What are the Best MFT Programs in California?

Best MFT Programs in California

If you are an individual aspiring to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, consider exploring these best MFT programs in California.

MFT stands for marriage and family therapy. These courses are made to provide adequate knowledge about family, relationships, and marital aspects of someone’s life. The course is considered one of the most complex in the category because of its wider topics. MFT is a challenging program and is pursued by a smaller number of students throughout the USA. 

The best MFT programs in California offer a diverse range of specializations. Some of the highly sought-after courses within these top MFT programs in California include Clinical Family Therapy, Couples & Sex Therapy, Critical Issues in Family Therapy, Psychological Foundations of Family Counseling, and more. If you’re searching for Best MFT programs in California, you’ve come to the right source. This article highlights some of the leading MFT programs in the state.

Before we explore the list of the best MFT programs in California, let’s begin by understanding what MFT programs are.

Key Takeaways 

  •  MFT programs train therapists to help people with relationship, marriage, and family problems.
  • To become an MFT therapist in California, you need a master’s degree and a license.
  • Some of the best MFT programs in California are:
    • Azusa Pacific University
    • Pepperdine University
    • University of Southern California
    • California State University, Bakersfield
    • Hope International University
    • University of San Diego
    • University of La Verne
    • California Baptist University
    • California Institute of Integral Studies
    • California Lutheran University
    • California State Polytechnic University

What are MFT programs?

Today people are living a stressed life full of busy schedules and working hours. Due to this, they suffer from mental issues and psychological disorders. The physical issues can be recovered from medications and healing powers. 

However, the psychological issues required special treatment which included both medications and therapy sessions. Some of the most common issues included in society are related to relationships, family, and marriage. All these are essential aspects of one’s life. There is a need to resolve these issues via therapies and personal sessions. 

An MFT (marriage and family therapist) is a skilled professional who takes the sessions of patients and helps them resolve these issues. To become an MFT there is a need to accomplish a certain educational qualification including MFT programs. These programs are designed to train skilled therapists in the field to aid people who are suffering from issues related to relationships, marriage, and family. Nowadays the demand for MFTs has increased and they are given a good salary package. 

We’ve conducted thorough research and compiled a list of the best MFT programs in California that you can consider for enrollment. These programs can help you meet the eligibility criteria for applying for an MFT license in California. However, it’s important to note that meeting these qualifications is just one step on the path to becoming an MFT in California. Several additional requirements must be fulfilled to obtain your license.

List of the 11 Best MFT Programs in California 

Some of these Best MFT Programs in California are mentioned below, let’s have a look: 

1. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University, located in beautiful Los Angeles, is home to one of the best MFT programs in California at the doctoral level. The campus’s scenic surroundings provide students with a serene connection to nature. In addition to MFT programs, the university boasts a diverse selection of academic options, including over 70 bachelor’s degree programs, 50 graduate degree programs, various doctoral courses, certificate programs, and diplomas.

The university offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology program under its MFT. The program targets the concentrated areas of marital and family therapies. The program is very flexible and the students can achieve the degrees in two years, three years, or even four years. To complete the program the students need to accomplish the target of 63 to 70 credit hours. However, the credit hours may vary depending upon the track pursued by you. 

You will get the chance to study different aspects of marriage and family therapies including Child and Adolescent Therapy, Psychological Assessment, Theories of Psychotherapy, legal and moral issues in therapies, and many more. Moreover, the students also have the internship opportunity where they can earn the supervision counseling credits which helps them to attain the MFT license in California. 

2. Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University
Pepperdine University

One of the Best MFT Programs in California and renowned universities in the US with the rank of 49th for value and 55th among national universities. The MFT program offered by the university includes a Master of Arts program in clinical psychology. The program is focused on relationships, couples, and families. 

The students need to study full time and it takes more than two years to accomplish the program and achieve the degree. Field-based learning and class opportunities are also offered to the students which aid them with practical exposure to professional therapists. 

The course covers some complex branches of MFT, these include Interpersonal Skills and Group Therapy, Couple Therapy,  Family Therapy, Diagnosis, Treatment of Mental Health Disorders, Mental Health Professionals, and many more. One of the best features of the Pepperdine University program is the eight-credit practicum component. 

The main motive of the practicum is to offer field experience to the students under the supervision of a skilled and experienced therapist. However, the placements are held near your residence in California. 

