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Individuals who choose careers in fields such as healthcare and education often do so because they love to help others. If this sounds like you, pursuing a career as a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) can lead to a rewarding future, helping and educating others about their mental health and relationships. 

The path to becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist typically involves earning a therapy education degree, completing clinical hours, and passing a licensure exam. However, there are some nuances to licensing you may want to consider if you live in New York and plan to work there. 

If you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for MFT programs New York style, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about marriage family therapy education and licensure in the state, along with  other state programs like MFT Colorado programs, MFT programs in California, MFT programs in Arizona, and more..

MFT Program Application Process in New York

So what is a MFT degree and how do you apply? To apply for an MFT degree program in New York, there are usually general requirements you must meet. These typically include:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree
  • A GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Completion of courses in counseling psychology, social work, or similar

If your bachelor’s degree is not related to counseling psychology or therapy, you may need to take foundational courses to ensure you have the knowledge necessary to jump into a graduate student program.

Once you’ve met these basic educational requirements, you as a graduate student can begin to compile your application documents. Depending on the school you apply to, you might need to submit some or all of the following with your family therapy program application:

  • Transcripts from health science previous degrees
  • An updated resume
  • A letter or letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Graduate school entrance test scores, such as the GRE or similar

Compiling these documents is the first step in the family therapy program application process and can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Components of an MFT Program in New York

Once you’ve gathered all of the documents you need to apply to graduate school, you can decide which type of health science program you’re interested in. In New York, all marriage and family therapists must have a graduate-level degree. 

Earning a Master’s vs. a PsyD in MFT

There are two types of MFT degree programs in New York: master’s and PsyD level. The foundational coursework in both degree programs is similar. However, a PsyD program typically takes longer to complete than a master’s.

Master’s Coursework and Requirements

Your coursework to earn a master’s degree in the MFT field will include at least 60 semester credit hours. To meet the COAMFTE accreditation requirements, the courses in your counseling program must cover the following:1

  • Basic foundations of the practice, theories, and models of marital and family therapy
  • Clinical treatment for different groups
  • Diversity and multicultural training
  • Development of research and evaluation skills
  • Professional identity, ethics, and legal and social responsibility
  • Development across the lifespan
  • Contemporary issues
  • Community collaboration

Students specializing in specific areas may also need to take additional counseling courses in subjects related to their specialty. 

In general, students might be able to complete a master’s program in about two years if they attend school full-time. If you’re a part-time student, it’ll take you longer to finish your health professions degree.

PsyD Coursework and Requirements

Another option for students wishing to obtain an MFT license is a PsyD program. In a doctoral program, you can generally expect to complete coursework in all of the same topics required in a master’s program. However, to complete a doctoral-level degree, you’ll also need to complete some additional advanced coursework in the following areas:

  • Research
  • Clinical therapy
  • Contemporary challenges
  • Leadership, teaching, and supervision

The number of credits required for a PsyD can vary widely from institution to institution and may be anywhere from 70 to 100 credits or more. You’ll also complete a dissertation as a graduation requirement.

The time it takes to complete a doctoral degree is highly dependent on how quickly you finish your coursework and dissertation. It might take anywhere from 4 to 7 years.

Supervised Clinical Practice Requirements in New York

After you finish the required classroom work in your program, the next step is to complete face-to-face training. This experience requires a limited permit you can receive from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and helps prepare you for client-facing interactions after you receive your license. 

Supervised clinical practice in the state of New York generally requires at least 1,500 client contact hours in the practice of MFT, overseen by a supervisor that’s licensed and approved by the board.2

If you’re completing your educational and supervised practice requirements outside of New York, you must follow the guidance of the NYSED.

After Graduation: Becoming a Licensed MFT in New York

After you’ve completed your education and worked the clinical hours needed, there are a few other criteria you typically must meet before you can take the licensure exam in New York. These include:3

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Having a good moral character
  • Completing a course or training on the identification and reporting of child abuse

The course on child abuse recognition and reporting must be taught by a provider approved by the state. Once you’ve checked all of these boxes, you might be ready to take the licensure exam.

