Most Affordable Online Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Master’s Programs

Earning your online MFT degree doesn’t have to break the bank. Explore this year’s most affordable master’s programs and other ways to lower the cost of grad school.

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Last Updated: 10/04/2021
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Earning an online Master of Family Therapy (MFT) degree can be a convenient way to move into a formal counseling or therapy role, advance into clinical practice, or simply better support the families and individuals you already work with as a professional in a related field.

While the financial commitment of earning a graduate degree can be high, many respected universities offer accredited online MFT programs at low tuition rates. If affordability is the highest priority on your online MFT program checklist, this page is for you. Read on to find a list of this year’s most affordable online MFT programs and get other tips that can help you keep costs low and graduate with less debt.

9 Most Affordable Online MFT Master’s Programs in 2021

With so many online graduate counseling and therapy programs available, knowing where find the most affordable options can be tough. To help you get started, these rankings provide quick details on some of the most affordable online MFT programs. This list was developed using the latest educational quality and cost metrics available from IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System). To learn more about how we used this data, click on the “About the ranking” button below.

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Most Affordable Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

 

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Affordability

  • Cost Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement Existence of this service on campus or online.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

 

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1

The online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy offered by Liberty University prides itself on maintaining state tuition for more than six years and hopes to keep the program affordable.

Aside from two on-campus intensives, degree-seekers complete coursework entirely online. Hands-on counseling training is completed through an approved, convenient site in your hometown. Required courses include human sexuality, advanced couple and marital counseling, and substance abuse. Courses are delivered asynchronously and last for eight weeks with eight different start dates per year.

Prospective master's students must submit an online application containing official college transcripts, contact information for two recommendations, a personal statement, and an application fee. Active military and veterans receive a tuition discount and an application fee waiver.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2.5 years
  • Cost: $565/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online (except practicum and internship)
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CACREP (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
89%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
2 University of West AlabamaLivingston, AL Public $$ 1

UWA’s online M.S. Family Counseling program is designed for students wanting to explore family counseling issues, learners who are exempt from licensure requirements (e.g., clergy members), and licensed counselors wanting to expand their skill sets. UWA's master's in family counseling does not prepare students to become licensed therapists or counselors.

Master's degree-seekers need 33 credit hours for graduation, which largely happen through asynchronous classes that include educational statistics, systems theory in psychology, and techniques of educational research. Available online electives include life-span development and learning, systems of psychotherapy, and professional ethics. Students must also complete a three-credit internship.

Incoming students can transfer up to nine credits from an accredited institution toward this degree. Applicants need a 2.75 or higher GPA from an accredited bachelor's program, but strong applicants with lower GPAs may receive conditional admission with the expectation they maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA for their first 12 credit hours.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science Family Counseling

  • Credits: 33
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Cost: $429/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online or Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CACREP (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
56%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3 Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville, FL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1

Students in Florida can take advantage of JU’s flexible Master of Science Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling program, which uses a hybrid approach to prepare students to seek licensure through the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work.

This CACREP-accredited program requires in-person classes once or twice a week. Online classes are self-paced but still follow a cohort learning format. Some classes follow a synchronous format, while others are asynchronous.

JU's hybrid program is for working professionals and typically takes two years to complete. Students complete 60 credits, including required classes in community-based learning, human growth and development, and human sexuality counseling. A three-credit internship with 335 contact hours is also required.

Prospective master's students must submit an online application, statement of intent, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Applicants with a 3.0 or lower GPA may need to submit GRE scores for consideration.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science Mental Health Counseling with Emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $650/credit
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CACREP (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
94%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
4 Brandman UniversityIrvine, CA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1

Distance learners at Brandman enjoy remote access to its hybrid or fully online MA in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. Graduates meet licensure requirements in California and 39 other states.

The 60-credit curriculum includes classes in assessment and treatment of sexual disorders, advanced individual counseling, and crisis and trauma counseling. In-person classes can be taken at any of Brandman's 16 campuses, but students must complete a capstone case study and six 1.5-credit practicums at an approved counseling facility.

Each prospective master's degree student must submit an online application, three recommendation forms, a personal essay, and official undergraduate transcripts. Students with a 2.99 or lower GPA must also submit GRE scores. Learners looking to bolster their applications can submit a portfolio demonstrating their preparation for graduate studies at Brandman.

