Professionals are consistently looking for an affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degree that will help them become experts in the field. By earning a terminal degree, these professionals are demonstrating that they hold the knowledge and skills needed to be qualified licensed counselors that their clients can rely on for great treatment. It also demonstrates a commitment to the field and is generally considered to be a foundation for academic research after graduation.
Unfortunately, not many schools provide online programs in family counseling; this may have to do with the fact that practicums and internships are a common requirement for the program. It could also do with the fact that it is hard to accredit an online program with the same standards that are offered through on-campus degrees. Lastly, it may be an oversight by universities; perhaps the call for of the programs just hasn’t been strong enough.
A small group of schools have heard the call and do have degrees available that will meet the needs of family counselors all over the country. These schools are offered as low-residency options that don’t require continuous attendance on campus and will provide students with the program they need, including fieldwork experiences that occur in their community. These schools have been ranked below for the convenience of professionals interested in the field.
This ranking would not have been possible without the research that was conducted at the National Center for Education Statistics and its publicly available College Navigator database. A total of 12 schools was identified just by searching for online Doctorate in Family Counseling degrees. Each school was then independently reviewed and compared to the rest of the list based on several factors, including tuition rates and online features. The final 10 schools were chosen based on the total estimated in-state graduate tuition rate for the entire program.
Ranking Low-Cost Doctorate in Family Counseling
10. Sofia University
Palo Alto, California
Online Global Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Concentration in Transpersonal Education and Research
The affordable Ph.D. in Family Counseling available from Sofia University is one of the most unique options available in the field. This program focuses on transpersonal learning, a field that focuses on the dynamics of relations so that individuals can learn how to interact with others in a healthy way. This degree was designed to enable professionals to research their own passions rather than follow a set structure. Students will find that this degree is low-residency; professionals will attend campus twice a year for retreats and intensives. Students will also be offered the chance to claim one of five concentrations: Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, Applied Transpersonal Psychology, Transpersonal Education and Research, Whole Systems Approach to Health and Wellbeing, and Consciousness and Creativity Studies. This degree is open to students from all backgrounds, is offered in the quarter term system, and is offered through the school’s virtual portal. Students will take their classes in the asynchronous or synchronous format and will submit all assignments through the platform. This degree requires a minimum of 75 credit units of coursework, an optional internship, a comprehensive written and oral exit exam, and a dissertation. More information on this degree can be accessed by contacting the school’s graduate admissions office.
9. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy
Northcentral University confers an affordable online Ph.D. in Family Counseling that is offered in a low-residency program. Students will note that this program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education as well as the International Family Therapy Association. The program adheres to the COAMFTE Marriage and Family Therapy Educational Guidelines, making it a great choice for professionals who are interested in becoming experts in the field. There are five concentrations associated with this degree: Child and Adolescent Therapy, Couple Therapy, General Family Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, and Therapy with Military Families. This degree is offered as a low-residency program; students will be required to complete some residencies on campus for graduation. Students will find that the majority of their courses can be found through the school’s online learning management system. Courses are offered asynchronously and follow the traditional 16-week academic term format. This degree requires a practicum as well as a nine-month internship, both of which are completed locally and under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Students will be required to complete a bare minimum of 69 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, a research project, and an internship. Sample courses include Quantitative Research Design and Statistical Analysis in Marriage and Family Therapy, Scholarly Literature Review, and Dynamics of Family Interaction.
8. University of the Rockies
Online Doctor of Psychology, Concentration in Mediation and Conflict Resolution
The affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degree that is provided by the University of the Rockies is created to complete a student’s education on the field. This degree will not lead to certification or licensure. Students will find that this degree has seven concentrations: Sport and Performance Psychology, Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Educational Leadership, Criminology and Justice Studies, Health and Wellness Psychology, and Industrial and Organizational Psychology. This is a low-residency program; students are required to complete at least three in-residence workshops top apply for graduation. Students will take the majority of their coursework online through the school’s virtual portal. Courses are offered as live or on-demand sessions that last for 16 weeks. Students will be able to choose between completing a dissertation or a doctoral project. Please note that this program does not require practicums or internships. This degree requires that students complete a minimum of 62 credit hours of coursework, a comprehensive written and oral exit exam, and a dissertation or doctoral project. Sample courses include Developing Confliction Resolutions Plans and Policies, Evaluating Conflict Resolution Processes, and Assessment Tools for Organizational Leadership.
7. Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling and Psychological Studies, Concentration in Marriage and Family Ministry
Regent University is home to one of the best an affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degrees in the state of Virginia. Students will find that the program at this school covers a variety of subjects that could impact family dynamics, including child behavioral problems, marriage issues, eating disorders, and more. It is important to note that this degree will not lead to licensure for counseling or in psychology and only those with a license to practice in their state are invited to apply. As a non-licensure program, this degree does not include any fieldwork experience as requirements. Students will take this course of study as a low-residency program. Courses are delivered through the school’s learning management system in live or on-demand offerings; sessions last approximately 16 weeks. Students will then attend campus for summer residencies; these include workshops and collaborative projects that are required for graduation. Students who are interested in this project are highly encouraged to speak with a graduate admissions advisor.
6. Eastern University
St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy
The cheap Ph.D. in Family Counseling online that is conferred by Eastern University is offered to professionals who are interested in working in the field. Built on a faith-based curriculum, this degree will provide students with a comprehensive program that will see them complete the degree in four years when they take two courses every term. Students will find that this is a cohort, low-residency program; all courses begin with a one-week on-campus residency, then moves online. Courses can be found through the school’s virtual portal and are delivered synchronously in 15-week sessions. Students will note that there are three terms every year and there is one practicum requirement. Other requirements for this degree include 60 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Systems Theory and Group Dynamics, Holistic Approaches to Prevention and Enrichment in Family Systems, and Adult Personality and Character Development.
