MFT Programs in South Dakota

Kacy Kaiser

Written by Kacy Kaiser

M.S. in School Counseling | Long Island University

LMFT Candidate | Updated & Fact Checked: 3/4/2024

Known for its beautiful and historical landscape, South Dakota is a wonderful place to live and work. South Dakota is rich in Native American and frontier history. The people are friendly and give the culture a small-town feel, even in a big city. If you call the vast prairies and dense Black Forest of South Dakota home and want to help the residents of this fine state live a better life, becoming an MFT in South Dakota may be for you. South Dakota is an excellent place to begin a rewarding Marriage and Family Therapy career.

Our relationships significantly impact our mental health, and because of this, Marriage and Family Therapy is a rapidly growing field. As healthcare reforms created more coverage for mental health issues, more people could receive treatment they could not previously afford. There is an increasing demand for Mental Health Counseling of different types. Marriage and Family Therapy specifically treats the relationship dynamics in a person’s life and helps them to improve their relationships. People who work as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are licensed and certified counselors. They undergo specialized training to work with individuals, couples, and families.  

MFTs examine a person’s relationships and their dynamics to help them function better. Good mental health is often related to healthy relationships. MFTs can help people keep the good times happening within their relationships and cope with and grow through struggles and challenging times. 

If you consider embarking on a Marriage and Family Therapist career in South Dakota, we will show you programs to help you achieve this goal.

Online MFT Programs in South Dakota

While no college or university in South Dakota offers a fully online Marriage and Family Therapy program, you don’t have to be in the state to take advantage of online programs. South Dakota students can complete their Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the comfort of their home computer. 

Online programs offer great flexibility, making them ideal for working students or those with other commitments. However, ensuring the program is flexible enough to meet your individual needs is important. It is essential to consider the program’s cost when deciding to enroll. The program’s price can vary depending on the institution and the specialization you choose.

Here is a list of FULLY online programs that South Dakota residents can take advantage of:

  1. Manhattan College: prepares future therapists to work with and provide treatment for familial relationships, marital/couple relationships, parent-child relationships, pre-marital, and other personal relationships. The program is 60 graduate credits with a required 500 hours of internship experience.
  2. Syracuse University: offers an online Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. The program has a 60 credit requirement along with 500 hours of practicum experience. The program is COAMFTE accredited. 
  3. University of Wisconsin- Superior: offers a 100% online Masters in Counseling with Marriage and Family Therapy track.  The program is designed to prepare students to become licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) by passing the national exam. 
  4. Capella University: offers an online Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MSMFT) program designed to prepare students to become licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs). The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Accredited MFT Programs in South Dakota

South Dakota COAMFTE Accredited MFT Programs

The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education is a national accrediting body for marriage and family therapy programs. The programs that COAMFTE accredits meet high-quality standards and are recognized by state and national professional organizations.

While there is no COAMFTE accredited program in South Dakota, there is one university in the nearby state of Nebraska that is. Listed below are some critical components of the program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

CACREP Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in South Dakota

The CACREP-accreditation can apply to both general and specialized counseling degree programs. CACREP stands for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that accredits counseling programs in the United States and Canada. CACREP accreditation is voluntary, but many state and national professional organizations recognize it. 

CACREP accreditation is a valuable asset for counseling programs. It demonstrates to students, employers, and the public that the program meets high-quality standards. CACREP accreditation can also make it easier for graduates to obtain licensure and employment. 

There are several CACREP-accredited programs in South Dakota:

  1. Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD:
    • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    • School Counseling
  2. South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD:
    • School Counseling
    • Student Affairs and College Counseling
    • Rehabilitation Counseling
    • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  3. University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD:
    • School Counseling
    • Clinical Mental Health Counseling

No GRE Required MFT Programs in South Dakota

A standardized test called the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is sometimes required for admission into graduate-level programs. However, many colleges and universities today no longer require standardized admission tests. You can find Marriage and Family Therapy programs that do not require the GRE for admission. Consequently, some programs may require it only under certain circumstances. 

There is one program in South Dakota that is specifically an MFT program and does not require the GRE for admission:

  1. South Dakota State University: Master of Science in Counseling and Human Resource Development specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy.

The requirements for admission are:

  • A completed graduate application
  • A one-page Goal Statement
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • Undergraduate College Transcripts
  • Resume

What Will You Learn in a South Dakota MFT Program?

MFT programs train students to apply knowledge of systemic principles, theories, and research to practice with individuals, couples, families, and groups. South Dakota MFT programs prepare students to become socially proficient marriage and family therapists by integrating the principles of social justice and diversity throughout all courses and clinical work. With this training, you can begin a marriage and family therapy career.

