Healthy families are the cornerstone of healthy communities. Whether you’re interested in helping teens navigate the murky waters of adolescence or you’re passionate about helping couples find ways to strengthen their relationships, a Master’s of Science in Family Counseling will allow you work with diverse populations in equally diverse settings.
Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are part of exploding industry; it’s projected that the demand for them will rise an astounding 19 percent in the next few years. It’s also a notably stable and secure job title. On average, MFTs earn over $44,000 annually, though it’s possible to earn upwards of $75,000 a year.
Whatever your financial or vocational situation, an online degree is an excellent way to advance your career. From flexible online class settings to individualized attention from faculty, not to mention a typically lower cost per credit hour, online degrees have a lot to offer students, especially students who need to continue working full time. These programs below will give you access to strong graduate programs without breaking the bank. And you’ll be able to balance school with all your other responsibilities.
What are the Best Online Master’s in Family Counseling?
Though some of these schools are large, research universities and others small, religiously based colleges, each of them offer renowned online graduate programs in family and couples therapy. Through curricula that balance theory with practicums, each of the schools below will give you the best distance education in marriage and family counseling in the nation. We know that because we’ve analyzed diverse data sets—including each school’s reputation, retention, affordability, and return on investment—to arrive the country’s very best masters in family counseling programs. First we took those with the best reputation and retention rates, which reflects student satisfaction, then considered affordability and the average early salaries of graduates. What we got was a thoroughly researched list providing empirical evidence of academic excellence. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 100
Credit Hour Cost: $475
The largest public university in the United States, Arizona State University is home to nearly 83,000 students, dispersed among its Tempe, Phoenix, Polytechnic, West, and online campuses. Founded in 1885, ASU has a long history of academic higher education, and has been highly ranked for its research, development, and quality over its long history.
The online Master of Science in Family and Human Development at Arizona State University is a one-of-a-kind program. Rather than taking a traditional counseling approach, this program is designed for those who are interested in a broader “applied practitioner” approach. Here are some of the elements you can expect from this program:
- An accelerated study totalling 30-credit-hours and completable in 15-18 months
- Classes like Theoretical Issues in Child Development and Social Statistics
- Preparation for a career in a clinical setting, human services, or the private industry
For the second year in a row, Arizona State University has nabbed the #1 spot on US News & World Report’s list of “Most Innovative Schools in America.” It also holds its ground in the big leagues of rankings, coming in at 47th in the United States and 93rd in the world for the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
College Choice Score: 98.75
Credit Hour Cost: $615
Located in Longview, Texas, LeTourneau University is a private, Christian university that originally began as a technical institute after World War II. Since then it has developed into thriving university with undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as online education centers through branch campuses in Dallas and Houston.
The hybrid model Master of Arts in Counseling at LeTourneau University allows students to focus their studies in one of three branches: Professional Counseling, School Counseling, and Marriage and Family Counseling. Being a faith-based university, the curriculum uses theology at the core of their instruction. Some of the classes you can expect to take in the 44-credit-hour program include:
- Healthy Family Functioning
- Human Sexuality & Sex Therapy
- Psychopathology: Diagnosis & Treatment of Mental Disorders
LeTourneau University consistently receives respectable rankings from US News & World Report for its master’s degree programs, and it was recently included in a “Best Value” list for its affordability.
College Choice Score: 97
Credit Hour Cost: $565
The largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, Liberty University found its start in 1971. Although its on-campus enrollment is just around 13,800 students, Liberty University has over 100,000 students enrolled in its online program. The university tends to approach their curriculum from a conservative angle; Young America’s Foundation listed Liberty as one of the top conservative colleges in the United States.
The 100 percent online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Liberty University requires a total of 60 credit hours. The curriculum places an emphasis on integrating faith into counseling, and students will discuss theories and techniques for achieving that throughout this program. Some of the classes in this program include:
- Counseling Children, Adolescents & Their Families
- Psychopathology & Counseling
- Ethical & Legal Issues in Counseling
Liberty University online faculty are known to offer one-on-one attention to their students by keeping classes capped at 25 students. Liberty also tends to be a place where veterans thrive; it holds the 37th ranking in US News & World Report’s “Best Colleges for Veterans.”
