Art Therapy Graduate Programs with Course Information

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

Many four-year colleges and universities offer master's degree programs in art therapy, and some offer bachelor's degree programs as well. Doctoral programs require students to have an art therapy master's degree prior to admission.

10 Schools for Art Therapy Graduate Programs

These colleges have programs in art therapy that have been approved by the Educational Programs Approval Board (EPAB), according to the American Art Therapy Association website in 2016:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Adler University Chicago, IL 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $29,480 (graduate)
Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $15,900
Marywood University Scranton, PA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $10,715
Adler Graduate School Richfield, MN 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $550 per-credit plus fees
Antioch University Seattle, WA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $16,227
Southwestern College Santa Fe, NM 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $26,650
Emporia State University Emporia, KS 4-year, Public Master's $7,488 in-state, $19,402 out-of-state
Marylhurst University Marylhurst, OR 4-year, Public Master's $16,956
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Master's $31,519
Eastern Virginia Medical School Norfolk, VA 4-year, Public Master's $19,719 in-state, $23,186 out-of-state

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, School websites

School Selection Criteria

When choosing a college for a degree in art therapy, students must consider the type of degree level they wish to pursue, the curriculum offered in that degree and the experiences they can receive at that school. Consideration of the following factors is important as well:

  • Students should find a program accredited and approved by the American Art Therapy Association.
  • Students should look for a broad curriculum that prepares them to facilitate artistic production with clients and helps them understand produced art.
  • Programs may offer different concentrations that focus on counseling for different types of clients, such as couples or families, so students should consider the types of people they'd like to work with.
  • Some schools may have teaching or research assistantships, fellowships or other funding options.

Master of Arts in Art Therapy

The degree includes research methodology and a project or thesis, along with a practicum. Students must hold at least a bachelor's degree for admittance, along with prerequisite psychology coursework, unless the program is a joint B.A./M.A. program. The strongest candidates have bachelor's degrees in art or psychology.

Doctoral Programs in Art Therapy

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

Research doctoral programs focus more on preparing students to conduct original research and teach at the collegiate level. Common requirements are a comprehensive exam, a dissertation or special culminating project and a practicum, depending on the school.

Graduate art therapy programs are commonly found at private schools, though there are approved programs offered at public schools as well. Applicants with undergraduate degrees in a related field, such as art or psychology, will have the best prospects for acceptance into a graduate program.

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