MFT Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Michigan

Michigan boasts more than 100 degree-granting public and private institutions across the state. However, for those specifically interested in pursuing a career as an MFT in their graduate studies, it is important to note that only one university currently holds status as an accredited program: The Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) doctoral program at Michigan State University (MSU). This is legitimately troublesome for students looking into marriage and family therapy education options in Michigan because it means that the state doesn’t have a single accredited Master’s degree program in marriage and family therapy.

The reason this is an issue is because Michigan, like every other state in the country, has strict requirements on who can apply for licensure as a marriage and family therapist. According to the Michigan Bureau of Professional Licensing, applicants for MFT licensure must either “graduate from an educational program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy” or earn a graduate degree that included at least nine courses specifically related to MFT and includes an 8-month supervised practicum experience with direct client contact.

Generally, programs that meet those qualifications will be clinical counseling programs and to be clear, Michigan does have a fair number of accredited clinical counseling programs. According to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), there are three other schools in the state that offer accredited graduate degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a few other accredited programs that offer similar counseling degree programs as well. As someone interested in marriage and family therapy in particular, it is important to first ensure that these other programs will meet the state requirements for licensure and ultimately only MSU’s program is accredited by the COAMFTE.

MFT Degree Programs in Michigan

Michigan State University has a well-known reputation for excellence in both research and clinical training. The CFT program’s design is consistent with this reputation and offers their students a number of opportunities that prepare them well for careers in a variety of settings. Each student’s doctoral degree will be awarded in Human Development and Family Studies, with a specialization in Couples and Family Therapy. If students wish to practice at MFTs, they must complete the certificate program in CFT. Overall, the doctoral program operates using a scientist-practitioner model, which places emphasis on providing students with skills in conducting and critiquing research that has clear clinical implications. Because this program is a doctoral program, students typically spend between 4-6 years in the program. However, the specific amount of time that the degree takes can be variable; for example, if a student enters with a Master’s degree from another university, the length of the program can be shortened.

Importantly, your experiences within this time-frame can be tailored to meet your goals as an MFT. The MSU program is unique in the sense that it places a large emphasis on research and challenges students to engage with research relevant to their clinical work as an MFT. Students choose an individual advisor that supervises their progress throughout the program, and provides training and guidance in the design, completion, and publication of scholarly work. At a minimum, the program requires at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact (face-to-face), 500 of which will be treatment provided to couples and families.

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This minimum requirement ensures that all students will meet the minimum requirements of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The majority of this clinical work is provided through the MSU Couple and Family Clinic, during which time students gain experience in psychotherapy, community outreach, and clinical assessment. Students will also gain external clinical experiences, as well as complete a 9-month internship at the culmination of their time in the program. In addition to clinical work, students are required to take a number of courses; those opting to receive the certificate in CFT must also take three additional online courses. In addition to their time as students, the MSU CFT program encourages training in teaching, as students have the opportunity to gain experience in university-level instruction. More details on program requirements are available on the program’s website.

Online MFT Degrees in Michigan

Similar to other states, those seeking online-only MFT degrees in Michigan will likely encounter some difficulties. While a number of online universities offer relevant coursework or instruction that is relevant and may count toward academic requirements at an MFT program elsewhere, there are virtually no degree granting online universities that are specifically in-state. Those who wish to pursue a predominantly online degree are encouraged to seek out nationally-based for-profit programs. Options include Northcentral University, Capella University, Liberty University Online and many more.

Read more about MFT degrees online.

MFT Accreditation in Michigan

When seeking out a graduate program that provides the best fit for you and your occupational goals, it is important to consider the accreditation status of the instruction to which you are applying. A particular program’s accreditation status signifies the extent to which the program is reputable within the community; as such, pursuing a degree at an accredited program offers natural benefits in seeking later employment. Additionally, if you are seeking to become a licensed provider, it is likely that a given state will require that your degree is granted from an accredited program. In Michigan, gaining licensure is contingent on attending an accredited program. Within the field of MFT, the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) serves as the main accrediting organization for MFT programs; in Michigan, the COAMFTE approval signifies that the educational standards of the programs that have received accreditation reaches a given standard of excellence, and is required to gain licensure.

Career Opportunities for MFTs in Michigan

As is the case in many states, it is likely that as the population increases, so too will the demand for licensed mental health professionals. Additionally, with more and more Americans gaining access to healthcare benefits, there will be an increasing need for individuals trained in psychotherapy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 14% increase in the number of employment opportunities for MFTs through 2030. This rate is much higher than is expected for other professions and indicates an excellent outlook for those seeking employment in this domain, particularly when seeking employment in rural communities or areas that are typically underserved.

The mean national annual wage for an MFT is $63,300; however, this value can vary substantially depending on the position in question. MFTs in Michigan make, on average, $48,410. However, these individuals have a wide range of options in terms of employment settings, as licensed providers can obtain positions within hospital settings, community mental health centers, private practice, university counseling centers, social advocacy organizations, governmental organizations, and settings that provide services to children and the elderly. The roles of MFTs within each of these settings would vary slightly, but all would offer a tremendous experience for those with a passion for mental health care to provide invaluable services to the public. Read up on MI MFT license requirements.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for marriage and family therapists are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.

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Marriage and Family Therapists Salary in Michigan

Location 10% 25% Median 75% 90%
United States $33,140 $39,130 $51,340 $68,020 $92,930
Michigan $34,090 $40,020 $46,350 $54,880 $68,250
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Division $33,210 $37,270 $43,770 $50,110 $58,980

Table data taken from 2020 BLS (

Featured Michigan Schools with MFT Degree Programs