Marriage and Family Therapist Degree Program Information

In a marriage and family therapy master's program, students learn how to provide counseling services to families and couples in distress. These programs provide graduate students with the experience necessary to gain licensure in the field.

Essential Information

Most master's degree programs in marriage and family therapy are designed to impart an academic understanding of family systems, methods of therapy, psychological assessment techniques, human development, and more. Such programs also typically include a supervised clinical/field component that allows students to work alongside licensed marriage and family therapists. Students should look for programs accredited by an organization such as the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

Many schools accept students with a bachelor's degree in any field, especially counseling, therapy, and psychology. Students are often required to have completed some undergraduate coursework in psychology, counseling, and human development.

Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

Master's programs in marriage and family therapy often focus on clinical training. Students gain one-on-one counseling skills with actual patients, and often at least 250 hours of practical experience counseling families and married couples. While the clinical component of a master's degree program in marriage and family therapy is essential to gaining licensure in the field, regular seminars in theory and techniques are essential as well. Some examples of such courses include:

  • Systemic family therapy and assessment
  • Therapy methods, including community therapy settings
  • Human development
  • Marriage and intimate relations, divorce, and remarriage
  • Family research
  • Ethical issues in counseling

Employment Options and Salary Info

There were approximately 32,070 marriage and family therapists working in the United States as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of these individuals worked for individual and family services organizations, outpatient care centers and state and local governments. The median annual salary in the field was $48,600 as of May 2015.

Certification Options

Each state has its own board of licensure for aspiring marriage and family therapists. Individual boards can be contacted through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Although each state may have slightly different requirements, most all do require marriage and family therapists to have at least a master's degree as well as clinical experience in the field.

Prospective marriage and family therapists typically pursue a master's degree in the field. In addition to traditional lecture-style courses, these programs typically include extensive clinical training in preparation for professional licensure.

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