Brandon Mario D'Souza
Written By - Brandon Mario D'Souza

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People who want to work with couples and families and help them deal with their interpersonal issues can take on a marriage and family therapist career. A master’s in marriage and family therapy online allows students to develop their skills to handle a wide variety of delicate situations and give the appropriate guidance to their clients. It prepares students to deliver clinical intervention for families, individuals, groups, couples, and larger social systems. Additionally, MFT online programs train students to work in various employment areas such as individual and family service, local and state government, outpatient care centers, and other healthcare organizations. This guide on MFT programs provides in-depth information on what this degree entails and other critical aspects such as accreditation, curriculum, career options, etc.

Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

Online master’s in marriage and family therapy degree programs are offered nationwide at different universities. Choosing the right program that meets one’s requirements and interests is not always easy. To select a top program, aspiring students must consider several factors, such as the institution’s reputation, student services, quality and experience of the faculty, affordability, and infrastructure. To save students the trouble of finding the best marriage and family therapy online degrees, OMC teams have conducted a thorough search of the best MFT programs and colleges in the United States, presented below:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Messiah University
One University Avenue, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055
John Brown University
2000 W University St, Siloam Springs, Arkansas 72761
Liberty University
1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515
Lancaster Bible College
901 Eden Rd, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17601
Northcentral University
11355 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037
University of Massachusetts Global
16355 Laguna Canyon Road, Irvine, California 92618
Concordia University-Wisconsin
12800 N Lake Shore Dr, Mequon, Wisconsin 53097
Abilene Christian University
Abilene, Texas 79699
Walden University
100 Washington Avenue South, Suite 900, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Antioch University
900 Dayton St, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387
Touro University Worldwide
10601 Calle Lee #179, Los Alamitos, California 90720
California Baptist University
8432 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, California 92504
Capella University
225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
Amridge University
1200 Taylor Rd, Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Houston Baptist University
7502 Fondren Rd, Houston, Texas 77074
Grand Canyon University
3300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, Arizona 85017
Prescott College
220 Grove Ave, Prescott, Arizona 86301
University of West Alabama
Station One, Livingston, Alabama 35470
Palo Alto University
1791 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto, California 94304
Mid-America Christian University
3500 SW 119th St, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73170

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

Marriage and family therapy studies will give students hands-on experience to enter the workforce with the skills to treat diverse client populations across various issues. It focuses on a broad blend of therapeutic and theoretical approaches with the primary goal of excellence in marriage and family therapy clinical training. The mode of delivery of a master’s in marriage and family therapy degree is online, but offline classes are not uncommon, depending on the university and program structure. 

Typically, in the online MFT degree, students are required to complete 45 to 60 credits and complete an approved internship and clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

Online master’s in family and marriage therapy typically require 45 to 66 credits of graduate coursework. The students need to take various core courses and electives to meet the graduate coursework requirements, such as:

Counseling Skills and Techniques:

This course focuses on advanced counseling skills and techniques for addressing complex relationship dynamics. Students gain expertise in evidence-based therapeutic approaches, intervention strategies, and ethical considerations. This program equips graduates to promote healthy family functioning and support individuals facing relational challenges.

Introduction to Family Studies:

This course comprehensively explores family dynamics. It integrates sociological, psychological, and cultural perspectives to equip students with a foundational understanding of diverse family structures, relationships, and societal influences, crucial for effective therapeutic practice.

Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents:

This course provides specialized skills for therapeutic interventions with young clients. This course addresses developmental nuances, evidence-based approaches, and ethical considerations, preparing students to navigate the unique challenges of counseling children and adolescents within familial contexts.

Theories of Counseling

This course explores foundational therapeutic approaches. Students explore diverse counseling theories, their applications, and critical analysis. This course equips learners with a comprehensive understanding of theoretical frameworks to inform effective and client-centered therapeutic practices within the family context.

Research Methods and Family Therapy

This course guides students in applying rigorous research methodologies to family therapy practices. This course fosters critical evaluation of empirical evidence, enhancing students’ ability to contribute to the evolving field with evidence-based approaches and innovations in family therapy.

Some of the core courses in a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy online program may include:

  • Group Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Addictive Disorders
  • Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Sexual Function and Systemic Sex Therapy
  • Family Therapy – Skills and Practice
  • Assessments and Counseling with Couples and Families
  • Family Life Cycle
  • Cross-Cultural Counseling: Research and Practice
  • Psychological Tests and Measurements
  • Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Family Therapy
  • Gender and Ethnicity

In the final year of their master’s, students must do either a capstone project or a research project based on the program’s requirements and coursework. Some programs forgo a capstone and require a thesis to be submitted at the end of the program. It is also not uncommon for marriage and family therapy students to undergo field experiences that provide supervision for their outside marital and family therapy practice. In most instances, the curriculum includes over 1,000 hours of supervised clinical work toward the 2,000 hours needed for licensure (varies by state).

