MFT Programs in California (Online and Campus)

Anna Harris

Written by Anna Harris

Marketing Manager | M.Ed in CMHC – William & Mary

LMFT Candidate | Updated & Fact Checked: 2/25/2023

 

If you’re thinking about advancing your career and education by pursuing a license in marriage and family therapy (MFT) but don’t know where to start, look no further. There are many graduate-level marriage and family therapy programs in California available for enrollment either remotely or in person. This article reviews them in depth, from MFT degrees from some of the best schools in the state to ones that hold specific accreditations. The article has been broken down into sections, with the first highlighting all the Master’s in MFT Programs in the state: those that are accredited by COAMFTE, those that don’t require the GRE for admission, and those that have an online offering. We have also provided a robust overview of the licensing requirements to become an LMFT in the state of California.

These programs are available to educate you extensively on the most up-to-date information out there, so you will leave the programs knowledgeable and prepared for the real work ahead in the field of helping others.

Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Programs in California

In the state of California, there are 36 Masters in MFT programs that are available to applicants. A master’s in marriage and family therapy degree consists of 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours. Generally, students are required to undergo six semester hours of practicum, which includes 150 face-to-face counseling hours. While many courses are offered online, certain aspects of the programs, such as clinical supervision, practicums, and internships, are likely to take place in the community in which you reside. The specifics of the practicum may include 75 hours of client advocacy, but if not, then the student will also engage in 75 more hours of face-to-face counseling. The total length of an MFT program depends on the university and how much time a student can commit, but is generally the equivalent of two full-time years of coursework following your undergraduate program. However, some programs may be more flexible and allow students to complete the program over three years.

25 COAMFTE Accredited California MFT Programs

Once you’ve decided that you want to become licensed in marriage and family therapy, it’s important to choose the right school. When searching, it’s important to look for a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). This accrediting body ensures that the program meets the mental health standards for MFT education, and also ensures that the school is in good standing. While there are many California online marriage and family programs available, you might be looking for something specific. Perhaps you would like to attend in person, or maybe you need online marriage and family therapy courses so you can easily work around your schedule. Either way, both online and in-person classes are available in California, and some examples are summarized here.
NameCityStateDegree LevelModalityGRE Required?Full Program NameURL
Alliant International University - IrvineIrvineCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Alliant International University - Los AngelesAlhambraCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Alliant International University - SacramentoSacramentoCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Alliant International University - San DiegoSan DiegoCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Alliant International University - IrvineIrvineCADoctoralOnlineNoPsyD in MFTClick Here
Bethel Seminary San DiegoCAMastersCampus & OnlineNoMA in MFTClick Here
California State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeCAMastersCampusYesMaster of Science in MFTClick Here
Campbellsville UniversityChatsworthCAMastersCampusN/AM.A. in MFTClick Here
Chapman UniversityOrangeCAMastersCampusYesM.A. in MFTClick Here
Hope International UniversityFullertonCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCADoctoralHybridNoDoctor of MFTClick Here
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCAMastersCampus & OnlineNoMS in MFTClick Here
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCADoctoralCampusYesSystems, Families, and Couples (PhD)Click Here
Northcentral UniversitySan DiegoCAMastersOnlineNoMA in MFTClick Here
Northcentral UniversitySan DiegoCADoctoralOnlineNoDoctor of Philosophy in MFTClick Here
Pacific Oaks CollegeSan JoseCAMastersCampusN/AMaster’s in Marriage and Family TherapyClick Here
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCampusN/AM.A. in MFT: African American Family Studies SpecializationClick Here
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCampusN/AM.A. in MFT: Latinx Family Studies SpecializationClick Here
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCampusN/AM.A. in MFT: LGBTQIA+ Studies SpecializationClick Here
Pacific Oaks CollegeSan JoseCAMastersOnlineN/AM.A. in MFT: Trauma Studies SpecializationClick Here
San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
Touro University WorldwideLos AlamitosCAMastersOnlineNoMA in MFTClick Here
University of San DiegoSan DiegoCAMastersCampusNoMA in MFTClick Here
University of San FranciscoSan FranciscoCAMastersCampusN/AMA in MFTClick Here
University of the WestRosemeadCAMastersOnlineYesMA in MFTClick Here

Northcentral University, located in San Diego, CA, is a COAMFTE-accredited Masters’s in MFT degree program available online that provides rigorous training for licensure. This program prides itself on helping students develop competency in ethics and cultural sensitivity.

