MFT PhD Program Information

If you want to become a marriage counselor or family therapist, a doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy offers advanced training in the field. Learn more about the program, as well as job outlook and salary data.

Essential Information

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in marriage and family therapy prepares students to become marriage and family therapists or counselors. Over the course of the two- to three-year program, students engage in research and gain clinical experience designing treatment plans and intervention strategies for families and couples. Some programs also prepare students for teaching careers through courses in instructional methods. Upon graduation, students are prepared to pass state licensure exams so that they can embark on careers as marriage counselors or family therapists. In order to apply for this program, students must have completed a master's degree in a related field, and they may be required to submit GRE scores.

Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy

In doctoral programs in marriage and family therapy, students take courses on theories of adult and child development, behavioral models of healthy family functioning, and the social constraints affecting interaction between family members. They must also fulfill clinical training requirements, either at on-campus counseling centers or through off-campus internship programs. Common course subjects include:

  • Research methods
  • Couples therapy
  • Children and adolescent therapy
  • Family trauma therapy
  • Gerontology
  • Statistics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that marriage and family therapists earned a median annual wage of $48,600 in 2015. Employment is expected to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024 due to the growing acceptance of marriage and family counseling ( Career resources and networking opportunities are available through professional organizations such as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (

Overall, students who want to become marriage and family therapists can gain theoretical, clinical, and research training through a Ph.D. program.

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