The Best Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Programs
| TBS Staff
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23% increase in marriage and family therapy positions over the next decade, which would lead to the creation of nearly 10,000 new positions. You can claim a place in this expanding workforce by earning a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy online. Not only does this field provide numerous opportunities for employment, an advanced degree opens the door to leadership positions, advocacy roles, and increased annual earnings.
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In Western countries, more than 90% of people marry before the age of 50. However, nearly 50% of American marriages end in divorce, which indicates a need for both preventative education and expert intervention. Your compassion and advanced training may help alleviate the strain of daily challenges and emotional dysregulation experienced by couples and their families.
For career information, skip down:
- What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Program?
- Accreditation for Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Degrees
- Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Careers
- Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Family Counseling
The Best Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Degree Programs
UF offers an online Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction that features a concentration in educational technology which emphasizes integrating various tools and applications into elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and corporate learning environments. Most courses are delivered online, though students must attend two summer session on the school's Gainesville campus.
This online doctorate program in educational technology includes courses on topics like research in curriculum and instruction, instructional design, educational statistics, and a practicum in digital media. Students conclude their studies by completing a dissertation. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited institution and submit a statement of purpose, a writing sample, at least two letters of recommendation, and GRE scores to be considered.
MSU offers a hybrid Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology program that provides students with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to use technology to transform K-12, university, and virtual learning environments. The five-year program features mostly online coursework combined with a two-week, on-campus summer session.
This Ph.D. in educational technology online program includes coursework on research design, data analysis, and the creation of technology-rich learning. Students can work alongside experienced faculty on research projects, which typically focus on professional development and teacher education. Before graduating, all students must create and successfully defend a dissertation, a process that comprises the entirety of the fifth year. Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and significant academic and professional accomplishments to be considered. They must also submit several strong recommendations and GRE scores.
USC offers a doctor of education in curriculum and instruction with an educational technology track. This 36-month program was designed to prepare students to become the next generation of K-12 and postsecondary school leaders. The majority of coursework can be completed online, but students must visit the school's Columbia campus for a brief orientation at the beginning of the program.
This 60-credit online doctorate program in educational technology covers topics like diversity in curriculum, applications of learning principles, instructional design, educational technology research, and technology resource management. The final 12 credits center on preparing a dissertation. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants must have a master's degree in a related field earned from a regionally-accredited institution to be considered. They must also submit a letter of intent, GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, and samples of academic writing.
Memphis offers an online Ed.D. in instructional design and technology program that prepares students for successful careers as professors, corporate trainers, human resource professionals, researchers, and school administrators. This degree emphasizes both research and examining practical applications of various technologies in the learning environment.
This 54-credit online Ed.D. program in educational technology features a cohort learning model, with students taking most classes with the same group of their fellow learners. Each semester includes one 14-week and two seven-week classes, creating a manageable schedule for working professionals. Each student must complete a research project and dissertation, which will be presented to a faculty committee at the end of the program. Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited institution and submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a resume to be considered.
Oklahoma State offers a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational technology. This 60-credit program features a variety of online courses, with some on-campus classes completed at the university's Stillwater or Tulsa campuses. This Ph.D. in educational technology online program includes coursework on advanced computer applications, digital media production, facilitation of online learning, instructional development, and library networks.
Students must research, create, and present a dissertation at the end of the program. Available student resources include IT assistance, a digital library, and financial aid help. Applicants must have a master's degree earned with a minimum GPA of 3.5 to be considered. They must also provide evidence of their writing abilities, GRE or GMAT scores, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Indiana offers one of the best online Ed.D. programs in educational technology in the U.S. This 60-credit program takes a hands-on approach to education, preparing students to develop instructional materials applicable to various settings. This program is ideal for those who want to become applied researchers and includes courses on topics such as doctoral readings, intermediate statistics, qualitative inquiry in education, adult learning, and learning and cognition.
The last nine credits of the curriculum includes a dissertation, which each student presents to a committee before graduating. Applicants must have a master's degree earned from an accredited postsecondary institution and submit GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement to be considered.
Duquesne offers a 57-credit online doctoral program in instructional technology and leadership that teaches students to use technology to create positive change in various educational settings. All courses emphasize access to opportunity and equality. This online doctorate program in educational technology includes courses on topics like instructional technology, digital media, electronic literacy, and classroom design.
