Master’s Degree in Family Counseling – Everything You Need to Know in 2024


A master’s degree in family counseling is a graduate-level program that prepares students to become licensed professionals who help individuals and families address their emotional, behavioral, and mental health concerns.

The program typically takes two to three years to complete and requires students to complete a combination of coursework, clinical training, and supervised experience.

Coursework typically covers topics such as theories of counseling, human development, family systems theory, multicultural counseling, ethics and legal issues in counseling, psychopathology, and counseling techniques.

In addition to coursework, students also gain practical experience through supervised clinical practicum experiences, where they work with real clients in a counseling setting under the guidance of a licensed professional.

After completing their degree, graduates can pursue licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a licensed professional counselor (LPC), or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), depending on the requirements of their state.

What’s covered in a Master’s in Family Counseling?

A Master’s in Family Counseling provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to help individuals and families improve their emotional and mental well-being, build stronger relationships, and overcome life’s challenges.

Here are some of the key areas that are typically covered in the program:

  1. Counseling theories and techniques: learn about various counseling theories, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, humanistic, and systems approaches. They also learn about counseling techniques such as active listening, empathy, and reflection.
  2. Family systems theory: This is a key theoretical framework used in family counseling. Students learn about the interdependence and interaction of family members and how the family system can affect individual behavior and emotional health.
  3. Human development: study the stages of human development from infancy to adulthood, including physical, cognitive, and emotional changes.
  4. Psychopathology: learn about the various mental health disorders and their symptoms, causes, and treatments.
  5. Multicultural counseling: learn about how cultural factors can affect counseling relationships and how to work effectively with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  6. Ethical and legal issues in counseling: learn about ethical principles and legal requirements in counseling, including confidentiality, informed consent, and mandated reporting.
  7. Assessment and diagnosis: learn about various assessment tools and methods for diagnosing mental health disorders.
  8. Group counseling: learn about group dynamics and techniques for leading group counseling sessions.
  9. Clinical practice: gain practical experience through supervised clinical practice, where they work with clients in a counseling setting.
Studying for a master’s degree in family counseling requires a dedication to the growth and development of others. It is a challenging yet rewarding experience that prepares students to become competent and effective clinicians who can help individuals and families navigate the complexities of life. The program provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to work with a diverse range of clients and to create positive change in their lives. If you have a passion for helping others and a desire to make a difference, a master’s degree in family counseling may be the perfect fit for you.
Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin, a licensed clinical professional counselor and professor at Bradley University

Here is a sample curriculum for a Master’s in Family Counseling program:


First Year

  • Introduction to Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • Family Systems Theory and Practice
  • Group Counseling and Dynamics
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Theories of Human Development
  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis
  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling
  • Clinical Practicum I

Second Year

  • Couples Counseling
  • Family Therapy and Techniques
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents
  • Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling
  • Advanced Psychopathology and Treatment
  • Assessment and Treatment Planning
  • Research Methods in Counseling
  • Clinical Practicum II

Elective Courses

  • Grief and Loss Counseling
  • Trauma Counseling
  • Play Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapies
  • Sexual Health and Therapy

Entry requirements for a Master’s in Family Counseling

  1. A Bachelor’s degree: applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree preferably in psychology, social work, or a related field.
  2. Minimum GPA: Most programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher.
  3. Letters of recommendation: Programs may require 2-3 letters of recommendation from academic or professional references who can speak to the applicant’s abilities and potential as a counselor.
  4. Personal statement: Applicants may be required to submit a personal statement that outlines their interest in counseling, their career goals, and why they are a good fit for the program.
  5. Interview: Some programs may require an interview as part of the application process to assess the applicant’s communication skills, interpersonal skills, and overall fit for the program.

How much does a Master’s in Family Counseling cost?

The cost of obtaining a master’s degree in family counseling in the US can vary widely depending on several factors, including the institution, location, and type of program (online vs. on-campus).

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and fees for a graduate program in psychology/counseling during the 2020-2021 academic year was $14,006 for in-state students at public institutions and $29,940 for out-of-state students at public institutions. For private institutions, the average tuition and fees were $29,385.

However, these figures do not include additional expenses such as room and board, textbooks, and other fees, which can add several thousand dollars to the overall cost.

What jobs can you do with a Master’s in Family Counseling?

Here are some common jobs that graduates may pursue:

  1. Marriage and Family Therapist: These professionals work with couples and families to address a range of issues, including communication problems, conflict resolution, and mental health disorders.
  2. Mental Health Counselor: These professionals work with individuals and families to address mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.
  3. School Counselor: These professionals work in K-12 schools to provide counseling and support services to students, including academic guidance, career counseling, and emotional support.
  4. Addiction Counselor: These professionals work with individuals and families to address substance abuse and addiction issues, including providing counseling and support services to help clients achieve and maintain sobriety.
  5. Community Mental Health Counselor: These professionals work in community mental health agencies to provide counseling and support services to individuals and families who may not have access to traditional mental health services.
  6. Private Practice Counselor: Some graduates may choose to open their own private practice, where they can work with individuals, couples, and families on a variety of issues.

How much can you earn with a Master’s in Family Counseling?

Here are the average annual salaries for the common jobs that graduates with a Master’s in Family Counseling may pursue:

  1. Marriage and Family Therapist: $54,590
  2. Mental Health Counselor: $48,720
  3. School Counselor: $60,160
  4. Substance Abuse Counselor: $47,660
  5. Community Mental Health Counselor: $46,240