M F T Master's Degree Programs

Oct 10, 2019

Graduates in this field typically earn a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree in marriage, couple and family counseling or marriage and family therapy (MFT). These 2-3 year programs include a clinical internship under the supervision of a licensed therapist.

Essential Information

Graduates of an MFT program are prepared to seek licensure as marriage and family therapists, which is required to work in this field. These degree programs typically include both courses and a clinical internship over a 2-3 year period. The required number of hours of supervised practical experience, via the internship, vary between programs. In some cases, there are online courses available.

Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree, with other requirements varying by school. Frequently, schools require a demonstration of leadership and community involvement, submission of a resume, personal essay and/or references, as well as completion of the GRE or Miller Analogies Test.

Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

The curriculum of a master's degree program in marriage and family therapy largely focuses on the theory and practice of various counseling methods. Courses typically prepare students to meet all necessary requirements for state licensure. Both graduation from the program and state licensure require supervised practical experience, most often through an internship. Applicants to a master's degree program in this field must hold a bachelor's degree. Common courses include:

  • Addictions and violence
  • Group therapy
  • Personality therapy
  • Counseling theories
  • Professional and ethical issues in family therapy
  • Marital and individual psychotherapy

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of marriage and family therapists could increase by 22% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). Helping fuel this much faster than average growth rate was the increase in individuals covered by health insurance policies and having access to counseling services that are covered by insurance policies.

According to May 2018 data from the BLS, over 32,000 individuals worked as marriage and family therapists, earning a mean salary of $55,300. Earnings varied depending on the industry in which the individual worked and his or her location. For example, MFTs who worked in state government earned an average of $69,080 each year, while those in residential care facilities earned an average salary of $44,930. In New Jersey, marriage and family therapists earned an average of $72,380 each year, while in Maine, MFTs earned $75,460 annually.

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) notes that all 50 states require licensure for marriage and family therapists (www.aamft.org). A graduate degree and supervised practical experience are standard requirements for obtaining licensure.

MFT graduates who seek further training or want to pursue careers in academia or research can continue their studies in a doctorate program. These programs require field work and study of intervention methods. Some schools require that students work as graduate teaching assistants and complete an original dissertation.

A master's degree program in MFT is often available as a Master of Science or a Master of Arts program. A combination of courses, in topics such as group therapy and counseling theories, and clinical internships prepare students for a career as a MFT.

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