The University is located in Malibu which is an elegant place and offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean at the doorstep. Other than academics you will also get a chance to perform other activities including surfing, enjoying the beach, and many more. Other than the MFT program there are about 90 other programs to get enrolled in. 

3. The University of Southern California

The University of Southern California
The University of Southern California

University of Southern California’s Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy is the MFT program that offers skills related to clinical practices. After completing the program and achieving the degree, students are eligible for an MFT license which opens the gateway to hundreds of employment opportunities in both the public and private sector. After getting her license the therapists can start their medical clinics to treat patients. The program will help the students to specialize in relationships and marriage therapies. 

The full-time program takes around two years to complete and in the case of the part-time, you need to spend four years to achieve the degree in MFT. 

The course offers certain specifications, which include Psychopathology for Marriage and Family Therapists, Counseling Couples in Relationships, Effects of Substance Abuse, Psychopharmacology, and many more. A practicum in the field work is also a part of the program where the students get a chance to work under professionals in local clinics. 

4. California State University Bakersfield

California State University Bakersfield
California State University Bakersfield

The California State University Bakersfield was founded in 1965 and is currently home to more than 11000 students. The university offers the Master of Science program in marriage and family therapy which can be accomplished in 60 credit hours. 

The program is made by keeping in mind the clinical laws and regulations of California which is why the student with her degree will only work as a therapist in California. The university is renowned for its affordability, graduate programs, social mobility, return on investment, and many more significant features. 

This program unlocks various avenues within family therapies, encompassing topics like Theories of Family Counseling, Cultural Intersectionality in Counseling, and Psychopharmacology, among others. 

It provides students with fundamental ethics related to marriage and relationships, valuable for addressing psychological issues in marital couples. Additionally, students have the opportunity to gain practical experience at CSU Bakersfield’s University Counselor Training Clinic during their internship, making it one of the best MFT programs in California.

5. Hope International University- Marriage and Family Therapy

Hope International University- Marriage and Family Therapy
Hope International University- Marriage and Family Therapy

In the field of family care and counseling the program is beneficial for students. The students need to accomplish 60 to 67 credit hours to accomplish the degree which takes around 2 years in full-time mode. Marriage and relationship therapies have a wider scope in California, and the program targets the same to prepare world-class therapists. The university also offers the practicum under the local therapists which helps you to grab the valuable experience of field exposure. 

6. University of San Diego M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy

University of San Diego M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy
University of San Diego M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy

When it comes to the best MFT programs in California you must need to consider the University of San Diego. The University offers the program of MA in marriage and family therapy. 

The students are offered best practices to be followed to fix all types of martial issues in the best possible ways. From clinical to psychological techniques, students get in-depth knowledge of settling relationship issues. The Christ-centred approach is being used to teach the students about marriage and family therapies. 

7. University of La Verne’s Marriage and Family Therapy

University of La Verne’s Marriage and Family Therapy
University of La Verne’s Marriage and Family Therapy

At the University of La Verne, the students are specialized to face the major challenges faced in marital life. Both the full-time and part-time options are available to the students which takes 2 years to achieve the degree in full time and 4 years in part-time. 

The university offers a flexible MFT program to the students which allows them to focus more on a practical approach to the profession. The practicum is also included along with the program where the students can get the opportunity to work as an assistant with skilled therapists and understand how to take real-time therapy sessions with patients facing marital issues. 

8. California Baptist University

California Baptist University
California Baptist University

The Maste­r of Science in Counseling Psychology program at California Baptist University pre­pares students for dual license­s as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Clinical Counse­lor in California. The program is for graduate students who want to le­arn psychology theories and gain practical counseling e­xperience. 

The­ curriculum covers human behavior by blending psychological the­ories and theology. Students must comple­te 62 credits. There­ is also a dual master’s program option. Students can earn both the­ Master of Science in Counse­ling Psychology and the Master of Arts in Counseling Ministry de­grees togethe­r. This prepares them to counse­l couples and families in clinical settings and churche­s.

9. California Institute of Integral Studies

At California Institute of Integral Studies, the Maste­r of Arts (M.A.) in Integral Counseling Psychology program prepare­s students for the California require­ments to become Marriage­ and Family Therapists (MFT). It draws ideas from Eastern and We­stern spiritual traditions. This makes it unique as a transpe­rsonal psychology graduate program. 