College Choice Score: 96.5
Credit Hour Cost: $4,202
Northwestern University is a private research university that enrolls around 21,000 students each year. Though its main campus is located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern spans the globe, with satellite campuses in Qatar, Washington DC, and San Francisco. The Northwestern Wildcats are a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and compete in NCAA’s Division I conference.
Northwestern University’s online Master of Arts in Counseling program is aimed at people interested in getting a training in clinical mental health. Northwestern offers the option of obtaining the Child and Adolescent Specialization, which includes the following added-on requirements:
- Human Growth & Development (Child & Adolescent Focus)
- Child and Adolescent Counseling and Psychotherapy
- The other 24 required credits in the overall program
Northwestern University is one of the most prestigious schools in the United States, ranking 20th by Academic Ranking of World Universities, 15th by Forbes, and 12th by US News & World Report. Though the credit hour cost is one of the higher on our list, the reputation and strength of Northwestern’s program make it hard to pass up.
California Baptist University
College Choice Score: 96
Credit Hour Cost: $701
Affiliated with the Southern Baptist church, California Baptist University is a private, liberal arts school that is located in Riverside, California. Reaching close to 9,000 students in enrollment each year, California Baptist University is divided into 11 different schools and colleges. Among them is the Online and Professional Studies Division, which houses the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology.
The online Counseling Psychology program at California Baptist University requires a total of 62 credits to graduate. It is offered completely online and gives you the option to take classes at your own pace. The degree is designed to graduate students into marriage and family counseling or professional clinical counseling, both with a focus on Christian approaches and worldviews. Some of the classes you’ll take that are related to marriage and family counseling are:
- Marriage and Family Counseling Theory
- Human Growth and Development
- Child and Adolescent Counseling
For nine years in a row, California Baptist University has ranked in US News and World Report’s “Best Regional Universities,” most recently coming in at #38 from a list of 620. It also is important to point out that 100 percent of California Baptist’s faculty and staff are Christians, which is made evident through the curriculum and mission of the school.
University of Massachusetts
College Choice Score: 95.75
Credit Hour Cost: $520
The University of Massachusetts is a public university that enrolls 73,000 students across its five campuses—Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and UMass Medical School. UMass Boston, which offers the online Masters of Science in Family Therapy, is the third-largest in the system and caters primarily to students from Boston and the surrounding cities.
The College of Advancing and Professional Studies offers the online Masters of Science in Family Therapy at the University of Massachusetts. The 60-credit-hour program gives students a basic understanding and review of overall counseling theories, while also offering specific classes related to family therapy. Here are some highlights of this program:
- Licensure: it covers the academic requirements for licensure in family therapy in Massachusetts
- Urban Focus: students specifically learn how to address issues among marginalized individuals, families, and larger communities
The University of Massachusetts is no stranger to high rankings. Aside from being the largest and one of the oldest universities in the state, UMass also ranks as the number one public university in New England by the Times Higher Education. Its faculty are also famously renowned in their field; in 2015, eight faculty members were named to the list of the World’s Most Scientific Minds.
College Choice Score: 95.5
Credit Hour Cost: $399
Originally founded as a Baptist academy, Campbellsville University is a private, Christian institution that found its roots in 1906. Located in Campbellsville, Kentucky, the school enrolls about 3,200 students every year through its undergraduate, graduate, and online programs. The small campus also incorporates a 135-acre woodlands area—Clay Hill Memorial Forest—that they use for educational outreach and research.
The hybrid Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy program at Campbellsville University combines the forces of three different departments: Marriage and Family Therapy, Social Work, and Theology. This 46-credit-hour program is completed through once-a-week classes to accommodate working students. Some other features you can expect to find in this program are:
- Classes delivered via online formats and evening on-campus settings
- A Christian focus in the curriculum and environment
- 10 credits in a field-based internship to practice counseling in a real setting
Campbellsville University has a strong reputation in the South. In fact, it was recently ranked #4 in US News & World Report’s “Up and Coming Schools in the South” and has also made the list for rankings such as “Great Schools, Great Prices” and “Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the South.”
