Popular Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in New Jersey [2024 Guide]

New Jersey is unique for prospective marriage and family therapists (MFTs) because there is just one on-campus MFT program in the state. However, the geography of the Garden State between New York City and Philadelphia and online program options means there are ample opportunities to get an MFT degree without an extremely long commute.

The list below includes some of the popular schools offering marriage and family therapy programs in New Jersey. In each case, you can get a high-quality education that prepares you for a career as a licensed mental health provider. Use this guide to develop your list of some of the popular options for completing your education.

Best Popular Accredited MFT Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in New Jersey Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in New Jersey

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering marriage and family therapy programs in New Jersey:

  • Kean University
  • Iona University
  • Mercy University
  • Manhattan College
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Northwestern University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Grand Canyon University

Kean University

Master of Arts – Marriage and Family Therapy

As New Jersey’s only Marriage and Family Therapy graduate degree, the Master of Arts from Kean University is a natural choice if you intend to study and work in the Garden State. This three-year degree requires you to complete 57 credits; you take three courses each semester and maintain full-time student status throughout the program.

Kean’s MFT degree is based on a model of training that is multicultural, ethically informed, and integrative. As such, you’ll acquire knowledge and skills that enable you to work with a wide range of couples, families, and individuals. Likewise, you’ll develop the know-how to provide holistic, integrative treatment for a host of common (and uncommon) systems-based issues.

For example, your training enables you to work with families experiencing any of the following issues:

  • Infidelity
  • Poor communication
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety

Furthermore, you will have the required skills to provide an array of clinical interventions that facilitate positive growth in your clients. You’ll gain these skills through coursework and real-world experience working directly with clients.

The curriculum is based on the scientist-practitioner model, so you’ll not only learn about MFT theories and techniques, but you’ll also learn how to use them. The basis of a thorough understanding of couples and family therapy comes from classroom studies in areas like:

  • Family Development
  • Psychopathology
  • Group Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Therapy Theories

Other coursework explores topics like human sexuality, abnormal psychology, and research methods.

Alongside your classes are opportunities for fieldwork. This program requires you to complete several field-based learning experiences, beginning with a practicum. During the practicum phase, you’ll observe professional marriage and family counselors in a therapeutic environment and might also be able to participate as a clinician-in-training in therapy sessions.

However, the bulk of your hands-on training as a marriage and family therapist comes during the internship phase of the program. During the internship, you’ll work in a supervised clinical setting. You’re required to accrue 300 client contact hours; at least 150 of these hours must be in a relational setting.

Furthermore, you are required to participate in supervision – a process essential to your development as a therapist. Supervision takes place in individual and group settings with both your onsite supervisor and with your classmates and professors. Of the 100 hours of supervision required, at least 50 hours must include raw data such as video or audio recordings of sessions or live observations of your work. You must also accrue at least 50 hours of individual supervision within the 100 required hours.

To remain in this program, you must pass a comprehensive exam, have no incomplete grades, and have Bs or higher in all courses. You must also have a 3.5 GPA or higher and be a full-time student for the duration of the program.

The admission requirements are as follows:

  • Fill out an application for admission and submit a $75 application fee
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit a resume or curriculum vitae
  • Provide three letters of recommendation
  • Submit a personal statement
  • Provide evidence of English proficiency if it is not your native language
  • Participate in a departmental interview

You must also have completed at least 12 credits of undergraduate behavioral sciences coursework, including six credits of psychology (at least three credits of which are in abnormal psychology).

Iona University

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

Located just across the Hudson River from New Jersey, Iona University offers a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy that requires you to complete 60 credits. As a full-time student, you’ll need three years to complete the entire curriculum, which includes coursework and field-based learning experiences.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or COAMFTE. It includes residential studies, on-campus training, and offsite work in a clinical setting as well. Your residential studies lay the foundation for complex therapeutic work with a diverse range of clients. This coursework includes, but is not limited to, studies in the following areas:

  • Ethics, Law, and Professional Issues
  • Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy Practices
  • Relational Group Dynamics
  • Theories and Systemic Approaches
  • Psychopathology and Systemic Diagnosis

As you progress in the program, you’ll take more advanced and targeted classes. For example, you’ll complete a Theories and Systemic Techniques II course that builds on the first theory course by introducing you to the post-modernist approach to marriage and family therapy. You’ll specifically cover Emotional Focused Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, and Feminist approaches, to name a few.

Other more advanced courses focus on clinical practice. You’ll complete a pre-practicum seminar that introduces you to the complexities of being a practicing therapist. You’ll also participate in an initial practicum in which you focus on honing your use of clinical interventions and techniques in a dyadic supervised setting. Your work occurs in Iona’s Family Therapy Center, a campus-based clinic offering therapeutic services to people in need.

