Popular Accredited Marriage and Family Therapist Programs in Illinois [2024 Guide]

Illinois is home to dozens of public and private colleges and universities. This diversity of higher education institutions gives you a lot of choices for finishing your college education. And while not every school in Illinois offers marriage and family therapy programs, many of them do.

In fact, Illinois has many different kinds of marriage and family therapy programs available. Whether you prefer a Master of Science, a Master of Arts, a degree in counseling, a degree in therapy, or something in between, you’ll find a program that’s a good fit for you in the list below!

Best Accredited MFT Marriage and Family Therapist Programs in Illinois Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Illinois

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering marriage and family therapist graduate programs in Illinois:

  • University of Illinois-Springfield
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Adler University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northwestern University
  • Capella University
  • Wheaton College

University of Illinois-Springfield

Master of Arts in Human Development Counseling

The Master of Arts in Human Development Counseling from the University of Illinois-Springfield includes a concentration in Marriage, Couple, and Family counseling that helps you develop the hard and soft skills required to be an effective counselor. You’ll do so over the course of a traditional three-year on-campus program.

You must complete 61 credits to graduate. The bulk of those credits encompass a core curriculum and concentration-related coursework. Among the classes required in the core curriculum are Theories of Counseling, Fundamental Issues and Ethics in Counseling, and Group Counseling. These basic courses introduce you to the field of marriage and family therapy while helping you hone the foundational skills you need to practice effectively.

Other core coursework includes the following:

  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
  • Family Dynamics
  • Psychopathology
  • Appraisal Techniques in Counseling

These and other courses expose you to a wide range of counseling skills and techniques applicable to working with clients of all ages and with varying mental health needs. But to gain more targeted knowledge and skills, you must also complete a four-course concentration in marriage, couple, and family therapy. This concentration includes the following classes:

  • Introduction to Family Counseling
  • Couple Counseling
  • Sexual Dysfunction and Family Violence
  • Theories of Family Counseling

Again, this coursework is essential to your development as a specialist working within the family dynamic. Not only will you gain the competence needed to treat couples, but you’ll also learn critical theories related to family counseling and addressing issues ranging from violence to sexual dysfunction.

This program includes a research component as well. A required research methods course gives you valuable insights into the process of conducting research in the marriage and family niche. You’ll learn how to conduct qualitative and quantitative research, gain improved technical writing skills, and become a better consumer of research, too.

The final element of this degree is the professional practice component. This is broken into two separate experiences – a practicum and an internship. The three-credit practicum is an introduction to practicing with couples and families. For example, you will work alongside your site supervisor to provide therapeutic services to real-world clients. Typically, you’ll begin by observing your supervisor in a therapeutic setting with a client, and gradually, you will become an active participant in the process.

The internship focuses on you being an active therapist. While you’ll still have a supervisor and participate in regular supervision and consultation with them, you will work much more independently with clients. You will be in charge of intake and assessment procedures, case management, and treatment planning. You will also take the lead on discharging clients, billing insurance, and other essential duties of a practicing marriage and family therapist. All told, you must complete at least 120 hours of direct client contact time within the marriage, couple, and family counseling field.

The application to the University of Illinois-Springfield is available online. You must meet the following criteria to be considered for full admission:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher for the last 60 undergraduate credits you’ve earned or have a 2.75 cumulative undergraduate GPA.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation.
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.
  • Submit a written essay.
  • Participate in an interview.

Northern Illinois University

Master of Science in Applied Human Development and Family Sciences

At Northern Illinois University, you can pursue a Master of Science in Applied Human Development and Family Sciences with a specialization in Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy. The training you participate in prepares you to work with a diverse range of clients, families, and communities, so no matter where you choose to practice, you’ll have the needed skills to help your clients overcome the difficulties in their lives.

This 54-credit, two-year program is the only one in Illinois offered by a state university that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). With this accreditation, you’re sure the education you receive adheres to the guiding principles of the premier accrediting agency in this field.

The largest portion of your coursework addresses academic requirements for graduation. The classes you must take as part of the core of this degree run the gamut from Educational Statistics to Professional Issues in Family Therapy to Sex Therapy. Likewise, you’ll take classes such as:

  • Psychological Research
  • Assessment in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Addiction and Substance Abuse in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  • Treatment of Couples

Completing these and other core courses equips you to address the needs of the entire family – children, siblings, parents, and even grandparents in a multigenerational family. This includes mastering therapeutic techniques, having a deep understanding of counseling theories, and developing high-level communication skills, including the active listening skills needed to help your clients feel heard and understood in the context of therapy.

