United States Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Programs and MFT Degrees
Marriage and Family Therapy Programs (or as they’re often called, MFT Programs) focus on the healthy functioning of family and romantic relationships. Potential course topics include frameworks for assessment, treatment models, counseling strategies, and more.
Marriage and Family Therapist Graduate Programs
Students might also examine the needs of families from different communities, religions, cultures and ethnicities. Some programs may even allow students to concentrate their studies on one specific patient population. In sum, marriage and family therapy graduate programs aim to foster skills to provide effective therapy to couples and families in any situation.
Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Degrees Programs : Varying Approaches
Marriage and family therapy graduate programs may adhere to a few different treatment models, philosophies, or ideological frameworks. Each of these could have a significant impact on the perspective taken in each course, or even on the design of the program as a whole.
Examples of treatment models you may encounter include:
- Structural Strategic Family Therapy
- Solution-Based Family Therapy
- Cognitive-Behavioral Family Therapy
Reach out to your selected programs for more information on their preferred treatment models and how that might affect your education.
Example Curriculum in MFT Graduate Programs
While the specific curriculum for different MFT programs may vary, each of them is likely to share a few distinct goals. For example, MFT graduate programs generally aim to provide a firm foundation of knowledge, which professional marriage and family therapists might use to help real families. What may differ is how those goals are addressed in an individual program’s curriculum.
Some examples of what marriage and family graduate school programs might teach include the following.
- Developmental Psychology
- Psychological Assessment
- Diverse or Multicultural Counseling
- Human Sexuality
- MFT Treatment Models
- Marriage and Family Counseling Ethics
- Clinical practice and face to face MFT counseling methods
Certification or licensure may also be required to work as a marriage and family counselor in many states. As a result, schools may also design their curriculum to support licensure prerequisites in their region. It may be useful to familiarize yourself with the requirements wherever you plan to live and work, and make sure the programs you apply to align with those requirements.i
Some programs may also require practicum, internship, or other fieldwork experience in order to earn an MFT degree. These types of experiences give students a chance to put theory into practice and gain hands on experience in a guided setting. The specific details may vary by program, concentration, and other factors. Contact your selected program to learn more.
EXPERT INSIGHT on Masters in Marriage in Family Therapy
We asked Dr. Paul Hokemeyer about how earning a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy helped his career:
"Earning a marriage and family therapist degree taught me to think systemically. No longer do I view things in isolation. I view them as interconnected to three levels of a persons existence: intrapersonal, interpersonal and social cultural."
"My MFT degree has enabled me to address disorders in the fullness of their expression and impact."
~Dr. Paul Hokemeyer Click to Tweet
CACREP and COAMFTE Accredited Programsi
Many potential graduate students prefer only to consider MFT programs accredited by organizations within their target industries. In fact, some employers may even prefer to hire graduates of such programs. In marraige and family counseling, these organizations include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE).
Accreditation is a process by which a school or program is recognized as being qualified to issue a degree or teach a certain subject. This is one way to judge a program's quality. The US Department of Education recognizes various accrediting bodies. A program or school maintains accreditation by meeting certain standards set by these organizations. For more information about what this entails, follow up review the CACREP or COAMFTE websites, the US Department of Education website, or follow up with your selected program.
MFT Graduate Programs : Degree Levels
Marriage and family therapy degrees may be offered at several levels. In general, these can be broken down into three groups. The type of program you choose could depend on your objective, your educational and professional background, and other preferences.
- Marriage and family therapy masters programs may issue either a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree (often abbreviated as MSMFT) upon completion. Some states may require the MSMFT (or similar) as a prerequisite for licensure. As such, many such programs may be designed to support the licensure process. However, requirements may vary by state, so make sure to consider this during your search.
- Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral programs could offer a few different types of degrees. These include a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT). The specific approaches and objectives of each may vary. However, in many cases, PhD programs are more academically inclined and look at designing and implementing research. PsyD and DMFT programs, on the other hand, tend to be more clinical.
- Marriage and Family Counseling Graduate Certificate Programs are much shorter than degree programs and may be found. This could enable students to study specific topics of interest within Marriage and Family Therapy. Certificate programs might also be a great starting point for those just beginning their graduate education. Or they could act as continuing education to support licensure maintenance. Programs may be found at the masters and post-masters level.
Marriage and Family Therapy Programs Formats
A big part of choosing an MFT degree program is finding the ones that fit into your life. Whether you prefer to commit yourself completely to your studies, or balance your time between school, home, your professional therapy practice, and family obligations, different programs might serve you in different ways.