California State University- Northridge, located in Northridge, CA, is a COAMFTE-accredited MFT degree program designed to teach practical skills and master academic knowledge. Their goal is to provide a comprehensive foundation in order for students to competently enter their future practice. The classes primarily take place in person during the day and evenings, but there are some hybrid courses available as well.

Alliant International University offers a Master’s in Marriage and Family therapy across California, including Irvine, Alhambra, Sacramento, and San Diego. Their Irvine location also offers a doctoral program in MFT. This is an online COAMFTE-accredited program that also includes a chemical dependency specialization track. This program has a 60-credit hour graduation requirement and typically takes a minimum of two years to complete. 

This program meets the requirements for licensure in many states including California. Beyond a Master’s degree, Alliant university offers a doctoral degree option, a PsyD that expands on your ability to treat individuals within your scope of practice.

Bethel University offers a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program typically spans over three years and incorporates Christian theology in their clinical training and practice. This program is a mix of online and in-person coursework and meets licensure requirements for the state of Minnesota and other states (applicants are encouraged to check with preferred state board requirements). 

Bethel University offers involvement in clinical ministry throughout the course of the graduate program. This program is not accredited but includes diverse faculty with varying interests in the intersection of MFT practice and theological influence.  The program has a 9-month practicum training requirement to graduate successfully.

Cal State Northridge’s MFT program is a Master of Science degree that is accredited by COAMFTE and IACSTE that prepares graduates for dual licensure as an LMFT and LPCC. The curriculum and training offered prepare students to work in a variety of environments and with diverse populations. Clinical practicum begins the first year of the program and students then transition into off-site training placements for additional experience. The program consists of 72 credit hours and offers a thesis track option, or the ability to complete a graduate project. There is an equal emphasis on clinical research and practice that enables students to pursue personal interests and sharpen acquired skills.

Campbellsville University’s Master of Arts program fosters the importance of clinical competence and inclusivity for all students and faculty. Graduates are prepared for licensure as an LMFT in California. This program provides an experiential and applied approach to clinical conceptualization and practice. On average, students take approximately two years to complete this 60-credit-hour program that is spread across five semesters (with some summers included). Being heavily clinically focused, the program does not offer a thesis option, but students are allowed to begin clinical training as soon as they complete 15 credit hours, with on-site and various community placements to choose from.

Chapman University’s MFT program consists of 60 credit hours and provides students with an option of a two-and-a-half-year or three-year plan of study. This option enables students with flexibility in their schedules to manage other life obligations. Students can begin their clinical practicum training in their final year of the program. Faculty in this program come from various specialty backgrounds, providing students with a rich experience of diverse perspectives. The MFT program is accredited by COAMFTE and has a heavy clinical emphasis to produce competent clinicians upon graduation. The program is designed to prepare students to meet the educational and training requirements for licensure as an LMFT in California.

Hope International University’s COAMFTE-accredited program comprises a 60-credit hour curriculum and integrates clinical conceptualization, practice, and research grounded in Christian principles. This Master of Arts degree offers a variety of training opportunities for students to choose from and prepares students for licensure upon graduation. Clinical training consists of 9 credit hours and students are required to work at two training sites which broadens their exposure to different environments. Practicum may begin as soon as 12 credit hours of coursework are completed in addition to all required prerequisite courses. There is no thesis option available but students are provided opportunities to engage in a minimum of 25 professional development hours as a program requirement.

Loma Linda University’s Master of Science in MFT program is offered both in-person and online. Both programs are COAMFTE accredited and ensure students receive the clinical training and education in line with obtaining licensure upon graduation. Students also have the option of pursuing a drug and alcohol counseling certificate during the course of the program. Typically the program takes two years to complete and consists of 90 credit hours. Students can also pursue a Medical Family Therapy specialization that places graduates directly in the healthcare setting while collaborating with other medical professionals. This program offers various opportunities for personal and professional development while upholding the national standards for the field of MFT.

