Your Complete Guide to

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

Online Masters Degree
on February 7, 2024

Why We Love It

  • Good Salary
  • Opportunities Galore
  • Helping People in Need
  • Career Options

* The Why We Love It section is solely based on the opinion of's Editorial Team. Any salary & growth research or estimates should be referenced further at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for your specific desired career.

What is a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy?

Our relationships with other people often can define our lives.

Family, spouses, and other people with whom we have close relationships are often the most important aspects of our day-to-day lives.

Unfortunately, those relationships are rarely perfect.  Some people get by just fine without outside help, but many people find that they need to seek the help of a therapist or counselor, whether they are having problems with a lover, a child, or someone else who plays an important role in their life.

A Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT or MFT) is a postgraduate degree for people who wish to help others with their interpersonal relationships, whether within a couple, marriage, or family.

With an education in the field, you end up learning about techniques for counseling, communication, and therapy which are applicable across so many fields and not just the one you specialize in. This is a complex subject, but many programs will provide an overview of the following essential areas:

  • Strategic Therapy: This deals with the interactions between family members and identifies patterns within those interactions.
  • Structural Therapy: This examines the family system and, if necessary, reorganizes it.
  • Systemic Therapy: This focuses more on addressing current problems and relationship patterns rather than analyzing their causes.
  • Narrative Therapy: This helps patients to identify their values and skills so that they can address their problems in a practical way.
  • Transgenerational Therapy: This seeks to prevent problem behavior or beliefs from being passed on from parents to their children.

Your program could also cover other important topics such as psychotherapy, coaching, relationship counseling, communication theory, and systems theory.

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What Can You Do With an MFT?

You can help people with their relationships in a variety of different ways.

A marriage counselor helps a couple communicate to get their relationship back on track.  A school counselor helps parents understand and better handle their out-of-control teenager.

An inpatient mental health counselor formulates a treatment plan for someone who has suffered a nervous breakdown. And there is the family therapist, who helps work through conflicts, issues, and especially transitions such as illness, death, or divorce.

The novel pandemic has also shown a lot of potential for marriage and family therapy, because many families and marriages struggled during the pandemic, leading to increased demand. On the other hand, it also allowed therapists in the field to work remotely, and through conference calls.

To be more specific, children battled with a different mode of education, partners, and families struggled as people faced emotional distress both due to uncertainty as well as challenging economic and social conditions.

These are all potential futures for someone with an MMFT, and they could all help people with their interpersonal relationships and make the world a better place.

These are only a few examples.  The possibilities are endless.  You get to choose what you’ll do, and you don’t have to know what that is right now.

A Master of Marriage and Family Therapy could give you the tools you need to do a wide variety of jobs, so you’re not committing to a career before you even finish your degree.

Best Programs for a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

Here’s the best part: We’re going to give you the secrets to finding the best programs for adults, programs that could help you get your MMFT faster and with as few headaches as possible.

We know planning for college can be confusing, and is dedicated to helping you find the right path so that you can complete your master’s degree and start your new career as soon as possible.

Why We Love a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

  1. Better salary:  MMFT holders often make more money than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees. Not just that, the demand for these professionals is also expected to grow faster because of economic uncertainty down to the individual level making people seek mental health counseling more and more. While that’s unfortunate, it means more job stability for the professionals in the field.
  2. Opportunities galore:  Therapy is a valuable and constantly growing field. While there are many reasons why that is the case, this spells good news for the professionals in the field who now have opportunities in private practices, hospitals, schools, and other kinds of counseling centers.
  3. Helping people in need:  An MMFT is a great way to give back to the community and improve people’s lives. As mentioned before, counseling can be important in helping people go through transitionary and traumatic experiences and as a professional in the field, it can be rewarding to see people being uplifted because of your work.
  4. Career options:  An MMFT could be your gateway to different and equally interesting career paths such as working as a family therapist, mental health counselor, or marriage counselor, among others.

Online vs. Traditional Campus

Most people who think about going back to school and getting their MMFT never even get started.

Not only are there various entrance hurdles like exams and application fees, but it’s also tough to make school work around your schedule. While going back to school can surely increase opportunities by manifolds, it can be challenging for individuals with personal, work, and family commitments.

Fortunately, that’s not necessarily true.

With adult-friendly schools, there is really no reason not to go back to school anymore.

So, here are a few key attributes that make a school adult-friendly:

  • Adult-friendly schools are totally online.  Online learning is best for busy adults, who have to balance their ongoing education with work, kids, and everything else that comes with being a grownup.  Online schools allow you to work college around your life, not the other way around.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer accelerated programs, with ongoing enrollment.  What’s better than getting your master’s in two years?  Getting it in fourteen months.  With ongoing enrollment, you don’t have to wait until fall or spring to start on your new journey; many schools offer monthly enrollment periods, meaning you can start whenever it works for you. This is especially beneficial for those adults who have to manage their professional lives and so many family commitments along with pursuing higher education.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer more support than traditional schools.  This includes but is not limited to, career services, making it easier for you to begin your new career.  Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re going back to school?

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Admissions Requirements for a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

What does it take to go to grad school?  You might be thinking you need to take the GRE or another entrance exam, right?

Again, this is no longer true.

Many adult-friendly schools do not require GRE or entrance exams.

Online programs generally require only a bachelor’s degree (usually in a related field) to get started, and there are no application fees to worry about.  You start when you’re ready.

Master of Marriage and Family Therapy Curriculum

As mentioned above, an MMFT will develop your knowledge in strategic therapy, structural therapy, systemic therapy, narrative therapy, transgenerational therapy,  psychotherapy, coaching, relationship counseling, communication theory, and systems theory.