Classes are delivered online through Blackboard Monday through Thursday evenings each week. This schedule is ideal for working professionals who are typically not available during the day. While most coursework is delivered online, students must attend a two-week residency on Duquesne's campus to begin the program. Applicants must have a master's degree in a technology- or education-related field earned with a minimum GPA of 3.5 to be considered. They must also be proficient in using technology, have high-speed internet access, and submit official GRE scores.
UWF offers an online Ed.D. in instructional design and technology that emphasizes project management, critical thinking, communication, and ethics. This program is ideal for those who want to use technology to drive innovation, change, and productivity in education.
This online Ed.D. program in educational technology offers two concentrations: distance learning and performance technology. The distance learning track emphasizes online learning methods in K-12, postsecondary, and business settings. The performance technology concentration focuses on using technology to enhance the performance of individuals and organizations. All students must complete a research project and dissertation, which takes up the final 18 credits of the program.
Applicants must have a master's degree earned from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.5 to be considered. They must also submit GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, three professional references, and a statement of intent.
ODU Online offers a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in instructional design and technology. This flexible 60-credit program allows students to explore a variety of topics, including technology-mediated instruction, human performance technology, research, distance education, and instructional message design.
Although courses in this online doctorate program in educational technology take place at scheduled times, students can also access digital content at their convenience. The curriculum includes core courses on instructional systems design, cognition and instruction, and multimedia design. The final 15 credits consist of each student's dissertation. Applicants must have a master's degree from an accredited institution and must submit a writing sample, a personal essay, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores to be considered.
CUC, located in the suburban community of River Forest, Illinois, offers a doctorate degree in leadership with a specialization in educational technology. This program emphasizes learning in the digital age while preparing the next generation of K-12, university, and other educational leaders.
This online Ed.D. program in educational technology includes 61-67 credits of courses on topics such as data management, learning environment design, technology department management, school district improvement, and curriculum development. Students may also choose from electives that emphasize learning in K-12, higher education, or corporate settings. Applicants must have a master's degree in a related discipline from a regionally accredited institution, along with a 3.0 GPA or better. They must also demonstrate familiarity with commonly used word processing spreadsheet, and presentation applications.
Located in Virginia Beach, Regent offers a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational technology and online learning. In this program, students conduct their own research, use research and analytical methods to address problems, and seek publication in journals. This Ph.D. in educational technology online program features courses on advanced leadership practice, strategic planning and evaluation, instructional design, research design and analysis, and educational statistics.
The final year of the program focuses largely on a dissertation, which students must present to a committee before graduation. Applicants must have both a bachelor's and master's degree earned from regionally-accredited institutions. They must also provide GRE scores, a current resume, and a peer-reviewed scholarly paper along with the completion of an admissions questionnaire.
Boise State offers a doctor of educational technology degree that teaches students how to incorporate emerging technologies into K-12 and university settings. The program covers various topics, including academic technology leadership, software development, mobile applications, and digital games and activities.
Students enroll in courses focused on instructional design, website creation, research, statistics, and contemporary theories of learning and technology. Before graduating, all students must complete a thesis and final portfolio that they present to a faculty committee. Students can seek limited funding opportunities, including full- and part-time assistantships. Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited institution and must submit a scholarly paper, three professional references, and official GRE scores to be considered.
The Chicago School offers an online Ed.D. in educational psychology and technology degree that immerses students in the cutting-edge technologies and advancements that influence teaching and learning across multiple contexts. This degree covers a wide variety of topics, including interactions between computers and cognition, technology in the learning environment, and philosophical and ethical issues in educational technology.
While most classes are delivered online, students must attend two residency sessions at the school's campus in downtown Chicago. These residencies cover include the study of special topics, exams, and collaborative research projects. Applicants to this online Ed.D. program in educational technology must have a master's degree and submit a personal essay and resume to be considered. Those with a master's degree in non-related subjects should have at least three years of professional experience.
What Else Can I Expect from an Online Doctorate in Family Counseling Program?
The classes listed below represent some of the most critical courses students complete when pursuing an advanced family counseling degree, with topics in family systems, addiction treatment, and research design. While details differ from school to school, marriage and family counseling degree programs generally offer the following courses.
Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Family Counseling
- Couples Therapy: Encompassing theories of couple relationships and clinical approaches, knowledge acquired during this course provides the foundation for careers in couples and family therapy. The course familiarizes students with frequent problems that arise in partnerships and examines attachment styles, relationship stages, and counseling methods for couples.
- Human Sexuality: This course explores the many facets of human sexuality, including the biological, psychological, and social factors that influence sexual behaviors and attitudes toward sex. Students enrolled in this course learn about sexual dysfunctions and challenges in relationships. Learners also acquire the skills needed to work with individuals and couples with sex-related problems.
- Research Methods: In addition to learning how to conduct literature reviews, students enrolled in this course select and use statistical analyses to measure quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods data. This course also prepares students to carry out their dissertation. Clinicians and researchers use knowledge of research methods to conduct original studies and build upon the results of previous scholarly inquiries.
- Substance Abuse Treatment: This course provides an overview of the theories of addiction and treatment techniques. Students learn how to implement formal assessments and conduct biopsychosocial interviews. The class explores addiction from the perspective of individuals and family systems, and learners become familiar with intervention strategies appropriate for addicted individuals and their families.
- Systems Theory: This course examines mental health issues from a systems approach. Students explore the various levels of social interactions that influence individual and group behavior. The course includes topics in prominent family systems theories, family dynamics across the human lifespan, and roles of family members, preparing individuals to work in family therapy settings.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate in Family Counseling?
Most doctoral-level family counseling degree programs consist of 60 credits and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Factors that influence program completion time include fieldwork requirements, course load limits, and student enrollment status. For example, programs that require full-time enrollment take significantly less time to complete than programs that allow students to take just one course per term. Additionally, learners who complete a specialization may need to fulfill additional credit requirements, extending the length of the program.
Online Ph.D. programs in marriage and family therapy feature individually paced or cohort learning program structures. Individually paced programs typically offer rolling admissions, numerous start dates, and more flexibility. Alternatively, cohort programs require students to take classes in lock-step with their classmates. Many doctoral programs use a cohort model to promote peer cohesion, collaboration, and networking.
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Accreditation for Online Family Counseling Doctorate Degrees
In addition to preventing prospective students from enrolling in low-quality academic programs, accreditation ensures that programs across the country adhere to a codified set of standards and produce graduates with comparable educational training. This standardization process advances professional practices while maintaining academic integrity. Regional and national accreditation agencies represent the primary accreditors of U.S. colleges, with nearly 90% of schools receiving regional accreditation. Considered the gold standard for accreditation, regional accreditation ensures that colleges offer quality academic experiences. Credits earned from regionally accredited schools easily transfer to graduate programs, while many programs do not accept credits earned from nationally accredited or unaccredited schools.
Other accrediting agencies that prospective family counselors should familiarize themselves with include the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, for online programs, and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP promotes excellence in counselor education, including within online MFT programs, by assessing curricula and faculty qualifications.
Accreditation is carried out through the regulatory functions of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). While the ED does not play an active role in accrediting higher education programs and schools, its does provide supervisory influence by ensuring that accrediting bodies enforce certain rules and maintain standards. Similarly, the CHEA recognizes academic programs and schools that meet its stringent accountability measures. The oversight of the ED and CHEA safeguard students from enrolling in inadequate or fraudulent programs. These governing agencies provide databases of all accredited colleges and programs in the country; students can review both ED and CHEA accreditation resources.
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Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Family Counseling Graduates
Doctorate in Family Counseling Careers
Online Ph.D. programs in marriage and family therapy equip students with the knowledge needed to pursue careers at private mental health clinics, community resource centers, and higher education institutions. Professionals use counseling and research skills to creatively approach client problems, implement evidence-based treatments, and evaluate the effectiveness of intervention techniques. Counselors and therapists exhibit strong listening, speaking, and critical thinking skills. Careers in family counseling require patience, empathy, and compassion, in addition to technical skills.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: These professionals work with couples and families to overcome mental health obstacles. More than a quarter of marriage and family therapists work in private mental health facilities with individuals and families. Professional duties include conceptualizing problems that arise within family systems, establishing a safe environment for emotional exploration, and equipping clients with coping strategies.