Northcentral University offers graduate programs in Marriage and Family Therapy and upholds regional accreditation by WASC and national accreditation by COAMFTE which serves to prepare graduates for licensure upon graduation from the program. Students may begin clinical practicum training as soon as they complete the first 9 credit hours of the program, and the program itself consists of 45 credit hours of content courses. Students have the option of pursuing the program online, making distance education an advantage for working students. Typically, students take two to three years to complete the Master’s program, which depends on what each student’s courseload would be.

Pacific Oaks College offers a Master of Arts degree in MFT with a specialization in Latinx Family Studies, in their San Jose and Pasadena campuses. The San Jose campus also offers an online option for a MA in MFT. The graduate program meets all the requirements of the Board of Behavioral Sciences and is designed to prepare students for licensure in California. The program consists of 62 credit hours and students typically graduate within two and a half years. Being centered around clinical training and practice, this program offers students a variety of placements to obtain clinical experience and training.

San Diego State University offers a Master of Science degree in MFT which is a two-and-a-half-year-long full-time program consisting of an academic curriculum and training requirements that are in accordance with a COAMFTE accreditation. Faculty focus on providing development opportunities within the realms of personal and professional growth and skill development. The program itself consists of 60 credit hours, of which clinical practicum training requirements make up approximately 10 credit hours. Students have a variety of practicum sites to choose from that will assist in defining skills and build upon areas of interest. Faculty and students have the opportunity to gain experience and mentorship from a diverse pool of individuals, that aid in professional development and competence as a clinician.

Touro University Worldwide’s Master of Arts graduate program in MFT is a 100% online program that is accredited by WSCUC, BBS, and COAMFTE. The institution also allows for up to 12 credits to be transferred toward the current program. There are three tracks students could choose from to include: the clinical track, the non-clinical track, and the LPCC track. The main difference between these tracks is the clinical training requirements for successful graduation. Each track is designed to prepare students to obtain desired licensure upon graduation, with the option of dual licensure as an LMFT and LPCC also being available, making this program flexible and tailored to individual needs.

University of San Diego’s MFT Program is tailored to produce competent clinicians ready to obtain licensure as an LMFT in California. Students will obtain a Master of Arts degree in MFT where there is a heavy focus on clinical training and experience where students are required to complete a 12-month clinical practicum. The program is accredited by COAMFTE and typically students graduate within two years. There are several community practicum placements available to students that specialize in areas including family-based care, integrated behavioral health, culture and diversity, training and education, couples therapy, and interpersonal neurobiology. The program also offers numerous scholarship and funding opportunities that make education more accessible and attainable.

University of San Francisco’s Master of Arts program in MFT consists of an in-person intensive curriculum that could span between two to three years. The program has an emphasis on evidence-based treatment modalities where students are expected to keep up with the current research in the field. Offering smaller class sizes, students can form close and supportive relationships with peers and faculty that assist in personal and professional development. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours which are designed to be consistent with the California BBS. Students complete clinical practicum training in their final year in sites that are school-based partners.

16 California MFT Programs That Don’t Require The GRE

The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) exam is a standardized test that is still used by some institutions as part of their admissions process. The good news for applicants is that many universities are moving away from the GRE, and some schools have wiped out its requirement entirely. The following list includes all of the MFT programs in California that don’t require the GRE for admission.
NameCityStateDegree LevelAccreditationGRE Required?Full Program NameURL
Antioch UniversityLos AngelesCAMastersHLCNoMA in Clinical PsychologyLearn More
Antioch UniversitySanta BarbaraCAMastersHLCNoMA in Clinical PsychologyLearn More
Biola UniversityLa MiradaCAMastersWSCUCNoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California Lutheran UniversityThousand OaksCAMastersWASCNoMS in Counseling Psychology (MFT)Learn More
California Southern UniversityCosta MesaCAMastersHLCNoMaster of Arts (MA) in Psychology, with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, BakersfieldBakersfieldCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, ChicoChicoCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, FullertonFullertonCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, Long BeachLong BeachCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, Los AngelesLos AngelesCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, SacramentoSacramentoCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Chicago School of Professional PsychologyLos AngelesCAMastersWSCUCNoMaster of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology: Marital and Family Therapy SpecializationLearn More
Palo Alto UniversityPalo AltoCAM.A.CACREPNoM.A. in Marriage, Couple and Family CounselingLearn More
San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Touro University WorldwideLos AlamitosCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
University of San DiegoSan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More

Biola University offers a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy that includes a theological foundation for clinical training and practice. The program includes a year-long clinical training requirement along with theological courses integrated into the coursework curriculum. The deadline to apply to this program is on the 15th of March of each year and graduates are prepared to meet licensing requirements within the state of California.

