2023 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Programs

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs are often master's degrees designed to help prepare a student to work as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Many colleges and universities offer affordable online MFT programs for this educational path, which typically includes spending two to four years studying after completing a bachelor's degree in a related field. For those ready to pursue a future in this field, these are some of the most affordable online MFT programs available today.

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Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University offers two affordable online MFT programs for its Master of Marriage and Family Therapy programs. Students can choose marriage and family therapy or a thesis track as their master’s program. Both programs require 60 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years. The tuition for this program is $1316 per credit hour or $78,960 for the entire program.

Alliant International University

At Alliant International University, there are two options when pursuing a degree program in marital and family therapy. They offer affordable online MFT programs with a MA in Marital and Family Therapy and a PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy. The school offers these programs completely online as an option, and both are COAMFTE accredited. The MA costs $950 per credit hour online and $1,224 per credit hour on campus.

Capella University

Capella University offers a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program has 72 total quarter credit hours at $472 per credit. The program can be completed with 16 courses, with two residencies. There are four quarters of internship for this program as well. This degree program is fully accredited.

Geneva College

Geneva College offers multiple concentrations for a Master’s in Counseling Program. The three affordable online MFT programs they offer are Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Professional School Counseling. The Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling concentration is available online or in class at the cost of $710 per credit hour. The program requires the completion of 60 credit hours.

Indiana Wesleyan University

A Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling and therapy is available at Indiana Wesleyan University. This is a 60 credit hour program that can be completed in two years and is fully accredited. This program does require students to have a minimum of 1000 hours of client contact before completion. The program carries a cost of $602 per credit hour and is available both online and in person.

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University offers MS in Marital and Family Therapy. The program is available in either an online or in-person format. The program can be completed in 2 to 3 years, depending on the format and whether full or part-time. The curriculum consists of 90 quarter credits at the cost of $862 per credit for this fully accredited program.

Messiah University

At Messiah University, they offer a Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling. This program consists of 60 semester credits and can be completed in 2 years if attending full-time. This online program is fully accredited, with courses starting every eight weeks. The cost of this program is $735 per credit hour.

Northcentral University 

Northcentral University offers a program for a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. This online program requires a minimum of 45 credit hours to complete and may require up to 60 credit hours, depending on the location seeking licensure. The program consists of 25 to 20 courses and can be completed in 33 months. The cost of this program is $913 per credit hour.

Northwestern University

Northwestern University offers an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program is offered on campus as well as online and is fully accredited. The program requires the completion of 500 hours of face-to-face client interaction and 250 hours of group and individual supervision to complete it and 20 courses. This program costs $20,721 per quarter if going full-time and $7,372 per unit if part-time.

Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University offers a MA in Counseling focusing on Children, Couples, and Families. The program consists of a minimum of 93 quarter credits in addition to mandatory fieldwork and workshops. The program can be completed in 9 quarters, and courses will vary based on internships and fieldwork. This program costs $566 per credit hour plus fees of $57 per credit hour.

Regent University

At Regent University, students can find affordable online MFT programs with a MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling. The program is available in both an in-person and online format and is fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. This affordable online MFT program requires a minimum of 60 semester credits to complete and can be completed in as little as two years. The courses cost $615 per credit hour.

Syracuse University

Students can find affordable online MFT programs at Syracuse University. There is a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University. The program requires the completion of 60 semester credits and is fully accredited. The program is both online and in-person and offers training for working with marginalized populations. The school also offers a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. The average cost per credit hour for the program is $1,111 per credit hour.

Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide offers three tracks for pursuing an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. These affordable online MFT programs are clinical, nonclinical, and licensed professional clinical counseling. The required credits will vary for each program from 54 to 82, depending on the chosen track. Some programs may require practicum hours. The cost of the program is $500 per credit hour.

University of Holy Cross

The University of Holy Cross offers an MA in Counseling with a Specialization in Marriage, Couple, and Family. The program carries a required minimum of 60 semester credits and is available in both an in-person and online format. The program is accredited. The cost of the program is $735 per semester credit hour.

Walden University

Walden University offers affordable online MFT programs with an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling. The program is online and consists of 100 to 106 quarter credits. Students will complete field experience with 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship. The cost of this program is $482 per credit hour.

Steps to Becoming an LMFT

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist, most individuals will need to complete a master’s degree. That means the first step is earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology. From there, students can go on to apply to a master’s degree program and complete the courses required. Be sure this is an accredited program.

In many cases, those who work in this field will need to gain hands-on experience in the field through supervised clinical work. This may be done as a residency or an internship. During this training period, students will aid in providing services under a licensed therapist, which may include psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, or other interventions. This provides a significant amount of improvement in overall skill.

The requirements to become an LMFT vary based on state requirements. There are requirements for MFT licensure by state that students need to meet. Most often, students need to complete 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience before being eligible to apply for their license. From there, they will likely have to sit for a state-recognized therapist licensing exam.

After completing these steps, the individual can apply for a formal license. Many states also have ongoing continuing education requirements, which also differ based on the state.

