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Master's Degree Programs in Marriage and Family Counseling

Marriage and family therapists are specialists in the counseling profession who work with couples and family groups to assess and treat a multitude of issues. Read on for information about master's degree programs in marriage and family counseling. See about online learning, prerequisites and licensure information.

What Will I Study for a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling?

Your program will combine theoretical, classroom-based study with supervised clinical experiences. You will learn about how families function as groups as well as cultural factors impacting families. Your foundational training will cover aspects of child development, issues involving aging and effective treatment options for families, as well as how to identify signs of child abuse and domestic violence.

To prepare you for a career in marriage counseling, you will study the issues that commonly affect couples, which can include sex therapy and mental health. You will also be trained in ethical and legal standards for counselors.

Key Topics Discussed Child abuse, mental health, sex therapy, aging, domestic violence
Learning Environment Predominately taught in traditional classroom settings, but online programs are available
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree is required; some institutions may request standardized test scores
Licensing Requirements vary, but all states require licensure for marriage and family counselors
Median Salary (2018)$50,090 (for marriage and family therapists)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)23% growth (for all marriage and family therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are These Degrees Available Online?

Only rarely will you find master's degree programs in marriage and family counseling offered online. These programs often have brief residency requirements; however, most of your coursework can be completed online using a platform such as Blackboard. Through this platform, you will watch recorded lectures, communicate with professors and participate in discussion groups with your fellow students. The content of your online courses may be similar to what you would find in a campus-based program. You will be required to have access to a computer with high-speed Internet access.

Are There Any Prerequisites?

Most master's degree programs require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree prior to beginning study. However, most programs do not stipulate a specific undergraduate degree field. Some programs require a personal interview in which you may be assessed for your readiness for marriage and family counseling. Also, you will typically be required to submit your scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Millers Analogies Test (MAT).

What Licensure Will I Need for My Career?

All states will require you to earn a license before beginning work as a marriage and family counselors. Each state has its own unique requirements for licensure, which generally include completing your master's degree, earning several years of supervised clinical experience and passing a state-approved exam. You may need to complete continuing education and professional development in order to retain your license. Additionally, you can obtain voluntary certification as a National Certified Counselor through the National Board for Certified Counselors.