Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Programs in Los Angeles

A Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program is an advanced graduate degree, either at the master’s or doctoral level. MFT programs typically focus on the area of psychological and mental health interventions for individuals, couples, and families. A typical MFT program entails a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with an understanding of the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders, as well as the completion of a clinical training requirement that provides students with hands-on experience within the field.

In Los Angeles, there has been a growing need for MFTs along with the societal push for mental health awareness and accessibility. As more MFT graduate programs are established you have the option of pursuing a specialized career, separate from a general psychology program.

What does an LMFT do?

After completing a graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy, students pursue licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in order to work as a clinician in mental health. As an LMFT, you will be responsible for assessing, diagnosing, and treating individuals, couples, and families struggling with a variety of mental health or inter-relationship issues. LMFTs have the flexibility to practice in various settings in Los Angeles, including private practices, hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, and in-patient or outpatient clinics.

LMFTs practice under the scope of providing psychotherapeutic interventions to individuals experiencing a wide range of issues. These may include family problems, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, marital conflict, disabilities, substance abuse, trauma, cultural differences, and relationship problems.

Accredited MFT Programs in Los Angeles

NameCityStateDegree LevelModalityAccreditationGRE Required?Full Program NameURL
Loyola University New OrleansNew OrleansLAM.S.CampusCACREP NoM.S. in Marriage, Couple and Family CounselingLearn More
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityHammondLAM.S.CampusCACREP NoM.S. in Marriage, Couple and Family CounselingLearn More
University of Holy CrossNew OrleansLAM.A.Campus & OnlineCACREP NoM.A. in Marriage, Couple and Family CounselingLearn More
University of Louisiana at Monroe (MA)MonroeLAMastersCampusCOAMFTEYesM.S. in Marriage & Family TherapyLearn More
University of Louisiana at Monroe (PhD)MonroeLADoctoralCampusCOAMFTEYesDoctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family TherapyLearn More

An important consideration to account for when choosing a graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy, is often, preparation for ultimate licensure upon graduation. In order to qualify for licensure, each state sets requirements for coursework and training that students must accrue and exhibit competency. For licensure in Los Angeles, The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) is the state board that sets licensure standards and guidelines through which applicants apply for and obtain licensure in California.

Accreditation is a prestigious standing earned by institutions for upholding the standards of education set by the accreditation agency. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT) is the national governing body for all MFT-related education and training which sets the guidelines and standards for education and practice. Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is a globally recognized entity that accredits masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral programs in MFT, and every COAMFTE-accredited program ensures that students complete and accrue the necessary qualifications and training as a part of their graduate degree to then pursue licensure as a seamless transition upon graduation.

While attending a COAMFTE-accredited program is not a state requirement for licensure in most states, it is recommended as students would not have to spend additional time accruing coursework and training hours upon graduation, in order to qualify for licensure. Some programs that are not accredited still meet the requirements for licensure. The California BBS website offers users the ability to look for specific graduate programs that meet those requirements in the state of California.

COAMFTE Accredited Los Angeles MFT Programs

Highlighted below are some COAMFTE-accredited programs in Los Angeles.

  • Pepperdine University – This institution offers a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program offers a daytime and evening format to choose from, which makes it accessible to working professionals. Students are prepared for licensure as they complete the program, and all classes are held on campus. Students typically take about two years to complete the program and have the advantage of choosing from 130+ clinical practicum sites that oftentimes serve as a doorway to establishing a career in the field. Students also have the option of qualifying for dual licensure as an LMFT and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in California.
  • Alliant International University – AIU offers Master of Arts and PsyD degrees in marriage and family therapy. This program is COAMFTE-accredited and is offered in in-person and online formats. Students are prepared for licensure as they complete the requirements for graduation, and the PsyD program is a continuation of the existing master’s program, which consists of additional specialized coursework and training within MFT improving students’ job prospects and scope of practice. The program has a chemical dependency specialization track that adds to student portfolios of additional qualifications as they prepare to enter the workforce. This specialization is embedded into the program and does not require additional coursework. There are a number of scholarship and funding opportunities available to students making affordability manageable. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours and can be typically completed across two years.
  • The University of Southern California Rossier – This Master of Science degree consists of 60 credit hours and can be completed in part-time or full-time enrollment. Students typically graduate anywhere from 24 to 48 months. While completing the program, students are prepared for licensure upon graduation in the state of California. This program has an emphasis on academic research where students are encouraged to be involved in and conduct research related to MFT. Students are offered numerous scholarship and financial aid opportunities and options that offset the cost of attendance. The faculty support students in obtaining a practicum placement that aligns with personal strengths and offers students a variety of settings to choose from.
  • California Southern University – CSU offers a Master of Arts degree in psychology with an emphasis in MFT, that prepares students for dual licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) or a MFT. This program is approved by BBS for meeting the requirements for dual licensure in California. The curriculum consists of 60 credit hours and spans about four years. The program can be completed online, and students can complete program requirements at a pace of their choosing, making accessibility and flexibility a key advantage for working professionals. New courses are offered every month, and students are offered support in coursework and training as they proceed in the program.
  • California State Los Angeles – This program is a School Based Family Counseling Program that collaborates efforts between family and school systems to be clinically focused on promoting positive outcomes for children. The program satisfies the requirements for licensure as an MFT and an LPCC. This MFT program is an in-person and full-time degree consisting of 77 credit hours, that takes between two-and-a-half and three years to complete. Students are offered a thesis option, that enhances their preparation for continued education at a doctoral level. Students are provided with extensive support in their education and training as they complete degree requirements.
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology – This Master of Arts degree in MFT, is offered full-time and part-time in the beautiful Los Angeles campus. Students are prepared for licensure as MFTs and typically graduate within two to three years depending on the pace of curriculum completion. This program is COAMFTE-accredited and incorporates interdisciplinary faculty for education and training students. Students are offered a variety of scholarships and funding options to assist with the cost of attendance. The program prepares students in building a career through a number of personal and professional development opportunities, including hands-on support in identifying practicum placements.