The program offers we­ekend and wee­kday schedules. It focuses on psychologie­s like psychoanalytic, humanistic, systemic, and transpersonal. The­se are studied in the­ context of spiritual growth. The program aims to mee­t professional needs for MFT training in California.

10. California Lutheran University

The Maste­r’s degree in Counse­ling Psychology at California Lutheran University focuses on the family system. It aims to provide­ knowledge and skills for a caree­r in this field. The program focuse­s on understanding relationships within families. The­ 60-credit program requires stude­nts to complete a 12-month practice. 

During this time, the­y get hands-on training at the on-campus counseling ce­nter. Here, the­y work with various marital and family issues under expe­rt guidance. This e­xperience pre­pares students for real-world challe­nges in counseling psychology.

11. California State Polytechnic University

California State Polytechnic University
California State Polytechnic University

California State Polytechnic University offers the Maste­r of Science (M.S.) in Psychology de­gree program. It has 90 units. The program is for graduate­ students. It is offered at the­ Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses. The goal is to train students to ge­t a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) license­ in California. 

The program teaches stude­nts to counsel people, couple­s, and families. It prepares stude­nts to work with diverse communities. The­ program includes clinical practice on campus. It also includes supervise­d fieldwork placements in the­ community. These expe­riences help stude­nts grow personally.


1. How long does it take to get an MFT license in California?

To get an MFT license in California it takes around two years. The applicant needs to fulfill some needs and requirements to get the MFT license. These requirements include passing the clinical examination with a good score and also clearing the examination of California Law and Ethics. 

The supervised experience of a minimum of 3000 hours is required within the tenure of 104 weeks. Those who have achieved all these milestones will apply for the license and easily get it. However other states might have different needs and requirements to be fulfilled to be qualified for the MFT license. 

2. What can I do with an MFT in California?

The person who becomes an MFT can Conduct individual, group, and family therapy sessions and help them resolve their relationship and marital issues. But to become an MFT there are some steps. You must have pursued the MFT degree and master’s from any renowned college or university with a good score, you must have the MFT license to carry out the therapies on patients. Also, clinical knowledge is required so you may need to get a minimum experience of 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

3. How much does MFT make per hour in California?

The MFT (marriage and family therapist) earns a good amount of money in California. The current society has instability in marriages and relationships. They need therapies and treatment sessions to overcome the issues.

Here the demand for MFTs comes into existence. These therapists are skilled and trained to provide the best possible psychological treatments to the patients and help them resolve their relationship and marital issues. On average, beginner MTTs are paid around $30 to $40 per hour for sessions while professionals can earn hundreds of dollars per hour for sessions. 

4. What type of therapy is most in demand?

Therapies are in high demand in the USA. There are various reasons behind the same. As people are busy in their professional lives and live stressed lives, that is why they suffer from mental issues and lack of availability spoils their relationships, family, and marital life. 

In such situations they need therapies and the most demanding therapies are psychodynamic therapy, trauma therapy, marriage and couples counseling, and online therapy. Those who are skilled in these therapies can earn a massive sum of money in less time in the USA. 

5. What is the best Cal State MFT program?

California State Unive­rsity-Northridge has an excelle­nt program for Marriage and Family Therapy. The program me­ets strict California rules for getting a lice­nse. So graduates can work as family therapists in most state­s. It is a solid choice.

6. How long does it take to become an MFT in California?

First, you must pass two te­sts – the clinical exam and the California Law and Ethics e­xam. Next, you must work for two years after ge­tting your degree. During that time­, you must complete at least 3,000 hours of supe­rvised experie­nce. This work period must last at least 104 we­eks or two years.

7. Are MFT programs competitive?

Most Cal States only have one MFT program. They only admit students once per year, and the largest programs only admit less than 60 students. Many admit only around 8-15. This means you will be selectively handpicked for admission.


The best MFT programs in California help you get employment with good salary potential and you can also start your therapy clinic to earn a massive amount of money. 

The above-mentioned Best MFT Programs in California help you to get your masters in marriage and family therapy. You will gain the knowledge and skills to handle patients and help them resolve their relationship and marital issues. The in-depth knowledge of psychological aspects related to relationships and marriage.