This program has a 67-credit hour completion requirement for successful graduation and does not offer a thesis option. It has a 9-credit hour requirement for clinical practicum training and offers a faculty with backgrounds in theological application in clinical practice.

Cal State Polytechnic – This Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program consists of a 90-credit hour degree that prepares graduates for licensure within the state of California. The institution offers a Master of Science degree in MFT and the course of the program typically spans over two years at the minimum. This program offers a thesis track and has a focus on clinical training and evidence-based scientific research. The faculty within this program have diverse clinical training backgrounds and research interests that offer versatility in areas of interest you could pursue. The program has roughly 40 students and has a hands-on approach to offered training and practice.

California Lutheran University offers a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology that prepares its students for licensure in marriage and family therapy. The program consists of 60 credit hours and takes approximately two to three years to complete. This program is on-campus but there is an option of being a full-time or part-time student. There is a variety of treatment specializations offered within training in MFT, and this program is WASC accredited. While a thesis track option is not available, the program offers a clinical-focused curriculum and training that aligns with the AAMFT core competencies required for licensure. There is also a variety of clinical training sites available for students to choose from.

California Southern University offers a Master of Arts degree in psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy. This program has been accredited by the California Board of Psychology and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. The program itself consists of 60 credit hours and takes approximately four years to complete. This program prepares students for licensure as an LMFT and an LPCC. The program heavily emphasizes clinical training and practice, with clinical training consisting of approximately 15 credit hours. The total time taken to complete this program can vary depending on the course load students take per semester.

California State University – Bakersfield – The Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program offered at California State University is designed to meet the requirements for licensure as an LMFT or LPCC. The program consists of 60 credit hours and is a clinically focused program that does not offer a thesis track option. The deadline to apply to this program is in early February of each year. This program takes two to three years to complete depending on the course load taken per semester. The program has rigorous training and curriculum requirements for which students will have to be enrolled full-time, however, the university offers employment opportunities as a means of income while in the program.

California State University – Chico – This three-year Master of Science degree in Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy meet the requirements for its graduates to obtain licensure as a clinician within the state of California. The program is clinically focused on theoretical training and clinical application on sites on and off campus. The graduate program also offers a thesis track option that encourages students to partake in a scientist-practitioner model. Students will have the option of choosing between a thesis or an empirical research manuscript, which is an applied clinical conceptualization. The program consists of the successful completion of at least 60 credit hours, six to nine of which consist of clinical practicum training.

California State University – Fullerton – This university offers a Master of Science in Counseling program that prepares graduates to pursue licensure as an LMFT and an LPCC upon graduation. The program follows the guidelines of CACREP and is nationally accredited by the institution. There is a strong emphasis on clinical training and practice, and the program operates from a multicultural perspective, creating a diverse and inclusive environment for all students and faculty. The curriculum consists of 63 credit hours and can typically be completed within three and a half years. As for training placements, the program has strong links to a variety of non-profit organizations that students may choose from depending on their interests and skills.

California State University – Long Beach – The Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program at California State University offers the options of three tracks including a 2-year, 2.5-year, and 3-year track depending on your courseload and educational interests. The program is fully accredited by WASC and also offers a thesis option and has an equal emphasis on research and clinical practice. Clinical training makes up about 16 credit hours of the curriculum requirements and the program encourages students to pursue community training sites. Faculty within the department are multicultural and emphasize a diverse and inclusive environment for all individuals. Students will receive education and training that prepares them for licensure as an LMFT and LPCC in California.

