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    7 Best online MFT programs 2024

    Brandes Gress
    Brandes Gress

    Brandes Gress assists the content team with the management of daily operational activities, ensures content is published on a timely and accurate basis, and works on content-related projects.

    7 Best online MFT programs 2024
    Contents

      We ranked accredited online and hybrid programs based on the cost of the degree vs the long term benefit of having one.

      Data reported by the U.S Department of Education were the only sources used to create this list.

      Capella, National University, and Western Michigan University have the best online MFT programs.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      Get your MFT degree on your time, online.

      Browse hundreds of accredited MFT programs to find the right one for you. The time to jumpstart your career starts now.

      Like it or not, to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), you need at least a master’s degree. Although the thought of taking out even more student loans to pay for grad school may fill you with dread, there’s some good news.

      In this article, we’ll list the best online MFT programs in 2024 – by value for money.

      Psychotherapy was traditionally an in-person career, and no one believed you could get quality care on the internet. Then 2020 happened, and COVID blew all these assumptions out of the water. Telehealth exploded. New studies have emerged that show that online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy.

      With more and more therapy services moving online, why not pursue an online MFT program that meets your professional goals – for an affordable price?

      Importance of an accredited online MFT program

      It’s essential to have a master’s or a doctoral degree to be eligible for marriage and family therapist licensure. But not all master’s degrees are created equal. Licensure requirements vary by state, and the vast majority require the program be accredited by COAMFTE, CACREP, or a regional accreditation agency.

      If you pursue a degree that doesn’t effectively prepare you for licensure, you will not become an LMFT. Before enrolling in a program, always ensure its curriculum aligns with your state’s licensure requirements.

      Types of MFT accreditations

      Accreditation agencies ensure a program’s instructional quality, public transparency, and student learning outcomes are consistent.

      Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE)

      As far as accreditation agencies for MFT programs go, this one is the top dog. The vast majority of state licensing boards are looking for the COAMFTE seal of approval on a master’s or doctoral program.

      The standards are set and programs approved based on an outcome-based framework with systemic focus, institutional accreditation, program faculty and clinical supervisors, curriculum, and more.

      Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP)

      CACREP accredits over 940 master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and related fields. According to their 2024 standards, they’re looking for things like academic quality, program effectiveness, the qualifications and quality of core faculty, curriculum, and more.

      Regional accreditations

      A few states accept regional accreditation as sufficient to fulfill the education requirements for licensure. There are several regional accrediting associations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education which can all be found on the DAPIP website.

      Prefer an in-person MFT program?

      Check out the best in-person master’s in marriage and family therapy programs in the country!

      See list here arrow-right

      Best online marriage and family therapy programs

      #1 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      Capella University

      Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Economic score 1.04

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $48,442

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.0

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $50,818

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Capella is reshaping higher education to fit into the lives of students, rather than the other way around. They offer a variety of learning formats and financial aid across all levels and disciplines. The MS in Marriage & Family Therapy prepares students for careers as LMFTs, therapists, or counselors. The GuidedPath learning format offers structured learning with the flexibility of 24/7 access to the course room with set deadlines to help students stay on track. 

      Program highlights 

      • COAMFTE accredited 
      • 16 courses, 2 with residencies 
      • Based on the quarter system; 1–3 courses per 10-week quarter 
      • Active peer community and faculty guidance 
      See more
      #2 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      National University

      La Jolla, California

      Economic score 1.06

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $49,756

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.1

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $54,661

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      This was the first online MFT program to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE). It explores and assesses family systems-oriented clinical skills in various scenarios, delves into models of therapy rooted in family systems theory, and helps students develop a decision-making approach for ethical challenges in line with the AAMFT Code of Ethics. 

      Program highlights 

      • Recommended completion time is 33 months 
      • Students seeking licensure may be required by their state to complete up to 60 credit hours 
      • 97.4% job placement rate 
      • 49.97% licensure rate 
      See more
      #3 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      Western Michigan University

      Kalamazoo, Michigan

      Economic score 1.08

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $55,248

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.1

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $61,933

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Discover a wealth of practical insights to navigate the complexities of relationships through the hybrid Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program at WMU. In partnership with the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, this program focuses on comprehending the challenges contemporary couples and families encounter. As a graduate student fulfilling practicum hours, you will benefit from two on-site clinics offered by the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology—one in Kalamazoo and another in Grand Rapids. 

      Program highlights 

      • Hybrid format 
      • Accredited by the American Psychological Association and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs 
      • This curriculum may also meet academic guidelines for licensure as a License Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Michigan 
      See more
      #4 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      Touro University

      New York, New York

      Economic score 1.36

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $46,152

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.1

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $52,581

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      Distinguished by its unique focus on treating individuals, couples, and families, the online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) degree approaches present-day issues through the lens of systems thinking. They offer three distinct tracks: the MFT Clinical Track, Non-Clinical Track, and Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling (LPCC) Track. The MFT Clinical Track is the only track accredited by COAMFTE

      Program highlights 

      • 100% online, 8-week courses 
      • Accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Board of Behavioral Sciences, and Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education 
      • Designed so that graduates are eligible for MFT licensure 
      See more
      #5 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      Drexel University

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Economic score 1.38

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $50,937

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.5

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $74,318

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The master’s in family therapy program at Drexel merges theory and practice in a nurturing learning environment. Their curriculum is designed to explore and embrace the richness of human diversity, acknowledging factors such as age, ability, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, spirituality, and ethnicity. 

