Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) help clients overcome challenges and enjoy more fulfilling lives and relationships. There are many options for earning an MFT degree, and for some aspiring students online programs offer the best combination of value and flexibility. In addition to curriculum and other program considerations, accreditation is an important factor to examine when selecting a school.
Online MFT Program Overview
An online MFT program degree teaches prospective therapists the necessary tools and techniques to facilitate change in the lives of their clients. Online programs are a popular choice for students who need flexibility in their schedules.
MFT counseling addresses complex issues, so you need to ensure that you’re getting the training that will prepare you to work with married couples and families as they work through challenges related to finances, communication, parenting, substance abuse, and mental health disorders.
Is an Online MFT Program Right for Me?
To understand if an MFT program is a good fit, you’ll need to decide if marriage and family therapy is your calling. MFTs use various therapy techniques to help individuals, couples, and families. MFTs provide clients with a path forward and strategies to improve their relationships and lives.
Deciding whether an online MFT degree is worth the cost and effort might yield different answers for different people depending on their circumstances. The right solution for you might be the result of your passions, your motivation, and, of course, the cost of your degree compared to how much you expect to earn in your desired position.
Social workers often earn master’s degrees to obtain the training they need to fulfill their personal and professional goals, so a COAMFTE-accredited online MFT program might be a great solution if you need advanced training. You might still question, though, is an online MFT worth it?
Is an Online MFT Worth It?
MFTs are often mental health counselors. As an MFT, you might offer psychotherapy services and counseling to individuals and couples. You might work in schools, hospitals, outpatient care facilities, addiction treatment centers, or private practice.
As a marriage and family therapist, you help people overcome problems. You’re also making a real and lasting difference in your clients’ lives. However, entering this field requires a master’s degree and license, so it is critical to know if earning this degree is worthwhile.
Here are the benefits of earning an online MFT:
- Personal growth potential
- Job in demand
- Low stress
- Sense of satisfaction
- Salary potential
MFT vs. LCSW
An important difference between an online MFT and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) degree is how you might pursue your preferred social work and therapeutic directions. You’ll likely address mental health concerns as an MFT, based on the training you’ll receive in family systems and psychotherapy.
MFT vs. LPCC
Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) professionals also provide counseling, but they focus on families and individuals whose problems are social and relationship based. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) offer treatment and counseling to those with mental health and substance-abuse issues.
What Can You Do With an Online MFT program?
An online MFT program offers the flexibility you might not even realize is possible. With its range of evening and weekend class options, you can fit your education into your busy schedule. Depending on the course, the institution, and the online teacher, you might even be able to take extra time to complete assignments and go at your own pace to ensure you’re really digging deep and gaining a valuable learning experience.
While you’re pursuing your online MFT program, you can also continue to work, which means you might be getting additional on-the-job experience. At the same time, you learn the theoretical approaches to the therapeutic work you’ll be doing. Of course, you can continue to pay your bills even as you explore educational opportunities with your online MFT program.
Online MFT Program Salary and Job Outlook
Your MFT is a master’s degree, which allows you to work in private practice as long as an online MFT supervises you with a doctoral degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median salary for MFTs is $49,170, with the top 10% making more than $81,000 annually, usually with a doctorate and 10+ years of experience. As an online MFT, you can work in the state and local government, meaning you might earn an online MFT degree salary of $67,400. Similarly, Payscale.com reports that the median salary is $52,049.
How Much Does an Online MFT Program Cost?
Costs for COAMFTE-accredited online MFT programs vary widely. Total tuition and fees in the $25,000-$40,000 range are not uncommon, but many factors—school, program, location, financial assistance, individual needs—influence the cost of completing an online degree program.
Online MFT Program Scholarship Information
You can access scholarship options while pursuing the COAMFTE-accredited online MFT Program. You may be eligible for grants, financial aid, loans, and savings programs if you meet the requirements based on your family, job, and active duty status. Contact the institution to learn more about what scholarships you are eligible for. Each program offers a different level of scholarship funding.
Online MFT Program Requirements
The requirements for a COAMFTE-accredited online MFT program start with a bachelor’s degree. Then you’ll earn a master’s degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. Throughout the process, the Commission oversees your progress through the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Depending on the institution, you may also have the option of an online program, so you can get the flexibility you need while you finish your study.
With your master’s degree, you then complete your supervised field experience. Your supervised hours’ requirements for your licensing exam will vary, so check in on your state’s marriage and family therapist degree requirements. The next step is to pass the exams depending on your state’s marriage and family therapist degree requirements. Finally, the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) may require you to pass the MFT National Examination.
MFT Licensure Requirements
The MFT licensure requirements are fairly basic and straightforward. Here’s what you can expect when you submit your license application:
- Review of your academic education;
- Supervised clinical experience; and
- Passage of the MFT National Examination.
Licensed professional counselors (LPCs), licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), mental health counselors (MHCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) have similarities. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most states require at least a master’s degree.
Common Courses in an Online MFT Program
MFT programs support a course of studies that will prepare you to conduct family therapy for families and children in various traumatic and life-altering situations. Here are a few courses you can expect to take for your COAMFTE-accredited online MFT Program:
- Treatment planning and traditional family therapy
- Recovery-oriented care and postmodern family therapy
- Family therapy with children
Online MFT Program Accreditation
Consider an institution’s accreditation as part of your selection process when you review online MFT programs. It’s essential to your career path and future value as a job candidate. In addition, it’s one way you can easily prove that the program is not a fly-by-night course, but one of genuine integrity and depth of MFT-rich knowledge.
Of course, accreditation is just one indicator of a program’s assessed value, based on a review of the quality of teaching and educational practices. COAMFTE’s parent organization regularly monitors and evaluates the programs’ accreditation based on rigorous academic standards of excellence.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online MFT Program?
The time it will take you to complete a COAMFTE-accredited online MFT degree program depends on which institution you choose, how vigorously you pursue your course of study, and any specializations you prefer. You could finish the program in as little as 21 months, and online MFT programs often support a more aggressive timeline for completing your degree if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to the effort.