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. Graduate-level programs are available at many top universities.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) offers voluntary accreditation to schools offering marriage and family therapy (MFT) programs. Of the four nationally ranked universities profiled, only the University of Rochester and Ohio State University offer AAMFT-accredited programs; however, each school was highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.
USC in Los Angeles, CA
At the University of Southern California, students who complete the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program will be eligible for the State of California's Marriage and Family Therapy license. The University of Southern California (USC) was ranked 23rd on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities in 2017. 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 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.
Northwestern in Evanston, IL
Northwestern University's master's program 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.
Tied at 12th on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities for 2017, 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.
University of Rochester in NY
The University of Rochester's Master of Science program has several Office of Mental Health-approved clinical settings where students can gain valuable clinical experience and faculty supervision.
This private school tied at #32 on U.S. News & World Report's list of national universities in 2017 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.
Ohio State University in Columbus
Ohio State University's Ph.D. program emphasizes scholarship and research. At Ohio State University, students can earn either a Bachelor of Science or a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science. The Ph.D. Program offers a Couples and Family Therapy specialization that has been accredited by the AAMFT. Students can get faculty-supervised field experience at the on-campus clinic, and they also participate in 9-12 month internships at outside clinical or research facilities.
For 2017, OSU was ranked tied at #16 among the best public schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
Other Schools and Programs
Let's take a look at a few more marriage and family therapy programs at some of the nation's top schools:
|Syracuse University||Syracuse, NY||Part-time Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program can be completed in three years|
|The University of Minnesota||St. Paul, MN||Doctoral students can apply for a training program position and supervise students in the master's degree program|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs, CT||School-sponsored Humphrey Center offers clinical training and research for graduate MFT students|
|University of Georgia||Athens, GA||Ph.D. program follows scientist-practitioner and biopsychosocial models|
|University of Maryland - College Park||College Park, MD||Home to the Center for Healthy Families, where clinical education and research is conducted|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Blacksburg, VA||Home to the oldest continually accredited MFT/Ph.D. program in the country|
Becoming a marriage or family counselor requires graduate education. Aspiring practitioners can find programs that include both research and clinical training in the field.