Upon graduating with a marriage and family therapy degree, students would have developed a host of skills, including but not limited to the ability to:

  • understand and apply MFT ethical, legal, and professional concerns efficiently and appropriately;
  • diagnose, treat, and assess individuals, families, and couples from both system perspectives and medical models;
  • show knowledge of and skill in evaluation, diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatments with individuals, couples, and families seeking therapy in a relational or systemic framework that takes into account different cultures and requirements; 
  • implement marital and family therapy interventions and techniques;
  • undertake administrative and clinical work in human services and social work agencies, and
  • use outcome metrics, client feedback, and clinical practice to assess efficacy.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Types

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy online programs are of two types – the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. Both these are commonly called the Master of Marriage and Therapy (MMFT or MFT).

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Arts or MA, marriage and family therapy, online is more theoretical and emphasizes humanities and the liberal arts. It prepares students to pursue their careers in research and apply for a doctoral program.

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Science or MS, marriage and family therapy, online is more practical and focuses on a scientific approach to the subject. It prepares students better to understand the technicalities of marriage and family therapy.

Learn more about the differences and similarities between the MA vs. MS.

Specializations in Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

An excellent way to go deeper into the subject of marriage and family therapy and broaden one’s knowledge in their area of interest is to take up a specialization. Specializations better impact job prospects and can enhance one’s expertise in the industry. Here are some specializations in a master’s in marriage and family therapy online:

Area of SpecializationHuman Development and Family Studies – Marriage and Family Therapy
DescriptionThis specialization emphasizes evidence-based clinical practices, individual and family development, social justice, and ethics.
Career OptionsGraduates can work as licensed therapists.
Area of SpecializationCouples and Family Therapy
DescriptionThis specialization takes a social justice approach to work with families, couples, individuals, and other stakeholders.
Career OptionsGraduates can work with couples, families, and other stakeholders within their community context.
Area of SpecializationFamily and Child Studies
DescriptionThis Specialization prepares students to work with families and individuals throughout the life span in prevention, intervention, and education programs.
Career OptionsGraduates can work as parent educators, directors of child care centers, child development specialists, and so on.
Area of SpecializationMarriage, Couples, and Family Counselling
DescriptionThis Specialization teaches students to assist families and couples in navigating through interactions as well as learn about issues such as grief, anger management, and self-esteem.
Career OptionsGraduates can work with families and couples.
Area of SpecializationChild and Adolescent Therapy
DescriptionThis specialization focuses on the needs of children and teenagers and teaches students how to conduct age-appropriate interventions through courses in play therapy, child and adolescent-specific challenges, and other relevant treatment and evaluation procedures.
Career OptionsGraduates can work with pre-adolescent and adolescent children.

A few other concentration areas for online master’s in marriage and family therapy students include:

  • Treatment of Trauma
  • Therapy with Military Families
  • Family Life
  • Human Development and Family Studies

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

The online master in family therapy is offered full-time and part-time. Students pursuing a full-time master’s can usually complete their degree within two years, while part-time students would require longer. However, part-time students can continue their existing jobs and finish their master’s on a flexible schedule in 3 to 5 years.

Accelerated Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

An accelerated graduate program allows students to obtain their master’s in less time than traditional degree programs. In most instances, accelerated programs combine a bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree, which can be completed within five years instead of the usual six years. However, some colleges allow students to fast-track and complete their degree in less than two years.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs Admission Requirements

The student must meet certain admission requirements to enter the MFT online program. Although these requirements vary by school and program, here are some of the essential ones:

  • Application Form and Fee
  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution in Psychology or other related disciplines with a 3.0 GPA or above
  • Graduate Résumé
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • Minimum two letters of recommendation
  • An academic writing sample (required by some universities)
  • Interview (required by some universities)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores (required by some universities)

No GRE Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a mandatory exam that students must take before applying to a graduate program. However, some programs do not require the GRE for admission. For example, Houston Baptist College 1, Abilene Christian University 2, Mercy College 3, and many others offer online master’s in marriage and family therapy, no GRE programs.

Accreditation for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

Accreditation assures the institution’s quality where education institutions, universities, and colleges undergo a strict evaluation to meet and exceed the basic education standards. The accreditation process is extensive, requiring the institution to pass quality checks in designing courses, managing accurate institutional data, and conducting assessments to enhance and evaluate students’ performance. Accreditation may be granted by national, regional, or specialized accrediting agencies, with regional ones being the most widespread. These regional accrediting agencies are:

Apart from colleges being nationally or regionally accredited, some colleges may offer accredited master’s in marriage and family therapy programs, accredited explicitly by agencies such as the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)4, the Council for Accreditation of Counselling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)5, or the Master’s in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC)6.

