DMFT Degree Online

It has always been true that some couples and families face unique problems that require a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT). It’s also true that individual family members have a lot of influence over how other members feel.

This dynamic interaction can lead to unhealthy relationships within a family or marriage, especially if one person is struggling with challenges such as addiction or behavioral issues. Many families need a therapy treatment plan facilitated by a licensed professional to overcome their family disputes and build a healthy relationship within the family unit.

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Why Are DMFT Programs Important?

Those with a doctor of marriage and family therapy degree (DMFT) can transform a family in crisis and set a healing course. Professionals can have an upper hand in the counseling field if they have a doctoral-level degree in family counseling and specialize in the field of marriage therapy.

The field of marriage and family therapy is growing significantly, leading to high demand for qualified professionals who are ready to work with families in need.

While a doctorate isn’t required to be licensed, DMFT graduates are highly specialized professionals at the top of their field. These highly qualified therapists assess, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses as well as psychological distress within a marriage or family unit.

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What Does a DMFT Graduate Do?

At the doctoral level, marriage and family therapists offer counseling services throughout a given relationship, such as premarital counseling, couple therapy, child counseling, relationship therapy, and divorce counseling. A doctoral degree can open many doors for your career, because DMFTs are typically more able to secure positions in a wide variety of settings, including universities.

Marriage and family therapists have an extensive set of clinical skills to treat a wide range of clinical issues, including:

  • Marital problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Individual psychological problems
  • Child/parent problems

What sets DMFTs apart is their focus on resolving sensitive issues through family counseling, family therapy programs, and marriage counseling. While all counseling professionals attend to mental health issues, a DMFT provides a unique perspective on family science.

A DMFT program empowers clinicians with the tools they need to focus on how family dynamics impact their clients’ mental health within the family and marital context.

Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Costs and Program Types

DMFT programs typically require 60 to 120 credit hours or 30 to 40 college courses. Depending on your chosen institution, and whether you choose online enrollment or an on-campus DMFT program, the average cost of a doctoral program is around $30,000 per year.

Fortunately, many institutions support doctoral candidates with tuition waivers, stipends, and financial aid. There are also fully-funded doctorate programs available for professionals seeking to obtain their doctor of marriage and family therapy degrees. These often come with residency requirements.

Whether you are a college student transitioning directly to a doctoral degree, or a seasoned professional in a related field, a wide variety of program options are available, including full-time, part-time, online, and on-campus.

DMFT Degree Goals and Competencies

When pursuing a doctor of marriage and family therapy degree, your educational pathway will include several critical skills and milestones to support your career success.

  • Evidence-Based Practices: Assess patients using approaches based on the latest scientific and psychological developments.
  • Diverse Audience: Demonstrate advanced counseling skills to meet the needs of individuals, families, and couples seeking mental health services.
  • Self-Assessment: Practice in-depth self-reflection to improve ongoing professional development.
  • Keystone Research Project: Create, present, and defend a keystone research dissertation that significantly contributes to the field of marriage and family therapy.

These competencies open up a wide variety of career options that value the clinical skills gained in a DMFT program. With your doctorate, you will be able to apply your knowledge and clinical training in a number of public and private organizations.

Career Options for Those With a Marriage and Family Therapy Degree

A doctorate in marriage and family counseling opens the door to various careers that involve psychoanalysis, counseling, and working closely with groups and individuals to improve their situation and overall quality of life. 

Many doctoral candidates are already working in a related field, but some move directly from a master’s program to a doctorate. No matter where you start, a DMFT can provide extensive opportunities for a lucrative future. 

Career Median Salary 
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,850/year (March 2021 PayScale data)
Psychologists $78,597/year (March 2021 PayScale data)
Postsecondary Teachers $79,540/year (September 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] data)
Substance Abuse Counselors $40,053/year (March 2021 PayScale data)

Most doctoral programs also offer a pathway to licensure, which allows you to take the MFT National Exam; obtain Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) accreditation; and join the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), which provides a unified voice for all marriage and family therapists. 

The following information covers specialized careers that doctoral candidates may consider. This knowledge can help you decide which school is the best fit for your needs, and provide important insight into the income that comes with a DMFT.

Marriage and Family Therapists

These clinicians provide therapy for those struggling with a relationship. Licensed marriage and family therapists may work specifically with married couples at varying stages of their relationship life cycle, or broaden their focus to families and other social structures. 

They help their clients overcome problems and learn coping skills to work through issues with loved ones. DMFT professionals can work at inpatient facilities, private clinical practices, hospitals, or publicly-funded organizations.

Median Salary: $49,850 per year (according to March 2021 PayScale data)


These professionals work directly with clients using extensive psychotherapy to help them work through life issues. 

Psychologists also may perform independent research in conjunction with a hospital, or within an academic setting that helps inform others in the field and develop new, innovative psychological practices. 

Psychologists with a doctoral degree may also act as clinical supervisors or program directors, overseeing a team of mental health workers and providing clinical training to up-and-coming therapists. 

Median Salary: $78,597 per year (according to March 2021 PayScale data)


Postsecondary Teachers

Professionals with a doctor of marriage and family therapy degree can also become professors in higher education, teaching college courses and conducting research. 

The majority of working professors have a doctorate, participate in active research, and have their scholarly writing published. Faculty members often need to have a background of original research to maintain their highly coveted positions.

Median Salary: $79,540 per year (according to September 2020 BLS data)

Substance Abuse Counselors

These professionals work closely with clients who are struggling to overcome substance issues. The services they provide help addicts adopt changes to their lifestyle with the goal of benefiting themselves, their loved ones, and their communities. 

Substance abuse counselors also work closely with the client’s family and friends, who are undoubtedly affected by their substance abuse. Counselors work to heal the wounds addiction causes to each family member and reunite loved ones on their client’s path to a sober life. 

Median Salary: $40,053 per year (according to March 2021 PayScale data)

DMFT Program and Career Goals

The DMFT program prepares doctoral-level marriage and family therapists to serve as administrators, evaluators-administrators, and developers of programs that promote mental health and well-being. 


Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy Degree FAQs

How long does it take to receive a doctorate in marriage and family therapy? 

The average is 4 to 7 years. Some online programs offer expedited courses of study. 

Can DMFTs work in hospitals? 

Yes, these professionals often serve on medical teams providing medical family therapy and inpatient counseling.

Is marriage and family therapy a promising career? 

Yes, it is a fast-growing field with a demand for highly qualified clinicians. 

DMFT professionals are an essential part of hospitals, universities, and many other organizations, so if you have a passion to help people, then consider a DMFT degree today.

List of Programs

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