Students in a South Dakota MFT program will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary for competent ethical practice
  2. Demonstrate skills, knowledge, and awareness to counsel within a diverse society
  3. Describe and explain the process of change as expressed by individual and family counseling theories across the lifespan
  4. Identify and describe theories and models of career development, counseling, and decision-making
  5. Demonstrate essential interviewing, counseling, and conceptualizing skills
  6. Identify and apply approaches used for various types of group work
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts of standardized testing and other assessment techniques
  8. Discern evidence-based counseling practices
  9. Demonstrate knowledge and skills in conceptualizing and treating marriage, couple, and family counseling.

In addition to coursework, students in MFT programs must complete both practicum and internship hours where they work with clients under the supervision of a professor and professional MFT. This experience is necessary for students to gain understanding and practice as a therapist but is also a requirement to sit for the licensing exam.

After completing an MFT program in South Dakota, students are eligible to sit for the licensure examination for MFTs. Once they have passed the test, they can become licensed MFTs.

How To Become a Fully-Licensed MFT in South Dakota:

The South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists is the licensing board for all prospective LMFT’s. Their purpose is to ensure the professionalism and ethical standards of MFT’s are adhered to in the state of South Dakota.    

Here are the steps on how to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in South Dakota:

  1. Submit an application for a Plan of Supervision.
    • Provide an official transcript as evidence of completing a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited Marriage and Family Therapy program. 
    • Propose a board approved supervisor to oversee the required supervision and direct contact hours necessary.
  2. Pass the National Exam for Marital and Family Therapy (NMFTE).
  3. Complete the application for full licensure (fee of $225).
  4. Keep your license current by accruing 40 hours of Continuing Education Credits every two years.

Step 1: Submit an application for a Plan of Supervision.

COAMFTE is the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and is the highest national accrediting body for MFT programs. CACREP and COAMFTE programs ensure that the curriculum meets their standards and prepares students for work as Marriage and Family Therapists.

If you have completed a Master’s or Doctoral degree in a counseling program not accredited by these associations, you must provide evidence of your coursework. Completing a degree from an MFT program will give you the knowledge and experience necessary to pass the National MFT exam and begin a rewarding career as an MFT in Nebraska.

Step 2: Pass the National Examination for Marital and Family Therapy (NMFTE).

The NMFTE exam is facilitated by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. It is a national exam that all LMFTs must pass to be licensed.

The exam is a multiple-choice format that tests your knowledge of MFT theory, assessment, and intervention. You must score at least 75% on the exam to pass.  They offer four testing sessions per calendar year.

Step 3: Complete the application for Full Licensure with the South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Following the completion of the required hours under an approved Plan of Supervision and passage of the national exam, an applicant for full licensure must complete an application for licensure. A refundable license fee of $225 must accompany an application for licensure.

Step 4: Renew Your License every two years

Fully Licensed MFTs in South Dakota must renew their MFT licenses every even year prior to November 30th. In addition to renewing their license, MFTs must complete 40 hours of Continuing Education Credits and provide evidence of this in their application. This requirement ensures that MFTs in South Dakota keep up to date with the latest research and best practices in the discipline.

Career and Salary Opportunities for LMFTs in South Dakota

Marriage and family therapy is growing, and many career opportunities are available for MFTs in South Dakota. Here, we will discuss some of the different career paths that MFTs can take and the average salary for MFTs in South Dakota.

Career Opportunities for MFTs

There are many different career paths available for MFTs in South Dakota. Some of the most common career paths include:

  • Private practice: Licensed MFTs can open their private practices and see clients individually, couples, or families.
  • Inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities: MFTs can work in inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families.
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment Facilities.
  • Schools: MFTs can work in schools, providing therapy to students and their families.
  • Community-based non-profit organizations: MFTs can work in community mental health centers, providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families.
  • Government agencies: MFTs can work for government agencies, providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families.
  • Military and Veterans’ facilities

Salary for MFTs in South Dakota

Salaries for MFTs can vary depending on experience, location, and the setting in which you work.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary of MFT’s in South Dakota is $47,580.  In the neighboring state of Nebraska, the average MFT salary is slightly higher at $53,990. 

Marriage and family therapy is a growing field and therapists can work in various settings, and salaries can vary based on the employer. MFTs work in mental health centers, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, nursing homes, residential care facilities, and as private practitioners. 

A career as a Marriage and Family Therapist can be gratifying. As an MFT in South Dakota, you can work in various settings and earn a decent salary while helping people live more fulfilling lives. You will be able to show people how creating healthier relationships can improve their mental health and overall enjoyment of life. Enroll in one of these MFT programs and start your path to becoming an MFT in South Dakota today!

MFT Programs in Other States