California State University – Sacramento – The Master of Science in Counseling program with a concentration in MFT is a 60-credit hour program that is designed to meet the requirements for licensure as an LMFT and LPCC in California. Students typically complete this program within two and a half years on average. The program emphasizes clinical practice and is accredited by CACREP and aligned with COAMFTE standards. There is variability in the times that classes are offered, making this program suitable for those with busy schedules. Training sites are mainly community resources and students will have the opportunity to collaborate with school districts and various non-profit organizations.

Chicago School of Professional Psychology – This Master of Arts MFT program is COAMFTE accredited and prepares students for LMFT licensure upon graduation. Students have the option of being either full-time or part-time and average completion takes two to three years. The program is clinically focused and offers a variety of off-site placements for acquiring clinical training. Practicum consists of eight credit hours that span over four semesters, and students will have to take a clinical competency evaluation at the end of their training. The program offers various fellowships and scholarships to improve accessibility and financial support to students, making it a manageable option for students that have financial obligations amidst pursuing a graduate degree.

Palo Alto University – The Master of Arts degree in Counseling at Palo Alto University offers a specialization in MFT where students will be prepared for dual licensure as an LMFT and LPCC in California. There is an equal emphasis on clinical training, practice, and academic research. Clinical practicum training spans 9 to 12 months and the program guides training placements. Students also have the option of pursuing further education at a doctoral level within the field of mental health This program is CACREP accredited and all faculty and coursework uphold the standards set by this governing body to ensure graduates are competent clinicians and researchers.

Online MFT Programs in California

For applicants who don’t physically reside next to a university, an online Marriage and Family Therapy degree in California might be a good option. In-state tuition, especially for public schools in the state, tends to be very favorable for residents of California, so if you live in California a state-based program is probably your best option.

Digital learning has also rapidly progressed over the past few years, and many universities were forced to introduce online program offerings with COVID. Most online programs are taught by the same faculty that teach on-campus options, which will ensure that you receive the same type of high-quality instruction that you would in an on-ground program. Online programs will also allow you to complete your clinical work in your local community. Given that many MFT graduates are looking to serve either public or private institutions locally, having the flexibility to complete this training locally can open doors to opportunities in their communities.

The following universities in the state of California offer 100% online MFT programs:

  1. Northcentral University – Online Master of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy
  2. Alliant International University – Online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
  3. Bethel University – Online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
  4. Loma Linda University – Online Master of Science in Marital and Family Therapy
  5. Pacific Oaks College – Online Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy: Trauma Studies
  6. Touro University Worldwide – Online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

What Will I Learn in a California MFT Degree Program?

California marriage and family therapy programs are intended to ensure that graduates are able to comprehend complex situations and apply their skills to empower their clients to improve their lives. Students will find that their program will address the following:

  • Cultural competency
  • Resilience
  • Professional ethics and law (as applicable to California)
  • Psychopathology
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Case management and system of care
  • Cross-cultural interaction
  • Life events that affect relationships
  • Developmental issues across the lifespan
  • Human sexuality
  • Substance abuse and co-occurring disorders

While some individuals might be interested in pursuing marriage and family therapy at an undergraduate level, to become a licensed marriage and family therapist you must pursue a graduate-level degree program. An alternative is to enroll in a Ph.D. or Doctoral program in Marriage and Family Therapy, but those programs tend to be more research-focused and specialize in a specific subset within the field.

How to Become an LMFT in California

In order to complete the process to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, you will want to complete the process to obtain your LMFT license. In short, this process includes:

  • Obtaining a qualifying Master’s degree
  • Registering as an AMFT
  • Completing a live scan
  • Undergoing a criminal background check
  • Taking and passing the California Law and Ethics Exam
  • Accruing supervised experience
  • Passing the LMFT Clinical Exam
  • And finally, obtaining an official LMFT license.

The process of obtaining a qualifying master’s degree involves enrolling in a qualifying California marriage and family program that is generally the equivalent of two full-time years of coursework to complete. This typically involves an internship and other client-facing activities as well as a rigorous course load. See: “What Will I Learn in an LMFT Program?”

Before becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in California, you must first become what is called an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT). The important difference here is that an AMFT is a marriage and family therapist under the supervision of a practicing LMFT. To register as an AMFT, you must pass the California Law and Ethics Exam following the completion of your degree and face-to-face client counseling and advocacy hours.

