Exploring Online MFT Programs in California

There is a consistent need for marriage and family therapy in the world, and becoming a marriage and family therapist can be a rewarding career. Becoming a registered practitioner in this industry requires obtaining a master's degree in marriage and family therapy (MFT).

There are many MFT opportunities in California, in settings including religious institutions, educational facilities, and private practices. Currently, 10 different universities in California offer graduate MFT degree programs and are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

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To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California, applicants must become an associate MFT and perform over 3,000 hours of supervised work. There are several paths to earn the necessary academic credentials, specifically through online MFT programs in California. Take a look at some of the programs below.

Consider a Featured Online MFT Program

What COAMFTE-Accredited MFT Degree is the Most Popular?

As you consider popular online MFT programs in California, a good starting point is the MFT program offered by Alliant International University.

Alliant International University's MA in Marital and Family Therapy Degree

Based in Irvine, this institution has an online Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy. The entire 60-credit hour curriculum is available in a virtual format, one of only a handful of COAMFTE-accredited programs to offer this. Example courses include Diversity and the Family, Introduction to Psychopathology, and Trauma and Crisis Intervention.

There is a special concentration in Chemical Dependency for students who want to work with patients struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

Students will have 500 hours of hands-on training, which should prepare them to enter the workforce after graduation. This program normally takes at least two years to complete, and students can choose between the semester or term format.

Other COAMFTE-Accredited Degrees in California

Additional options for an online MFT program in California include:

Northcentral University’s MA in Marriage and Family Therapy

Northcentral University offers a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, which can prepare students to help families as licensed therapists. The program also helps ensure a graduate’s therapy practice follows ethical standards, and is culturally sensitive so that all patients feel comfortable in their sessions.

There are many specializations to customize the degree, including LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy, Systemic Treatment of Addictions, Child and Adolescent Family Therapy, and Systemic Sex Therapy. At least 45 credit hours are needed to complete the program, which can be accomplished in approximately 33 months. New classes begin every Monday, providing easy flexibility for students to begin the program.

San Diego State University’s MFT Program

San Diego State’s Department of Counseling and School Psychology offers an MFT program specifically for full-time students. The program normally takes 2 ½ years to complete, with three summers that start in June of the first school year and finish at the end of August.

Students can gain clinical experience through practicum sessions and therapy training, working with diverse cultural groups and exploring theories in marriage and family therapy. Graduates have commonly worked at nonprofit organizations, health care organizations, and private practices after completing this program. Example courses include Professional Issues in Mental Health Practice, Violence in Couples’ Relationships, and Systemic Treatment of Substance Abuse.

MFT Licensure in California

To obtain an MFT license, applicants should hold a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and become an associate MFT. This normally requires paying a fee and completing an application, as well as providing fingerprints, recent photographs, and verification of education.

Applicants must pass a criminal background check and the California Law and Ethics Exam. This must be taken to renew the AMFT registration on an annual basis. After applicants complete 3,000 total supervised work hours in a postgraduate setting, they can take the clinical exam to become a licensed MFT (LMFT). There are slightly different guidelines for those looking to become certified for out-of-state practice, such as different fingerprinting procedures and verification forms.

California Board of Behavioral Sciences

1625 North Market Blvd, Suite S-200
Sacramento, CA 95834
Website

Licensure:

  • Marriage and Family Therapist and Marriage
  • Family Therapist Intern

Sources:

  • Board of Behavioral Sciences, “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist”
  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, “About COAMFTE”
  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, “Accreditation Resources”
  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, “Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs”
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marriage and Family Therapists

LMFT Careers and Salaries in California

In addition to the many available online MFT programs in California, the state has hundreds of marriage and family therapist positions. California also has the highest employment level of MFTs in the country with over 32,620 employed positions. That number is more than seven times the amount of the next highest-employed state, New Jersey, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists in California is $55,540, which is slightly above the national average, according to the BLS. Some of the more notable companies offering MFT positions include Kaiser Permanente which is based in Oakland and operates in eight different states, Pathways of California, and Volunteers of America in Los Angeles.

Popular Online MFT Programs

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Campus-Based COAMFTE Accredited California MFT Degrees

The COAMFTE (Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education) is the top accrediting board for MFT programs. Below is a list of COAMFTE accredited MFT programs in California. You can view online COAMFTE accredited MFT counseling programs or all California counseling degrees.

Alliant International University - Irvine
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • PsyD in MFT
Alliant International University - Los Angeles
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • PsyD in MFT
Alliant International University - Sacramento
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • PsyD in MFT
Alliant International University - San Diego
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
  • PsyD in MFT
Alliant International University
COAMFTE
  • Online MA in Marital and Family Therapy
Bethel Seminary
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
California State University - Northridge
COAMFTE
  • MS in Marriage and Family Therapy
Chapman University
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
Hope International University
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
Loma Linda University
COAMFTE
  • MS - MFT Program
  • Online DMFT
  • Online DMFT
  • PhD in MFT
Northcentral University
COAMFTE
  • Online MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Online PhD in MFT
San Diego State University
COAMFTE
  • M.S. in Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy
University of San Diego
COAMFTE
  • MA in Marital and Family Therapy
+ Go to the list of all California counseling programs.
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