- Median Annual Salary: $49,170
- Projected Growth Rate: 23%
- School and Career Counselors: Working closely with students and their families, these professionals balance clinical and administrative job duties. They address the emotional and behavioral issues of individual students and participate in schoolwide functions, including teacher collaboration and career counseling. Earning a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy online prepares school counselors for supervisory and consulting positions at the district level.
- Median Annual Salary: $54,560
- Projected Growth Rate: 13%
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Employed by private agencies, outpatient centers, and residential facilities, addiction professionals help clients overcome compulsive behaviors, such as drug abuse, overeating, and gambling. Mental health counselors help individuals and families suffering from emotional distress triggered by daily stressors, loss, and mental illness. Many mental health counselors specialize in a specific area.
- Median Annual Salary: $42,150
- Projected Growth Rate: 23%
- Social and Community Service Managers: Employed by community mental health agencies and social service agencies, these professionals implement and evaluate mental health programs. They collect and analyze program data, communicate with stakeholders, and secure funding through grants.
- Median Annual Salary: $64,680
- Projected Growth Rate: 18%
- Postsecondary Teachers: Full-time college professors teach courses, advise students, and conduct research. Adjunct professors may teach one or two courses a semester while also maintaining off-campus employment. Doctoral students enrolled in marriage and family counseling degree programs acquire the training needed to teach graduate-level courses and conduct departmental research.
- Median Annual Salary: $75,430
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
Doctorate in Family Counseling Salary
Counseling Careers by Experience
Data from PayScale reveals that workers in the field earn higher salaries as they gain additional work experience. Licensed marriage and family therapists make a yearly average of $50,000 to begin their careers, and that number jumps 10% within a decade or less. Armed with a terminal degree, graduates of family counseling programs who already have professional counseling experience can expect to earn wages even higher than those depicted below; doctoral-level social science professionals make 17% more than their peers who only hold a master's degree.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Entry-Level Employees||Mid-Career Employees||Late-Career Employees|
|Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist||$51,287||$50,000||$55,000||$73,000|
|Mental Health Counselor||$40,098||$38,000||$41,000||$46,000|
|Mental Health Program Manager||$54,012||$48,000||$56,000||$64,000|
|Social Services Director||$51,471||$41,000||$49,000||$55,000|
|Professor, Postsecondary/ Higher Education||$87,546||$60,000||$71,000||$99,000|
Family Counseling Professional Organizations
Students and graduates of online MFT programs can broaden their opportunities for employment and continuing education by joining a professional organization. In addition to serving their members through advocacy and peer collaboration, these organizations advance professional standards by implementing ethical regulations. A major resource for individuals just beginning fieldwork, professional organizations often provide student liability insurance and access to scholarly research. The organizations highlighted below include some of the leaders in the fields of counseling and marriage and family therapy.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT): With more than 50,000 members, AAMFT supports marriage and family therapists across the globe. Students and recent graduates benefit from AAMFT's emerging professionals network, which hosts an online community and opportunities for face-to-face networking.
- American Counseling Association (ACA): Serving the counseling profession for more than 65 years, ACA features 20 divisions that provide support to counselors working in areas such as adolescent counseling, college counseling, and marriage and family counseling.
- American School Counselor Association (ASCA): An organization for school counselors working in various educational settings, ASCA promotes systemic transformation through continuing education programs and professional advocacy. Members receive a subscription to ASCA's professional school counseling journal and access to professional development workshops.
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Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Family Counseling
In addition to providing busy students with the flexibility needed to earn a terminal degree, many online Ph.D. programs in marriage and family therapy feature payment plan options, scholarships, and flat-rate tuition for online students. Learners seeking financial assistance to attend college may also qualify for institutional scholarships through their school. Merit-based scholarships allow students to cash in on their academic success, and professional organizations, corporations, and private donors supply additional scholarship and grant opportunities. For example, the ACA hosts two essay contests that award grant money to winning participants.
The ED also supports students monetarily through its college financial aid programs. Students may qualify for loans, grants, and work-study programs offered by the federal government. To determine their federal financial aid eligibility, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This free, online application operates in conjunction with a student's college to calculate attendance costs and financial need. Furthermore, students who take out federal loans and go on to find employment at a government agency or nonprofit may qualify for loan forgiveness. Another source of financial assistance may come from your employer; some companies feature tuition reimbursement programs for employees who return to school to earn an advanced degree.
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