Iona’s program also facilitates your ability to work on clinical case conceptualization in a group setting. This group supervision component helps you improve other areas of your clinical work, including system thinking and your assessment skills. You’ll present live or recorded examples of your work with clients which will be debriefed and evaluated by your peers, who will provide you with insights into your strengths and areas that need attention.

At this point, your coursework and practice shifts to more intense clinical training. Two practicum experiences occur in the final year of the program. These field placements put you in a supervised clinical setting in which you take the lead in providing treatment to couples, families, and individuals. This is a supervised experience, of course, so you’ll have the guidance of your clinical supervisor, professors, and colleagues to help you get the most out of your training.

You can apply to Iona online. To do so, you must meet the following admissions requirements:

  • Complete an application for admission and pay the relevant fees
  • Provide official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit a resume
  • Submit a letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to your professional or academic abilities (though this requirement is waived if you have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher)

Additionally, you must submit English language test scores if English is not your native language.

Mercy University

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

At Mercy University, you can complete a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy that offers either full-time or part-time options to meet your unique needs. The 51-credit program takes about three years of full-time studies to complete. You’ll need at least four years to finish the program requirements as a part-time student.

The curriculum combines basic coursework in human development, mental health, and research methodology. These and other foundational courses form the basis of knowledge you need to be a competent marriage and family practitioner. Likewise, you’ll build on this knowledge with coursework in specific clinical areas, such as:

  • Sex Therapy
  • Family Systems
  • Domestic Violence
  • Couples Therapy
  • The Group Experience

Additional coursework in Family Law, Psychopathology, and Professional Issues and Ethics are required, as is a course in contemporary family therapy.

Of the 51 credits needed for graduation, nine are internship credits earned for field-based learning. During the internship, you are required to obtain at least 600 hours of clock time. At least 300 hours of client contact time is required, including face-to-face therapy with families, couples, and individuals.

The internship occurs in three phases. Two hundred hours are required for each phase, including at least 75 direct client contact hours in the first phase, 125 direct contact hours in the second phase, and 100 client contact hours in the final phase. You’ll earn these hours at various agencies affiliated with Mercy University. This includes hospitals, mental health centers, and private practices, to name a few. Regardless of the specific setting, you’ll be supervised by a licensed clinician.

A clinical research project is also required. This three-credit capstone experience gives you an opportunity to conduct research in a relevant area of interest to you. Having experience in clinical research not only makes you a better clinician, but a better informed clinician at that.

Moreover, conducting research in an area of interest can help inform you regarding the direction you wish your career to go. For example, a passion for working with families with young children might be fueled by research in working with that specific population. Likewise, you might complete your project on sex therapy, and use what you learn to specialize in providing that service to couples once you become a licensed therapist.

Speaking of licensure, completing this program qualifies you to sit for the National Marriage and Family Therapy licensing exam, which you take after earning your degree. Once you pass the exam, you may begin working towards completing the 1,500 hours of post-graduate supervised experience required to be licensed (300 of these hours are completed during the program at Mercy).

You can complete an online application for admission to Mercy University at any time. The university requires you to meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree (including at least one statistics course) from an accredited institution
  • Have a 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Provide two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a professor
  • Submit a current resume
  • Submit a five-page essay explaining why you wish to get a master’s degree in this field

Manhattan College

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

Another program based just across the river from New Jersey is the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Manhattan College. This is a traditional 60-credit, three-year program. However, a non-traditional feature is that it features a hybrid curriculum. You’ll take some classes in person on campus in Manhattan. Other courses are offered online for a measure of added flexibility.

The online coursework isn’t done independently, though. These courses are synchronous, so there are specific times you must log on and participate in virtual classes with your professors and classmates.

Included in the 60 credits needed to graduate is a sequence of core courses that introduce you to essential topics in this field. The coursework helps you build the necessary skills related to working with groups, couples, and families. You’ll also take courses that enhance your understanding of counseling ethics, relevant laws, and other professional issues.

You’ll gain much-needed pre-practice clinic skills as well. For example, before taking part in the required internship, you’ll complete classes in the following areas:

  • Family Systems Therapy
  • Cross-Cultural Counseling
  • Approaches to Multicultural Counseling: Theory and Practice
  • Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, Family Issues, and Treatment Approaches

The practical knowledge you acquire from these courses serves as a strong foundation for learning how to work with clients who struggle with the issues outlined above. This knowledge is enhanced with a practicum placement in which you can observe experienced marriage and family therapists intake clients, assess clients, develop treatment plans, and put those plans into motion in a therapeutic setting.

The practicum is also important for acquiring other clinical skills and competencies. For example, you’ll practice interviewing clients, identifying and classifying the presenting problems in couples and family therapy situations, and working with clients from diverse backgrounds. Other practicum competencies include the following:

  • Using family therapy techniques
  • Administering family counseling assessments
  • Using system therapy techniques

The final phase of the program is a two-part internship. During the internship, you’ll gain advanced knowledge of assessing, diagnosing, and treating presenting problems in couple and family situations. The focus here is on the relational point of view; you’ll provide insights into how the behavior of each member of the family unit contributes to the presenting problem.