5. Amridge University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy
Amridge University is home to an affordable Ph.D. in Family Therapy degree that is research-based and will require at least four years of full-time study to complete. Students will note that this degree will not lead to licensure as a professional counselor; however, if they wish, students may enroll in additional courses to meet the requirements to sit for licensure. This degree is offered 100 percent online; there are no residency requirements. All courses can be found through the school’s learning management system and are delivered synchronously in 16-week sessions. Students will complete a practicum based on their desire to either teach or practice as well as a research dissertation. This degree will require students to complete 60 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and the Qualifying Examination for Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy. Sample courses include Integrative Models of Marriage and Family Therapy, Applied Adult Development, and Systemic Interventions in Abusive Relationships.
4. Argosy University
Online Doctor of Education in Counseling Psychology
The affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degree that is available from Argosy University is actually an education degree, making it a unique addition to this ranking. However, this program is perfect for professionals who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including family therapy. Students will find that this degree is structured to provide students with an education that teaches them the most advanced concepts available in counseling psychology. Students can choose to earn a concentration in Counselor Education and Supervision. This is a 100 percent online course of study; there are no residency requirements. Students will complete their coursework online through the school’s virtual portal; the platform delivers asynchronous and synchronous courses in 16-week sessions. Students will complete 60 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Etiology of Mental Illness, Psychodynamic Theories of Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy.
3. California Southern University
Online Doctor of Psychology
California Southern University houses an affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degree that will prepare students to sit for licensure as a professional counselor in the state of California. This degree is an applied program, meaning that it is intended for practicing professionals. Students will take this low-residency program with the knowledge that their practicum, internship, and dissertation will be focused on their personal interests. Students only need to visit the university once to defend their dissertation. This degree was designed to confer all of its coursework online through the school’s learning management system. Courses are delivered asynchronously or synchronously and in the traditional 16-week academic term format. Students will complete their practicum requirement at a local site under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Students will complete a minimum of 66 credit hours of coursework, a practicum, a doctoral project, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Students interested in learning more about this program are encouraged to speak with a graduate admissions advisor.
2. Liberty University
Online Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling, Concentration in Marriage and Family Counseling
Students at Liberty University have the chance to complete an affordable Ph.D. in Family Counseling online that can be earned in just three years. This degree is delivered 100 percent online with no residency requirements. Students will complete all of their coursework online through the school’s virtual portal. Sessions run in live or on-demand formats that last just 16 weeks long. Students will need to take on an internship as well; this can be completed locally and must be supervised by an approved preceptor. This degree requires a total of 57 credit hours of coursework, an internship, a dissertation, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Assessment in Marital and Family Counseling, Marriage Counseling, and Trauma and Current Issues in Marital Counseling.
1. Texas Women’s University
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy
Texas Women’s University is home to an affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling degree that will provide students with a strong academic and practical background in the field. This degree is research-based and will require an internship. Students will find that this is a 100 percent online course of study; courses are delivered through the school’s learning management system. Classes are found asynchronously or synchronously and follow the traditional 16-week academic term format. Students will be able to complete this degree in two years if they choose to study full-time. This degree requires a minimum of 69 credit hours of coursework, an internship, a comprehensive written and oral exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Family Financial Counseling, Nature of Literacy in the Adolescent Years, and Psychopathology and Exceptionalities for Children and Adolescents.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Affordable Online Doctorate in Family Counseling?
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- College or University Professor
- Nonfiction Author
- Crisis Intervention Specialist
- University Counselor
- Religious-Based Therapist
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Adolescent Counselor
- Social Worker
- Executive Director
- School Counselor
- Private-Practice Counselor
- Motivational Speaker
- Counseling Services Program Director for a Nonprofit Organization
- Grief Counselor
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
The median salary for family counselors is $49,170. The salary range for the field is from $29,980 to over $120,000. This range includes positions within the public and private sectors, in both academic and clinical settings, and private-practice careers.
Students will note that many family counselors go on to supplement their career with other avenues of income. For example, well-established family counselors could go on speaking tours, write a book, start a blog, or work as a consultant for companies. While payment for these projects is not included in the above salary range, it can be quite lucrative.
Counselors also have the option to go into full private practice or split their time between a clinical setting and their own private practice. In some cases, private practice can yield a higher income, but professionals continue to work in clinical settings to aid their community.
Another thing to keep in mind is that family counseling is sorely needed in rural areas around the country. While these areas cannot pay as much as metropolitan and urban areas, there is a high satisfaction in providing communities with the relief they require to be happy. In some cases, professionals may also work on research projects based on the community they serve and turn it into a nonfiction book based on their experiences and research.
What are the Various Disciplines of Family Counseling?
Family therapy is the sub-discipline of psychology that focuses on healing the family unit while addressing the trauma or consistent behaviors that have led to a breakdown in the dynamics between the members. Professionals in this field focus their education on family, group counseling, lifespan development, health care, medicine, and more. Communication and research are also strong components of this field and are mandatory for students at the doctoral level.
Some professionals in this field may specialize in parts of family counseling, which can lead to other disciplines coming to the forefront. Some professionals may choose to focus on child and adolescent psychology while others may choose to focus solely on marriage counseling. Other sub-disciplines include grief counseling, gerontology counseling, trauma counseling, and more.
Family counseling is a field that, unfortunately, requires more professionals. As more and more issues threaten to destroy American families and individual lives, it has become imperative that more focus needs to be placed on the family unit. Undergraduate and graduate degrees will prepare professionals to become practitioners in the field, but it may not be enough to make a real and lasting change in the field itself. Professionals interested in leaving their mark may want to seriously consider completing an affordable online Doctorate in Family Counseling; this ranking is a great place to start to look for potential programs.