Read the Accreditation Guide to find out more about accreditation and its importance.

Free Marriage and Family Therapy Courses Online

Free courses are unaccredited and cannot lead to a master’s degree. There are no free master’s programs in marriage and family therapy. Still, free short courses could give students an overview and additional information. Here are a couple of free master’s in marriage and family therapy courses:

CourseFamily Counselling, Marriage, and Couples Therapy7
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis course explores family relationships, marriage, and couples therapy dynamics. Participants gain insights into effective communication, conflict resolution, and strategies to strengthen familial bonds. The curriculum integrates psychological theories and practical approaches, equipping individuals with skills to navigate and support healthy relationships within family dynamics.
CourseEngaging in Grief and Loss Support8
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis course focuses on the complex aspects of providing grief and loss support. Participants learn empathetic communication, coping methods, and therapeutic interventions to assist individuals in navigating the complexities of loss. The curriculum addresses diverse forms of grief, fostering a compassionate approach to help others navigate their unique grief journeys.
CourseIntroduction to Couples Counseling9 
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis course provides a foundational understanding of couples counseling, exploring the principles and techniques essential for effective relationship therapy. Participants explore communication strategies, conflict resolution, and the dynamics of intimate partnerships. The curriculum equips learners with practical tools to support couples in fostering healthier, more resilient relationships.

How to Pay for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

The cost of a master’s program varies from university to university. The main expenses for online students are the tuition fee, distance learning fee, and course materials. The tuition fee for an online master’s in marriage and family therapy program ranges from approximately $6,500 to $30,000. Fortunately, students can consider various funding mechanisms for their master’s degrees. Some of the funding options are:


Students receive scholarships based on academic success and other factors such as cultural heritage, religious affiliation, community service, etc. They are usually awarded based on merit and can be alumnae-funded, privately provided, or awarded by cultural, religious, or commercial organizations. Read about Scholarship Scams to avoid being defrauded.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are part-time employment opportunities for graduate students. Students work as assistants for professors by teaching and demonstrating for undergraduates or assisting in a lab or a workshop, and they are provided a stipend or fee rebate. Graduate students can also consider research assistantships, where they help professors with their research.

Work-Study Programs 

With work-study programs, students can work and earn some money while simultaneously pursuing their degrees. This money may not be sufficient to pay one’s tuition fee, but would help reduce the overall educational expense.

Student Loans 

Students can apply for a student loan from banks, federal agencies, or private financial institutions. Although a student loan is a common option, it can increase the cost of education because of payable interest. Failure to pay the loan can push a student into debt.


Prospective graduate students can fill in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA to determine their eligibility for financial aid.

More information on funding a college education is available in the Financial Aid Guide.

Scholarships for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

Students with excellent academic profiles can apply for various graduate scholarships. Based on their eligibility, universities, associations, and external organizations offer scholarships to students. Here are some examples of online master’s in marriage and family therapy scholarships:

ScholarshipAAMFT Research and Education Minority Fellowship Program10
DescriptionThe AAMFT Research and Education offers a minority fellowship program for marriage and family therapy students.
Application DeadlineTBA
ScholarshipCAMFT Educational Scholarships and Foundation Grants11
DescriptionThe California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) offers scholarships to master’s and Ph.D. students in marriage and family therapy.
Application DeadlineVaries
ScholarshipThe American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) Fellowships12
DescriptionThe American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) awards graduate fellowships to people who can advance the family and consumer sciences field. Graduates will get a commemorative certificate and financial assistance for their family and consumer sciences studies.
Application DeadlineVaries

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Graduates

Graduates of marriage and family therapy online master’s can work in various settings after completing their degree and obtaining their licensure to practice. They can work in settings such as outpatient care centers, individual and family services, state government departments, offices of health practitioners, rehabilitation facilities, private practices, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and hospitals.