Dallas Baptist University
College Choice Score: 95
Credit Hour Cost: $906
Located in a beautiful setting overlooking a lake, Dallas Baptist University is a private, Christian school that serves over 5,000 students. With a history that spans almost 120 years, Dallas Baptist University has spread into two other branch campuses in Texas—Plano and Hurst—since its early beginnings as a two-year junior college.
Dallas Baptist University does a fantastic job at meeting students’ needs when it comes to schedule. The 36-credit-hour Master of Arts in Family Ministry program is offered in multiple formats: online, hybrid (online and classroom), or through evening and weekend courses. The curriculum is specifically faith-based, with concentrations in Christian Counseling and Special Needs Family Ministry. Some classes included are:
- Conflict Resolution in Ministry
- Faith Formation in the Life Stages
- Ministry with Children
Dallas Baptist University students take their learning seriously, and the evidence shows! Recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Dallas Baptist University #1 in the United States for elementary teacher preparation, and #2 in the Texas for secondary teacher preparation. These strong academic results are seen across the board at Dallas Baptist University.
College Choice Score: 94.75
Credit Hour Cost: $645
Founded in 1909, Messiah College has a long history of Christian higher education. The private liberal arts college, located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, enrolls close to 3,300 students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Messiah started its graduate program in 2009, which includes online master’s programs in counseling, business, education, nursing, and more.
The online Master of Arts in counseling at Messiah College includes three concentration tracks: clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and marriage, couple, and family counseling. Students take 30 credit hours of core classes, and then choose a track to specialize in—the marriage and family track, for example, requires another 30 credit hours. Some of the highlights of this program include:
- Rolling admission: You can jump into the program at any point!
- Flexible program completion time frames that range from two to six years
- Combined online and classroom instruction to fit into your schedule
The Marriage and Family Therapy program at Messiah College receives high praise across the board. It was recently ranked #4 in online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy degree programs, and #7 in affordability. More generally, US News and World Report named Messiah College as the #4 “Best Regional College.”
Abilene Christian University
College Choice Score: 94
Credit Hour Cost: $1,334
Abilene Christian University is a private, Christian university that is located in Abilene, Texas. Originally founded as a Childers Classical Institute in 1906, the school is backed by the Churches of Christ denomination and enrolls around 4,500 students in total. Abilene Christian University is one of seven faith-based universities to own a press—ACU Press. It publishes around 35 titles a year, all with a theological, Christian higher education, or regional focus.
The online Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (M.MFT) at Abilene Christian University uniquely offers three tracks for their students to accommodate all interests: a two-year program for the M.MFT degree, a three-year program for the M.MFT and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, and a four-year program for an M.MFT and a Masters in Divinity degree. Regardless of the track, some of the classes you can expect to take in the 60-credit-hour M.MFT program are:
- Family Therapy across the Life Cycle
- Theological Perspectives on Human Behavior
- Family Theory/General Systems Theory
- Couples Therapy
Abilene Christian University is making an effort to stay ahead of the technology curve. It provides all first-year students with a free Apple iPhone or iPod touch to use for academic purposes, earning it Campus Technology magazine’s “Innovator of Year” award. It also recently hosted the first ConnectEd Summit to generate ideas for mobile and online learning. This bodes well for online learners at Abilene Christian University!
Indiana Wesleyan University
College Choice Score: 93
Credit Hour Cost: $533
As the largest private university in the state, Indiana Wesleyan University enrolls close to 16,000 students across its numerous campuses. Located in Marion, Indiana and associated with the Wesleyan Church denomination, IWU provides religious and spiritual instruction throughout their curriculum. In 1983, the school expanded to form the College of Adult and Professional Studies, which caters to working adults.
The Master of Arts in Counseling offers students the chance to specialize in Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy. The 60-credit-hour program covers everything from classic counseling models to more contemporary approaches, though all theories are presented through a Christian worldview. Students in this program are also given access to the IWU therapy and research center, where they can experience supervision with video recording, two-way mirror supervision, and more. Some classes included in this curriculum include:
- Integration of Christian Faith in Professional Counseling
- Sexuality, Intimacy, and Gender
- Appraisal of Individuals and Families
- Multicultural Counseling
Within the state of Indiana, IWU is known as a reputable and respectable university. In 2013, US News and World Report ranked it 17th in a list of the top 150 universities in the Midwest. Additionally, for the last five years in a row, Young America’s Foundation has ranked Indiana Wesleyan University among the “Top Ten Conservative Colleges” in the United States.
