Find the best MFT program for you.
The first step on your journey to becoming a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of California is to graduate from a qualifying program that meets the education requirements for MFT licensure in the State of California. This site catalogs California-based programs to streamline comparisons, so you can more easily identify which might be the best fit for you.
Research and compare programs on MFT California to narrow down your top choices.
Start by familiarizing yourself with the LMFT Education Requirements that qualifying programs must meet, and continue reading below to learn why it is crucial that you graduate from one of these programs if you want to become an LMFT. Next, make sure you have thoroughly read our Advisory Message.
Use the Search function to look for programs that feature more specific keywords, such as "art therapy" or "depth psychology."
Finally, narrow down your list of prospective programs, compare the programs you feel are the best fit for you, and track your application deadlines using the free MFT California Graduate School Application Planning Guide.
What qualifies a program or institution?
Many universities offer master's or doctoral programs in psychology that are not designed to prepare students to become LMFTs; master's programs like these are generally intended for students who intend to pursue a PhD and become licensed psychologists or pursue other academic goals. Graduating from one of these programs does not make you eligible to become licensed or registered as an LMFT in California.
If you graduate from a master's program that is not intended for the MFT-licensure track, OR if you graduate from an MFT-licensure program that does not meet California state regulations for MFT education, you will not be able to use that degree to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in California.
To qualify for a license or registration as an MFT in the state of California, you must possess a doctoral or master's degree that meets all of the regulations set forth by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) from a school, college, or university approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, or accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or a regional or national institutional accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. (For full regulations, see the Statutes and Regulations issued by the BBS here.)
You must be very careful to find a qualifying program. For every program you are interested in, confirm with a program representative that the program will meet all BBS requirements to qualify for licensure during the years you would be attending.
What programs are listed on MFT California?
The BBS provides a list of California schools "with MFT Programs which have been evaluated by the Board. These programs meet the MFT licensure requirements, pursuant to California Business and Professions Code (BPC) §4980.36, for students who began graduate studies on or after August 1, 2012."
While the BBS list encompasses both master's-level and doctoral-level programs, at this time MFT California only catalogs master's programs on this list.
We periodically update our catalog to reflect the BBS list as well as any changes to individual programs; however, MFT California cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this site.
What if I'm interested in a program not listed on MFT California?
There are other programs not based in California (online or otherwise) that may meet California requirements for licensure, but the BBS does not maintain a list of these programs and they are beyond the purview of MFT California. If you seek information on these programs, ensure they meet both educational and accreditation standards before committing to the program.
If you attend an out-of-state program or become licensed out-of-state, be aware that the BBS "does not have reciprocity with any other state licensing board. Any applicant, whether licensed or unlicensed, will need to meet all requirements mandated by California law prior to being issued a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) license," including proving equivalency.
Any master's program is a considerable investment, but some are more affordable than others.
Several programs offer the option to complete coursework completely online.
Accreditation indicates that a program's content has met the standards of the accrediting body. Some employers only hire graduates from programs with specific accreditation, and your program's accreditation may affect your ability to get licensed in other states should you decide to practice outside of California.
While some programs require the GRE, many do not; some require the GRE only when other requirements are not met, or allow GRE scores to off-set subpar elements of an application.
Many programs have no religious orientation at all. Others may be offered at institutions associated with a specific tradition but do not emphasize theological elements in the MFT program. Some, however, offer faith-based programs that may even incorporate theological studies into the curriculum.