5 Best Online Ph.D. Marriage and Family Counseling Programs

marriage and family counseling

The career outlook for marriage and family therapists is expected to grow by 16% through 2030, a rate that is much faster than most other industries. This prediction makes the field of marriage and family counseling an excellent option for those looking to earn an online Ph.D to further their potential and career.

Featured Programs

What is Marriage and Family Therapy?

Working in the field as a marriage and family therapist is a great way to help individuals with their emotional health or emotional disorders and how these tie into their family systems. It is very common for family members and romantic partners to have relationship issues. Marriage and family therapy is a great way to improve relationships and overall health. The mental health field does have strict education requirements before professionals can become licensed and offer their counseling services. However, therapists and clients report that the practice is extremely rewarding. Keep reading to learn exactly what it takes to succeed in this field…

What Does It Take to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist?

For most marriage and family counseling jobs, bachelor’s degrees are not enough. For professionals with a master’s or current licensure in MFT, earning an online PhD in marriage and family therapy can open doors to roles in research and lead to leadership opportunities. An online doctoral program in online marriage and family therapy can give you the advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to advance your career.

How To Find the Best Option for an Online Degree Program…

We researched institutions offering online doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Counseling to create our ranking of the top online programs in the United States. We looked for accredited schools offering online doctorate programs in the field of marriage and family counseling or therapy. We ranked the programs using a point system for student/faculty ratio and average graduate tuition rates. We awarded additional points to schools with COAMFTE accreditation. While we acknowledge that ratios and tuition rates may be different for Ph.D. programs, we felt this was effective ranking criteria since the information was available on all the schools we considered. Keep reading to learn about some of the best online Ph.D. marriage and family counseling programs available for aspiring mental health professionals…

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 13:1 or less- 3 points
  • 14:1 to 20:1- 2 points
  • 21:1 and above- 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate:

  • Less than $10,000- 5 points
  • $10,000 to $20,000- 3 points
  • Greater than $20,000- 1 point

COAMFTE Accreditation:

  • Yes- 5 points

#5. Amridge University – Montgomery, Alabama

Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy

School Profile

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $11,700/year
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 6
What’s Unique:

The top online PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from Amridge University is offered through the School of Human Services. This rigorous program sets students up to be incredible marriage and family therapists. It does so by using traditional and non-traditional extended learning delivery systems. It gives students the opportunity for therapeutic experience and scholarship. Students complete 48 semester hours of coursework covering areas like:

  • Medical Family Therapy
  • Supervisor Training
  • Applied Adult Development

Both full and part-time program options are available. Full-time students can complete their degree in four years. All students must pass a qualifying examination and complete a dissertation.

#4. Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia

EdD in Community Care and Counseling: Marriage and Family

School Profile

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,935/year
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 7
What’s Unique:

Liberty University offers an affordable online EdD in Community Care and Counseling focused on Marriage and Family. This 57-credit hour program takes two-and-a-half-years to complete. Courses are delivered in eight-week sessions that accommodate working professionals. This practice-focused degree emphasizes solving real-world problems with current research. Course content can be applied to marriage and family counseling certifications like Prepare and Enrich and Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts. Students will learn specialized assessment tools and methods that can help their clients build better relationships and stronger families. Liberty provides quality education at an affordable rate. They have not raised tuition for the past six years! If you’re looking to become a marriage and family therapist, maintain your schedule, and not break the bank, this is a great option. 

#3. The University of Louisiana – Monroe, Louisiana

Doctor of Philosophy degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a concentration in Systemic Studies

School Profile

Featured Programs

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $6,490/year in-state and $18,590/year out-of-state
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 7
What’s Unique:

The online PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana Monroe is a theory oriented program focused on system studies. The program is a great choice for professionals who want to study and contribute to the ways that creativity influences the change process. Students will study the ideas and practices that underlie systemic family therapy. They will focus on diverse contexts of change and stability. Course offerings include:

  • The Art of Creative Transformation
  • Qualitative and Ethnographic Research
  • Couple and Marital Therapy

This 60-credit hour program includes coursework and a dissertation. Students can complete their degree to become a marriage and family therapist in three years.

#2. Antioch University – Keene, New Hampshire

PhD in Couple and Family Therapy

School Profile

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $24,384/year
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 8
What’s Unique:

The PhD in Couple and Family Therapy Online at Antioch University is a COAMFTE accredited program that takes three years to complete. This low-residency MFT PhD program includes both research and clinical training. Students participate in three, five-day residencies each year. They work on class materials and advanced practical experiences between these sessions. The program follows a cohort format allowing students to move through the program together. All students complete a dissertation. Applicants should have a clinical master’s degree in mental health.

#1. Northcentral University – San Diego, California

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy

School Profile

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $16,983/year
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Points: 11
What’s Unique:

Our top choice for an online PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy is offered by Northcentral University. This COAMFTE and IACSTE-accredited program is online and prepares students with the knowledge and skills needed to be a successful marriage and family therapist. Students can complete their doctoral practicum/internship in their local area. Eight different specializations are available including:

  • Child and Adolescent Therapy, PhD-MFT
  • Couple Therapy, PhD-MFT
  • General Family Therapy, PhD-MFT
  • Medical Family Therapy, PhD-MFT
  • Therapy with Military Families, PhD-MFT
  • Education and Supervision, PhD-MFT
  • Culture, Diversity and Social Justice in a Global Context, PhD-MFT
  • Systemic Leadership, PhD-MFT

Students can complete their doctorate degree in 52 months.

Interested in Earning an Online Ph.D in Marriage and Family Therapy?

In conclusion, the landscape of online Ph.D. programs in marriage and family counseling is fostering a new era of expertise and accessibility. As highlighted amidst the top programs listed above, these academic pursuits address not only the intricacies of therapy services but also the vital role of cultivating healthy relationships within the family system. Prospective students, armed with a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree, embark on a journey of rigorous coursework and clinical experiences to gain the necessary skills to address personal struggles, mental health conditions, and overall physical health within familial contexts.

The emphasis on state licensing exams ensures that graduates are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of private practice, equipped with comprehensive understanding. As parents report an increasing demand for guidance, the job outlook remains promising. Understanding how behaviors affect the family dynamic becomes pivotal in creating effective treatment plans, contributing to the betterment of individuals and their familial bonds. This synergy of academic excellence, clinical experience, and compassionate care underscores the invaluable impact of these programs on both individuals and the broader community.

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