Touro University Worldwide
College Choice Score: 92.5
Credit Hour Cost: $500
Touro University Worldwide is a non-profit higher education system that delivers primarily online degrees to over 20,000 around the world. Originally started through Jewish foundations, Touro University is grounded in the mission of social justice, academic pursuit, and service to the marginalized. Touro University currently offers six online master’s degree programs, including the Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy.
The 100 percent online Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy program at Touro University stands out for a number of reasons. First, their admissions process does not require students to submit GRE scores, saving you money and time. Touro also does not require a residency during the program, which lets you complete the degree fully at home.
Depending on your career goals, you can choose from one of Touro’s three marriage and family therapy tracks:
- Non-clinical Track (54 credits)
- Clinical Track (60 credits)
- Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling (73 credits)
Touro University has a solid grasp of what it takes to educate students through an online format. It touts an impressive 92 percent retention rate for all graduate programs and an 88 percent graduation rate for online graduate programs. The Marriage and Family Counseling program was also recently named one of the “Best Online Counseling Degrees.”
Seton Hill University
College Choice Score: 91.75
Credit Hour Cost: $734
Seton Hill University is a private, religious university located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania that offers undergraduate and graduate education to its over 2,500 students. Seton Hall was originally founded in 1885 as a liberal arts women’s college, though in 2002 it became coeducational. Rooted in Catholicism, the university is backed by its founding group, the Sisters of Charity.
The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Seton Hill University has a number of strengths. The program emphasizes multi-cultural approaches to their instruction and stress the importance of social diversity understanding in the clinical setting. The Seton Hill Center for Family Therapy is an on-campus mental health center that is fully operated by students and faculty from this program. Much of the research and internship experiences are fulfilled at the Seton Hill Center. Some courses that are included in this degree are:
- Couples and Family Systems
- Families in Larger Systems
- Interpersonal Processes
Seton Hill University earned some respect from the technology field when it announced a plan to provide free iPads to all students, and free MacBook computers to all first-year students. This kind of forward-thinking initiative and attention to educational trends is what online students should be looking for in a school. Seton Hill also holds an impressive 15:1 student to faculty ratio in all of its classes.
College Choice Score: 91.25
Credit Hour Cost: $710
Founded by Pat Robertson in 1977 as a private, Christian school, Regent University is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Regent provides undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and online degrees to its student body of around 8,500 students. The Evangelical Christian school employs 165 full-time faculty members who are renowned in their fields; in fact, five of them are Fulbright Scholars.
Regent University’s hybrid Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling combines the online learning format with two intensive on-campus residencies. This program emphasizes a Christ-centered perspective to counseling through faith-based theories and approaches, as well as in-person clinical fieldwork in ministry settings. The Regent University program includes the following classes:
- Marital & Couple Therapy
- Models of Family Therapy
- Counseling & Christian Thought
- Group Counseling
Regent University holds a solid reputation in the world of online education. In 2015, US News & World Report ranked it as the 11th best online undergraduate program in the United States, and its online graduate program is ranked at 21st in the nation. Regent University is also known for its conservatism; it was recently ranked 2nd in the nation for “Most Conservative Students.”
College Choice Score: 91
Credit Hour Cost: $845
A private, liberal arts school in Prescott, Arizona with a small student body of around 1,200, Prescott College guides its education and teaching through the motto: “For the Liberal Arts, the Environment, and Social Justice.” Founded in 1965, by the Ford Foundation, Prescott College offers four general degree options as well as online, limited residency degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate level.
