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Master of Science (MS) Degree Program in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy

Majors Overview January 6, 2016

Students in the program can look into mental health counseling, marriage therapy, and scientific and professional ethics. Graduates can help treat and diagnose mental health disorders in various settings, such as private practices, government agencies, clinics, schools, and foster care centers.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Marriage, Family, & Child Therapy

Few schools, if any, offer Master of Science (M.S.) in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy degrees. Students keen on this area of learning would benefit from earning an MS degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, or even an MS in Counseling degree with a concentration in marriage, family, and child therapy. They may also look into an MS in Counseling Psychology or an MS in Psychology. Students can usually complete program coursework within two years by earning 45-54 semester credits.

Enrollees in a master’s degree program in marriage and family therapy can expect to become adept at helping families and individuals through psychological and emotional difficulties. They typically get a wide range of instruction in mental health issues that could adversely impact families, including alcoholism, drug abuse, and sexual dysfunction. Students can seek careers as competent therapists working to help their patients to relate to their family members.

A doctorate is needed to qualify for licensure as a psychologist, but graduates can gain expertise through working with adults and children. They will treat them as members of families and as individuals in a wide range of circumstances such as clinics, schools, foster care centers, private practices, and government agencies.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree. While the major does not have to be psychology or one of the social sciences, applicants with degrees in unrelated majors may have to complete prerequisite coursework in relevant areas. Submission of official transcripts and satisfaction of a minimum GPA standard by incoming students is an expectation in most programs.


Program coursework is devised to prepare students for professional practice with a combination of counseling practicums, in addition to classroom lectures, aimed at providing real-world experiences working with couples and families. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Group counseling
•Cultural awareness
•Mental health counseling
•Professional ethics
•Theories of personality
•Family therapy
•Marital therapy
•Chile and adolescent counseling
•Clinical practicum

Career Choices

Completion of the course allow graduates to be eligible for state license exams, so they can obtain licensure to become a therapist or counselor. They can seek careers in private practice, within non-profit organizations or in a government-sponsored institution or clinic. They can choose from possible job titles such as:

•Family counselor
•Juvenile case manager
•Substance abuse specialist
•Marriage therapist

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2013, counseling, marriage, and family therapists brought in an average annual wage of $48,160. Mental health counselors earned a median annual salary of $40,580 and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors banked $38,620 per annum, on average (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are expected to see a 29% job growth. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors are projected to witness a 31% job growth (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy offers training courses devised to offer continuing education in the field to graduates. Program graduates seeking continuing education can also choose to enroll in doctoral programs in marriage and family therapy.

Psychologists may often be expected to hold a doctoral degree, in every state, they are required to earn licensure. The American Board of Professional Psychology offers more than a dozen professional certification choices in specialty areas such as family psychology. Each state may have its separate licensure requirements for counselors though common requirements may include the passage of a state examination.

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