Marriage and Family Therapist is one of the leading job titles upon graduating, but there are other job titles related to this profession, including:

  • Adolescent Counselor
  • School Therapist
  • Therapy Program Coordinator
  • Social Service Therapist
  • Marriage Counsellor
  • Family Counsellor

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), marriage and family therapists earn a median salary of $56,570 with a job outlook of 15% between 2022 to 2032, much faster than average. The following list highlights the statistical data of some job positions of graduates with an online MFT degree:

OccupationSubstance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors13
Skills RequiredCompassion, listening skills, patience, speaking skills, interpersonal skills
Median Annual Salary$49,710
Job Growth (up to 2032)18% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionCounselors specializing in substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health concerns offer guidance to those struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, mental health problems, or other mental or behavioral challenges. They offer therapy and support to those trying to overcome addiction or dealing with problematic behavior.
OccupationSchool and Career Counselors and Advisors14
Skills RequiredInterpersonal skills, speaking skills, listening skills, analytical skills, compassion
Median Annual Salary$60,140
Job Growth (up to 2032)5% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionSchool counselors assist students in creating academic, social, and post-graduation plans. Career counselors and advisors assist students and other clients with skill development, employment exploration, and selection of educational paths leading to various careers.
OccupationSocial and Community Service Managers15
Skills RequiredProblem-solving skills, communication skills, managerial skills, analytical skills, time-management skills
Median Annual Salary$74,240
Job Growth (up to 2032)9% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionSocial and community service managers coordinate and manage programs and organizations that promote public well-being. They give instructions to employees who deliver these services to customers. They also determine the essential programs and services, collaborate with community members and other stakeholders, oversee program administration to ensure the goals are met and improve programs and services using new ideas and actions.
OccupationMarriage and Family Therapists16
Skills RequiredInterpersonal skills, speaking skills, organizational skills, compassion, listening skills
Median Annual Salary$56,570
Job Growth (up to 2032)15% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionMarriage and family therapists assist clients in resolving issues involving their families and other relationships. They assist their clients using various methods and resources, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches clients how to identify negative emotions, attitudes, and beliefs and swap them out for more beneficial ones.

Certifications and Licensing for Marriage and Family Therapy Graduates

Certifications are an excellent approach to increasing one’s job prospects and income potential while enhancing one’s knowledge. In the marriage and family therapy domain, certification and licensure are combined. By obtaining a license, professionals prove they have the necessary skills and expertise in marriage and family therapy and can legally work in the field. The titles “Marriage and Family Therapist” and “Marital and Family Therapist” are most commonly used by licensed professionals.

Licensing is mandatory for graduates who want to practice as marriage and family therapists after completing their master’s. Each state has its licensing requirements. Before writing the licensure exam, graduates must acquire clinical experience under supervision. After the stipulated requirement, they can take the national or state licensing exam for marriage and family therapists conducted by the Association of Marital and Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB)17. In most states, this exam is used as the licensure.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)18 provides complete information on certification and licensing by state.

Additional Resources for Marriage and Family Therapy Professionals

After pursuing an online master’s in family therapy, students should tap into various resources to stay updated and relevant to their field. Doing so helps individuals gain a broader perspective and better exposure to the subject. Some ways to stay ahead of the competition and grow in knowledge and skill are to attend webinars and seminars, connect with peers, and read journals and publications. Here are some additional resources for online master in marriage and family therapy students and professionals:

  1. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
    The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is a go-to destination for all things related to marriage and family therapy. More than 50,000 marriage and family therapists throughout the United States represent their professional interests through this association. AAMFT promotes family and marital life through education, research, and special projects in family science, marriage, family therapy, and family policy.
  2. Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB)
    The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFRTRB) is responsible for state licensing of marriage and family therapists. It protects the public by ensuring clinical competencies of licenses, handling disciplinary actions, managing renewals, revising regulations and statutes, and establishing initial licensure requirements in 52 member boards. In addition, AMFRTB also provides various other services, such as conducting the Marriage and Family Therapy National Exam, facilitating communication among stakeholders, and providing avenues for research and information.
  3. International Family Therapy Association (IFTA)
    The International Family Therapy Association (IFTA) collaborates with other professionals and organizations worldwide to raise the standard of family therapy. IFTA offers global conferences instructing participants on various subjects that raise the bar for family therapy practices.
  4. American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA)
    The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) consists of about 400 of the top academics, practitioners, researchers, program directors, and policymakers in family therapy and related fields. AFTA encourages research, investigation, training, and consumption of theories, systemic theory and practice models, and investigations. The site offers podcasts, videos, publications, and more.
  5. National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
    The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) is “the oldest nonprofit, nonpartisan, multidisciplinary professional association focused solely on family research, practice, and education.” Besides organizing annual conferences, NCFR publishes three scholarly journals – Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Theory & Review, and Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science.

FAQs About Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Online Programs

What is an MFT degree?

A master’s in marriage and family therapy (MFT) degree provides students with skills and knowledge in therapy that can be applied professionally. It also prepares graduates for marriage and family therapy licensure and trains them to become clinicians to enter the research field.

How to get a master’s in marriage and family therapy degree?

Is a marriage and family therapy degree an MS or MA?

Where to do a marriage and family therapy master’s degree?

What jobs are there for a marriage and family therapy degree?