Using a combination of online learning, mentored studies, and on-campus residencies, the Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling at Prescott College blends together the core theories of counseling with a series of unique concentrations. This 60-credit-hour program lets students approach marriage and family counseling from the following methods:
- Equine-Assisted Mental Health
- Expressive Art Therapy
- Adventure-based Psychotherapy
- Social Justice Counseling
- Veterans Counseling
Prescott College is known for its tight-knit community among both the faculty and the student body. It boasts an impressive 7:1 student to faculty ratio. The college is also a designated Veteran Supportive Campus. Even more, Prescott also stays true to its motto of environmental consciousness by using recycled materials, solar panels, and rooftop gardens on its campus. Prescott College is truly a unique and inspiring learning experience!
College Choice Score: 90
Credit Hour Cost: $635
Originally founded in 1865 through the American Baptist Church, Ottawa University is Christian liberal arts school based in Ottawa, Kansas. Its main campus houses around 600 students, though in total, Ottawa enrolls closer to 7,000 students annually. Beyond the Ottawa campus, the university operates adult campuses in Overland Park, Kansas; Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona; Brookfield, Wisconsin; and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Ottawa University’s Master of Arts in Counseling features a hybrid format that splits class time between online learning and in-person week-long residencies, which are held at the Phoenix, Arizona campus. The Ottawa program also includes a 900-hour field placement in a community behavioral health agency to get hands-on experience in counseling. In addition to the Marriage & Family Therapy concentration track, students have the option of specializing in the following areas:
- Addictions Counseling
- Christian Counseling
- Expressive Arts Therapy
- Treatment of Trauma, Abuse, and Deprivation
This small-but-mighty school holds a strong presence in its region. US News & World Report recently ranked Ottawa University at #47 for “Best Midwest Regional Colleges.” The small class sizes and close-knit community of Ottawa University make for a personalized and affordable educational experience.
Grand Canyon University
College Choice Score: 89.75
Credit Hour Cost: $500
Grand Canyon University is a large, for-profit research institution located in Phoenix, Arizona that has roots in Southern Baptist Christianity. It was founded in 1949 as a liberal arts college before it was purchased by Grand Canyon Education in 2004, and now offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Over 60,000 of Grand Canyon’s total student population attends classes through the online platform.
Grand Canyon University features a Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy program. The curriculum at Grand Canyon focuses on the systemic perspectives within family and marriage dynamics, and combines counseling theory, addictions and substance disorders, and cultural diversity issues together for a thorough and balanced program. Some classes in this 74-credit-hour program include:
- Evaluation of Mental and Emotional Status
- Advanced Family Systems Theory
- Couples and Family Dynamics: Systemic Perspectives
- Diversity in Family Systems
Grand Canyon University has over a decade of online learning education under its belt, so you can be assured that you’re in good hands. The university provides not only a top-notch online learning management system, but also offers online students a library of resources that you can access at any time. Here’s some proof: Forbes magazine recently named Grand Canyon University as a top-five online school for entrepreneurs.
Mid-America Christian University
College Choice Score: 89.75
Credit Hour Cost: $618
Though it was first founded as South Texas Bible Institute in 1953, Mid-America Christian University shifted gears (and location!) in 1985 to settle in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mid-America Christian University is now a private, liberal arts school that is affiliated with the Church of God and promotes theology-based education to its 2,500 students.
Mid-America Christian University offers a highly-flexible and highly-affordable Master of Science in Professional Counseling. Students can decide to complete their degree in one of three ways:
- taking classes 100 percent online
- attending classes on-campus
- attending evening and weekend classes
Either method allows students to graduate from this 60-credit-hour program within just two years. The aim of the program at Mid-America Christian University is to prepare students for integrative, faith-based counseling in either secular or ministerial settings.
Overall, Mid-America Christian University has a solid reputation for its academic preparedness. As a school, Mid-America Christian University graduates have a 79 percent pass rate on licensure tests and the school is ranked #5 among universities in Oklahoma. Within the counseling program, a high number of students (85 percent!) have been offered jobs at the locations of their practicums and internships.
College Choice Score: 89.5
Credit Hour Cost: $487
Primarily known as an online university, Capella University is a for-profit school whose headquarters are based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Opening its doors in 1993, Capella has since built its enrollment to over 36,000 students, offering them the choice of over 1600 online courses. Students from across United States and all over the world (over 60 countries!) are enrolled in Capella University’s programs—which range from certificates to bachelor to master’s to doctoral.
