MFT Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Arkansas
If you want one fact to sum up the current state of marriage and family therapy education in Arkansas, consider that Arkansas has more than four times the population of Alaska and yet, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are still less than 100 marriage and family therapists employed in The Natural State, barely 30 more MFTs than there are in Alaska. Arkansas is home to more than 30 degree-granting institutions of higher learning and yet none of those institutions have a MFT degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Unfortunately, none of these schools have MFT degree programs that have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) either. In fact, there are just two schools in the state that have accredited clinical mental health counseling programs. Those programs are Harding University and the University of Arkansas and both are accredited by CACREP only.
Despite the dearth of options in the state for students interested in MFT education, Arkansas is not any more lenient than any other state when it comes to licensing regulations and requirements. In fact, it is more specific. The official law states that in Arkansas, applicants must have received a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and the course hours must meet standards set for by either the COAMFTE or CACREP. Essentially this means that unless there is a rare program that meets those standards without needing accreditation, it is pivotal to earn a degree from an accredited university in order to become an MFT in Arkansas.
Online MFT Degrees in Arkansas
There are more options for students in Arkansas looking to stay in the state and still get the MFT education. Five schools that offer accredited online Master’s degree and PhDs in Marriage and Family Therapy. Messiah College in Pennsylvania which offers a specific online Master's track in MFT. Regent University in Virginia Beach offers a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy online that is also designed to help students prepare to qualify for professional licensure and Walden University offers a Master’s of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. All of those programs are accredited by CACREP but not the COAMFTE.
The only online programs accredited by the COAMFTE are Capella University which is also accredited by CACREP and Northcentral University which is accredited by both and also offers an accredited online PhD in the subject.
Learn more about an MFT degree online.
MFT Accreditation in Arkansas
Accreditation is important in every state because each state requires its professional marriage and family therapists to earn their degree at an accredited institution. But it is particularly important in Arkansas if only because the state law makes very specific reference to both the COAMFTE and CACREP. According to the state, the degree needs to be from a program with curriculum that meets the industry standards set forth by either of the main accrediting bodies in the subject. The COAMFTE and CACREP are the only widely recognized accrediting bodies in the space so be wary of other accrediting bodies and schools touting accreditation. It is important to note that not all CACREP-accredited programs are specifically designed to prepare a student for a licensure in the state. Choosing an unaccredited university or college could mean jeopardizing your chances at qualifying for MFT licensure in Arkansas.
Career Opportunities for MFTs in Arkansas
As we mentioned earlier, for a relatively populous state, Arkansas doesn't have a lot of recognized professional marriage and family therapists. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there only five or six states with less professional marriage and family therapists than the 70 that currently work within the Arkansas borders. These marriage and family therapists are fairly compensated however.
The BLS estimates that Arkansas MFTs earn an annual average salary of $51,830, just a little bit less than the national average of $53,520. But also keep in mind that the cost of living is especially low in Arkansas and so that $50,000 will go farther than it would in a state like California or New Jersey. It is more than $12,000 the annual average salary in the state across all professions, which means it is quite lucrative.
Little Rock and Fayetteville are obviously the biggest cities for finding employment as an MFT in Arkansas. In fact, they are only the reliable sources for MFT employment in the state. Most of the state's health agencies and health services companies are located in one of those two cities and there are a number of youth organizations and substance abuse facilities that are always on the lookout for qualified counseling and therapy help. Learn more about AR MFT licensure requirements.
Marriage and Family Therapists Salary in Arkansas
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm)