Online Marriage and Family Therapist Degree Information

Marriage and Family Therapist

TRUSTe online privacy certification

What Is an Online Marriage and Family Therapist Degree?

Online Marriage and Family Therapist degree programs focus on family dynamics and issues. Some courses discuss how marriages, families, and relationships function. Yet others explore the ways interpersonal bonds affect mental and emotional well-being. Many online MFT programs aim to ready people to pursue licensure as marriage and family therapists. These professional counselors use a group-based point of view. Their goal is to help people manage and overcome problems within relationships. Often, they work with couples, children, parents and extended relatives. They might also carve out a niche. For instance, working with military families, troubled teens or LGTBQ couples. Within their goals, the MFT counselor strives to help their clients overcome stressors. If this sounds like a career path you'd like to pursue, you'll need a master’s degree and a license to practice. Luckily, this is a perfect moment to get started. Integrated healthcare is rising in popularity. With it, the demand for marriage and family therapists is growing at a much faster than average pace.

PhD's in Marriage and Family TherapyMasters in Marriage and Family TherapyBachelors in Marriage and Family Therapy

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage & Family Therapy - Medical Family Therapy

Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy – Couple Therapy

Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy – Therapy with Military Families

PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy – Couples Therapy

Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy - General Family Therapy

Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy – Medical Family Therapy

Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy - LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy

M.S. in Human and Social Services - Family Studies and Interventions

BA in Applied Behavioral Science

BS in Psychology

Emphasis on research and cultivating expertise. how to work individuals, couples and families that are facing chronic or acute medical, emotional or other difficultiesEmphasis on development of skills for professional practice as marriage and family therapists. Fulfill requirements to be able to pursue MFT licensureLearn about individual, family, and community problems and their solutions.
  • DMFT internship/portfolio/practicum
  • Systemic Leadership
  • The Business of Therapy
  • Family Systems Theory
  • Practicum, Internships, Clinical Supervision
  • The Couple Life Cycle
  • Statistics and Research
  • Behavioral Science
  • Social Problems and the Workplace
Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)

Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)

International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE)

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)

Regional Accreditation

General online marriage and family therapist degree programs help students hone counseling skills. This involves an understanding of family systems theory and specific diagnostic tools. For one, how to assess mental and emotional disorders, and resolve conflicts such as:

  • Divorce
  • Trauma causing events
  • Child rearing
  • School issues
  • Family Violence
  • Drug, alcohol abuse, addictions
  • Couple conflicts

Other courses pertain to family structures and intra-personal nuances. These may go through life-cycle dynamics, intergenerational influences, and healthy family functioning. These topics help students to identify prevention-based strategies that foster family wellness.

Master's level MFT coursework often tackles several key topics. These may delve into psychopathology, addiction and substance abuse. Extra topics could pertain to the laws and ethics that guide modern counseling. Students may review case studies to learn about different methods and techniques.

Doctoral programs often weight curriculums with research. This may help students refine observational and clinical skills. At the same time, they may develop expertise in working with a focal group. Or the business acumen to work in private practice.

Another component of licensure-track online MFT programs is more hands-on. This usually means completing a set number of supervised fieldwork hours. Many schools enable students to take the majority of classes online (if not all). Practicum/internships/and clinical supervision activities are often completed in students' community.

Students who work towards an MFT degree online may also choose to focus studies. For instance, working with a certain type of population such as LGTBQ or military. Otherwise, one may want to gain skills to work with a defined issue like addiction.

We’ve listed a few examples below. It’s important to choose a program that you feel aligns with personal goals and concerns. Each concentration comes with its own topics, research and practicum.

Couple Therapy

Couple therapy courses discuss the challenges faced in marriage and long-term relationships. Topics often explore the couple life cycle and points of change or distress. Students may also learn about creating a therapeutic alliance with the couples.

Medical Family Therapy

Medical family therapy looks at issues that individuals, couples, and families face during chronic illness. Some topics may help students identify health complaints and diseases. Others may discuss how norms and cultural beliefs can impact the illness experience.

Military Family Therapy

A Military Family Therapy focus views stressors through a family systems lens. Courses may delve into the specific behavioral health challenges (E.g. PTSD) faced by veterans. Students may learn specific clinical assessments and evidence-based treatments.

