How Long Does It Take to Become a Marriage Counselor

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

How long does it take to become a marriage counselor? If you want to specialize in helping couples improve their relationships, it generally takes between 3-10 years of post-high school education. It will take 4-6 years on average to earn a bachelor’s degree and another 1-2 to get a Master’s. Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) spend two years in their master’s program, but some go back to school for advanced degrees.

Of course, the length of time it takes someone to become a marriage counselor varies depending on the schooling and licensing requirements of that person’s state. For example, licenses expire in 3 years in Minnesota, but as long as 6 years in Nevada.

Becoming a marriage counselor takes a long time, with all the requirements you’ll need to fulfill before receiving your credentials. However, like any other profession, once you’ve become licensed as a marriage counselor, it can take up to a year before you can start working in an office. This article will provide more information about the job and what training you’ll need to have before you can actually work in the field.

Appropriate training and experience is the key to becoming a marriage counselor. Begin with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or related field, take courses in human sexuality, then continue training for several years as an intern under the supervision of a licensed marriage counselor. In order to meet your state’s licensing requirements as a full-fledged marriage counselor, you may need to obtain a master’s in psychology and attend between 300 and 800 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Career Spotlight: Marriage and Family Therapist | Ohio University

You’re looking for a job, and you really want to work as a marriage counselor. You know it will be a fulfilling job that helps people, but there are other factors in play – especially if you’re getting ready to graduate. There are many things you have to take into consideration, from student loans and paying your tuition to getting a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), because students may not finish school in as little time as they think. Let’s get started with this article discussing How Long It Takes To Become A Marriage Counselor.

Want to learn about the latest findings on how to become a marriage and family counselor ? Get ready! Find out all the information you need right here on so you don’t have to go looking again. Find all the specifics you need, such as how to become a marriage counselor, How Long Does It Take To Become A Marriage Counselor, marriage and family therapist certification, and so much more.

Marriage Counselors answer questions, provide consultation and address problems related to marriages. It may take around 4 years of education to become a Marriage Counselor. Marriage Counselors can get training at the undergraduate or graduate level in marriage education programs. These programs combine basic social science concepts with counseling techniques.

How to Become a Marriage Counselor?

Many colleges and universities offer four-year degrees specifically for marriage counseling. These degrees can also be in marriage and family therapy, since the two terms are often interchangeable. Other relevant bachelor’s degrees include psychology, social work, or a similar degree. However, almost any bachelor’s degree will be sufficient to be accepted into a master’s degree program.

Becoming a counselor is a choice that only the most empathetic and compassionate people make. With more people seeking therapy, particularly those who are highly successful, the need for counselors continues to grow in this country. But how long does the process take? Find out below.

Type of Education – Online or Traditional?

A student who wants to become a counselor has a choice; they can begin their education online or take on a traditional program, which requires on-campus attendance. The choices have their advantages and disadvantages: traditional programs can be completed in less time with full-time study and can help students network with professionals in their community while online programs may take longer, but allow a student to study and work at the same time. The choice is up to the student, but it is advised that they take the time to research the time requirements for each avenue.

Image result for How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor?

Practicum Requirements

Those who want to become a counselor will have to take on practicum requirements, no matter what type of specialty degree they take on. The practicum, which is also known as supervised clinical hours, gives students the chance to work in real-world environments with a mentor. This provides them with on-the-job training and provides them with the opportunity to experience the counseling relationship with patients prior to graduating and continuing on with the degree. The practicum, which can range from 500 to 1,000 hours, depending on the program, may lengthen the time in college because the practicum might require an extra semester in order to complete the required hours.

Undergraduate and Graduate Education

While there are several career options a counseling student can pursue with just an undergraduate degree, in order to practice as a licensed counselor, one must gain a master’s degree; the degree must be in counseling, psychology, or sociology. This means that at a minimum, anyone who wants to become a counselor will spend five years in a college or university setting in order to satisfy the educational requirements for this career path.


Some master’s programs will require an internship as part of the process towards becoming a counselor. This can stretch out the length of the program to two years, rather than the traditional year it generally takes, which means counseling students will have to wait longer to become a counselor. However, the internship has its advantages: because a student will work in a real-world environment, they will gain work experience, network in the community, and even be offered a job at the end of the internship, allowing them the chance to move straight from school to a career.

Licensing Matters

All counselors in the United States must be licensed to practice in the country. The requirements for sub-field and state can vary widely, but most licenses do require between 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical practicums as well as accredited degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. If a candidate meets those requirements, they must sit for the exam as well as commit to yearly continuing education programs as part of their professional obligations as a counselor.

Taking steps to work in this incredible field means investing time; not only into education but also yourself. By becoming a counselor, you are bringing the idea that investing in yourself is something that all people should do for a happier life, and that makes you a success right out of the gate.

How to Find a Couples Therapist Who Can Actually Help You

Marriage Counselors are needed in a variety of settings. From hospitals to prisons, churches to board rooms, there is an increasing demand for couples guidance and marital counseling in today’s society. Most marriage counselors receive their training from a graduate program specifically designed to train them for their careers. However, the steps to becoming a counselor vary from school to school and even from counselor to counselor. Understanding that each situation calls for a unique level of training, we have created this infographic as a universal guideline to help you on your way.

Marriage and Family Therapist Certification

step 1

Earn a degree
Many colleges and universities offer four-year degrees specifically for marriage counseling. These degrees can also be in marriage and family therapy, since the two terms are often interchangeable. Other relevant bachelor’s degrees include psychology, social work, or a similar degree. However, almost any bachelor’s degree will be sufficient to be accepted into a master’s degree program.
Step 2
Earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.
Before you can begin your career as a marriage counselor, you’re going to need to earn at least a master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs also offer specializations, so here you can pick a type of marriage counseling that fits best with what you want.
Step 3
Gain clinical experience in the field.
To become a licensed marriage counselor, you will need to gain clinical experience. You’ll have to complete somewhere between 2,000-4,000 hours in a supervised setting before you can continue your career path. Expect to earn around 2 years of clinical experience before you’re eligible for licensure.
Step 4
Earn licensure in your state.
After finishing your clinical experience and earning a master’s degree, you’ve likely satisfied all the prerequisites for licensure. Keep in mind that licensure varies from state to state, so completing the requirements in one state might not be satisfactory for another.
Step 5
Continue your education to retain licensure.
Some marriage counselors choose to further their education with a doctoral degree. This can expand your field, opening up new opportunities. Also, many states will require you to continue your education to be eligible to renew your license. This varies state to state, and the courses you’ll need to take may differ as well.

The Marriage Counseling certificate program from the University of Phoenix is designed to train students to become effective marriage counselors. Students learn about human growth and development, relationship dynamics, and communication techniques through online courses, interactive modules and independent study. When you successfully complete your Marriage Counseling certificate program at the University of Phoenix, you will receive a course completion certificate.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Marriage Counselor

Couples counselors come from a variety of educational backgrounds at the master’s degree program level. Most earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, sociology, or social science first. Some colleges and universities offer undergraduate degrees in counseling, and this might be the best option for aspiring couples therapists. Students in these programs take core courses like English and math, but also study subjects like:

Counseling techniques
Crisis intervention
Diversity in counseling
Family systems and dynamics
Family therapy
Human development
Methods of counseling
Completing a bachelor’s degree program is only the first step. Aspiring couples therapists must then earn a master’s degree or a doctoral degree, depending on whether they want to study counseling, social work, or psychology. Both educational pathways involve clinical internships and residencies, but earning the PhD or a PsyD required to become a psychologist usually takes longer (three or more years versus two).

The Master of Family Therapy (MFT) is the obvious choice. This degree goes by many names: Master of Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling, or Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, among others. In these degree programs designed to train the next generation of licensed marriage therapists, students study:

Clinical counseling techniques
Cross-cultural communication in counseling
Diagnostic classification systems
Family systems
Laws and ethics of counseling
Psychological theory
Research methods and data analysis
Sex therapy
Substance abuse and addiction
Theories of marriage and family therapy
Trauma treatment techniques
An MFT degree isn’t the only option when it comes to graduate school for couples counselors, though. Some future couples counselors choose master’s degree in counseling programs and graduate with either an MA in Mental Health Counseling or MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling before becoming licensed mental health counselors. Others pursue Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees and become clinical social workers.

Students following all the master’s program and doctoral program pathways open to couples therapists must complete one or more internships in clinical settings to fulfill licensure requirements. During these internships, they receive hands-on training from licensed therapists and have opportunities to participate in therapy sessions with actual clients in a clinical setting. They must also take and pass whatever exams their state requires of counselors, social workers, or psychologists. MFTs, for instance, take the Marriage and Family Therapy National Exam to become licensed marital family therapists.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling or psychology typically takes four years. Most marriage and family therapist master’s degree programs and graduate-level clinical counseling programs take two years of full-time study to complete. Earning a doctorate in psychology degree takes at least three years.

After graduating from an advanced degree program, aspiring couples therapists must complete one or two years of supervised clinical work. Studying for—and then taking—whatever state licensing exam is required to practice independently can take a few months. Add it all up, and becoming a couples therapist can take six years or more.

About the author

The Editorial Team at is dedicated to providing the best information on learning. From attaining a certificate in marketing to earning an MBA, we have all you need. If you feel lost, reach out to an admission officer.
Study on Scholarship Today -- Check your eligibility for up to 100% scholarship.

Leave a Comment