After registering, the next step is to complete two years of post-degree work as an MFT. This process includes:

  • Completing 3,000 hours (minimum) of supervised experience within a period of 104 weeks.
    • A maximum of 1,300 of these hours can be obtained during graduate training.
    • A minimum of 1,700 hours are required to be earned post-degree.
    • A minimum of 1,750 hours of direct counseling should be provided to families, couples, groups, and/or individuals, with a minimum of 500 of those hours dedicated to families, couples, or children.
    • A maximum of 1,250 hours of nonclinical practice must be completed.
    • For every five hours of client contact, one hour of direct supervisor contact is required. However, credited supervision hours should not exceed sex hours in any single week.

Once you have registered, the registration must be renewed every six years by taking the clinical exam.

What does an LMFT in California do?

Licensed marriage and family therapists in California handle a wide array of complex clinical mental health and relationship issues. The main goal of an LMFT is to provide solution-focused, therapeutic services that are individualized to each client with an end goal of improved functioning as a family. This process may involve the LMFT handling a number of conditions, such as marital issues, complications surrounding parent-child relationships, mental health diagnosis such as depression or anxiety, and much more. LMFT’s are capable and licensed to evaluate, treat, and diagnose mental health conditions, emotional disorders, behavioral issues, health issues, and identify complex relationship dynamics. In order to assist clients through these difficult situations, an LMFT uses a variety of interviewing and interpersonal skills to help the client(s) feel comfortable enough to open up and share their lives and how they are feeling. An LMFT may also find themselves dealing with crises from time to time, but should be well equipped with the skills to handle it by the end of their licensing process. A successful LMFT should be non-judgemental and not make assumptions about a client. Often, an LMFT will follow a client for a significant amount of time in their life, from a few months to even a few years or more.

As an LMFT, you will also complete other tasks besides interacting with clients. Some of your daily tasks will include creating and maintaining client records, documenting therapy sessions, handling insurance and coordinating with insurance companies, scheduling appointments with clients, and sending and reading emails. Another important task in which you will engage in is developing individualized treatment plans to help a client address their struggles and behaviors. Within this, you will get to know and assess their post-therapy activities and monitor their progress, and adjust plans as needed.

An LMFT must have a number of both hard and soft skills and abilities, including:

  • Deductive reasoning
  • Problem sensitivity
  • Active listening
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Complex problem solving
  • Judgment and decision making
  • The ability to create and maintain trusting relationships
  • Technology skills
    • Accounting software
    • Electronic mail software
    • Medical software
    • Presentation software
    • Spreadsheet software

If you have or develop these skills, obtaining a license in marriage and family therapy is a valuable way to open up the doors to many rewarding career opportunities.

California LMFT Career and Salary Opportunities

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, you will have a variety of options in which to conduct your practice. This can include hospitals, family courts, community health organizations, or you can even set up private practice. LMFTs generally work full time, but some also work evenings and weekends to accommodate their client’s schedule. There are pros and cons to each option, but you can explore them in your career to find one that is right for you.

The salary of an LMFT in California is, on average, about $78,959 annually ($6,579 per month), but this can vary depending on the industry in which you work, as different industries pay different salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the breakdown of median wages among different industries is as follows:

  • State government (excluding education and hospitals): $77,960
  • Outpatient care centers: $57,930
  • Offices of other health practitioners: $49,630
  • Individual and family services: $48,340

Marriage and family therapist job opportunities are projected to increase 10.5% in California between 2020-2030, which is a higher than average job growth.

