Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)

Couple in a therapy session



  • Practice-based profession to address issues facing families, couples, adults, and children
  • MFTs treat relationship issues, emotional disorders, behavioral problems, and alcohol and substance use concerns
  • MFTs look at clients in the context of their relationships

Program Length

  • Masters programs in marriage and family therapy usually 2-3 years
  • Requires additional post-graduation hours of supervised clinical or field work 


  • Depending on the state, candidates must accrue between 3000-4000 supervised clinical hours
  • Pass the state-specific jurisprudence exam, e.g., California Law and Ethics Exam 

For more requirements, see the board website

Program Specialization Examples


  • Average cost is $20,000 per year for 2-3 years

Work Setting

  • Many agencies, hospitals, community clinics, senior centers, and schools employ MFTs as therapists
  • Private practice

Graduate admissions requirements (in addition to general requirements)

  • Most programs have general liberal arts coursework requirements (units in humanities, social sciences, biological sciences, and natural sciences)
  • Some programs may have specific course requirements in research methods, statistics, lifespan development, or theories of personality. It will be important to look closely at each program’s admission requirements.

Example programs

University of Southern California's MFT Program

USF's MFT Program

University of San Diego's MFT Program

List of MFT Programs in California