The online Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling at Capella University combines online courses with a residency and practicum to total a required 92 credit hours. The program at Capella stresses the importance of mastering key theories of counseling, research skills, and clinical experience to become fully equipped for the job. Some of classes you’ll be taking at Capella are:
- Utilizing Systemic Approaches: Infancy Through Adolescence
- Marriage and Family Systems
- Group Counseling and Clinical Applications in Marriage and Family Therapy
- Systemic Approaches to Gender and Sexuality
Capella University’s enormous range of offered programs earns it a strong reputation among online schools for its accessibility and affordability. In fact, recently, the National Security Agency awarded Capella with a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education designation.
Apex School of Theology
College Choice Score: 89.25
Credit Hour Cost: $233
Founded in 1995, Apex School of Theology (originally named Apex Academy School of Religion) was started by Dr. Joseph E. Perkins in Apex, North Carolina. The school later relocated to Durham, North Carolina and offers primarily undergraduate and graduate degrees in ministry and theological studies.
Students enrolled in the 69-credit-hour Master of Arts in Christian Counseling degree at Apex School of Theology all fulfill a core curriculum that consists of Biblical Studies, Christian Thought, Counseling Courses, and Ministerial Studies. For the last 12 credits, they can choose to specialize in either the Professional Counselor Track or the Marriage and Family Therapy Track, the latter of which includes the following course requirements:
- Marriage and Family Counseling
- Marriage & Family Therapy: Theories & Foundations
- Children in Therapy: Moral Development Theories
- Internship for Marriage and Family Therapy
First and foremost, Apex School of Theology is the most affordable school on our list. This, combined with the fact that it still falls in the top 20 schools on this list, is worth noting. The faculty at Apex work for just a small stipend, which dramatically lowers the tuition for its students. This demonstration of hard work and dedication comes through in class instruction.
College Choice Score: 88.25
Credit Hour Cost: $465
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Walden University is a for-profit school that is part of the Laureate Education System, a network of close to 100 universities that are located all over the world (in 29 countries!). Established in 1970 with the primary goal of delivering education to working adults, Walden delivers its degrees fully online to its 49,000 students.
Walden University’s Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program is CACREP-accredited and offered 100 percent online. Walden prepares students to cover a range of counseling needs through an evidence-based structure, from individual trauma to conflict in family systems to criminal justice counseling. Beyond the general program, students can specialize in the following subjects:
- Addictions Counseling
- Career Counseling
- Forensic Counseling
- Military Families and Culture
- Trauma and Crisis Counseling
Walden University turns out solid results in their Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program. Out of last year’s graduating class, 68 percent of the graduates went directly into full-time employment. Likewise, in 2015, 74 percent of graduates who chose to take the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification exam passed.
College Choice Score: 87.5
Credit Hour Cost: $650
Associated with the Churches of Christ denomination, Amridge University is a private, non-profit institution that has its headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. It was originally founded in 1967 as a theological seminary that trained students in Bible and Christian counseling, though it has since broadened its course offerings to other areas of study such as education, business, and human services.
The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree at Amridge University typically is completed in seven semesters, though students can decide to go at their own pace as full-time or part-time students. The 60-credit-hour program covers a broad base of instruction in order to fully prepare students for counseling in a variety of settings, whether it’s in church, private practice, or a community agency. A few of the classes you can expect to take at Amridge University are:
- Social and Multicultural Diversity
- Counseling for Abusive Relationships
- Marital and Family Systems
- Assessment of Individuals and Families
Amridge University is one of the pioneers of online education. In 1993, it began its distance learning program, and was even chosen by the US Department of Education to be one of 15 schools to pilot distance learning on a large scale. This longevity has positive results on the academic standards at Amridge; 100 percent of graduates who took the licensure exam in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family degree program passed!
Antioch University New England
College Choice Score: 82.75
Credit Hour Cost: $949
Located in Keene, New Hampshire—and home to nearly 1,200 students—Antioch University New England is a private graduate school that is part of the Antioch University system, which includes four other campuses across the United States. Antioch offers graduate degrees in Applied Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Education, Environmental Studies, and Management.
