Art Therapy Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Art therapies are counseling techniques taught through graduate and undergraduate programs. Schools that offer graduate degrees and certificates in art therapy include courses in art and psychology as well as supervised clinical internships with credentialed art therapists.

Art therapy programs are available at 4-year colleges and universities. One can find accredited schools through the American Art Therapy Association (www.americanarttherapyassociation.org), which works with the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) to ensure that students receive appropriate education and internship experience, which is required when applying for licensing.

Top Art Therapy Schools

There are several highly regarded programs in art therapy offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The following schools offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in art therapy.

College\University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $9,684 (in-state, graduate); $24,116 (out-of-state, graduate)
George Washington University Alexandria, VA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $50,435 (undergraduate); $27,810 (graduate)
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $31,239 (graduate)
Webster University St. Louis, MO 4-year, private, not-for-profit Certificate $25,500 (undergraduate)
Marylhurst University Marylhurst, OR 4-year, private, not-for-profit Master's, Postgraduate Certificate $16,956 (graduate)
Notre Dame de Namur University Belmont, CA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $15,314 (graduate)
Eastern Virginia Medical School Norfolk, VA 4-year, public Master's, Post Master Program $18,576 (in-state, graduate); $22,043 (out-of-state, graduate)
University of Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $26,290 (undergraduate)
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville Edwardsville, IL 4-year, public Master's $6,544 (in-state, graduate); $12,830 (out-of-state, graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Those interested in a career in art therapy have several factors they should consider when selecting a program.

  • Accreditation is one criterion prospective students can use to help determine the quality of the program.
  • While art therapy training can be found at the undergraduate level, ATCB certification requires graduate-level education at either the master's degree level or the doctoral level.
  • Because art therapists are relatively uncommon, it helps to investigate the school's internship options.
  • Although not all schools offering graduate programs in art therapy have an undergraduate degree in subject, some may offer articulation programs leading from a bachelor's degree in art to a master's in art therapy.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A 4-year bachelor's degree in art therapy is typically a path toward graduate degree studies and certification and licensure as an art therapist. However, with a bachelor's degree, one can become a recreational therapist. Some states regulate recreational therapists, and these regulations vary. As of 2009, four states required licensure. Certification for recreational therapists generally voluntary, and can be obtained through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. In addition to completing course requirements, students may be required to complete a senior research project and an internship or practicums.

Master's Degree Programs

A master's degree program in marital and family therapy or in psychology with an emphasis in family therapy/art therapy can take approximately 60 credit hours of study. This can take 2-3 years to complete. Master's students may work with children, adolescents, adults and seniors under the supervision of a licensed art therapist. Classes come primarily from the psychology and art fields and usually include a research thesis or culminating project. Programs also typically include practicums and internships.

Doctoral Degree Programs

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program specific to art therapy may require a master's degree and clinical experience. Programs emphasize research skills and can be a path toward teaching and adding to the field of knowledge in art therapy. Programs may include a practicum and typically require students to complete a dissertation.

Private and public colleges and universities offer a range of art therapy degree programs, including bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, doctoral degrees and certificates. Students who graduate from bachelor's degrees will need to finish a graduate program before they can become certified in the field.

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