental health agencies, family counseling organizations, social services and in private practice under the supervision of a therapist with a doctoral degree.

This is a popular career path because the employment outlook for marriage and family therapists is very bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the field will see a 19% increase in job growth by 2024. This rate of growth is much faster than average. It is believed that there will be a greater number of people with access to mental health services, and this will result in more couples using the services of marriage and family therapists.

The pay outlook for marriage family therapists also is solid, with a median pay of $48,600 as of May 2015. For therapists who want to get the highest pay, you should consider working in state and local government.

After you graduate from your master’s program, you will need to pass your state examination to practice in your state of residence. For more information, you should visit the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Online Master’s in Marriage Family Therapy Options

One of the best things about attending graduate school today is that you can usually earn your degree online and will rarely need to actually appear on a college campus. This affords you many more educational options, as you can attend any school you like that offers a program that is of interest to you.

Note that choosing the right program for you is vital for your long term success as a therapist. You should be certain that your program offers you the types of classes that you want so that you can become the best marriage and family therapist.

Remember that which program you choose is very important for your long term success. You want to be sure that the program will give you the certifications and training in the areas of counseling that you want.

You also should bear in mind the specifics about the university and program that you are attending. The quality of your marriage and family therapy education will depend upon these and other factors:

  • What is the ratio of students to teachers?
  • What types of financial aid and scholarship opportunities are there?
  • Alumni that are from that university in your field?
  • How high is the quality of the online program>
  • How is the university ranked?
  • What is the success rate for job placement?
  • Is the university properly accredited?

As you consider the above factors and aspects of a marriage and family therapy program, we recommend that you consider these online educational options:

Northcentral University

The marriage and family degree programs at Northcentral University are designed to give you the education and the training that you need to be a successful therapist in any state. The coursework was designed so that it meets or exceeds the educational standards that were set by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

This online university could be a good fit for you if you find these attributes appealing:

  • Highly rigorous classes and training
  • The faculty is 100% doctoral and all of the professors are experts in their area of marriage and family therapy specialty
  • Clinical programs are comprehensive and help you to meet the licensure requirements of your state
  • You do not need to visit the campus to complete this online program
  • Your supervised clinical program can be done in your local area

You will do your direct client contact for your clinical work under the supervision of a professor and mentor at Northcentral University. During your first six months, you will also work in weekly practicum sessions with a member of faculty and other students. These practicums are done online and are done with proper security features so that confidentiality is assured.

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy that will give you the strong background in marriage and family counseling principles that you need to become licensed as a therapist in your state.

You will learn all of the group counseling and individual counseling theories and techniques that you need to be successful. This is ranked as one of the top master’s in marriage and family therapy programs in the US.

Another offering that is of interest to some students is the university’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Required courses in this two year program are:

  • to Counselor Profession
  • CMHC 501 Ethical & Legal Issues in Counseling
  • CMHC 502 Human Growth & Development
  • CMHC 504 Multicultural Counseling
  • CMHC 505 Counseling Techniques & the Helping Relationship
  • CMHC 506 Integration of Spirituality & Counseling
  • CMHC 510 Theories of Counseling
  • CMHC 512 Group Counseling
  • CMHC 515 Research & Program Evaluation
  • CMHC 521 Assessment Techniques in Counseling
  • CMHC 522 Career Development & Counseling
  • CMHC 646 Psychopathology & Counseling

Capella University

For students who want a real, meaningful difference in the lives of their patients, the Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy will ready you for many different career opportunities in the field.

This 2.5 year program features intense, cutting edge marriage and family therapy courses online, combined with a practicum and internship in a local therapy facility where you will hone your developing skills.

With your degree in this accredited program, you will be able to both integrate and apply theories and research in practicing MFT. This will include systemic and relational theories; theories of family and individual development; and other critical theories in the field that are related to clinical practice.

Students learn to think in a critical fashion, to write effectively in the analysis of practice issues that are related to family dynamics, and modern systems theory in the MFT field.

Most of the faculty in this online program possess a doctoral degree. They have worked as licensed therapists, counselors, school counselors, psychologists, alcohol and drug abuse counselors, and social workers.

This program is accredited by COAMFTE.

Alliant International University

This university is one of only eight in the state of California that has been accredited by COAMFTE (for the on campus program only at this time).

The online MFT program, which is a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, is fully committed to producing the most compassionate marriage and family therapists who want to meet the surging demand for therapists that are competent with all cultures and situations.

This program focuses on inclusivity, with a specialization on couples and individuals from all backgrounds, including the LGBTQ community.

In addition to the high quality online courses, this program also features clinical training:

  • 500 hours of directed clinical contact with clients; 200 have to be with couples and/or families
  • 100 hours of group and individual supervision; 50 of which have to be with direct observation by a supervisor

Required courses include:

  • MFT Theories and Techniques I
  • MFT Techniques Lab I
  • Diversity and the Family
  • Individual and Family Life Cycle
  • MFT Theories and Techniques II
  • MFT Techniques Lab II
  • Preparing for Community Practice
  • Introduction to Psychopathology
  • Treatment with the Chemically Dependent Family

Students also have the option specialize in certain areas with one of these certificate programs that can be earned in conjunction with the MFT degree:

  • Chemical Dependency
  • Gerontology
  • Latin American Family Therapy
  • LGBT Human Services and Mental Health
  • Infant-Preschooler Mental Health


It is important for you to assure that the university you choose has been fully accredited by one of these regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education,
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

By doing so, you will know that the degree you are earning is of high quality.


If you decide to earn your master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, you will be able to usually find a good job in many different work environments, from government to social services to private practice. And, you should be able to enjoy a solid salary and excellent career growth. You also will know that you are helping people to improve their lives and relationships, which is highly rewarding in and of itself.