What Will I Learn

Committing to an advanced degree takes an in-depth understanding due to the financial and time demands required in order to put your investment towards something fruitful. Most programs that meet the requirements for licensure have similar curriculum requirements set by AAMFT, and COAMFTE requires specific curriculum standards. Highlighted below are those required courses:

  • Foundations of Relational/Systemic Practice: Competencies in foundations and critical issues faced by MFTs. Historical development of theoretical concepts and models of MFT. Evidence-based practice and integration of the biopsychosocial model.
  • Clinical treatment: Competency in treatment for a diverse population including individuals, families, couples, children, and the elderly using evidenced-based practice to assess, diagnose, and formulate interventions and treatment.
  • Diverse, multicultural, and/or underserved communities: Understanding of issues arising from any relevant social category that could influence human behavior and dysfunctional patterns.
  • Research and evaluation: Competency in MFT research and evaluation, the use of evidence-based practice, and being an informed user and consumer of academic research. Contribution to academic research.
  • Professional identity, law, ethics, and social responsibility: Development of professional identity as an MFT. Understanding of the ethics code including legal and ethical standards, obligations, limitations, and processes.
  • Biopsychosocial health and development across the lifespan: Human development across various stages and its intersection in clinical treatment. The use of psychological theories, the history of those concepts, and their application through evidence-based practices across a variety of applicable contexts in a clinical setting.
  • Systemic/relational assessment and mental health diagnosis and treatment: familiarity and competence with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders. Knowledge in psychopharmacology, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders along with other issues including addiction, trauma, intra-family violence, chronic medical conditions, and utilization of a relational philosophy.
  • Contemporary issues: Being versed in current issues as it pertains to a local, regional, and global context. Understanding of further continuation in keeping up-to-date on contemporary issues and addressing them as an MFT.
  • Community Intersection and Collaboration: Exemplifying clinical competence within a defined context or non-traditional MFT practice. Use of clinical competence with multidisciplinary collaboration.
  • Clinical training: 500 clinical contact hours over 12 months with individuals, families, and others with at least 40% being relational. Students must receive clinical supervision from an adequately licensed professional that is AAMFT approved for at least one hour a week.

Opportunities as an LMFT in Los Angeles

According to the census bureau, Los Angeles County has a total population of 9,811,842 as of 2021. Being one of the most high-traffic cities, there is a significant demand for mental health professionals in the area. The projected demand for LMFTs is set to increase by 11% in the next decade, opening up approximately 6,500 jobs nationally. This is much higher than the national average.

Based on the data obtained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the range of pay annually within California ranges from $37,220 to $96,520, with a median pay of $49,650. As for the city of Los Angeles, pay ranges from $37,050 to $81,600 with a median pay of $49,350 annually. This is fairly within range of the national rates.

Los Angeles is a hub for diversity in every category, and choosing a population or group that you connect with is much more accessible than many other locations. A major advantage to pursuing an MFT program in Los Angeles is that many programs offer placement sites that help students get their foot in the door to establishing and building a career before graduation. You will have plenty of resources and opportunities to practice as a clinician in community-centered institutions, or in private practice, with more high-profile clientele. Further, the vibrance that the city has to offer provides residents with an amazing work-life balance that is unparalleled in most other locations.
A career in MFT is demanding and making the commitment to excel in this field takes significant consideration. Location and personal goals are key in making this decision. It may also depend on existing obligations around work and family. The MFT programs in Los Angeles are geared to support students through major life transitions and setting students up for success throughout their progression in the program. Regardless of where you may decide to pursue your educational and career endeavors, this career path is guaranteed to make a fulfilling and lasting impact.

Los Angeles MFT Resources

Alliant International University

Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Bureau of Labor Statistics

California Board of Behavioral Sciences

California Southern University

California State Los Angeles

Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education

National Census Bureau


Pepperdine University

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The University of Southern California Rossier