Art Therapy Graduate Programs with Course Information

Art therapists help their clients through artwork. The entry-level education requirement for an art therapist is a master's degree. Schools vary in the breadth of subject matter offered and in additional credentialing options.

Choosing a Graduate Program in Art Therapy

Graduate degree programs in art therapy are available at 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Credentialing requirements and accreditation
  • Program curriculum
  • Funding options

Credentialing Requirements and Accreditation

To become a registered art therapist credentialed by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, students must complete a master's degree program and supervised clinical work. Programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and approved by the American Art Therapy Association.

Program Curriculum

Students will want to look for a program with a broad curriculum that prepares them to facilitate artistic production with clients and help them understand the artwork produced. Students may want to look for programs that also prepare them to become licensed marriage and family therapists in order to broaden their career options. A practicum is required by most programs, but students with an interest in a particular population or setting may look for programs that offer a practicum that fits their interests.

Funding Options

It is important to note that, while these programs do not focus on art in the same way a professional creative degree program such as a Master of Fine Arts program does, most students do produce artwork during their studies, and many develop artistic portfolios. Students may want to seek programs with teaching or research assistantships, fellowships or other funding options.

Graduate Programs in Art Therapy Overviews

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Art Therapy

Students in master's programs complete coursework in:

  • Psychological assessment
  • Psychopathology
  • History of art therapy
  • Counseling skills

Most programs require courses in research methodology and some require a project or thesis. Students may also be required to complete a practicum. Students must hold at least a bachelor's degree in order to be admitted to these programs unless the program is a joint B.A./M.A. program. Prior coursework covering some psychology topics is required. The strongest candidates have bachelor's degrees in art or psychology. Students who already have a master's degree in a related field can pursue 1-year programs to fulfill the requirements to become a registered art therapist.

Doctoral Programs in Art Therapy

Doctoral programs in art therapy are not as common as master's degree programs. Doctoral programs require students to have a master's degree in art therapy before being admitted. Additionally, candidates must have experience as an art therapist. Both professional and research doctoral programs are available in art therapy, and both types of programs take 2-3 years to complete.

Professional doctoral programs teach:

  • Advanced therapeutic techniques
  • Teaching skills
  • Administration and leadership skills

Research doctoral programs focus more on preparing students to conduct original research and teach at the collegiate level. Many programs require a comprehensive exam, and some require either a dissertation or a special culminating project. Some programs require a practicum as well.

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