These areas of knowledge are among the most important in marriage and family therapy, and they can help you in your career in whatever therapy-related field you pursue.

What Courses Will I Take in My MFT Program?

  1. General Systems Theory: This would likely be an overview of the role of theory in the study of marriage and family behavior.
  2. Couples Therapy: As the name implies, this would probably focus on theories and techniques used in providing therapy to couples, married or otherwise.
  3. Family Therapy: The approach to therapy within a family system is obviously different from that for couples, and it can prove more complex.
  4. Professional Ethics: Ethics are important in any profession, but especially so when helping people with something as sensitive as their interpersonal relationships.
  5. Sexual Therapy: Sex is an important facet of most intimate relationships, and a therapist must understand the contemporary approach to sex in a therapy setting.

Specializations and Concentrations

Your school could offer a Master of Science (MS) in Marriage and Family Therapy.

This is essentially the same as an MMFT.  Alternatively, you could find that one of these degrees is a better fit for you:

  • MA or MS in Clinical Psychology: This could be used for a career in psychotherapy, including marriage and/or family therapy.
  • MA or MS in Counseling Psychology: This degree is commonly used for careers in counseling or psychotherapy.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW): While not really a degree geared toward therapy, this could give you the tools needed to help couples and families in your community in other important ways.
  • Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) or Master of Arts in Professional Counseling (MAPC): This degree has a wide range of applications including group counseling, therapy, or social work.

Master of Marriage and Family Therapy Program Length

Most MMFT programs require between 30 and 40 credits to graduate.  Normally, an MMFT takes anywhere from two to three years to complete.

An accelerated plan, however, could take as little as a year.  This is where adult-friendly schools really shine. Programs with adult-friendly schools are not without intensive coursework as needed but also offer specialized support for students to successfully make it through their accelerated programs. They know their students have jobs, kids, and other obligations that make a traditional school schedule unrealistic.

The best adult-friendly schools make the process as convenient as possible, and they could get you into the workforce as fast as possible because they know that’s what adults want.

Choosing the Right University or College Master’s Program

Choosing the right school for you can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle.  Tuition costs, application fees, accreditation, enrollment windows, and entrance exams are just some of the variables to consider.

That’s why we created the Smartplan.  We want to help people go back to school, to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.

With our Smartplan, we make it easy for you to start on your path towards your MMFT.

Here are just some of the benefits of your Smartplan:

  • No application fees
  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • No entrance exams or testing
  • Faculty and professors who understand adults
  • Discounts and scholarships available
  • Open enrollment dates

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Best Jobs for Those With a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

You might be wondering what kind of jobs you can do as a MMFT, and how much it pays.

Let us help you with that.

Here are some common careers for MMFT holders, with salary data estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Marriage, Couples, or Family Counselor: Helping people manage problems in their family and/or relationships is an important job. You could make anywhere from $37,050 to $96,520 per year.
  • Outpatient Mental Health Counselor: This is someone who works with patients to promote optimal mental and emotional health. You could make anywhere from $30,870 to $77,980 per year.
  • Inpatient Mental Health Counselor: This is usually someone who works with patients admitted to the hospital on a short-term basis. You could make anywhere from $30,870 to $77,980 per year.
  • Group Social Worker: This is someone who works with people in support groups, helping them to relate to others with similar experiences. You could make anywhere from $36,50 to $82,840 per year.
  • School Counselor: This is someone who works in elementary, middle, and/or high schools to help students and their families, often with behavioral problems. You could make anywhere from $37,550 to $98,190 per year.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite careers, but an MMFT does provide you with broad skills to work in a variety of jobs, which will likely allow you to draw an excellent salary while helping people with their relationships, doubts, or just everyday lives.

The best careers are those that pay well AND let you feel fulfilled by giving something back. During times like these when economies are struggling and are finding it difficult to make ends meet, bringing more and more mental distress, having a career that protects you from both professional and personal struggles can be a rare one to have.

And hey, you don’t need to know right now which job you want. These are just some of the possibilities you should consider.

Cost and Tuition

Cost and tuition vary from school to school, and you’ll want to speak with each of your prospective schools directly.  Fortunately, online schools are generally more affordable than their in-person counterparts.

Adult-friendly colleges understand that you want to save, the financial challenges adults now face due to the pandemic and dwindling economic conditions. These colleges could help you with financial aid if you’re eligible. You’ll definitely want to speak to a few schools, and can help you with that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I need to know what job I want before I start an MMFT program?

A: No!  An MMFT program could prepare you for a variety of careers.  You certainly don’t need to know what job you want today.

Q: Will I make more money with an MMFT?

A: That depends on a variety of factors.  But as you can see above in the “Best Jobs for Those With a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy” section, your MMFT could mean excellent earning potential.

Q: How long will I be in school?

A: That could depend on you, your current job, and any other obligations you might have.  An MMFT program could take anywhere from one to three years, but our Smartplan is designed to help you find the right program for you, so you could finish as quickly as possible!

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

Create Your Free SmartPlan

There are many ways to make college affordable and accessible.

That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

It’s free, and helps you find potential ways to save and tons of information about each school you’re considering

Think of it as your “college blueprint”, to help you instantly craft a path to your degree:

  • Which Colleges Match Your Needs
  • Ways You Could Save Time & Money
  • Free Courses You Could Take for Credit
  • Valuable Data and Insights on Each College
  • Detailed Steps You Should Take!

See what’s possible for you and generate a free plan within just a few minutes

Create My SmartPlan

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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