The MFT Licensing Exam in New York

Each year, four different versions of the licensing exam are assigned to applicants at random. The handbook for candidates planning to take the exam lists the following steps for completing the examination process:4

  1. Apply to the state board to determine eligibility
  2. Receive a letter from the board with an approval code
  3. Complete the exam application 
  4. Pay the $371.00 fee
  5. Receive your ID and exam scheduling code
  6. Schedule your exam
  7. Take your exam

Typically, you can expect to receive your results within about 20 days. If you don’t pass, you’ll need to reapply to take the exam again. This is the same regardless of MFT vs MSW test.

You can also get a practice exam through the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Board. The board advises that you only refer to this particular practice exam as there are others out there that aren’t accurate.

Renewing Your MFT License in New York

Once you’re a licensed MFT in New York, you’ll still have some learning to do. Every three years, you must complete a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education units (CEUs). The state does not stipulate that these units cover specific topics. However, the NYSED does list the following criteria for CEUs:5

  • CEUs must be “acceptable formal education” including:
    • College-level credit courses
    • Non-credit courses
    • Professional development programs
    • Professional technical training
    • Other organized activities approved by the NYSED
  • Non-college courses must be offered by approved professional associations that are:
    • National
    • State
    • Local
  • The NYSED will determine the fee required for CEUs

Along with completing the continuing education requirements, MFTs in New York typically have to pay a fee of $170 when they apply for license renewal. This fee is typically paid every three years as a part of the renewal process. 

Portability of MFT Licenses in New York

If you have an existing MFT license obtained outside of New York, you might be able to use it to qualify for an endorsement in the state, provided you meet the following criteria:7

  • You’ve completed five years of licensed practice
  • These five years occurred in the ten years prior to applying for New York licensure
  • The qualifications required to get your licenses were equivalent to those in New York

If you meet these criteria, you can submit all of the required forms to the New York State Education Department (along with any associated fees) to see if you’re approved. 

Job Opportunities and Employment Outlook for MFTs in New York

Professionals who complete all of the steps necessary to obtain an MFT license in New York might be attractive candidates for marriage and family therapist roles in:

  • Hospitals
  • Mental health facilities
  • Schools
  • Universities
  • Clinics

Your clinical work supervisors and degree program instructors can be helpful resources when it’s time to apply for a position.

MFT Program Accreditation Requirements in New York

If you’re applying to an MFT program in New York, you must make sure your program meets New York’s accreditation requirements. These requirements include:8

  • Accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Other accrediting agency accreditation if approved by the NYSED

You can check a program’s accreditation by using the Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs. This handy tool allows you to sort Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Programs by state so you can find the ones specific to New York.

Complete Your MFT Degree with Help from Alliant

Becoming a marriage and family therapist in New York requires significant work and dedication. You typically must complete a graduate degree program, perform supervised clinical work, and pass the licensing examination. To successfully pass the examination, it’s helpful to have a strong foundation of knowledge and skills.

The program you choose to earn your degree is where you’ll develop this foundation. If you’re looking for a program that’s COAMFTE-accredited and offered completely online, then Alliant might be a winning choice. 

Our MA and PsyD programs in marriage and family therapy are designed to prepare you for success. Plus, because they’re available online, they can offer you greater flexibility. Contact us today to learn more. 


  1. “Accreditation Standards.” Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. January 2018.…. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  2. “Marriage and Family Therapy License Requirements.” New York State Education Department. September 7, 2021. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  3. “2022 Handbook for Candidates”. Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2022. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  4. “Article 163: Mental Health Practitioners.” New York State Department of Education. November 16, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  5. “AMFTRB State Continuing Competency Chart.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2018. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  6. “State Licensure Comparison.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2018. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  7. “State Licensure Comparison.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2018. Accessed February 15, 2022.
  8.  “State Licensure Comparison.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2018. Accessed February 15, 2022.

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