Another key component of the internship phase is learning how to use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V-TR) as an aid for diagnosing mental health conditions. The DSM system is an invaluable tool for determining the nexus of the couple’s or family’s issues so you can devise an appropriate treatment plan.

The second internship focuses on your diagnostic skills, as well as your ability to assess different mental health conditions. You’ll have opportunities to work on your treatment skills and techniques, too.

Both internship phases include a seminar component. The purpose of a seminar is to provide you with a group supervision setting in which you can get feedback from your professors and classmates about your performance as a clinician. The seminar during the first internship explores your effectiveness in diagnosis and treatment. The seminar accompanying the second internship shifts the focus to case presentation and evaluation with your classmates.

The admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Submit an application for graduate admission (along with a $75 application fee)
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have a cumulative 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Provide official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit one letter of recommendation
  • Submit a current resume
  • Provide a personal statement in which you discuss your personal goals, professional goals, and why you’re interested in this program

Thomas Jefferson University

Master of Family Therapy

Thomas Jefferson University is in Philadelphia, making it a viable option for you if you live in southern or western New Jersey. This program, which is a Master of Family Therapy, requires you to complete 66 credits to earn your degree. Despite requiring more credits than other programs on this list, this program can actually be completed in just two years, making it the fastest option.

A unique feature of this program is that it’s offered by Thomas Jefferson University in conjunction with the Council for Relationships. The Council is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide clinical training and research opportunities for pre-service clinicians. The Council also offers accessible, expert therapy for individuals, couples, and families.

This COAMFTE-accredited program was developed using the biopsychosocial approach. This approach emphasizes the importance of both family systems and larger systems as influences on behavior. What’s more, individual behavior within the couple or family context is a result of biological, psychological, and social factors. As such, your training in this program will focus on sensitivity to diversity issues and how they impact both family functioning and the process of therapy itself.

The curriculum includes studies in important areas of marriage and family therapy, including the following:

  • Theory and Practice of Family Therapy
  • Foundations of Systemic Practice
  • Life Span Development from a Systemic Perspective
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Couple & Family Therapy
  • Systemic/Relational Assessment and Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment

As your studies extend into the second year, your coursework will include classes such as Implications for Diversity in Practice, Research in Couple and Family Therapy, and Research in Couple and Family Therapy. Coursework in Addiction in a Multisystemic Context, Families in Transition, and Advanced Sex Therapy or Medical Family Therapy are also required.

Furthermore, you can choose one of two specializations: family therapy or sex therapy. Both options require you to complete two didactic and experiential courses. The family therapy track includes studies of ​​Issues of Violence and Abuse in the Family from a Systems Perspective as well as Medical Family Therapy.

The sex therapy track includes studies in Advanced Sex Therapy Training I and Advanced Sex Therapy Training II. You must also complete a Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) Experience that enables you to explore your attitudes about sexuality and how those attitudes might impact your work as a therapist.

You must also complete a clinical component to graduate. Over the course of several clinical placements, you must acquire at least 300 hours of direct client contact time. At least 100 of those hours must be in a relational or systemic setting. Likewise, you’ll accrue at least 100 hours of clinical supervision, of which at least 50 hours must include observable data (e.g., live observation, video recordings, or audio recordings of your sessions with clients).

The admissions requirements for this program are as follows:

  • Submit a completed application for admission along with a $50 application fee
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Provide two letters of reference
  • Submit a personal statement that outlines your interest in this program
  • Provide a current resume

You must also participate in a departmental interview.

How Do I Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New Jersey?

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in New Jersey, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Education: Obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from a program accredited by COAMFTE or an equivalent program that meets the state’s educational criteria.
  2. Examination: Pass the national examination for marriage and family therapists, administered by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  3. Supervised Experience: Complete two years of supervised marriage and family therapy experience, adhering to the following guidelines:
    • Annual Requirements: Over a 50-week period per calendar year, full-time or its part-time equivalent, accumulate 1,500 hours of supervised experience. This can include up to 1,150 hours of direct client contact, at least 50 hours of direct supervision, with a minimum of one hour per week, and a maximum of 300 hours in other work-related activities.
    • Supervision: All experience must be supervised by a supervisor approved by the board.
    • Hourly Limits: No more than 30 hours of experience can be accrued in a single week, and no more than 125 hours in any one month.
  4. Application: Submit your application for licensure to the New Jersey State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners. The application must include proof of education, supervised experience, and examination results, along with the appropriate fees.
  5. Background Check: Pass a criminal background check, which is required for all applicants seeking licensure in New Jersey.
  6. Continuing Education: Maintain your license by completing 40 hours of continuing education, which must be completed every two years.

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