Marriage and Family Therapy Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

A master's degree in marriage and family therapy is the common requirement to become a marriage and family therapist, although some hold doctoral degrees. This type of therapist counsels families dealing with personal conflicts or issues such as sexual abuse, drug addiction or mental illness.

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Prospective marriage and family therapy students have the option of choosing a master's or a doctoral degree in the field; graduate certificates are also available. These programs can prepare graduates to work as therapists and/or professors.

10 Schools with Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Here's a list of institutions with relevant programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona 4-year, Public Master's In-state: $10,610
Out-of-state: $22,580
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 4-year, Public Master's In-state: $10,770
Out-of-state: $27,335
University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida 4-year, Public Master's
Graduate Certificate
In-state: $6,916
Out-of-state: $25,759
Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan 4-year, Public Doctorate In-state: $16,122
Out-of-state: $31,674
Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida 4-year, Public Doctorate In-state: $9,684
Out-of-state: $24,116
Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 4-year, Private Master's
Doctorate
$6,500
University of Southern California Los Angeles, California 4-year, Private Master's $39,984
University of Iowa Iowa City, Iowa 4-year, Public Doctorate In-state: $8,396
Out-of-state: $25,574
Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas 4-year, Public Master's
Doctorate
In-state: $4,858
Out-of-state: $11,878
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, Florida 4-year, Private Master's
Doctorate
$16,760

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for marriage and family therapy schools:

  • Aspiring marriage and family therapists should look for programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
  • It can be helpful to find out what the pass rate is for graduates on the state licensure exam for marriage and family therapists.
  • When choosing between PhD programs, it is important to find out whether the curriculum focuses entirely on research in the field, or if candidates are also prepared for professional licensure as well.
  • Prospective students may want to find out where internships and practicums take place in order to ensure that they will gain hands-on training in a setting where they would consider working in the future, such as a small private practice or a social services agency.

Master's Degree Programs

In order to become eligible for the state's Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) licensure exam, students must earn a master's degree in the field. Students take courses in counseling theory, systems paradigms and relationship dynamics. They also get real-world experience through practicums and/or internships. Graduates are prepared for the state licensure exam so that they can start practicing in the field.

Doctoral Degree Programs

In PhD programs in marriage and family therapy, students conduct advanced research in a theoretical topic of interest related to MFT. Some programs are designed specifically to provide graduates with the research and teaching skills needed for academic jobs as university professors, while others also include the clinical training necessary for licensure and professional practice. Both programs culminate in a final doctoral dissertation.

Graduate Certificate Programs

For individuals who already hold a general master's degree in counseling or a master's degree with a specialization in a different area of counseling, some schools offer graduate certificate programs that provide preparation for licensure as a marriage and family therapy therapist. These programs are intended for experienced counselors who want to redirect their careers toward MFT or expand their existing skill base in order to be able to work with a broader range of clients. Students take a series of theoretical courses and complete the clinical hours that are required for licensure eligibility. Alternatively, there are some schools that offer non-licensure graduate certificate programs, which are for health professionals such as nurses or social workers who want to advance their expertise in the field to support their work, but who aren't seeking careers as MFT practitioners.

When exploring programs for marriage and family therapy, students should ensure that the program track aligns with their career goals and helps them fulfill state licensure requirements.

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