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What Are the Different MFT Programs Available at Alliant International University?

Marriage and family therapists specialize in therapeutic strategies for complex and dynamic relationships—those between loved ones. They may work with individuals, couples, or entire families to create a healthy dialogue and foster positive development. This thriving field combines scientific practice with interpersonal skills, and offers careers in clinical research and private practice.

If you think a career in marriage and family therapy (MFT) is for you, you may be looking into all the different programs available. Ideally, the best MFT programs don’t just offer coursework, but also lay the path for hands-on training, internship opportunities, and further certification.

That’s where Alliant comes in. Alliant provides two different MFT programs: an MA in Marital and Family Therapy and a PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy.

Wondering which path is right for you? Let’s dive into these two programs.

COAMFTE Certification

Before isolating the key differences, there’s one shared factor that bridges these programs together. The MA and PsyD MFT programs offered at Alliant are both certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). For more than 40 years, COAMFTE has continued to:

  • Promote the best practices in MFT
  • Provide educational resources
  • Offer events and training opportunities
  • Create a professional network for therapists

Both Alliant MFT programs are backed by COAMFTE, assuring the quality of education provided. Ultimately, whichever program you choose, you’ll be sure to come away with an unmatched depth of training and understanding.

MA in Marital and Family Therapy

The first of your two program options is the MA in MFT. To understand whether this is the optimal degree for your career ambitions, personal lifestyle, and general interests, we’ll examine exactly what it takes to earn this degree and what it can provide.

How Long Does It Take to Complete?

Educational investment takes time, but for some students getting out into the workforce as soon as possible is the top priority. In that case, the MA in MFT might be your best bet. In terms of time investment keep in mind the following degree requirements:

  • 2-year minimum – This MA degree requires a minimum of 2 years of enrollment to earn the 60 credits needed to graduate. How long you choose to take to finish the degree is up to you, and you’ll have the option of either 15-week semesters or 8-week terms. 
  • Attendance options – It should be easy to craft a schedule that fits your life—whether you’re currently working or not. That’s why Alliant offers evening, daytime, and executive format classes. Few other schools offer the flexibility for students to complete their work on their own time.

If you’re looking to build your career at a pace that works for you, this degree offers flexible options to get you out of the classroom when it’s right for you.

Educational Work and Training

Wondering what you’ll be spending your time doing in the MFT MA program? Besides a vast array of interesting coursework—including Couples Therapy, MFT Theories and Techniques, and Parent-Child Therapy—you’ll also receive hands-on training to prepare you for day-to-day therapy work.

The MA degree offers career-expanding learning opportunities for aspiring therapists, such as:

  • Hundreds of training hours – When it comes to earning this degree, plenty of time is spent outside the classroom. With minimum investments of 500 hours of direct client contact, 250 supervision hours, and 100 professional development hours, the goal is to offer you a strong resume of practical experience while enrolled as a student.
  • Chemical dependency specialization track – For students looking to further understand addiction as a factor in marital and familial relationships, Alliant offers this unique specialization. Learn about clinical practices for chemical dependencies during your internship hours at an outpatient clinic—requiring no extra time for overall degree completion. 

The MFT program is designed to fully prepare the next generation of therapists. This diverse and expanding profession is about staying on top of research to offer the highest quality of services to clients. That’s why quality faculty, rigorous coursework, and professional training all combine to build a holistic learning experience for all students.

Career Options and Degree Benefits

At the end of your MA program, you may be ready to graduate and start considering your career ahead. There are many careers that typically benefit or require having a degree in marriage and family therapy. 

The public and private sectors are looking for the MFT skillset to assist in a variety of positions. You could find yourself working in a hospital (assisting inpatient or outpatient centers), a social service facility, or a substance abuse center after completing your degree.

It’s also important to note some of the special focuses and benefits of the MA degree at Alliant include:

  • Loan reimbursement options – Qualified students may have the chance to earn up to $50,000 in loan reimbursement from the National Health Services Corps. Typically, this reimbursement is through two years of work in underserved areas.
  • Portable licensing – Those looking to become a licensed marriage and family therapist should note that certifications are state-specific. That means that those completing this certification will have to recertify if they plan to move out of state. Fortunately, this program’s COAMFTE certification makes transferring and recertifying a breeze for most students.

PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy

If marriage family therapy is your ultimate career goal, then a PsyD is the right choice. A doctorate of psychology is a terminal degree—meaning it’s the highest formal degree in the field of marital and family therapy. For those looking to expand their knowledge, open up further career options, and spend more time honing their therapeutic and scientific skills, the PsyD degree offers more than its fair share of benefits.

It’s important to note that the PsyD program is an extension of the MA program. A PsyD can even be earned after completing the MA program. It’s quite common for students in their second year of a master’s program to opt to stay on to earn a doctorate.

Personal Investment

Those intending to pursue a PsyD in MFT should be well aware of the personal investment required to complete the degree. While the MA program can be completed in a two-year stint, the doctoral program requires the following:

  • 3-year minimum – For those who have already earned a MA degree, the PsyD program will require 69 credits and approximately 3 years of studying and training. These courses are flexible, and you’ll have the opportunity to complete the degree at your own pace.
  • 5 years post-baccalaureate – If you’ve only just completed your bachelor’s degree, you can expect to take about 114 credits to complete your degree. While this is a commitment, if you graduate with a PsyD in MFT, you’ll be well equipped to tackle even the most complex and nuanced therapeutic situations.

Between on-site training, internships, and other opportunities, a PsyD in MFT should be considered if you have plenty of time to commit over the coming years.

Career Options

Whether you’re looking to work in private practice or expand out into the realm of social services, a PsyD can help your career path get started on the right foot. With a PsyD, you also have unique opportunities that would otherwise be limited with an MA. Consider if any of the following practical career areas are of any interest to you:

  • University teaching – Whether full-time faculty or adjunct teaching, a PsyD offers the chance to share your knowledge in a university setting. This can include being an assistant professor and not only sharing knowledge but also program goals and experiences with other students and graduates. Graduates don’t have to begin their careers in academia; you could explore multiple career paths before shifting into university teaching.
  • Supervisory positions – In clinical and research capacities, program directors and supervisor positions are needed to consider both the nitty-gritty scientific details and to operate within budgets and report to financial backers. This is a great opportunity for clinical practice or gaining more knowledge of clinical psychology. Earning a PsyD degree may help you obtain a role as a program director or supervisor. 
  • Broader psychology – If you’re interested in practicing psychology with a focus on marriage family therapy, then a PsyD can be a great first step on a long and fruitful career journey. If this is of interest to you, you can explore PsyD vs. PhD or a different psychology graduate program.

While finding a graduate school or the right graduate program for you might seem overwhelming and confusing, the benefits of becoming a marriage family therapist are rewarding.

Degree Benefits

With the added career options and higher education level, should you expect to earn a larger income with a PsyD in MFT? The answer, unfortunately, is not straightforward. 

While many studies have shown that an increase in education typically correlates to higher income—including the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 Current Population Study1—this isn’t true across every individual case. In fact, job location (which state you’re working out of), years of experience, industry, and employer all affect what pay you should expect to receive, with location being a major factor, according to Brookings Institute2

Put simply, the purpose of receiving a higher education shouldn’t be maximizing annual income. Rather, the type of work you’re interested in should dictate the degree. The PsyD degree should appeal to those most interested in fields of study like:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Clinical work

On the other hand, you may want to swing toward an MA degree if you’re interested in working with patients in a therapeutic sense.

Exploring Marital and Family Therapy at Alliant

After exploring the two avenues of marital and family therapy, you may be eager to do your own research and spend some time determining which is the best fit for you. A MFT program is a great option if family counseling interests you or if you're interested in marriage counseling, you can explore a program in that sector. Nonetheless, whichever your interest - marriage therapy, mental health counseling, family counseling, etc. - explore our MFT degree programs and to find the right one for you.

In the meantime, why not spend some time looking over the materials at Alliant? With COAMFTE certification, online course flexibility, and exciting opportunities beyond coursework, there’s no reason not to start accomplishing your educational goals.


  1. Torpey, Elka. “Education Pays, 2020: Career Outlook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2021.…. Accessed: December 30, 2021.
  2. Bauer, Lauren, Audrey Breitwieser, Ryan Nunn, and Jay Shambaugh. “Where Work Pays: How Does Where You Live Matter for Your Earnings?” Brookings. Brookings, July 10, 2018.…. Accessed: December 30, 2021.

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