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Overview of Master Degree Program in Family Counseling

Majors Overview July 27, 2018

This article talks about master’s degree programs in family counseling and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education options.

Master’s Programs in Family Counseling

Individuals seeking careers in family counseling would benefit from enrolling in the Master of Arts (M.A.) or Science (M.S.) in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) or Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. Specific undergraduate coursework will need to be completed by incoming students. Program coursework combine with practical experience in the field is needed to meet the requirements for compulsory licensure after students graduate out of the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a 4-year degree, preferably in a related major. Requirements also include submitting a purpose statement, 2-3 reference letters, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and meeting a GPA standard of 2.75-3.0. They may also have to attend an interview with a member of the counseling department of the school.


Program coursework is devised to make students adept at assessing and treating psychological issues affecting females and males across cultural backgrounds and age groups. They are taught behavioral theories entailing abnormal mental health. Some issues aspiring family counselors address include divorce, spousal abuse, parenting, and adultery. Students also gain a legal and ethical grasp of their future role as a patient-care provider.

The majority of family counseling master’s degree programs incorporate hands-on experience via completion of approximately 500 hours of supervised clinical training and 100 hours of patient supervision. Students delve into familial problems and relationships that may impact specific family members. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Counseling teenagers
•Issues in pre-adolescent children
•Addictions within families
•Analysis of family relations
•Research methods and applications
•Sexuality and couples counseling
•Problems affecting mid-lifers and the elderly

Job and Wage Outlook

Marriage and family therapists are expected to see a 23% job growth over the 2016-2026 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2016, marriage and family therapists brought in an average annual wage of $48,790 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Options

Individual state qualifications must be met by program graduates who aspire to become licensed counselors. They have to complete a master’s degree, possess two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience and pass an exam. A professional certification may be applied for by family counselors through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Licensure and certification are typically maintainable through continuing education. Program graduates may also choose to enroll in a related doctoral degree program.

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