The Best Online Master’s in Family Counseling Programs

Modern relationships face pressures from many facets, including family and professional obligations, societal expectations, and spontaneous crises. Earning an online marriage and family therapy master's degree opens pathways to multiple professions that help meet the growing needs of couples and families.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for marriage and family therapists to grow by 23% between 2016 and 2026 — much faster than the national average for all occupations. Family counseling graduates can obtain state licensure and open an independent practice, contribute to an institution or school, or help create effective government policy as a healthcare consultant.

Families face monumental hurdles, including tragedies, addiction, and financial instability. Through consistent support, counselors help individual patients and family units cope with these traumas. Counselors maintain records of patient progress to document interventions and track changes in emotional or personal behaviors. Marriage specialists work with couples through group counseling and one-on-one conversations to identify and isolate toxic habits and issues endangering the relationship.

The following list of online marriage and family therapy master's programs describes some of the top programs in the U.S. Prospective students should compare program requirements and professional training opportunities to find the degree that best fits their professional aspirations.

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1Touro University WorldwideLos Alamitos$$$$$10601 Calle Lee #179
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
(818) 874-4115

The online master of arts in marriage and family therapy degree at TUW offers clinical, non-clinical, and licensed professional tracks.

While all three tracks include 54 credits of core coursework, the clinical and licensure tracks both entail six additional practicum credits and at least 500 logged patient hours. The licensure path also requires students to take four specific licensed professional clinical counselor courses. In total, the clinical pathway features 72 credits and the licensure track has 82 credits.

TUW holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has applied for programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, although this decision is still pending.

2Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale$$$$$3301 College Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314-7796
(954) 262-7300

NSU — located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — hosts a master of science in family therapy for future professionals in private practice and organizational settings. The program features 20 courses (60 credits total), and online students access coursework through the Canvas online platform. Classes include introductory discussions of systems theory and specialized coursework on marriage and family therapies, drug abuse and addiction, and diversity and psychosocial issues.

This online MFT program includes an external practicum where students gain advanced clinical training through supervised interactions with patients in a private practice or healthcare institution. Consisting of 500 patient contact hours (with at least 250 hours spent with couples and families), the practicum provides quality education through face-to-face interactions. All venues for clinical work must be approved by the university's internship coordinator.

NSU accepts transfer credits on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA over their final two years (or 60 credits) of undergraduate study. Students with lower grades can supplement their application by submitting proof of an overall GRE score of 300 or higher.

3Indiana Wesleyan UniversityMarion$$$$$4201 S Washington St
Marion, IN 46953-4974
(765) 674-6901

IWU's online master of arts in marriage and family counseling and therapy is a 60-credit program that grants learners access to videos of real therapy sessions carried out by their instructors and classmates. Students can then submit their own recorded interviews to critically engage with and analyze therapeutic processes. All program participants must complete 100 practicum hours and 900 clinical hours with a licensed professional approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

This program meets state requirements for professional licensure by preparing students to sit for the National Counselor Examination — the standard qualifying exam for multiple U.S. states and territories. Learners should check requirements in their home state before committing to any program.

Full-time students can expect to complete IWU's online master of arts in marriage and family counseling and therapy in 2-3 years, while part-time learners take longer. The program holds accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

4University of West AlabamaLivingston$$$$$Station One
Livingston, AL 35470
(205) 652-3400

Students pursuing a master of science in family counseling online at UWA must complete 33 credits. The program contains four courses in research techniques, educational statistics, marriage and family therapy, and psychological systems theory. Learners also take nine concentration credits in life development, professional ethics, and systems of psychotherapy. To round out the curriculum, participants take 12 credits of applied concentration coursework, including an internship in applied counseling at an approved local institution or private practice.

UWA requires that all students complete tests in the presence of a proctor. To make this accessible, the school uses a remote proctor system — RPNow — that utilizes a computer's webcam to monitor a student's exam progress. UWA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

5City University of SeattleSeattle$$$$$521 Wall Street, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98121
(800) 426-5596

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs accredits the master of arts in counseling program at CityU. Students can choose from several tracks, including a specialization in marriage, couple, and family counseling.

