Marriage and Family Therapist Schooling Requirements

Marriage and family therapists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree requirements, job duties and licensure information to see if this is the right career for you.

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A master's degree in marriage and family therapy and clinical experience is required for a career in this field. Most states require licensing. Courses cover topics such as family development, career planning and research methods.

Essential Information

Aspiring marriage and family therapists usually must hold a master's degree and complete a number of clinical experiences within their master's program. Before therapists can obtain mandatory state licensure, some post-graduate clinical experience is usually required as well. To gain admission to a master's program, students must already have a bachelor's degree in a related field; specific prerequisite coursework may be required.

Required Education A master's degree in marriage and family therapy
Additional Requirements Extensive clinical experience, professional licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 15%
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $48,600

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Requirements for Enrolling in a Marriage and Family Therapist Program?

Most programs in this discipline lead to a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. In some cases, marriage and family therapy is offered as a specialization within a graduate psychology program.

Admission Requirements

All MFT master's programs require that applicants hold a bachelor's degree. Some schools require completion of prerequisite coursework in statistics, family studies, human development or other subjects.

Additional admission requirements may include submission of GRE scores, a written statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and a current resume. Some schools may require applicants to complete an interview with the school's dean or a department head.

Degree Requirements

Earning a degree in marriage and family therapy varies according to the school's requirements. However, most master's degree programs require completion of 48 semester hours of coursework. Some, but not all, programs also require a thesis or research project. Students will often work closely with a faculty member on the development, planning and execution of their thesis. Courses may cover the following topics:

  • Marriage and family therapy theories
  • Mediation and divorce therapy
  • Sexual abuse counseling
  • Family development and therapy
  • Life and career planning
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Research methods

Clinical Practicums

Clinical experience is a core component of most MFT programs; clinical practice is an essential requirement for licensure in most states. Practicums typically entail direct contact with patients under the supervision of licensed professionals. Many programs expect students to complete at least 500 clinical hours in order to graduate.

In order to work in this field, a master's degree in marriage and family therapy is required, as well as clinical hours served under a licensed professional. Coursework covers a variety of topics, and a thesis or research project may be required. At least 500 hours of mandatory clinical practice is a common requirement.

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