Becoming an MFT

What is Marriage and Family Therapy?

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is a distinct mental health discipline with a unique body of knowledge, research, clinical approaches and licensure laws. As a profession, MFT was developed out of the field of psychiatry in the 1940s due to a shift in focus from individual pathology to viewing people's symptoms and problems as interactional processes best understood within the larger family or couple context.

MFT vs. Traditional Therapy Chart

Getting Started

Marriage and family therapists play an important role in the delivery of mental health care. The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program at Northcentral University has helped transform marriage and family therapy education by providing the global community with access to a U.S. regionally accredited university delivering quality, online MFT education.

MFT Application Process

Gather Information

Is marriage and family therapy the right field for you? Do Northcentral University’s MFT programs fit your needs as a student? The only way you can honestly answer these questions is by researching the profession and your educational options. If you’ve made it to this page, you’ve clearly already started the research process, but we encourage you to be thorough and check out the links above for more information.

Complete Your Application

Work with the Enrollment Team at Northcentral University to complete all of the required application materials. We accept applications year-round and do not have to wait to fill cohorts before starting a new class. Basically, the sooner you begin the application process, the sooner you can get started on your education journey. Contact an Enrollment Advisor today at 1-866-776-0331 or email

Application Evaluation

Your Enrollment Advisor and a member of the MFT faculty will review your application materials, including your application, resume and licensure plan (if applicable). We will also set up an online one-on-one interview with an MFT faculty member to finalize the application process. Visit the NCU Catalog for additional application materials and requirements for the online MFT programs.

Get Started in the Program

Once your application is approved, you will need to complete a background check and then work with the Enrollment Team to schedule your first course.

MFT Program Approvals and Accreditations

In order to ensure the highest level of quality in training and education within our MFT programs, we seek to obtain and maintain proper external reviews and approvals of our degree programs. We currently have the following examples of program approvals and accreditations achieved or in process related to Northcentral’s Marriage and Family Therapy programs.

  • Northcentral University’s Master’s program in MFTis the first online MFT program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).  This achievement marks the highest level of program accreditation possible for an MFT program.  
  • In April of 2008, we applied for and received approval of our MFT programs (MA and PhD) with the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education (AZBPPE). In order to review this degree program approval, click here and search for Northcentral University. 
  • In December of 2010, we received approval of our MA MFT program from the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (CA-BBS), the MFT licensing board in California. This means that our degree program is pre-approved as meeting the educational requirements for MFT licensure in the State of California. Click here to review Northcentral University on the CA-BBS list of Accredited Schools with MFT Degree Programs. The MA MFT program went through this process again in 2012 when CA changed their educational requirements.  Northcentral was again approved to offer a BBS pre-approved Master’s degree in California.
  • The state of New York requires all out of state universities to gain approval in order to place student interns in New York State clinical sites.  Northcentral University initiated this application process in the fall of 2009.  On October 1, 2012 the state of New York approved Northcentral Marriage & Family Therapy students to perform Marriage & Family Therapy activities legally within their state as an intern.  In addition, New York has a program evaluation process that would pre-approve graduates for licensure approval within the state of New York. Northcentral University’s MFT program is currently pursuing program approval within the state of New York.
  • Our Supervision Methods course is preapproved by the AAMFT. This course is the first online supervision training course that is approved by the AAMFT. We see the approval of this course as an important recognition that online coursework and training, if well designed, can be substantially equivalent to in-person experience. The fact that the approval is from the AAMFT is a respected achievement for us as well. To find our course in the list of approved courses, click here and search for courses in Arizona. 

Career Opportunities

The number of people seeking help from MFTs has increased dramatically in recent years, raising awareness of the field and the need for trained practitioners who have graduated from accredited programs.  

For example, according to the 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow much faster than average (41 percent) for all occupations due to population growth and the fact that MFTs can serve as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. Likewise, strong 10-year employment growth was one of the main reasons Marriage and Family Therapist was listed as #42 in CNN’s 2012 Best Jobs in America rankings. Also factoring in the decision was the strong quality of life report card (Personal Satisfaction: B, Low Stress: C, Benefit to Society: A, Flexibility: B). 

Licensed MFTs can work in a variety of professional settings, including private practice, inpatient facilities, employee assistance programs, health maintenance organizations, community mental health centers, school Head Start centers, social service agencies, courts and prisons.

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