Through a combination of online learning and hybrid learning, students in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family at Antioch University New England blend together a wide variety of theories to fully examine the family system in all its complexities. This five-semester program features a requirement of 500 clinical hours at the end of your study. In addition, some of the following specialization courses are offered at Antioch University:
- Foundational & Postmodern Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
- Couples Therapy
- Sexuality and Sex Therapy
- Intrafamily Violence
- Working with Families and Larger Systems
Known as a progressive university, you can expect to encounter open-mindedness and flexibility at Antioch University New England. The admissions process emphasizes a holistic model of factoring in “lived experience” as well as previous education. Their academic record is also noteworthy; 98 percent of graduates from the MA in Marriage and Family Therapy passed the MFT licensure exam.
Southern California Seminary
College Choice Score: 82.25
Credit Hour Cost: $495
Southern California Seminary, located in El Cajon, California, is the product of three separate Bible colleges—Linda Vista Baptist Bible College, Southern California Bible College, and San Diego Bible College—that merged in 1997. The school, which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, aims to educate their students with exclusively faith-based biblical education.
The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Southern California Seminary is offered as a hybrid program, with classes offered both online and on-campus. The thorough 74-credit-hour curriculum is divided into sections: Biblical Foundations, MAMFT Core, Specific Training for Licensure Preparation, and Counseling Practicum. You can expect to take the following classes at Southern California Seminary:
- Crisis Intervention
- Child, Spousal/Partner Abuse
- Theological Foundations of Counseling
- Premarital and Marital Counseling
Southern California Seminary is unique in its broad offering of classes in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, Korean, and more. The Southern California Seminary Graduate School also uses the Taylor Study Method, a psychology-specific learning tool, as a way to help students not only learn the information but also retain and master it!
Palo Alto University
College Choice Score: 80.5
Credit Hour Cost: $508
A non-profit, private institution, Palo Alto University (PAU) specializes in social science and behavioral health education and is heavy on research and innovation. This is a very small school, offering two undergraduate and five graduate programs to its 1,000 students. All of PAU’s degrees are psychology degrees ranging in focus and emphasis.
Palo Alto University’s online MA in Counseling can be paired with an emphasis on marriage, family, and child counseling. This program combines scientific research with practical and clinical training, and it is an ideal fit for working professionals who want to develop their careers in family counseling. Though, it’s important to note that this is a rigorous 93-quarter-unit program that requires workshops, fieldwork, and a capstone project, in addition to core coursework in marriage and family counseling:
- Counseling theory
- Lifespan development
- Child and adolescent counseling
- Family systems theory
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Crisis and trauma counseling
Palo Alto University works closely with Stanford University and the Stanford University School of Medicine in a few of the graduate programs. Subsequently, PAU and Stanford partner together in several research initiatives as well. Students benefit immensely from this relationship, as they do from PAU’s many connections with Silicon Valley research facilities, businesses, and cultural centers.
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
College Choice Score: 80.25
Credit Hour Cost: $320
Originally founded as an educational and formational program for men intending to enter the priesthood, Holy Apostles College and Seminary now offers an array of degree programs and is open to all students (though it is still strongly affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church). Holy Apostles is one of the smallest schools on our list, with under 500 students.
Since Holy Apostles is a Catholic college, its various curriculums are strongly steeped in a religious approach to pedagogy. It’s no different with their online degrees, including their online marriage and family counseling program. The online MA in Pastoral Studies program can be paired with a marriage and family studies concentration that provides students with insight into the role of family in the life of the Catholic Church. This is an ideal program for those who specifically wish to serve in parish-based ministry and therapy; for those who want to promote the relational and spiritual well-being of couples and families; and for those who want to provide pastoral support to those in crisis. This concentration is comprised of the following classes:
- Marriage and Theology of the Body
- Pastoral Care of Marriage and Family
- Pastoral Counseling: Spiritual Helping and Accompaniment
- Catholic Social Teaching
- Canon Law of Marriage
- Pastoral Issues concerning Sexuality
Most notable about Holy Apostles is its commitment to developing leadership in its students and offering accessible education. In fact, they recently reduced their tuition rates by nearly 30 percent to make advanced education a possibility for more students.