      At the heart of their program there is a commitment to a systems/relational approach, helping students engage with individuals, couples, and families within the broader context of their lives. 

      Program highlights 

      • Hybrid format 
      • Meets the minimum educational requirements for MFT licensure in the state of Pennsylvania 
      • Training in working with couples and LGBT+ individuals 
      • Accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) 
      • Complete a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours 
      • Complete a minimum of 100 hours of supervision 
      See more
      #6 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online
      Economic score 1.49

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $55,138

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.7

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $94,687

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      This MFT program offers insights into behavioral science, mental health counseling, and effective ways to address challenges within family dynamics, all under the guidance of our esteemed MFT faculty. Throughout the program, students will gain expertise in family science, parent-child therapy, group therapy, trauma and crisis intervention, and a comprehensive array of topics integral to your growth as a counselor or therapist.  

      Program highlights 

      • COAMFTE-accredited 
      • 300 hours of direct client contact, 100 supervision hours, and at least 100 professional development hours 
      • If qualified, students can receive up to $50,000 of loan reimbursement from the National Health Services Corps 
      • Optional chemical dependency specialization track 
      See more
      #7 in Marriage and Family Therapy – Online

      Walden University

      Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Economic score 2.05

      The Economic Score is the combination of debt-to-earnings ratio and earningsplus. We use the economic score to determine a graduate program’s rank. The lower the economic score the better. For an analysis of how we arrive at the economic score, and a description of our data sources, please visit our methodology page.

      Earnings $43,707

      Median earnings of all students 4 years after graduating.

      Debt to earnings 1.9

      The debt-to-earnings ratio is calculated by dividing student debt upon graduation by the annual salary. A debt to earnings ratio of 1 means that annual educational debt is the same as annual earnings.

      Debt $82,000

      The total debt accrued by the median student at the time of graduation.

      The MS in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling offers the opportunity to cultivate a deep understanding of family structures, life-cycle dynamics, intergenerational influences, and the foundations of healthy family functioning. Throughout the program, students will gain a foundational understanding of the dynamics of couples and families, diving into the influences of culture, gender, and ethnicity on family development. Students will also learn about the theoretical frameworks in couples and family therapy. 

      Program highlights 

      • CACREP Accredited 
      • Accelerated Track Option – designed for students who want to take the same coursework, but in a faster time frame. 
      • 33 months to complete  
      See more

      How we ranked MFT programs

      Our methodology relies exclusively on cost and earnings data provided by the U.S. Department of Education to rank colleges or specific programs.

      We have a unique way of figuring out which schools or programs are really great value: first, we look at how much it costs to go there. Then, we see how much money students borrow to pay for school and how much money they make after they graduate. Finally, we calculate how long it takes for them to pay back what they borrowed.

      All of these things together help us decide which colleges or programs are the best choice in terms of value.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      Ready to start your MFT career?

      Check out these accredited online MFT programs to jumpstart your journey as a marriage and family therapist.

      Practicums or clinical supervision for online students

      Despite online programs offering coursework online, the majority of the programs will still require an in-person component such as clinical supervision, fieldwork, or direct client contact hours. This is because licensing requirements demand that future therapists have hands-on experience before taking on clients of their own.

      Each state’s licensing board will have different requirements. In Alabama, for example, students must complete at least 1,000 of post-graduation supervision hours, whereas California requires 3,000.

      State licensing boards

      The Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) the association for state licensing boards overseeing LMFTs. They develop and administer the MFT National Examination and facilitate collaboration among state boards.

      They serve as a central hub for information, research, and ongoing discussions on emerging regulatory challenges. This is where students can find education, post-graduate experience, and fee information for licensure in their state.

      Should you enroll in an online MFT program?

      An online program is advantageous to many people, and if it properly prepares you for licensure, it is a great money-saving option. Because not all marriage and family therapy programs are created equal, it’s important to properly vet any online MFT program before enrolling.

      Other things to consider

      Finding a field site – It’s crucial to complete in-person clinical hours, so make sure your online program helps you find field sites. If sites in your area aren’t taking trainees, it can be hard to complete these hours.

      Be wary of diploma mills – Although there are many fantastic online programs, there are also many diploma mills, or schools that aren’t academically rigorous or accredited, and if you pay tuition and go through the motions of being a student, they will hand you a diploma.

      Do you want to specialize? – Many programs offer specializations to enhance your education in a certain realm of marriage and family therapy.

      Networking opportunities – This is a word-of-mouth field. Supportive online programs should facilitate opportunities to make connections.

      » Read: Should I go to grad school?

      Are online degrees worth it?

      If accredited, online degrees can be an invaluable asset to students looking to pursue careers as LMFTs. Research shows that online degrees benefit students looking for flexible learning options, and they are a great investment for most types of non-traditional students, as well as part-time students over 30.

      www.degreechoices.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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