MFT Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Alaska
It should come as no surprise to anyone interested in higher education that Alaska is not a great state for Marriage and Family Therapy degree programs. The state has less than 15 degree-granting universities and colleges within its borders and unfortunately none of those schools have MFT degree programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In fact, none of the Alaska-specific schools even offer a graduate degree in any counseling or mental health-related subject that is accredited.
This is bad news for students interested in studying marriage and family therapy in Alaska because the state, like all the others, requires licensees to earn a Master's degree or a PhD in the subject in order to qualify. If there is some good news for students it is that the state regulations do not explicitly require the program to be accredited by the COAMFTE or CACREP. The degree just needs to be from a regionally accredited university with specific course requirements and obligations. Of course it doesn't help that Alaska doesn't even have an accredited clinical mental health counseling program within its borders, so students interested in studying Alaska have extremely limited options in terms of education and degree programs.
Online MFT Degrees in Alaska
If you are a student determined to remain in Alaska or without the resources to leave Alaska and you still want to study marriage and family therapy, you aren't totally out of options. Online degree programs, especially in marriage and family therapy, are becoming more prevalent and more popular. They are still a nascent trend, which means that additional research into each specific program is important. But there are options. Five schools offer accredited online Master’s degree and PhDs in Marriage and Family Therapy. Capella University and Northcentral University are both accredited by the COAMFTE and Northcentral University is the only school with an accredited online PhD program as well as the Master's degree program.
Messiah College in Pennsylvania offers a specific online Master's track in MFT as part of a broader clinical mental health counseling umbrella. The school does make sure to state it is preparing students to take and pass the LMFT. Regent University in Virginia Beach offers a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy online and the school also makes it clear the program is designed to prepare students for licensure. Then there is Walden University, which offers something slightly different, a Master’s of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Those three programs are all accredited specifically by CACREP. There are a number of large for-profit universities that offer online degrees in the space and they may be worth checking out if you are looking for a more specific MFT education.
Read more about online MFT degrees.
MFT Accreditation in Alaska
There are two widely accepted accrediting bodies for Marriage and Family Therapists -- the COAMFTE and CACREP. It is important to note that not all CACREP-accredited programs are specifically designed to prepare a student for a licensure in the state. Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, there are no programs accredited by either organization that are in Alaska. Most schools tout the expected student outcomes and any MFT-specific track should explain that the program is designed to prepare the students for licensure.
Career Opportunities for MFTs in Alaska
Alaska has less than 50 professional marriage and family therapists employed across the state, but it offers one of the largest average annual salaries of any state in the entire country. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alaska is home to 40 marriage and family therapists, which isn't much, but these marriage and family therapists make an annual average salary of roughly $61,000, which is second-best in the entire country behind New Jersey. What should make that number even more appealing is that the cost of living in Alaska is relatively low compared to the rest of the country and so that salary is worth more than it would be in most states.
Anchorage and Juneau are the big cities in Alaska for marriage and family therapists and the biggest employer of MFTs is Health Net, a health plan services company that serves most of the Western United States. Other places that are looking for MFT help in Alaska including youth services organizations, military organizations, local county governments and even the state itself. Obviously the job options are limited, so make sure to apply quickly if there is a job that piques your interest. Read up on AK MFT license requirements.
Marriage and Family Therapists Salary in Alaska
Table data taken from 2014 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm)