Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Pennsylvania [2024 Guide]

Though many of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities are in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, many smaller institutions dot the state’s landscape and offer graduate-level programs for marriage and family therapy.

In fact, the Keystone State has Master of Science, Master of Arts, and Ph.D. options at schools in all corners of the state. This includes programs at public and private universities as well as offerings at religiously affiliated schools. In other words, no matter what kind of educational experience you’re seeking for your MFT degree, you will find it in Pennsylvania!

Below is a list of some of the popular graduate degree options in this field. Use the information below to direct your school search and find the best program to fit your needs!

Best Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Pennsylvania Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Pennsylvania

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

  • Drexel University
  • Duquesne University
  • La Salle University
  • Kutztown University
  • Eastern University
  • Capella University
  • Northwestern University
  • Grand Canyon University

Drexel University

Master of Family Therapy

A couple of features make Drexel’s Master of Family Therapy program unique. First, it’s offered by the College of Nursing and Health Professions. This healthcare focus prepares you to work in a variety of healthcare settings, be that hospitals, mental health clinics, addiction recovery centers, or somewhere in between.

Second, Drexel is on the quarter system rather than the semester system. As such, 90 quarter credits are needed to complete the program. Rather than taking courses for two or three terms per year, you’ll take classes for four quarters each year. You’ll need three years of full-time studies to finish the graduation requirements.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Education (COAMFTE). It integrates both theory and practice into the coursework. For example, you’ll take theory-related classes, such as Introduction to Systems Theory, Introduction to Family Therapy, and Adult Psychopathology. You’ll also study Child Psychopathology, Family Assessment and Evaluation, and Human Development and Family Life Cycles. Other coursework includes the following:

  • Diversity and Contextual Factors in Clinical Practice
  • Group Therapy: Theoretical Models and Practice
  • Foundational Elements of Addiction
  • Couples and Attachment
  • Couples and Sex Therapy

You’ll have the opportunity to gain additional knowledge and skills at the Drexel Individual, couple, and Family Therapy Services on-campus clinic as well as the Drexel University Center for Interdisciplinary Clinical Simulation and Practice. These sites offer convenient locations for training with close supervision by your professors and supervisors.

But as alluded to earlier, this program isn’t just coursework – you’ll also get a significant amount of clinical practice. This takes place in two practicum experiences, each of which is one year long.

The first year of practicum focuses on developing basic marriage and family therapy skills. You’ll work closely with an onsite supervisor who provides guidance and feedback about your work with clients. Speaking of which, you need to complete about 16-20 hours of client contact time each week for the duration of this practicum.

The second practicum switches gears somewhat and focuses more on the integration of theory and practice as opposed to honing basic therapy skills. You’ll develop your own therapeutic style of working with couples and families, and you’ll also demonstrate an ability to practice confidently and confidently with clients who have a range of mental health issues and concerns. Again, you need to work with clients an average of 16-20 hours each week during this practicum.

The combination of coursework and clinical experience helps you master critical competencies in marriage and family therapy. This includes receiving training in numerous family therapy models, such as Emotionally-Focused Therapy, Attachment-Based Family Therapy, and other research-informed training models.

As a graduate of this program, you’ll be eligible for licensure as a marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania. You will also be eligible for membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as a Pre-Clinical Member.

To apply, simply apply online to Drexel’s graduate school. In addition to filling out an application for admission, you must complete the following steps to apply:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher for all undergraduate work
  • Submit official transcripts from every college and university you have attended
  • Submit a three-page essay describing your academic and professional goals
  • Provide a resume
  • Provide three letters of recommendation
  • Demonstrate English proficiency if it is not your native language

Select applicants must also participate in an interview with departmental faculty members.

Duquesne University

Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Duquesne’s Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling is unique among the programs on this list in that it is one of two options that leads to licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) rather than as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). One of the biggest differences between LPCs and LMFTs is that you can work with a broader range of clients as an LPC, which might be beneficial for you, depending on your career goals.

This 60-credit program is traditionally completed in two years of full-time studies. However, the program can be completed part-time if your schedule doesn’t allow for full-time graduate school. Either way, you’ll take part in a counseling curriculum that’s accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The program includes typical counseling coursework related to theory and practice. For example, you might take courses in the following areas:

  • Psychopathology
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Family Therapy
  • Therapeutic Approaches for Children and Adolescents
  • Sex Therapy

Likewise, you’ll learn about the tenets of ethical practice, relevant laws and regulations, and you’ll explore career information for professional counselors. Over the course of the program, you’ll be exposed to numerous counseling theories and techniques, which allows you to graduate with the competency to work with a broad range of clients on varying issues.

This program offers several unique and interesting courses that focus on highly specific counseling skills and situations. For example, you’ll take a course on Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Counseling that readies you to work as a mental health first responder in emergency situations. As another example, you will complete a course in psychological testing that improves your ability to administer various tests as part of the intake and assessment phase of working with new clients.

As a graduate of this program, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to:

  • Develop an effective helping relationship with your clients
  • Realize personal development and become more self-aware, which will help you deliver more effective services to your clients
  • Understand the systemic point of view and apply multicultural theories to practice

Moreover, the program’s curriculum is grounded in holism, wellness, and positive development – both for you and your future clients.

Another component of this program is a two-part 600-hour internship. The internship (which is in addition to a 100-hour practicum) occurs in the final part of the program and is an opportunity for you to put your learning into practice. You’ll work in a clinical setting where you can practice your counseling skills with individuals, couples, and families. Your work will be supervised, and you must participate in supervision and consultation throughout the internship.

Furthermore, after your internship is complete, you must successfully pass the program’s exit exam. Once you do that and your degree is conferred, you can move on to pursue state licensure as an LPC.

You must have a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 undergraduate GPA to apply. Additionally, you must provide the following:

  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • A 250-word essay discussing your professional goals
  • English language test scores (for international applicants only)

La Salle University

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at La Salle University is a 60-credit program combining foundational coursework in family systems theory, training in assessment and intervention, as well as clinical practice. Once complete, this program leads to licensure as an LMFT in Pennsylvania and most other states. As a graduate of this program, you will also qualify for clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

This COAMFTE-accredited requires 15-21 credits in marriage and family theory and process coursework, 15-27 credits of advanced training in specific marriage and family therapy techniques, and nine credits of supervised fieldwork. This work can be completed in as little as two years plus one semester. Other options are to complete the degree in three or four years.

Example coursework in the theory and process realm includes the following:

  • Systems and Systemic Thinking
  • Human Sexuality
  • Working With Families
  • Understanding Relationships
  • Marital and Couples Therapy

These and other courses help you develop a better understanding of human relationships and the potential problems that can arise between couples and within families. Your studies in these areas are supplemented by focused training in specific techniques.

For example, you’ll take a course on Contextual Family Therapy, which is a type of approach that emphasizes trust and providing couples and families with resources to advance the healing process. As another example, you’ll complete a class in Therapeutic Approaches for Children and Adolescents that trains you in effective clinical interventions for working with children, such as play therapy.

The program’s internship phase occurs in the final year. This 12-month experience gives you the necessary opportunities to work directly with individuals, couples, and families in a clinical setting. As is the norm, you’ll have a supervisor to guide and direct your development as a marriage and family counselor. In addition to continual supervision opportunities with your onsite supervisor, you’ll also have supervision with your professors and classmates.

Not only is the internship intended to help you build confidence as a therapist, but it’s also intended to help you clarify your unique therapy style. You’ll refine your theoretical orientation, practice your marriage and family therapy techniques, and become adept at building trusting relationships with your clients, too.

As noted above, the education you gain in this program prepares you to pursue a career as an LMFT. However, other avenues are available to you. For example, you can use this program as a bridge to a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy. With a Ph.D., the focus shifts to academic preparation if you wish to work in a college or university as a professor. Likewise, you’ll gain research experience if your career goal focuses more on expanding the body of knowledge in this field rather than practicing as a clinical therapist.

The admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college and university you have attended
  • Provide three letters of recommendation from academic or professional references
  • Provide a resume or curriculum vitae
  • Submit a personal statement in which you explain why you want to pursue this degree and why it’s a good fit for you
  • Provide evidence of English language proficiency if it is not your native language
  • Participate in an interview

Kutztown University

Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Kutztown University’s Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling is a CACREP-accredited program that prepares you for Pennsylvania licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counseling. In that regard, this program is similar to the one described earlier from Duquesne.

This program also prepares you to take the National Certified Counselor (NCC) exam. Passing this exam is a requirement for licensure as a counselor in the state of Pennsylvania.

Over the course of three years of full-time studies, you’ll complete 60 semester credits of coursework in core counseling areas as well as specialty focus areas. An internship is also required during which you’ll amass 700 hours of field experience counseling couples and families.