Program Highlights:

Master of Arts in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling

  • Credits: 69
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $670/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online or Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: WSCUC (school); AAMFT (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission
5 Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private, For-Profit $$$ 1

Capella is a private for-profit institution that serves approximately 39,000 students. Remote learners can take advantage of its fully online Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Students must complete two, four-day virtual residencies, but the remainder of the coursework can be completed entirely online. Required courses for the MFCT at Capella include professional ethics, diversity and social justice in systemic family therapy, and working with families across the lifespan.

Capella's online MA program requires 72 quarter credits plus four clinical internships totaling at least 500 contact hours taken in an approved, supervised clinical setting in the students’ residency area. MFT learners must also complete a capstone requirement consisting of a 200-question practice licensure exam. Applicants need a 2.7 or undergraduate higher GPA for consideration.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Credits: 72
  • Length: 2.5-2.75 years
  • Cost: $487/credit
  • Mode: Fully-Online (except for internship)
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); COAMFTE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
6 Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, AZ Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
7 Touro University WorldwideLos Alamitos, CA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission
8 Walden UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private, For-Profit $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
9 Amridge UniversityMontgomery, AL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

What Makes an Online MFT Program Affordable?

There are several elements to consider when choosing an online MFT program. We discuss those below to help you find a quality grad program that’s also affordable.

How much financial aid you can get

The most significant ways to offset the cost of your online MFT program is through grants and scholarships, which you don’t have to replay, and student loans, which must be repaid. You can also apply for grants and scholarships while you’re in school, not just before entering a program. For more information, consult our guide detailing available financial aid opportunities.

Whether you live in-state or-out-of-state

Many colleges and universities offer online students a special rate for distance learning classes. Some schools have in-state or out-of-state tuition rates, but others do not. Look for online programs offering all their MFT distance learners in-state tuition rates, which is often substantially less expensive than out-of-state rates.

Whether the college is private or public

Public institutions typically offer lower tuition rates than private schools. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average 2018-2019 tuition at private schools for full-time learners was $35,700. For public institutions during the same academic year, average tuition was $9,700 for in-state learners and $21,600 for out-of-state students.

How much of the MFT program coursework is offered online

If your MFT program offers courses entirely online with few or no on-campus obligations, you’ll save money by avoiding costly commutes. Even if you live close to campus, don’t forget about parking fees, potential parking tickets, and gas. Students spending more time on campus also tend to spend cash at coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores, which remote students can more easily avoid.

If the MFT program has a class schedule that allows you to continue working while you complete your master’s

MFT online programs offer a flexible schedule that most working professionals need. Even a part-time job while enrolled in a master’s program with asynchronous, self-paced courses can help you earn income while you move toward graduation.

How much the college charges for you to apply

The cost of applying to schools may seem somewhat insignificant. If you’re applying to several schools, however, you could be looking at $500 or more in application fees alone. Keep an eye out for programs that have minimal or no application fee. If you are an active duty service member or a veteran, many schools waive the application fee.

Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Online MFT Degree

There are many ways for remote MFT degree-seekers to keep their education costs down and reduce financial stress. The following three approaches can significantly help you spend less on tuition, fees, and expenses.

  1. Look into all the scholarship options you may be eligible for.

Scholarships are essentially free money you do not need to pay back and are available at local, regional, and national levels. Many are also reserved for particular demographics of students, like those for BIPOC students, those pursuing degrees in certain academic areas, and students residing in a specific area. There are also often scholarships available directly through your graduate school or department. Check out EduMed’s scholarship page for a look at 50 of the best scholarships available.

  1. Ask about employer tuition reimbursement

If you are currently a working professional, tuition assistance may be available through your employer. Federal tax law allows you to receive up to $5,250 in tuition reimbursement every academic year that you don’t need to claim on your federal taxes. Funds can be used for tuition, books, miscellaneous campus and technology fees, and some school-related supplies.

  1. Consider tuition payment plans

Many schools offer short-term installment plans that allow you to split the total amount you owe into smaller monthly payments. Many schools offer these plans at no interest. There might be a one-time sign-up fee, but it’s less than what you would be charged for a late or unpaid balance.