Careers in marriage and family therapy (MFT) are on the rise, and thanks to advancements in distance learning technology, it is now possible to earn an affordable online doctor of marriage and family online, often with no campus residencies required. In this ranking, we explore the top 5 low-cost online DMFT programs. Because the current online offerings for doctorate programs in marriage and family therapy are limited, the following are ranked solely based on tuition cost, with the most affordable program appearing at number one.
#5—Antioch University- New England
Keene, New Hampshire
Online PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy
Graduate Enrollment: 845
The low-cost online marriage and family therapy doctorate from Antioch University is an 86-credit hour offering with an emphasis on social justice. Students enroll as a cohort and take coursework on a full-time basis. Most of the program’s requirements can be met online, but students are asked to attend 3-5 day residencies four times per year. The curriculum for the program is comprised of theory courses like Social Justice Theory and Application and Relational Systemic Theory and Applications, research classes such as Introduction to Statistics, Advanced Research Methods: Program Evaluation and Applications, and Introduction to Research Ethics as well as additional courses, including Clinical Innovations With Diverse Populations and Advanced Clinical Skills and Clinical Ethics. A doctoral dissertation is also required. This affordable marriage and family PhD online program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. The university itself is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Graduate Tuition: $22,100
Online EdD in Marriage and Family Counseling
Graduate Enrollment: 33,217
Liberty University offers a 57-credit hour affordable marriage and family therapy doctorate online through its School of Behavioral Sciences. Technically an EdD in Community Care and Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Counseling, the program is available entirely online with optional intensives on campus for those students who desire more interactivity. The curriculum for the program includes core courses such as Issues and Trends in Community Counseling, Crisis and Trauma Counseling, and Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Behaviors. Students will also take classes in the cognate, including Trauma and Current Issues in Marital Counseling, Family Development, and Premarital and Remarriage Counseling. A comprehensive exam and dissertation are required, and the program typically takes three years to finish. After completing their low-cost online doctoral programs in marriage and family counseling, graduates are prepared for careers as church counselors, outpatient care therapists, social workers, and marriage and family counselors. Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. U.S. News & World Report has recognized it in its ranking of top national universities.
Graduate Tuition: $7,980
Saint Davids, Pennsylvania
Online DA in Marriage and Family Therapy Studies
Graduate Enrollment: 1,371
Eastern University’s 48-credit hour affordable online doctorate marriage and family therapy program is offered through the school’s College of Health and Social Sciences and the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. The program follows a cohort model and can be completed within three years. It is offered entirely online with just a single week-long residency for intense classroom instruction. Students will take two courses per term, and course titles include Adult Personality and Character Development, Advanced Family Systems Theory and Practice, Holistic Approaches to Prevention and Enrichment in Family Systems, and Human Development and Family Systems. A doctoral project and field supervision of counseling is also required. Admission to the program requires that students hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and that they write both a statement of purpose and statement of faith. Eastern University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it in the top 75 regional universities North and the top 100 best value schools.
In-State Tuition: $13,050
La Jolla, California
Online Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy
Graduate Enrollment: 10,465
Northcentral University offers a 60-credit hour affordable online doctor of marriage and family therapy degree program that can be completed within 48 months. Offered through the university’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the program is one of the more convenient offerings in this ranking, featuring no residency requirements and weekly start dates. It’s also versatile; students can choose from seven specialization options: Child and Adolescent Therapy, Couple Therapy, Therapy With Military Families, General Family Therapy, Mental Health Administration, and Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship. The curriculum for the program was developed around standards set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. It’s comprised of 20 courses, some of which may include Families, Health, and Illness; Behavior Informed Couple Therapy Models, Early Childhood and Parenting Interventions, and Theories of Personality. No entrance exams are required, and students learn from an all-doctoral faculty. Northcentral University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Graduate Tuition: $16,983
#1—University of Louisiana-Monroe
Online PhD in Systemic Studies
Graduate Enrollment: 1,503
The affordable doctorate in marriage and family therapy offering from the University of Louisiana- Monroe is a unique PhD program in Systemic Studies. Offered through the university’s College of Health Sciences, the 60-semester unit program is a non-clinical offering that does not lead to counseling licensure. Its curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature and features courses such as Social Ecology, Couple and Marital Therapy, Ecology of Psychopathology, and Qualitative and Ethnographic Research. Students can expect to commit two years of full-time study towards the coursework required for the degree, and the doctoral dissertation will take an additional one to three years. The program’s cohort model facilitates collaborative learning, but individual study with advisory support is also encouraged. ULM is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and it participates in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus. The university offers over 30 fully online degree programs.
In-State Tuition: $6,490
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,590
Frequently-Asked Questions About Low-Cost Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees Online
Q: How much do affordable online marriage and family therapy doctorates cost?
A: As you can see from the programs listed in our ranking, online degree programs in marriage and family therapy can vary significantly in terms of cost. Programs can cost as much as $20,000 a year or as little as $6,500 a year. When considering the tuition for such programs, keep in mind that online doctorate marriage and family therapy students often qualify for financial aid such as loans, grants, and scholarships, for example.
Q: What is the best affordable online doctoral program in marriage and family therapy?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all “best” online doctoral degree program in marriage and family therapy. With some research, however, it’s possible to find the best program for you. Factors to consider include scheduling options, available concentrations, cost, student services, and more.
Q: Can low-cost online doctoral programs be completed entirely online?
