Marriage and family therapists are an important mental health resource to families, couples, and even individuals who are facing unique challenges in their relationships. Marriage and family therapists help these demographics through common situations that they face such as familial trauma, abuse, and violence.

Illinois, like many other states, needs family therapists, especially in rural areas where mental health access is limited or unavailable. If you want to become a marriage and family therapist, the first step is enrolling in an MFT degree program and getting licensed.

2025 - Best MFT Programs in Illinois's Best MFT Programs in Illinois rankings serve as an essential guide for prospective students seeking premier education in Marriage and Family Therapy. These rankings are meticulously curated, taking into account several key factors such as program completion rates, cost of living, institutional competitiveness, diversity of programs offered, and faculty experience. Each factor is carefully evaluated to provide a comprehensive assessment of the quality and suitability of MFT programs throughout Illinois. For an in-depth understanding of the methodology behind these rankings, please visit our rankings methodology page. This resource aids students in making informed decisions to choose the best MFT programs for their academic and professional goals.


Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Northwestern University offers a comprehensive Marriage & Family Therapy program through its Department of Psychology on the Evanston campus. The program combines coursework, hands-on training, and research opportunities to prepare students for clinical practice. Graduates of the program are equipped with the skills and knowledge to work with diverse populations and address the complex challenges faced by modern families.


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago

Chicago, IL

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago offers comprehensive Marriage and Family Therapy programs at both the Master's and Doctoral levels. These programs emphasize practical training and theoretical knowledge, preparing students for licensure and diverse clinical roles. Graduates are equipped to address complex family dynamics and contribute effectively to the field.


Governors State University

University Park, IL

Governors State University offers a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. The program combines rigorous academic coursework with hands-on clinical training, preparing students for licensure and effective practice in diverse settings. Graduates are well-equipped to address complex family dynamics and support mental health within families.

What is an MFT Degree?

Marriage and family therapy degrees (or MFT degrees for short) are degrees that train students in the psychological therapeutic methods for working with couples, families, or even individuals to navigate complex situations such as trauma, abuse, psychological disorders, or substance abuse. They can be utilized by mental health professionals looking to specialize in these methods or by anyone with an interest in marriage and family therapy.

Why is COAMFTE MFT Accreditation Important?

As you begin your search, one of the more important things to remember is to ensure that the programs you apply to are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or by CACREP. This ensures that the state board approves the program’s curriculum. If it’s not accredited, you will not be able to get licensed.

Can I Get an MFT Degree Online in Illinois?

Online programs have become very popular in the last several years, especially for marriage and family therapy degrees. However, because of the licensure requirements associated with MFT graduate degrees, it’s good to be aware of a couple of key points.

While you can take many MFT courses online, you will most likely have to participate in some in-person training. Most MFT degrees require that their students participate in clinicals to get first-hand experience in the field. These are usually done in the last year of a master’s degree and for all years in a doctorate degree.

Additionally, if you’re planning on applying to out-of-state MFT degree programs, you’ll need to consider license transfer requirements. For example, if you’re based in Illinois and your MFT degree program is based in Wisconsin, you’ll need to transfer your licensure to Illinois upon graduation if you plan on practicing in your home state. Fortunately, there are options for students who want to receive their MFT education online in Illinois:

Northwestern University: Northwestern University offers its Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy online to full-time and part-time students in as little as 21 months or 36 months, respectively. The program is based in Evanston, IL but you can fulfill all coursework and clinical requirements from anywhere in the state.

Short Length MFT Programs in Illinois

There are many MFT degree programs to choose from in Illinois, but not all of them are exactly succinct if you’re on a tight time frame. Furthermore, shorter MFT programs like master’s degree programs are more affordable since you’ll be technically paying for less education. Below are a few examples of Illinois’ shortest MFT degree programs:

SchoolDegree LevelLengthAttendance
Northern Illinois UniversityM.S. in Applied Human Development and Family Sciences, Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy2 YearsFull-time
Northeastern Illinois UniversityMaster’s in Couple and Family Counseling2 YearsFull-time
Wheaton CollegeMaster of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy2 YearsFull-time

Affordable MFT Programs in Illinois

There is quite a range in tuition costs when it comes to MFT degree programs. If you’re aiming to go with a more affordable option, you’ll probably want to go with a master’s degree, which usually only costs between $400 and $800 per credit on average. Below are some of Illinois’ most affordable MFT master’s degree programs:

SchoolDegree LevelTuition & Fees
Adler UniversityMaster's Degree in Couple and Family TherapyDetails
University of IllinoisMaster’s Degree in Couples and Family TherapyDetails
Northern Illinois UniversityM.S. in Applied Human Development and Family Sciences, Specialization in Marriage and Family TherapyDetails

MFT Degree Levels

There are many different types of MFT degree levels available in Illinois. The most common are master’s degrees, doctorate degrees, and graduate certificates. Master’s degrees and doctorate degrees allow MFT students to become licensed marriage and family therapists, while graduate certificates are more geared toward individuals who are already licensed.

Do I Need a GRE for an MFT Program?