LMFT Salary and Job Outlook

For many people, studying to become a licensed marriage and family therapist is a rewarding job in its own right. Spending time with people and helping them work through challenges could be one of the best ways to spend your career.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides insight into marriage and family therapist earnings. In 2021, the median pay for those working as a therapist in this field was $49,880 per year or $23.98 per hour. In 2021, there were 65,300 people working in this position across the country.

From 2021 to 2031, the BLS expects to see a 14% increase in the number of jobs available in this field, representing a growth of about 9,100 new positions. That’s a rate of job growth that is much faster than average. This could mean that there is demand for those entering this industry.

Tips for Keeping Costs Low While Earning Your MFT Degree

Going back to school to complete your master’s degree may be well worth it if you hope to work in the field. Yet, making it affordable may be a necessary step for many people. There could be a few ways you can reduce your costs.

Choose an online program

One of the best ways to potentially lower tuition costs is to look into an online master’s degree program. Many of the most affordable online MFT programs provide the accreditation you desire but allow for either fully online or hybrid education models. This type of flexibility could help you reduce overall costs by eliminating the need to pay for room and board. It may also be more affordable overall since some schools offer lower tuition costs for online programs.

Consider financial aid opportunities

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are potential options for reducing your costs available for graduate degree programs. There are numerous types of graduate federal student aid programs, including:

  • The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program offers both Direct Unsubsidized and Direct PLUS loans. These affordable loans may help you borrow money inexpensively to pay for your studies.
  • Federal Work-Study Program is another potential option. It allows students to earn money to pay for their education while providing community service work that fits their educational path.
  • State aid programs may also exist and provide a way for you to pay for your education for less. Be sure to look for insight at ED.gov/sgt for potential options.
  • School aid may also be available from some of the affordable online MFT programs. These programs range widely from one college to the next but often offer support for students who may meet the school’s established guidelines.
  • Turn to local and national foundations. These organizations, such as civic groups or professional organizations, may offer some financial opportunities for students.

It may also be possible to obtain a private graduate school loan. This type of loan is not a government-backed program, which means credit qualifications may range widely. You may find options for low-interest, affordable loans, which can make it a bit easier to defer your costs until you are out of school and working in the field.

Consider asking an employer for support

If you are currently working in a field that is related to the industry, you may be able to get financial help from your employer. For example, some employers will cover part or all of the cost for employees who go back to complete their graduate degree. This type of opportunity could be one of the easiest ways to cover your costs while maintaining your work needs. If you are working in a support position for therapists, for example, your employer may value sending you back to school.

Consider part-time work

Some students attend college full-time, which can make it hard to afford other expenses. If you plan to do so, consider working part-time to help cover your costs. You can get a job in a related field, too, such as in a therapist’s office or a medical center’s program. This type of work could help you to get a job in the field later. In some situations, you can get an internship through this work later when you are ready to start earning your clinical hours.

Find Out if the School Can Help

Many graduate programs have a significant amount of financial resources available to help students. In some situations, these are one of the best resources for guidance on other options for reducing your costs. For example, some schools have a financial counselor that will work with you to help you find potential work-study programs, grants, or other funding based on your skills or needs. Reach out to them to learn about this availability.

Marriage and Family Therapy Scholarships

Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for your graduate education, and they are more readily available than many realize. A scholarship is money provided to pay for your education. However, there is no need to repay these funds. Many organizations offer them, including both private and nonprofit.

The US Department of Labor is a good starting place for learning about available scholarships in a wide range of degree paths. With more than 8,000 scholarships listed, as well as grants and fellowships, this could be a good starting place for finding resources to help cover the cost of your education. You will need to apply and be awarded the scholarship. Below are some options available to those who are pursuing a marriage and family therapy career path.

Clinton E. Phillips Scholarship Fund

The Clinton E. Phillips Scholarship is an annual award for $4,000. To qualify, applicants need to be a US citizen in California, attend a COAFMTE-accredited graduate program, and pursue a master’s or doctorate in marriage or family therapy.

Future Counselors of America Scholarship

A $1,000 scholarship is available through the Future Counselors of America Scholarship. Applicants for this award should be pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate student with a minimum 3.5 GPA and planning to pursue a career in counseling. An essay about psychological issues with online dating.

Jewell L. Taylor Graduate Fellowship

This scholarship is valued at $5,000 and is available to students in a full-time graduate program studying family and consumer sciences or a related field. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPOA, display leadership, be a US citizen, attend an accredited graduate school, and have two letters of recommendation.

Lindsey Hoskins & Associates Scholarship

Lindsey Hoskins & Associates offers a $500 annual scholarship. Students who are pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy full-time are eligible. Applicants will need to email a 250-word short answer response that goes over career goals and why they are interested in this type of therapy.

Sweeney LeBlanc Scholarship Fund

This is a $1,000 annual scholarship available to students attending San Francisco State University who is pursuing an MS in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. Students will need a minimum 3.0 GPA and have verifiable experience, and be dedicated to serving the African American Community.

 Sources:

US Department of Education

Careeronestop: Your source for career exploration, training & jobs 

US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Marriage and Family Therapists

Counseling Career Guide

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