Top Schools for Marriage and Family Counseling

Read about programs in marriage and family counseling, available at some top-notch universities. Learn about the degree options at three of these top institutions, and use the list at the end of the resource to find other schools across the country that provide training for marriage and family counselors.

School Overviews

Although licensing requirements can vary by state, marriage and family counselors must have a master's degree in a relevant field of study and two years of supervised post-master's experience to take a licensing exam. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) offers voluntary accreditation to schools offering marriage and family therapy (MFT) programs. Of the three nationally ranked universities profiled below, only the University of Rochester offers an AAMFT-accredited program.

1. University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

School Highlight: Students who complete the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program at USC will be eligible for the State of California's Marriage and Family Therapy license.

The University of Southern California (USC) was ranked 25th on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities in 2015. An urban school based in Los Angeles, it offers a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy through its School of Education.

This two-year program prepares students for public, community, school or private practice clinical work, as well as for state licensing. Once enrolled, students pursue a balanced curriculum that combines research with clinical courses. Classroom practices are videotaped for later critiques; students also complete one year of external clinical field practice. Students take the program full- or part-time.

2. Northwestern University in Evanston, IL

School Highlight: The Master's program at Northwestern is taught in collaboration with Northwestern's Family Institute, a world-renowned center with 40 years of experience conducting, teaching, and researching marriage and family therapy.

Ranked 13th on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities for 2015, this private suburban school offers a terminal Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MSMFT). The two-year program includes a supervised clinical internship at the Bette D. Harris Child and Family Clinic at the Family Institute, a teaching and research center offering services both on-site and through community outreach. The Family Institute also provides students with access to its interview facilities, such as two-way mirrors and video equipment.

3. University of Rochester in Rochester, NY

School Highlight: The M.S. program at Rochester has several Office of Mental Health-approved clinical settings where students gain valuable clinical experience and faculty supervision.

This private school ranked 33rd on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities in 2015 and offers an AAMFT-accredited Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program is administered through the University of Rochester Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry and includes supervised clinical practice in individual, family and marriage therapies, both on an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Top Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

School Distinction Location
Ohio State University Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy program emphasizes scholarship and research Columbus, OH
Syracuse University Part-time Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program can be completed in three years Syracuse, NY
The University of Minnesota Doctoral students can apply for a training program position and supervise students in the master's degree program St. Paul, MN
University of Connecticut School-sponsored Humphrey Center offers clinical training and research for graduate MFT students Storrs, CT
University of Georgia Ph.D. program follows scientist-practitioner and biopsychosocial models Athens, GA
University of Maryland - College Park Home to the Center for Healthy Families, where clinical education and research is conducted College Park, MD
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Home to the oldest continually accredited MFT/Ph.D. program in the country Blacksburg, VA

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