A: Yes. Several of the affordable marriage and family therapy doctorate programs in this ranking allow students to complete their degree requirements without making any trips to campus. Others are low-residency programs that require minimal campus attendance.
Q: Do I need a master’s credential to be admitted to a low-cost doctoral program in marriage and family therapy?
A: Usually, yes. Most of these affordable DMFT programs require a master’s in social or behavioral sciences or a related field for entry. Check with your specific school for complete admissions requirements.
Available Concentrations for Affordable Online Doctorates in Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and family therapy (MFT) is a fairly broad field that encompasses numerous populations. Thus, it’s practical for professionals in the field to specialize in a certain area of MFT. Concentrations such as the ones we’ll discuss in this section of our ranking allow students to learn skills specific to the types of services they’ll be providing upon graduation. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and not all affordable marriage and family therapy doctoral programs offer every concentration.
Child and Adolescent Therapy
Online marriage and family therapy doctoral students who choose to concentrate their studies in child and adolescent Therapy are introduced to theories and approaches of counseling specifically tailored to working with kids and teens in a therapeutic environment. Students who complete this specialty may earn a certificate of child and adolescent Therapy that would allow them to work with children in a clinical setting. The curriculum for these programs is typically comprised of core marriage and family therapy courses alongside specialty classes like those listed below:
• Family Therapy with Children
• Foundations of Play Therapy
• Understanding Children, Adolescents, and Their Systems
• Family Therapy with Children: Clinical Applications
• Parent-Child Interactive Therapy
Online doctor of marriage and family students who specialize their studies in couples therapy learn to work with couples in romantic relationships, including married and non-married couples. Graduates of these programs may receive certification enabling them to counsel couples in therapeutic settings. Coursework for these programs will include foundational or core courses in general marriage and family therapy combined with classes that specifically address couples counseling. Some of these sample concentration classes are listed below:
• Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
• Couple Therapy: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
• Special Topics in Couple and Family Therapy
• Attachment, Emotions, and Psychotherapy
• Couple Therapy Theory and Practice
Mental Health Administration
Students who opt to pursue the mental health administration specialization within an affordable online doctor of marriage and family therapy program are qualified to take on advanced leadership and management positions in mental health agencies and organizations. Students can expect to take core and foundational courses in marriage and family therapy along with specialized courses specific to the mental health administration concentration. They will study topics such as public relations in mental health, adult psychopathological disorders, legal issues in mental health care, psychological research, organizational leadership, human resources, diversity and mental health, and mental health services, for example. Some sample specialization classes are listed below:
• Mental Health in the Context of Community Wellness
• Strategies and Policies to Advance Mental Health Care
• Family Systems
• Biological Bases of Behavior
• Adult Psychopathology and Treatment
Medical Family Therapy
A low-cost online marriage and family therapy doctorate with a specialization in medical family therapy prepares students to work with families dealing with chronic illness. Since this work requires a special skill set, students should be prepared to take concentration-specific courses alongside classes in marriage and family therapy fundamentals. Examples of such courses are listed below:
• Fundamentals of Psychopharmacology
• Medical Family Therapy: Clinical Applications
• Families With Severe and Chronic Illness
• Applied Medical Family Therapy
• Special Topics in Medical Family Therapy
After graduation from an affordable DMFT program with a concentration in medical family therapy, students will go on to pursue careers as clinicians, researchers, administrators, and educators in the field.
LGBTQ Couple & Family Therapy
An affordable DMFT with a specialization in LGBTQ couple & family therapy program prepares students to provide and oversee family counseling services specific to the LGBTQ community. The curriculum acknowledges tried and true practices in marriage and family therapy as well as in traditional couple therapy but also addresses the specific challenges that LGBTQ couples and families face. To give you an idea of what you can expect should you choose this track, we’ve listed some sample course titles below:
• Transgender Individuals in Families: Clinical Perspectives
• Sex Therapy in Marriage and Family Therapy
• LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy: Historical and Theoretical Foundations
• Recovery-Oriented Care and Postmodern Family Therapy
• Cultural Diversity, Gender, and Family Development
Career Questions for Cheap Online Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees
Q: What career opportunities exist for graduates of affordable online marriage family therapy degree programs?
A: Upon graduation from a low-cost marriage and family therapy online degree program, many opportunities for career entry and advancement are available. Some potential job titles include social worker, outpatient care therapist, marriage and family counselor, mental health counselor, substance abuse/rehabilitation counselor, etc.
Q: Where can I find work with an affordable online marriage family therapy Phd?
A: Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of different professional settings, including hospitals, mental health centers, outpatient care facilities, government agencies, and substance abuse treatment centers, for example. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), eight percent of marriage and family therapists are self-employed.
Q: What is the career outlook like for jobs in marriage and family therapy?
A: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in marriage and family therapy are currently growing faster than average due to the popularity of an integrated care approach to health and wellness in the United States. Jobs in the field are projected to grow by 22% from 2018 to 2028, so prospects for affordable online doctor of marriage and family therapy graduates are good.
Q: What can I earn with an online marriage and family therapy doctorate?
A: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), top earners in the field of marriage and family therapy can earn over $80,000 a year. Your specific salary will depend on a number of factors, however, such as your particular job title, work experience, and employer.
Q: Should online DMFT degree holders join a professional organization?
A: Definitely! Membership in professional organizations like the popular American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) will keep you up to date on current issues and trends in marriage and family therapy and provide networking and professional development opportunities.
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