California Southern University
College Choice Score: 78
Credit Hour Cost: $495
A private university specializing in online degrees at the associate through doctorate levels, California Southern University (CSU) is most known for its business, psychology, criminal justice, nursing, and law programs. CSU is located in Costa Mesa, California and is a member of the United States Distance Learning Association. It offers ten graduate degrees and graduate certifications.
California State University’s online MA in Psychology, offered through the School of Behavioral Sciences, emphasizes marriage and family counseling. In this program students learn how to articulate complex psychological ideas, analyze psychological theory and research, integrate psychological theory in practice, and formulate a system of inquiry that can describe, understand, and intervene in marriages and families. As an online CSU student you will also gain extensive insight into the areas of:
- Chemical dependency
- Domestic violence
- Career and vocational development
- Growth and lifespan development
- Treatment and intervention
Both the Board of Psychology and the Board of Behavioral Health in California recognize the psychology programs at CSU as meeting the high educational standards put forward by their respective organizations. CSU is also consistently recognized for its strong online education platform.
California School of Professional Psychology
College Choice Score: 77.75
Credit Hour Cost: $690
California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) has campuses in San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Irvine, as well as in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Mexico City. Founded by the California Psychological Association, CSPP specializes in clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, clinical counseling, and psychopharmacology education. It only offers advanced degrees, at the either masters or doctoral level.
This online MA in Marriage and Family Therapy degree from CSPP emphasizes inclusivity with a curriculum that focuses on couples and individuals of all stripes, including those populations often marginalized, such as the LGBTQ community. This program will give you a sturdy foundation in the theories and practices employed by sensitive therapists, while also giving you the opportunity to get real-world experience through practicums and to advance your education through one of the school’s certification programs, such as the LGBT Human Services and Mental Health graduate certificate. An example of classes include:
- Diversity and the Family
- Individual and Family Life Cycle
- Parent-child Therapy
- Trauma and Crisis Intervention
- Sex Therapy in Marriage and Family Therapy
CSPP has trained nearly half of the licensed psychologists in the state of California. With prestigious accreditation from the American Psychological Association and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, CSPP has won many awards for its academic standards as well as its commitment to cultural diversity.
College Choice Score: 77.25
Credit Hour Cost: $873
Specializing in degrees in business, technology, education, psychology, and marriage and family therapy, Northcentral University is a research university based in San Diego. It offers degrees across all levels, from bachelors to doctorates, to its over 10,000 students, and it is comprised of three schools and colleges: the School of Business and Technology Management, the School of Education, the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
At Northcentral University you can earn a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy that is fully online and takes approximately two years to complete. Through this program you will cultivate ethical and cultural sensitivities so as to become a marriage and family therapist who makes a substantive difference in your community. Northcentral stands apart from the crowd in that it offers a few unique specializations that are hard to find elsewhere:
- General Family Therapy
- Military Family Therapy
- Child and Adolescent Therapy
- LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy
- Couples Therapy
- Medical Family Therapy
Because Northcentral is mostly a virtual school, they are masters in providing quality learning from a distance. In fact, US News & World Report has ranked Northcentral as among some of the best online programs in the country.
University of the Rockies
College Choice Score: 75
Credit Hour Cost: $699
Based in Denver, Colorado, the University of the Rockies (UoR) is a for-profit school that specializes in graduate and doctoral degrees in human services, development, leadership, psychology, and counseling. UoR has an established online and distance education program that is organized into two schools: the School of Professional Psychology and the School of Organizational Leadership.
The University of the Rockies offers a MA in Counseling degree that can be completed fully online. While learning about the complexity of human thought processes, emotions, and motivations you will also develop the skills necessary to implement key theoretical counseling insights in real practice. You’ll take classes on applied psychology, child and adult psychopathy, professional ethics, assessment and statistics, and then you will complete a practicum and internship where you will apply all your learned skills. Specializations include:
- Addiction Counseling
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling
The University of the Rockies has been recognized many times throughout the years and in many ways. For example, it is equally praised for its care of students veterans as it is for its diversity initiatives. And UoR is also home to several honor societies, giving their students the opportunities to thrive academically as well as socially.