As is typical of marriage and family therapy graduate programs, you must also complete fieldwork in the form of a practicum and internship. The practicum focuses specifically on family therapy and includes up to 12 credits of work experience. The practicum is done in an approved agency in the DeKalb, Illinois, area.

The practicum is followed by an internship in a community agency and focuses on marriage and family therapy. A community agency, in this case, can mean any number of things: a community mental health center, an addiction and recovery program, or even a hospital or psychiatric facility.

The internship requires you to complete 500 clinical contact hours. These hours are supervised, meaning, you’ll have an onsite supervisor to guide your development and provide feedback regarding your work with individuals, couples, and families. You must successfully complete the required hours and have a satisfactory recommendation from your supervisor to graduate from this program.

You have the option of choosing a thesis or non-thesis track. Choosing the thesis option requires you to complete six credits of thesis study, during which you complete the required research and accompanying paper, plus an oral thesis defense. Your thesis must also be accepted by the Graduate School.

The non-thesis option requires a comprehensive examination toward the end of the program. It is a proctored essay exam in which you must demonstrate your mastery of essential topics in marriage and family therapy.

The requirements for admission are as follows:

  • Submit unofficial transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.
  • Provide a statement of purpose.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation.
  • Provide a current resume or curriculum vitae.

You must attend an in-person interview day if you make it through the first round of consideration by the admissions committee.

Adler University

Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy

Adler University’s Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy is a COAMFTE-accredited program that not only prepares you for licensure as a marriage and family therapist but also helps ensure the portability of your license from one state to the next.

Over the course of two years, you’ll complete 60 credits of academic and professional training at Adler’s Chicago campus. The academic component includes COAMFTE-aligned coursework in numerous foundational areas, including:

  • Relational/Systemic Practice, Theories, and Models
  • Clinical Treatment with Individuals, Couples, and Families
  • Diverse, Multicultural, and/or Underserved Communities
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Professional Identity, Law, Ethics, and Social Responsibility
  • Biopsychosocial Health and Development Across the Lifespan

Other foundational areas of study include Contemporary Issues, Community Collaboration, and Systemic/Relational Assessment and Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment.

Within these areas of emphasis, you’ll take a wide variety of specific classes. For example, you will complete coursework in Assessment and Treatment Planning, Modern Approaches to Couple and Family Therapy, and Postmodern Approaches to Couple and Family Therapy as well. Likewise, you’ll take classes in the following areas:

  • Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents
  • Culture and Diversity in Couple and Family Therapy
  • Systemic Ethics
  • Individual Life Span and Family Life Cycle
  • Biopsychosocial Bases of Health and Dysfunction for Couple and Family Therapists

This program’s practicum component includes three different field experiences. Each experience is worth three credits and focuses specifically on providing therapeutic services to couples and families, as well as individuals within the couple or family units. You will complete supervision and seminar activities alongside your pre-professional practice, too.

A unique feature of Adler’s program is the emphasis on social justice. In fact, you’re required to participate in a 200-hour internship in which you choose from various categories of practice in a civic-minded field. You are allowed to submit your preferred practice areas to the program, and you’ll be assigned to work at a specific community outreach site that matches your preferred area as closely as possible. You must work 8-10 hours per week for the duration of the internship.

Another interesting aspect of this program is the availability of specializations. You can work towards a Certificate in Sex Therapy by taking an additional 10 credits of coursework. You can also choose to pursue a 12-credit Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling if you wish. In either case, adding one or both of these specializations equips you with even more knowledge and skills to provide much-needed services to your clients.

You can apply to Adler University at any time online. To do so, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher for all undergraduate and graduate work.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • Provide a 2-3 page statement of intent in which you explain why you’re interested in this field and this program, why this program is a good fit for you, and your perspective on social justice. You must also explain your career goals and interests.
  • Submit a resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.

Applicants who are approved after meeting the above criteria must also participate in a faculty interview.

Northeastern Illinois University

Master of Arts in Couple and Family Counseling

At Northeastern Illinois University, you can prepare for a career as a systems-oriented counselor by completing a Master of Arts in Couple and Family Counseling. This program actually prepares you for several different careers. On the one hand, you can pursue a counseling career as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). On the other hand, you can pursue licensure as an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (ALMFT) or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

Of course, before you begin your career, you must complete the 60-credit program. Many students finish the graduation requirements after two years of full-time study. During that time, you’ll take 17 academic courses and complete multiple fieldwork experiences.

The coursework you must take is both broad-based and high-level, so you’re exposed to as many aspects of couple and family therapy as possible. For example, you’ll take skill-building courses that equip you to work with couples, families, children, and adolescents. You’ll also take courses in ethics, legal considerations, and professional practice. Other coursework includes the following:

  • Developmental Counseling
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Diagnostic Systems for Counseling
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Addictive Disorders
  • Couples Counseling and Human Sexuality

Classes in Career Counseling, Social and Cultural Diversity, and Group Counseling are required as well.

