The best master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy

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Why choose a degree in marriage and family therapy?

If you aspire to becoming a mental health professional and working as a qualified therapist to support couples, families, and individuals, a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy can put you on the right career path. Within this page, you’ll discover the top universities we recommend for MFT master’s programs.

In all 50 states across the U.S., it’s a legal requirement for marriage and family therapists (MFTs) to complete a master’s program and secure a license as a therapist or counselor. While there may be a handful of vacancies in the MFT field for individuals with bachelor’s or associate’s degrees, if you want to advance your career and give yourself the best possible chance for progression, you should consider committing to a master’s degree in MFT.

Typical job titles for those looking to pursue a career in marriage and family therapy include:

Marriage and family therapist

Average salary in 2021 is $49,892

Clinical director

Average salary in 2021 is $78,356

School counselor

Average salary in 2021 is $51,113

Where can I work?

There are multiple employment settings open to postgraduates with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, including:

  • Outpatient healthcare and mental health treatment centers
  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Schools
  • Social service agencies
  • Addiction treatment centers
  • Military
  • Legal and correctional centers
  • Churches and religious organizations
  • Government departments

Top universities for a master’s in MFT

The following colleges have been selected as the leading schools for marriage and family therapy programs based on a combination of potential earnings post-graduation, the higher-than-average graduation rate of these programs, and the level of investment in students aside from tuition.

  • University of Miami

    University of Miami Miami, Florida
    University of Miami

    The University of Miami’s School of Education & Human Development operates a master’s program in Marriage and Family Therapy. This private research university is in the heart of Miami. With an acceptance rate of just 27%, admission rates are low and competition for places is high.

    Tuition fees

    Estimated tuition costs are $36,540, at a cost of $1,850 per credit taken.

    Financial aid

    Admission details
    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Minimum grade point average of 3.3+
    • A minimum score of 153 and 148 on the Verbal and Quantitative GRE general exams
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Former experience in human service activities
    • Coursework in psychology or human and social development at an undergraduate level


    Graduation details
    To complete and graduate with your M.S. Ed. in MFT, you must complete the 15 core curriculum modules, along with a practicum year. Graduates are given the option of finalizing their master’s program in 2-4 years.

    It is a 60-credit program, with graduates qualifying for licensure as an MFT in the state of Florida.

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  • University of Rochester

    University of Rochester Rochester, New York
    University of Rochester

    New York’s University of Rochester is a small private research institution. With just over 5,000 postgraduates as of fall 2019, it’s a sought-after university with an acceptance rate of just 30%. 

    Tuition fees

    Estimated tuition costs are $12,468 per semester or $1,246 per credit hour for part-time students.

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Letters of recommendation
    • Committed to a biopsychosocial integrative model of care
    • Driven to complete the necessary clinical training needed to work in mental health and integrated healthcare settings
    • Research papers, publications, and resumes all considered as part of the application


    Graduation details

    To graduate from this 60-credit hour curriculum, all core modules must be completed, including the final master project. A minimum 500 hours of supervised clinical practicum is also an essential requirement before licensure as an MFT can be formally granted.

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  • Northwestern University

    Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois
    Northwestern University

    The Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois one of the most sought-after universities in the U.S. Less than 10% of applicants are lucky enough to be accepted into programs at this university. The Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program is offered through Northwestern’s Center for Applied Psychological and Family Studies. 

    Tuition fees

    Estimated tuition costs are $19,343 for full-time students per semester and $6,882 per unit for part-time graduates.

    Financial aid

    Admission details
    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent – usually an undergraduate degree in family or behavioral sciences
    • College-level courses of introduction to psychology and human development also required for applicants with degrees in other fields
    • Minimum 2 letters of recommendation
    • Statement of purpose


    Graduation details
    To complete this 25-module master’s program in marriage and family therapy, you must also complete 500+ clinical hours of practicum, with 250 hours of supervised practice. There are 19 academic courses and 6 internship courses that must be completed. The latter covers all of the supervised clinical work.

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  • University of San Diego

    University of San Diego San Diego, California
    University of San Diego

    The University of San Diego is a modest private research university, with just 1,773 postgraduates on campus. The School of Leadership and Education Sciences operates a master’s program in MFT. 

    Program name: School of Leadership and Education Sciences Master’s Program in Marital and Family Therapy.

    Tuition fees

    Estimated tuition costs are $87,000 across the entire program.

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • A bachelor’s degree or equivalent
    • Minimum of 2 letters of recommendation
    • 500-word statement of purpose
    • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00

    Graduation details

    This master’s program requires 19 core units to be completed, along with a 12-month clinical practicum in the community. A minimum of 500 hours of direct client contact is necessary, with 200 hours spent in therapy with families or couples, of this 100 hours of your practicum must be fully supervised.

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  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    University of Nevada, Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    UNLV is a 332-acre campus in the southern region of Nevada, located 1.6 miles east of the iconic Las Vegas Strip. The college formed part of the old University of Nevada. More than 81% of applicants to UNLV programs are accepted. The University offers a Masters in Science in Couples and Family Therapy.  

    Tuition fees

    Estimated tuition costs are $6,517 per annum (Nevada resident) & $22,171 per annum (non-resident)

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • No minimum GRE score for admission
    • Minimum GPA of 2.75 required
    • 3 letters of recommendations
    • 2 pieces of written work (autobiographical & essay)


    Graduation details

    The master’s program is designed to equip graduates for a career as a marriage and family therapist. The program combines theories across MFT and mental health. Graduates can also seek licensure in the state of Nevada upon completion of the program. There are two tracks available for this program – with the option of undertaking a thesis or not.

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  • University of San Francisco

    University of San Francisco San Francisco, California
    University of San Francisco

    The private Jesuit University of San Francisco is an in-demand college with an acceptance rate of just 64% across all graduate programs. From its primary Hilltop campus, USF operates over 230 programs across undergraduate, graduate, professional, and certificate levels. University of San Francisco offers an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.

    Tuition fees
    Estimated tuition costs are $1,225 per unit

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • One set of unofficial transcripts per college/university attended
    • Completed bachelor’s or master’s degrees
    • Minimum GPA score of 2.75
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • Resumé
    • Statement of intent

      Graduation details

      The master’s program has a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), educating graduates to be culturally and socially responsible as future therapists and mental health counselors. The 60-unit program can be completed in 2-3 years. The program is also endorsed by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to enable graduates to secure licensure to operate as an MFT or a professional clinical counselor (PCC).
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  • University of Southern California

    University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
    University of Southern California

    The University of Southern California is the oldest private research institution in the state. Just 10% of applicants are accepted for undergraduate and postgraduate programs at USC, with admissions widely acknowledged as being exceedingly selective. The School of Education operates a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy.

    Tuition fees Estimated tuition costs are $1,995 per unit, with tuition fees increasing 3-5% annually.

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Official transcripts for each undergraduate, college, or post-secondary institution attended
    • Personal statement
    • Minimum 2 letters of recommendation
    • Completion of a timed writing assessment

    Graduation details

    This 60-credit course can be completed in 2 years as a full-time student, or 4 years on a part-time basis. Post-graduates are eligible to apply for a license as a in the state of California. Within this program, graduates secure 1,300 hours of supervised clinical work, which is almost half the 3,000 hours needed for licensure.

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  • Texas Tech University

    Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas
    Texas Tech University

    Texas Tech University, formerly known as Texas Technological College, boasts a thriving campus with over 40,000 students. The university offers rigorous graduate programs in couple, marriage, and family therapy graduate programs that can equip students with the systemic clinical training needed for licensure as a therapist in the state of Texas. 

    Tuition fees
    Estimated tuition costs are $19,039, based on a minimum full-time load of 18 hours per academic year.

    Financial aid

    Admission details

    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • Valid verbal, quantitative and analytical GRE scores
    • Contribution statement
    • Unofficial copies of all post-secondary diplomas
    • Unofficial transcripts of all post-secondary colleges and universities attended

    Graduation details

    This master’s enables graduates to work with experienced scholars with a broad spectrum of clinical specialisms. Course modules include family therapy, family systems, lifespan, and clinical practicum.

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  • Brigham Young University

    Brigham Young University Provo, Utah
    Brigham Young University

    Based in Utah, this private research university is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), with 99% of all students members of the LDS Church. BYU is recognized nationwide for the value of its education. It’s School of Family Life offers an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy program.

    Tuition fees
    Estimated tuition costs are $28,862 (LDS) and $36,372 (non-LDS)

    Financial aid

    Admission details
    Successful applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • 3.7 GPA score or higher
    • Combined GRE score of 300+ across verbal and quantitative papers
    • Experience in clinical and human sciences
    • Proven research experience

    Graduation details

    Graduates will have the option of taking the research track or the clinical track in this program. The former is recommended for individuals planning on undertaking a doctorate at a later date. Both tracks require 62 credits, with 56 coursework hours, 6 thesis hours, and 500 hours of face-to-face practical client work.

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Career outlook for graduates with a master’s in MFT

As of 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 66,200 MFTs are active across the U.S. It anticipates a growth rate of 22%, or a further 14,800 MFTs securing employment between 2019 and 2029.

The average annual salary for an MFT was $49,610, with the top 10% of MFTs capable of earning $87,700 and upwards. The most lucrative MFT positions are located within state government, with average salaries for MFTs here starting at $72,520.

Financial aid for MFT applicants

Looking to lower the cost of your master’s degree? Federal Student Aid should be your first port of call. The U.S. Department of Education’s office lends over $120 billion per year to graduates to cover your tuition costs. Complete the free FAFSA application form to get the ball rolling for financial aid towards your marriage and family therapy master’s degree. 

It may also be possible to secure scholarships or grants from your chosen university towards your marriage and family therapy master’s program.