MFT programs may offer a range of options for flexibility and course delivery formats, each of which might be attractive to different students. While each have unique aspects, they can generally be divided up into three types.
- Marriage and Family Counseling Schools offer MFT education in a face-to-face classroom format. Some of these programs may be designed to comply with local licensure requirements. MFT graduate schools may also be able to help organize any necessary field experiences in your area utilizing their relationships with hospitals and practices in the local community.
- Online MFT Programs deliver courses directly to students' computers. Choosing to study online may make it possible to consider marriage and family therapy graduate programs outside your local area, and offer extra flexibility to accommodate your schedule.
- Hybrid Marriage and Family Therapy programs are also referred to as partially online or blended programs. Hybrid programs use a variety of styles to combine the convenience of online courses with face-to-face learning.
What Is a Marriage and Family Therapist?ii
A licensed marriage and family therapist seeks to help couples and families function in a healthy way. They do this by identifying specific obstacles and helping clients overcome them. Therapists or family counselors might ask questions to help clients, individual and family, define and understand their own feelings and situations. They may provide counseling, or create and enact treatment plans to help people overcome issues and encourage healthier behaviors.
Education Requirements : Marriage and Family Therapist Schools and Degrees
A marriage and family therapist career typically requires a master's degree, such as the Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy degree. In addition, all states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. State requirements vary but licensure may require a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience. In addition, licensed MFT therapists must pass a state exam and complete annual continuing education classes.
Find MFT Programs & Schools
GradSchools.com is here to help you begin your search for graduate MFT programs! You can start by reviewing the sponsored program listings here, or narrow down your options using the menu. Select filters by program level, format, or location. Then review theaccredited programs that match your search criteria! Click on program names to learn more, and contact the schools to start your application.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-4 | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1013.00
The Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in Medical Family Therapy is designed to...
Grand Canyon University
The Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy program is designed for students interested in becoming professional counselors. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to id...
Get the skills and knowledge you need to lead positive change in your community by improving the quality of life for individuals and families. The M.S.
- San Diego, CASan Diego, CA
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The M.A. in Clinical Psychology program Specialization Martial and Family Therapy (MFT) provides strong preparation in the development of essential diagnostic, therapeutic and consultative skills in order to work with a variety of clinical population...
- Irvine, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Loma Linda, CALoma Linda, CA
Loma Linda University
The MS in Marital and Family Therapy is designed to give students a broad academic background, as well as professional practice, for working with individuals, couples, groups, and families in a variety of settings.
- Fort Lauderdale, FLFort Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University
Family Therapy, M.S.
The M.S. in Family Therapy is designed to help students develop clinical excellence and prepare for careers as marriage and family therapists. Students are prepared to assume professional positions in private practice, employee assistance programs, mana...
- Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Morgantown, WVMorgantown, WV
West Virginia University
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
University of Southern California
The Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) will prepare you for a career as a therapist in clinics, healthcare centers, schools and private practice.
- Opa-Locka, FLOpa-Locka, FL
St. Thomas University
The academic program is theoretically and experientially based.
- Clinton, CTClinton, CT
The mission of the Marriage and Family Counseling Program is to help students acquire core competencies, as well as specialized...
- Durham, NHDurham, NH
University of New Hampshire
Program specifically prepares students to work in mental health, family service, medical, and human service settings...
- Charlotte, NCCharlotte, NC
The Marriage and Family Therapy program at Pfeiffer provides clinical and academic training required to become a licensed therapist working specifica...
- Hattiesburg, MSHattiesburg, MS
University of Southern Mississippi
- Portland, ORPortland, OR
Lewis & Clark College
The Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy Program provides knowledge and skills necessary for marriage and family therapists.
- Montclair, NJMontclair, NJ
Montclair State University
Family Studies is a multi- and interdisciplinary field, drawing on a range of social science disciplines.
- Lexington, KYLexington, KY
University of Kentucky
- Carson, NMCarson, NM
California State University, Dominguez Hills
The Master of Science in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling is the only publicly supported program of its kind in Southern California.
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
The M.S.Ed. Marriage and Family Counseling is comprised of 60 credits and is accredited by the Council for Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
- West Hartford, CTWest Hartford, CT
University of Saint Joseph
The University of Saint Joseph graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy fully prepares students to be competent and carin...
- Louisville, KYLouisville, KY
University of Louisville
The Family Therapy Program offers excellent education and training for emerging and current professionals.