After completing nine introductory and foundational courses in therapeutic methods and ethics, students take nine specialization classes, including psychopathology, human sexuality, and processes of addition and recovery. Students also complete a final capstone project and take a comprehensive exam.

Once they pass this exam, they can progress into the practicum and internship phase of the program. Participants complete four practicum courses and three internship courses, totaling 2,200 supervised hours of clinical work, including over 800 direct patient hours.

Most classroom instruction is delivered through face-to-face, in-class sessions, which are supplemented by asynchronous online learning. Strong applicants have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. Additionally, all candidates must interview with the program director or coordinator.

6Concordia University - Saint PaulSaint Paul$$$$$1282 Concordia Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
(651) 641-8278

Learners can earn a master of arts in family science online at CSP. This program infuses personal and family counseling with a sensitivity to the modern external pressures affecting family relationships. By taking into consideration the larger systems impacting families, this online program seeks to curb toxic behaviors and foster positive coping mechanisms to keep relationships strong.

Master of arts in family science classes focus on family communication and growth, with courses on childhood development and parent education, families in society, and interpreting relationship data. The degree culminates with a final capstone e-folio where students showcase their skills for faculty members and future employers.

Faculty deliver this 36-credit program through seven-week classes. Full-time students can complete the degree in less than two years. Students pay a flat, per-credit tuition rate. CSP is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7Dallas Baptist UniversityDallas$$$$$3000 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75211-9299
(214) 333-7100

The Graduate School of Ministry at DBU offers a faith-based master of arts in family ministry online program to improve Christian communities by fortifying strong family relationships. Specifically for ministers and church support services, this 36-credit degree trains participants about the theological, educational, and practical skills necessary to communicate effectively with community members.

Through 18 core classes, students explore faith formation and family issues. Learners expand their knowledge through specialized coursework in early childhood ministry, abnormal psychology, victim assistance ministry training, leadership communication, and teaching techniques for students with emotional or behavioral disabilities. DBU also requires master's students to complete three ministry courses of their own choice. DBU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

8Regent UniversityVirginia Beach$$$$$1000 Regent University Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
(757) 352-4127

Regent's online master of arts in family counseling prepares graduates to sit for state licensure examination. This private university is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and infuses its family counseling degree with Christian values. Though coursework is available online, all program participants must complete two week-long residencies at the Virginia Beach campus. Residencies provide learners with networking opportunities, in-person evaluations, and licensure preparation.

Students also participate in a supervised internship within their local community. Concurrent with internship hours, learners attend a weekly seminar to review and discuss their experiences.

Applicants must submit GRE scores and official transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Students should also expect a pre-admission webcam interview with a Regent admissions advisor. This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

9Fresno Pacific UniversityFresno$$$$$1717 S. Chestnut Ave.
Fresno, CA 93702
(559) 453-2000

Students who earn a master of arts in marriage and family therapy online at FPU complete 65 credits and prepare for state licensure. Courses come in online and hybrid formats.

FPU takes a theological perspective on all of its programs. This online MFT program includes five required theological courses on scripture, interpretation, and church history. Students take 21 classes of practical training and six additional courses on social frameworks, such as interpersonal communication and discerning vocation and calling. The degree ends with a capstone experience that includes three practicum seminars and an internship in a student's local community. The practicum portion ends with a ministry discernment class.

As a Catholic university, FPU is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Interested applicants should hold experience in the following three areas: psychology, abnormal psychology, and human development.

10John Brown UniversitySiloam Springs$$$$$2000 W University St
Siloam Springs, AR 72761
(479) 524-9500

JBU is a private Christian university located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Learners interested in becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist can enroll in the school's partially online MFT program.

This 64-credit program features 22 credits of core counseling requirements and 39 credits of major-related coursework, including classes in professional development and ethics, child and adolescent counseling, and principles of marital therapy. Participants also accrue at least 500 direct client contact hours through practicum and internship experiences. Graduates are qualified to pursue state licensure and sit for national MFT examinations.

Students can complete about 33% of their courses online, but they must be able to visit one of JBU's campuses in Little Rock, Rogers, or Siloam Springs to take the remainder of their classes.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution earned with a GPA of 2.7 or higher. Students should also submit GRE results showing a minimum score of 290 with a verbal score of 145 or higher.