The core coursework includes studies in Systems Therapy, Legal and Professional Issues in Counseling, and Systemic Assessment. You might also take courses in Human Development, Multicultural Counseling, and Intimate Relationships. These and other core courses are complemented by specialty courses that help you build specific skills to address marriage, couple, and family issues.

For example, you might take a course in family therapy treatment models in which you learn about the primary techniques used in marriage and family therapy to address common family-related issues (e.g., infidelity). You might also take a course in family therapy with children and adolescents to gain competence in treating issues like the effects of divorce on children.

Other courses you might take include the following:

  • Sex Therapy
  • Special Problems and Populations
  • Risk and Resilience
  • Substance Misuse and Addiction

This program has a special focus on assessment and research skills, too. These skills are valuable for clinical applications as a well as preparing for a doctoral counseling program.

As mentioned earlier, a 700-hour internship is also part of this program. You’ll spend much of that time in direct contact with clients in a therapeutic setting. However, you’ll also participate in supervision activities, research, and day-to-day counseling tasks, such as completing necessary paperwork and taking part in continuing education activities.

As a result of these activities, you’ll graduate from this program with the following skills and traits:

  • Enhanced personal awareness
  • Deep knowledge of counseling concepts and techniques
  • Advanced skills in delivering mental health services to clients of all ages
  • Understanding of relevant counseling theory and its application in marriage, couple, and family counseling situations

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

  • Complete and submit an application for admission and the relevant application fee
  • Submit official transcripts from every college and university you’ve attended
  • Have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Provide two letters of recommendation from academic and professional references
  • Submit a resume
  • Submit a 2-3 page academic goals statement in which you explain how the program’s goals align with your professional goals

Kutztown University allows admission into this program in the fall and spring semesters. The application deadline for the fall semester is April 1st, while the deadline for spring applications is October 1st.

Eastern University

Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy

Eastern University’s Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy is a skills-based program designed to equip you with enhanced skills and technical competency to provide therapeutic services to couples and families. The program requires 60 credits to graduate, which typically takes four to six years to complete.

A unique feature of Eastern’s Ph.D. program is that it’s mostly completed online. The online coursework is supplemented by on-campus residencies once per term. These intensive residencies afford you the opportunity to learn alongside your cohort and gain valuable hands-on experience practicing marriage and family therapy techniques. There are three terms per year, so three one-week residencies are required during each year of the program.

The 60 credits needed to graduate are broken down as follows: 42 credits of core courses, 15 credits of research methodology and dissertation research, and three credits of field supervision in counseling.

The core coursework covers essential areas of marriage and family therapy, such as:

  • Introduction to Systems Theory
  • Adult Personality and Character Development
  • Couples Therapy Theory and Practice
  • Trauma and Family Systems
  • Professional Standards and Ethics

Other courses include specialized studies in Human Sexuality, Approaches to Prevention, and Diversity Issues in Marriage and Family Therapy. This program also has a religious focus, so you’ll take courses like Theology of Marriage and Family.

The research methodology component includes coursework in both quantitative and qualitative research. These courses help you become a good consumer of research-based information in this field while also preparing you to conduct your own research as part of your dissertation.

Once your dissertation proposal is accepted, you’ll undertake several semesters of work on your chosen topic. Your dissertation must be defended to your dissertation committee and approved in order to graduate. You must also pass comprehensive examinations before your degree is conferred.

It should be noted that you might have to take additional credits above the 60 required to complete your dissertation. Additional credits are also required if you wish to be licensed as a counselor in Pennsylvania (if you’re not already licensed).

After completing this program, you’ll have the necessary skills to provide therapeutic services to couples and families with a range of concerns. Likewise, you’ll have the clinical and spiritual tools needed to administer faith-based counseling techniques to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

As a result of your studies, you’ll also have a greater capacity for self-reflection – an important component of being a therapist. You’ll learn what your “blind spots” are, how your personal worldview impacts your ability to counsel different populations, and how to use self-reflective techniques to continue your growth as a person and a professional.

The admission requirements for this program are as follows:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Hold a master’s degree in Divinity, Theological Studies, Counseling, or a related field from an accredited college, university, or seminary
  • Have a GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college and university you have attended
  • Submit two essays: a statement of purpose in which you explain how this program will help you address your professional goals and a statement of faith describing your faith journey and how you’ve been impacted by your family of origin. Each essay must be 4-6 pages.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation
  • Pay a $75 application fee

How Do I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist in PA?

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

How Much Does an LMFT Make in PA?

The average salary for an LMFT in Pennsylvania is $103,508 per year. More experienced LMFTs working in Pennsylvania make well over $150,000 per year.

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