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Marriage and Family Counseling


Marriage and family counseling programs prepare people to advise married couples and families. These programs are sometimes called marriage and family therapy or marital and family therapy.

In marriage and family counseling programs students learn to assess family and marital problems. They learn about family systems. They also learn small group intervention and therapy.

Marriage and family counseling programs include topics in:

Marriage and family counseling programs prepare people to work in:


In marriage and family counseling programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Many colleges and universities offer graduate degrees in marriage and family counseling. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at most schools include:

Typical Course Work

Graduate Program Courses

This graduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate programs that lead to a doctoral degree typically include:

Nearly all marriage and family counseling programs require students to complete a year-long practicum. This means that you gain direct experience with actual patients. Often you "shadow" a professional counselor while she runs therapy sessions with patients. When you have accumulated a certain number of hours of observation, you can begin counseling patients yourself. Students are supervised at all times by professors and licensed counselors.

Through a practicum, students continue learning about counseling techniques and psychological problems. They also learn firsthand what it's like to be a marriage and family counselor. They learn to apply their course work to real-life situations. Students can also apply their practicum experience to their professional work after they complete their degree.

Typically, you must complete a year of course work and an exam before you begin your practicum. Practicums usually begin in the fall.

Things to Know

Nearly all states require graduates from marriage and family counseling programs to become certified or licensed to practice. Usually you are required to work for two years under the supervision of a certified marriage and family counselor after you finish your degree, and pass a written and oral exam.

Marriage and family counselors often work varied hours, such as evenings and weekends, to accommodate their patients' schedules.


King-Snohomish Area

Antioch University

City University of Seattle

Northwest University

Saybrook University LIOS Graduate College

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle University

Kitsap Area

Brandman University - Bangor

Brandman University - Bremerton

Brandman University - Whidbey Island

Spokane Area

Gonzaga University

Whitworth University

Tacoma Area

Brandman University - Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Fort Lewis Campus)

Brandman University - Joint Base Lewis-McChord (McChord Campus)

Pacific Lutheran University

West Side Area

Brandman University - Lacey

Saint Martin's University