Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling Program Guide

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August 20, 2021

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A master's degree in marriage and family counseling prepares graduates for various therapist and support professions. Students gain the skills needed to help people manage mental health concerns, conflicts, and difficult changes in their lives. Graduates can work in their own private practice or as part of a community organization in several specialized fields.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% growth in community service occupations between 2019 and 2029, with counselor professions boasting some of the strongest growth projections. To help aspiring counselors navigate available educational and professional pathways, this guide explores courses, careers, and admission requirements.

Should I Get a Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling?

Most students pursuing a master's degree in marriage and family counseling want to become marriage and family counselors. Nevertheless, they can also apply what they learn to other counseling and community service fields. Learners gain the skills needed to help people in diverse settings.

As the availability and integration of community service and support programs increases, so does the demand for the qualified professionals providing these services.

As the availability and integration of community service and support programs increases, so does the demand for the qualified professionals providing these services. As a result, between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 22% job growth for marriage and family counselors, 25% growth for mental health and substance abuse counselors, and 17% growth for community service managers.

Completing a master's degree in marriage and family counseling, however, is no easy feat. The program can be difficult and time-consuming, typically requiring two years for completion.

Furthermore, according to the BLS, licensed marriage counselors need between 2,000-4,000 hours to qualify for the licensure exam. Once licensed, counselors must maintain their credentials through continuing education.

Find the best online master's in marriage and family counseling programs.

What Will I Learn in a Marriage and Family Counseling Master's Program?

The curriculum for a master's degree in marriage and family counseling varies among schools and programs. Students typically take core courses in topics like ethical and professional issues, cross-cultural counseling, and mental health awareness.

Therapists and counselors cultivate a diverse skill set during their studies, gaining skills in communication, cultural sensitivity, and critical thinking. Students also learn to perform psychological assessments, use integrated counseling approaches, and identify influences and causes of emotional and behavioral challenges.

Prospective students may encounter master of arts (MA) and master of science (MS) programs. MA degrees may offer more humanities coursework, while MS degrees often focus on science and math.

Concentrations

Child and Adolescent Counseling
This concentration prepares students to work with children and adolescents in different settings. Covered topics often include child psychopathology, child development, and social and behavioral disorders common in children.
Mental Health Counseling
In this concentration, students learn how to work with people with mental health challenges. They also study systems and policies in place to support mental health, along with coping mechanisms, causes, and triggers.
Career Counseling
Career counseling concentrations teach students to support individuals in their pursuit of a job or career advancement. Covered topics may include labor laws, human resources practices, and interview strategies, along with goal setting, motivational tactics, and conflict resolution.
Substance Abuse Counseling
This concentration provides learners with the skills needed to assess substance abuse and dependency in clients, along with other underlying conditions. They also learn how to develop a strong support system for their clients and treat various conditions.
Rehabilitation Counseling
In this concentration, students learn how to help individuals with various mental health, cognitive, and psychological challenges. Covered topics may include career counseling, independent living preparation, and group counseling for diverse clients.

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How to Get Into a Marriage and Family Counseling Master's Program

Admission requirements for a master's degree in marriage and family counseling vary by program, but most require prospective students to hold a bachelor's degree and submit letters of recommendation. Some schools require a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.

While many schools accept all types of bachelor's degrees, some may request a psychology-related degree. Some programs may also require work experience in a counseling field.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions

What Can I Do With a Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling?

Most graduates with a master's degree in marriage and family counseling pursue careers as marriage and family counselors, but there are other career options. Students gain advanced counseling and psychology training that can lead to careers in other therapy disciplines, such as mental health, children, and substance abuse counseling.

Graduates can also pursue positions with businesses or community organizations, taking on management positions and leveraging their communication and leadership skills. For those who wish to teach or become psychologists, pursuing a doctoral program is another option.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling?

According to the BLS, marriage and family counselors earn a median annual salary of $51,340. The top 10% of earners in this profession make more than $92,930 per year. The median annual wage for all community service occupations is $47,520.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling Programs

What is marriage and family counseling? true

Marriage and family counselors help groups of people manage and overcome relationship challenges. These counselors may help couples work through differences or communicate more openly. They may also better equip families to handle hardship, trauma, or major life changes.

Is a master's in marriage and family counseling worth it? true

For those who wish to work as marriage and family counselors, a master's degree in this field is essential. Required by all state licensing bodies, a master's degree in marriage and family counseling is mandatory to take the licensure examination. This degree also provides a foundation for those in pursuit of a psychology doctorate or career in academia.

How much does it cost to get a master's in marriage and family counseling? true

According to the College Board, the average tuition for a master's degree in 2019 was $8,990 for public schools and $31,140 for private schools. This rate does not include books, materials, room and board, and other expenses. Students may save money by pursuing an online master's degree in marriage and family counseling.

How long does it take to get a master's in marriage and family counseling?

Most students complete their master's degree in marriage and family counseling in approximately two years. Clinical requirements for licensure add a minimum of one year of supervised work.

Is marriage and family therapy a good career?

Marriage and family therapists enjoy a rewarding career in which they can help people overcome a multitude of challenges. According to the BLS, the profession boasts a 22% projected growth rate between 2019 and 2029.

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