You might. A GRE (Graduate Record Examination) may be a requirement depending on the MFT program you’re applying to. This type of assessment measures your ability in certain academic areas to ensure a smooth transition into a graduate program. Not all schools require this, however. Some schools, such as Northern Illinois University, use other methods to gauge these academic areas. To find out if the program you’re applying to requires a GRE, you can check the admissions section of your school’s website.

Master's Degree in MFT

To become licensed as a marriage and family therapist, you’ll need to have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at the very least. These types of degrees take about two years to complete following a bachelor’s degree program and usually require the completion of 60 credits, which introduce the student to more nuanced and complex topics surrounding marriage and family therapy.

MFT master’s degrees cost an average of $49,726 in tuition in Illinois and can be found nationwide. Here are just a few that are available in the State of Illinois:

Northern Illinois University: While most MFT master’s degree programs require the completion of 60 credits or more, Northern Illinois University’s M.S. in Applied Human Development and Family Sciences with a Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy allows students to complete their fully accredited master’s degree program with only 54 credits.

Northeastern Illinois University: If you’re looking to get your Associate’s Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (ALMFT) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Illinois, Northeastern Illinois University’s Couple and Family Counseling, M.A might be the right choice for you.

Graduate Certificate in MFT

As previously mentioned, MFT graduate certificates are not technically degrees; they’re more geared toward graduates who already have licensure in psychology or counseling but want to achieve a more balanced educational background in marriage and family therapy.

Graduate certificates typically take a year or less to complete and cost an average of $7129 in tuition in Illinois. There are several MFT graduate certificates available in Illinois. Here are two good options:

Governers State University: The Post-Master's Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling Certificate offered by Governers State University allows licensed mental health professionals to add additional value to their CVs, increasing their marketability when seeking professional roles, but more importantly, providing a more holistic approach to their practice.

Wheaton College: The Marriage and Family Therapy Certificate offered by Wheaton College provides a Christian-based approach to marriage and family therapy, perfect for students who want to seek careers in biblical counseling, become clergy members, or expand their practice to reach individuals who prefer a Christian-based clinician.

MFT Doctorate Degrees (Ph.D. or PsyD)

If you want to become an expert in marriage and family therapy, a doctorate is the way to go. You’ll be receiving the highest level of education that you could possibly receive with an MFT doctorate degree. There are two different types of MFT doctorate degrees — a Ph.D. and a PsyD. A Ph.D. is typically reserved for students who want to focus their careers on research, theory, and education, while a PsyD is typically more clinician-focused.

MFT doctorate degrees can range between $35,000 and $350,000 in tuition, depending on the program. They usually take between 4 and 8 years to complete. Here are a few MFT doctorate degrees available in Illinois:

Adler University: The Ph.D. in Couples and Family Therapy offered by Adler University not only prepares students for specialized practice as a marriage and family therapist but also offers students the option to further sub-specialize in either substance abuse counseling or sex therapy for additional credits. The program also communicates a strong focus on diversity, recognizing the various dimensions of culture.

The Chicago School: Currently the only PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy offered in the State of Illinois, The Chicago School’s program focuses on the clinical aspects of marriage and family therapy. It also allows students to seek careers in grant writing and education in addition to clinical work. Students can complete this degree program in three years following their master’s degree and can become licensed upon graduation.

Becoming an LMFT in Illinois

Obtaining MFT licensure is arguably the most important step to ensuring a successful marriage and family therapist career. Licensure ensures that you can legally practice as a therapist and gives you credibility as a mental health professional. Here’s what you need to know about MFT licensure in Illinois:

  • Education: Obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution. Ensure that your program is recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or an equivalent accrediting body.
  • Supervised Experience: Complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours. In Illinois, you usually need to accumulate around 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised experience, with at least 1,000 hours in direct client contact, 350 going towards couples and families, and 350 towards individual therapy. These hours must be completed over a period of at least 2 years.
  • Examination: Pass the National MFT Examination, administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). This exam assesses your knowledge of marriage and family therapy concepts and practices.
  • Application: Submit an application for licensure to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This typically includes providing transcripts, proof of supervised experience, exam scores, and any other required documentation.
  • Background Check: Undergo a criminal background check.
  • Fees: Pay the required application and licensing fees.
  • Continuing Education: After obtaining licensure, you will need to fulfill continuing education requirements to maintain your license. You will need to take part in at least 30 continuing education hours every 2 years before February 28th of every odd-numbered year.

List of MFT Degree Programs in Illinois

Chicago, IL

Master's Programs
5500 N Saint Louis Ave
Chicago, IL 60625-4699
(773) 583-4050

325 N Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 329-6600

Dekalb, IL

Graduate Certificate ProgramsMaster's Programs
1425 W. Lincoln Hwy.
Dekalb, IL 60115-2828
(800) 892-3050

Evanston, IL

633 Clark St
Evanston, IL 60208
(847) 491-3741

Springfield, IL

One University Plaza
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
(217) 206-6600

University Park, IL

1 University Pky
University Park, IL 60484
(708) 534-5000

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

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