Marriage and Family Therapist License Requirements in North Carolina

North Carolina marriage and family therapists are regulated by the Marriage and Family Therapy License Board. There are two levels of licensure, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFTA). In order to be licensed at either level, a person needs to complete a graduate degree and pass a licensing exam.

LMFT is the higher license. It qualifies a person for independent practice. An LMFTA must complete a supervised practice requirement in order to earn the LMFT license.

The following is a breakdown of requirements in the order in which they are accomplished.

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MFT Education Requirements in North Carolina

An LMFT must earn a graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. The following are acceptable:

  • Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

The program must be at least 45 semester hours and include courses in all content areas mandated by the Board. The following requirements apply to candidates who began master’s programs in October of 2011 or later.

Six semester hours are required in each of the following areas:

  • MFT theoretical foundations
  • MFT practice

One three semester-hour course is required in each the following:

  • Human development and family relations
  • Diagnosis and assessment
  • MFT research
  • Professional identity and ethics

Nine semester hours must be met through practicum work.

The remaining 12 semester hours should also support the core MFT curriculum.

The human development, research, and professional identity coursework requirements do not apply to candidates who began their studies before October of 2011. The total program length requirement is the same, and all coursework should support marriage and family therapy practice.

The North Carolina Board will consider applicants who have done post-master training in MFT even if their program was not degree-granting. A candidate who does not have the full nine semester hours of practicum will need to complete an alternate practicum under an AAMFT-approved supervisor.

The candidate will need to know which agency accredited their program in order to fill out the application. The Board may ask for syllabi if it is not clear from the transcript whether particular courses met content requirements.

MFT Examination

The first step toward licensure is to apply to take the national exam. A student may submit their examination request before graduation if they have met academic requirements for the degree. The transcript at this stage must show at least 33 semester hours of total coursework with at least 6 semester hours of practicum completed. If the candidate has not yet graduated, the candidate must include a verification of the coursework that they are currently taking. The form must be signed by a director or program coordinator. (The individual will be asked to provide a business card.)

The candidate will need to submit $50 to have the NC Board review the request and determine eligibility.

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The candidate will not turn in an application at this stage, even if they graduate. Once the Board determines the candidate is eligible to test, the candidate will receive an email with an invitation to register for the national board exam online through Professional Examination Service.

Only after the candidate has registered can they submit an application for the associate license. The Board may begin reviewing application materials prior to receipt of test scores, but will not issue a license until notification has been received of the candidate’s exam success.

A candidate can learn about the board exam by visiting the site of the Association for Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (

Supervised Practice

The associate marriage and family therapist is eligible for employment at a variety of facilities, but must work under approved clinical supervision. The LMFTA will need to accrue at least 1,500 hours of therapy experience before becoming eligible for the higher license. The associate MFT may apply up to 500 that were earned as part of their degree program provided they were earned under an AAMFT-approved supervisor.

At least 500 of the 1500 contact hours must be relational. Generally this means there is more than one person in the session, and they’re a part of the same treatment plan.

No more than 250 hours of assessment (including intake) may be counted toward the clinical contact requirement. No more than 250 total hours of patient psychoeducation can be applied.

Therapy that is conducted through Skype or similar means is accepted and applied toward the face-to-face therapy requirement; therapy carried out over the telephone is not.

The candidate will need a total of 200 hours of direct supervision from a professional; again, some hours may be carried over.

The Application Process

Three references are required of anyone applying at the associate level or higher. References will give the letter back to the candidate in a sealed envelope with a signature over the seal. Transcripts will be required from all institutions where the candidate completed graduate courses; they must be submitted directly by the institution. Other application materials should be sent together to the Cary address.

A candidate is expected to read the statutes and rules before submitting an application. All forms are available on the ‘licensing’ section of the Board site. There is an email address in the application packet that a candidate can use if the candidate still has questions after reading materials.

The application fee is $200 at both the LMFTA and LMFT levels. If the applicant is already licensed as an LMFTA in North Carolina, there is a separate shorter application for upgrade. The fee is also reduced: $100. There is a $50 fee to have the associate license extended.

The application form and additional materials can be found on the board’s website here:

The Board will confirm receipt of an application via email within 20 days; applicants are asked not to make inquiries during this period.

The license will be sent by mail. The candidate will also receive email notification.

License by Reciprocity

An LMFT is generally eligible for license by reciprocity if the LMFT was licensed on the basis of at least equal standards and if the LMFT has held licensing for at least five years. The LMFT license must be in good standing, and the LMFT must keep it in effect during the time their North Carolina license application is being processed.

In order to be eligible for endorsement, the candidate must have passed the national exam. North Carolina does not accept state constructed exams.

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An endorsement applicant will not need to report the supervision hours on the application form. The LMFT applicant will, however, need to provide the Board with a copy of the statutes and rules that the LMFT was licensed under.

North Carolina does not issue temporary permits. The Board suggests that LMFTs who plan to move to the state begin the process beforehand – a person does not have to live in the state to be licensed there.

Internationally Educated Candidates

An internationally educated candidate will need to have their transcripts evaluated by an agency approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. The evaluation must be sent directly to the Board from the issuing agency.

Contacts & Additional Information

North Carolina Marriage and Family Therapy License Board (

North Carolina Association for Marriage and Family Therapy:

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in North Carolina

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