MFT Programs in Southern California

The following list includes all Marriage and Family Therapy programs that are available in Southern California. This list includes MFT programs in San Diego and MFT programs in Los Angeles, but also includes a few other cities that exist in the southern California area.
NameCityStateDegree LevelAccreditationGRE Required?Full Program NameURL
Alliant International University - IrvineIrvineCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marital and Family TherapyLearn More
Alliant International University - San DiegoSan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marital and Family TherapyLearn More
Alliant International University - IrvineIrvineCADoctoralCOAMFTENoPsyD in Marital and Family TherapyLearn More
Antioch UniversityLos AngelesCAMastersHLCNoMA in Clinical PsychologyLearn More
Bethel Seminary (MA)San DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California Lutheran UniversityThousand OaksCAMastersWASCNoMS in Counseling Psychology (MFT)Learn More
California Southern UniversityCosta MesaCAMastersHLCNoMaster of Arts (MA) in Psychology, with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, FullertonFullertonCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, Long BeachLong BeachCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
California State University, Los AngelesLos AngelesCAMastersCACREPNoMaster of Science (M.S.) in Counseling: Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Chapman UniversityOrangeCAMastersCOAMFTEYesM.A. Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Chicago School of Professional PsychologyLos AngelesCAMastersWSCUCNoMaster of Arts (M.A.) in Clinical Psychology: Marital and Family Therapy SpecializationLearn More
Hope International University (MA)FullertonCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCADoctoralCOAMFTENoDoctor of Marital and Family TherapyLearn More
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCAMastersCOAMFTENoMS in Marital and Family TherapyLearn More
Loma Linda UniversityLoma LindaCADoctoralCOAMFTEYesSystems, Families, and Couples (PhD)Learn More
Northcentral UniversitySan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Northcentral UniversitySan DiegoCADoctoralCOAMFTENoDoctor of philosophy in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCOAMFTEN/AM.A. Marriage and Family Therapy: African American Family Studies SpecializationLearn More
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCOAMFTEN/AM.A. Marriage and Family Therapy: Latinx Family Studies SpecializationLearn More
Pacific Oaks CollegePasadenaCAMastersCOAMFTEN/AM.A. Marriage and Family Therapy: LGBTQIA+ Studies SpecializationLearn More
Pepperdine UniversityMalibuCAMastersWSCUCYesM.A. in Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Marriage & Family TherapyLearn More
San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More
University of San DiegoSan DiegoCAMastersCOAMFTENoMA in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More

California State University – Dominguez Hills – This Master of Science program in Marriage and Family Therapy consists of a 63-credit-hour curriculum that is structured in alignment with COAMFTE standards. This program is especially committed to creating an environment inclusive of a diverse population of students and offers a variety of scholarships, fellowships, and opportunities. The curriculum does not offer a research-focused thesis track but includes rigorous training in the clinical and theoretical application and practice with approximately 14 credit hours dedicated to clinical training. The program is designed to accommodate students who work during the day, making it a perfect option for those seeking to pursue an education part-time.

California State University – Fresno – This Master of Science in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling program is CACREP accredited and designed to prepare graduates for licensure upon graduation. The program is 60 credits and can be completed in approximately two and a half years. Being a clinically focused program, students have many options for practicum/clinical training placements to choose from during their training period. Students may also have the added advantage of pursuing dual licensure as an LPCC through available coursework within this program. Students also have the option of choosing between a thesis and an applied clinical project which adds to the professional development of those wanting to pursue further education beyond a master’s degree.

Fresno Pacific University – This graduate program is faith-oriented and is accredited by ATS and WASC. The Master of Arts in MFT degree is designed to prepare students for educational competence in preparation for the state licensing examination. The program also offers students the opportunity to study in Israel or attend a Hispanic summer program along with diverse practicum placement options. Being a clinically focused program, the option of a thesis track is not available, however, students are guided by experienced faculty that specialize in various backgrounds in clinical practice. The program is in-person and full-time and emphasizes the influence of a Christian approach to seminary counseling.

Pepperdine University – This online Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program with an emphasis in MFT typically spans the course of two and a half years. The program consists of 62 to 68 credit hours and prepares graduates for licensure as an LMFT or Licensed Mental Health Counselor. The program is clinically focused and clinical practicum training consists of 12 credit hours, roughly four semesters. Students will have the option to pick a placement local to them as long as they have an approved supervisor. This program also offers several financial aid options, which makes its flexibility, accessibility, and affordability a great option for many adults pursuing a graduate degree.

California MFT Resources

What Does a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) Do? | PLNU (pointloma.edu)

LMFT: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements (learn.org)

Marriage and Family Therapists Overview (onetonline.org)

Marriage and Family Therapists- Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)

MFT Programs in Other States