Why This Matters


    To ensure the safety and ethicality of counsel, a master’s degree and state-issued license are required to practice as a marriage and family therapist in all 50 states.


    As the healthcare industry adopts a more integrated approach to patient care, the need for therapists is increasing. Marriage and family therapist jobs are expected to grow by 22% through 2029.


    Most marriage and family therapists enter the field to help people, but doing good pays well. The mean annual wage for these therapists is $54,590.

Our Research

We reviewed many master’s in marriage and family therapy degrees, including online, on-campus, and dual-mode programs.

Our list contains several relevant degree options, including master of marriage and family therapy (MMFT), master of science (MS), and master of arts (MA) programs. These degrees differ at points in pedagogy, but they all provide the requisite academic training for work as a marriage and family therapist.

All of the programs noted are regionally accredited, and many have therapy-specific accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council of Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 65 hours to write this article
  • 184 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 317 education programs we compared

The Top 47 Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Counseling is closely regulated at the state level, and marriage and family therapists must obtain a license from the state where they wish to practice. Most states require completion of an accredited master’s degree, supervised postgraduate clinical experience, and successful passing of a state-given exam for licensure.

Which accredited programs are suitable for licensure varies by state, so you’ll want to make sure any degree you consider is suitable for the state in which you expect to practice. Some states require a degree from a CACREP- or COAMFTE-accredited program, while others accept regional accreditation. A few states require that your degree be completed from a school within that state.

Because counseling and therapy involve working closely with people, experiential learning is part of most of these degrees. Expect your degree program to include a minimum number of experiential learning hours that must be completed in person and in a specific setting even if you attend an online program. Some schools will help you find placement for this clinical experience, while you’re solely responsible for finding placement in other programs.

Some of these programs teach from a religious perspective, while others are secularly based. Make sure the degree program you choose approaches counseling from a comfortable perspective.

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when considering a master’s in marriage and family therapy:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most master’s in marriage and family therapy degrees require students to have completed a bachelor’s degree before enrollment; however, the bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in a counseling or therapy discipline.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? You’ll have to be licensed by the state you work in before you can provide marriage and family therapy counseling to clients. While there are multiple steps required to obtain licensure, the first one is completing an accredited degree that is recognized in your state. Check your state’s accreditation requirements to ensure a particular degree program will be suitable.

Once you’ve created a shortlist of degree programs to consider, research their admission deadlines and requirements. You can find this information on most programs’ websites or by reaching out to the program directly.

As you consider the cost of tuition and other related expenses, speak with a program officer about financial aid and scholarships. You should also check with your employer to see whether it offers tuition reimbursement.