The skills you learn in these and other classes are put to the test in practicum and internship placements in therapeutic settings. Together, these experiences account for 700 hours of documented, supervised fieldwork, including 300 or more hours of direct counseling experience with clients.

During the practicum, you’ll spend at least 100 hours in the field, of which 40 hours must be direct contact time with clients. The two-part internship accounts for the remaining 600 hours of fieldwork and client contact hours. Of the 300 total client contact hours required, at least half must be in a counseling setting with couples, families, or both.

Another requirement for graduating from this program is a comprehensive exam. You must apply to take the exam and pass it before your degree is conferred. However, you cannot take the exam until you’ve finished 36 credits of coursework within the program.

This degree is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). As such, once you graduate, you are eligible to sit for the National Counselor Exam (NCE), on which a passing score is required to be licensed as an LPC or LCPC. Additionally, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Marriage and Family Therapist Exam from AMFTRB and can apply for clinical membership to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

The basic admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Submit a completed application for admission along with a $30 application fee.
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.
  • Provide two letters of recommendation and recommendation forms.
  • Submit a two-page statement of goals and objectives in which you explain what you hope to achieve in the program.

Unlike many programs in this field, Northeastern allows you to apply for either fall or spring admission. This gives you greater flexibility for starting the program when it works best for you.

Northwestern University

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University is a terminal program accredited by COAMFTE. By completing this program and the required post-graduate work experience, you will be eligible for licensure as an LMFT in Illinois.

This program is available in two different formats. You can choose to study full-time on campus and complete the program in two years. Alternatively, you can choose an online option that’s available in full-time or part-time configurations. The online program can be completed in as few as 21 months of full-time study, while you’ll need three years to finish the degree requirements as a part-time student.

No matter if you participate in the program on campus or online, you must complete the same 20 academic courses and six full quarters of clinical internship. The coursework is typical of most marriage and family-related graduate programs and focuses on areas like professional identity, ethics, and diagnosis. You’ll take courses in Systems Therapy, Intimate Relations, and Systemic Assessment, too.

Other coursework includes the following:

  • Group Therapy
  • Power, Privilege and Difference: Practicing Cultural Curiosity and Humility in a Multicultural World
  • Systemic Perspectives in the Treatment of Substance Use/Misuse and Addiction
  • Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents
  • Special Problems and Populations

Additional coursework focuses on family of origin issues, human development, and the life cycle.

Supplementing your studies are ample opportunities to get real-world experience as a marriage and family therapist. You must complete 500 hours of face-to-face therapy, of which at least 200 hours must be with couples or families. You’ll also acquire more than 250 hours of supervision, both in individual and group settings.

If you choose to complete this program in person, you’ll acquire your supervised client contact hours at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. If you choose to complete this program online, you will gain the necessary hours in clinical settings in your area. However, you must attend one on-campus immersion learning experience in Evanston, Illinois, to be eligible for graduation.

The application process is two parts. First, you must complete the initial application. This includes the following:

  • Complete an application.
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended.
  • Provide two letters of recommendation.
  • Write a 1,000-word academic statement in which you answer questions regarding your personal and family experiences and how they relate to your interest in a career as a marriage and family therapist.
  • Write a 500-word personal statement.

The second part of the application is specific to the Marriage and Family Therapy program. You must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably in a behavioral science field. If your degree is in another discipline, you must complete two prerequisite courses prior to admission: Human Development and Introduction to Psychology.

The faculty evaluates numerous criteria when reviewing applications to this program. This includes academic performance, work experience, and your potential for success in the program, to name a few.

How to Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Illinois?

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Illinois, you must complete the following steps:

  • Education: Earn a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy. COAMFTE accredited programs are accepted.
  • Examination: Pass the national examination for marital and family therapy administered by the AMFTRB.
  • Supervised Experience: Complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, which includes at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact providing marriage and family therapy services.
  • Application: Submit an application for licensure to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. This includes providing documentation of your educational credentials, supervised experience, and passing scores on the national examination.
  • Background Check: Undergo a criminal background check as part of the application process.
  • Continuing Education: In order to renew a license, you must submit evidence of 30 hours of continuing education within the pre-renewal period (24 months preceding February 28 of each odd-numbered year).

How Much Does an LMFT Make in Illinois?

The average salary for an LMFT in Illinois is $97,124 per year. More experienced LMFTs working in Illinois make well over $150,000 per year.

Related Reading

Copyright © 2024 PsychologySchoolGuide.net. All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.