Child and Adolescent Therapy

A focus in child and adolescent therapy looks at children's mental and emotional behavioral difficulties. Through the systemic lens, it explores the couple relationship, family structure and parenting. Students may explore methods such as play therapy and parental tactics.

LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy

Same-sex couples face many of the same relational issues as heterosexual couples. Yet any differences can also create unique challenges. Students in this type of program take a family systems lens to LGTBQ couples.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy?
An average, full-time student may need about two and a half years to complete their MFT degree online. Most such programs entail about 45 credit hours, but students should also factor in supervised practicums and internship hours.

PhD and Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) programs may take between four to five years to complete. These programs may entail about 69 credit hours. Students should also factor in supervised practicums and/or dissertation research.

online degrees marriage and family therapist - careers

Online MFT Degree Programs That Could Be Completed in 2.5 Years

While no two online MFT degree programs are alike, there are several master’s level degrees that may take a full-time student less than three years to complete. See the chart below for some examples, then refer to individual schools for details.

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Northcentral University45Every Monday33
Grand Canyon University37Multipule start dates25
Liberty University60Multipule start dates30

How Much Will Earning an Online Marriage and Family Therapist Degree Cost?

Tuition costs for Marriage & Family Therapy majors are, on average, $6,000 for in-state public colleges, and $30,240 for out of state private colleges. Prices may fluctuate between schools so make sure to check recent figures.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Northcentral University45$548$41,540
Grand Canyon University74 quarter credits$515$38,110
Liberty University60$565$33,900

Top Colleges That Offer Online Marriage and Family Therapist Degrees

Last check, 2920 degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy were awarded to students. The majority (2833) of these programs were master’s degrees. The table below shows some of the institutions that awarded the most MFT degrees.

SchoolTotal Degrees AwardedGraduate Tuition
Capella University206$14,365
University of Phoenix - CA195$16,071
Brandman University159$11,520
Alliant International University116$27,413
Palo Alto University91$21,227
Nova Southeastern University83$18,932
Northcentral University82$16,553

How long does it take to become a Marriage and Family Therapist?

In all states, marriage and family therapists need a license. Licensure itself requires a master's degree (about 2-3 years). You'll also need from 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience to earn the licensure (6 months to 2 years). Also called an internship or residency, these hours are crucial to apply skills to real life.

Once a person has their degree and said hours, they may be eligible to take a state-recognized MFT exam. The MFT examination is available at any authorized PSI testing center.

Licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). To maintain their license, graduates complete annual continuing education classes.

Career Opportunities for MFT Degree Graduates

There are 3.98 million people in the workforce who have a career relating to marriage and family therapy. While the average age is 43.2, people joining the workforce are getting younger. Most recent graduates are female. i

Top States for Marriage and Family Therapist Professionals

States with the highest employment level of marriage and family therapist professionals are listed below. You can see salaries vary in each location.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York42,500$103,500

Careers for MFTs

Below you’ll find a guide to some of the popular career paths that many MFT graduates pursue. We’ve also listed the minimum education needed to enter the field along with salary (2017) and job outlook through 2026.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs)

Licensed marriage and family therapists help people handle (and get to the other side of) problems. Such issues may occur within their family and interpersonal relationships. Many LMFTs apply cognitive behavioral therapy which is a goal-oriented approach.
Average annual salary (2017): $48,790
Job Growth through 2026: 23% (Much faster than average)
Entry-level education: Master’s degree

Counseling Psychologists

Counseling psychologists use a science-focused lens to view the brain and human behaviors. They help patients deal with and make sense of many types of social, emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems. This can include issues at home, at the workplace, or in the community. Psychologists often need a doctorate degree and state-issued license.
Average annual salary (2017): $77,030
Job Growth through 2026: 14% (Faster than average)
Entry-level education: Doctorate (PhD or PsyD) degree

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors help people who suffer from mental or behavioral problems. This includes alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders. Also, they often work with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. These professions may provide both support and treatment. Like the MFT, a mental health counselor may need to get a license to practice in all states.
Average annual salary (2017): $43,300
Job Growth through 2026: 23% (Much faster than average)
Entry-level education: Bachelor’s or Master’s depending on job