Best Art Therapy Schools: List of Top U.S. Schools

Learn about the education that can lead to an art therapy career. Find out about degrees, schools, rankings and locations to make an informed decision about preparing to be an art therapist. View article »

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  • 0:30 New York University
  • 1:12 George Washington University
  • 1:50 Drexel University
  • 2:30 Top Schools with Art…

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Video Transcript

School Information

A master's degree, along with board certification, is the standard level of education needed in order to practice art therapy. Art therapy is a branch within the field of counseling, so art therapy master's degree programs are often found alongside a school's psychology offerings. The three East Coast universities profiled here are among the top school options for studying art therapy at the graduate level.

Each school was nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

New York University

New York University has been offering studies in art therapy since the 1950s in New York City. It's Master of Arts (M.A.) in Art Therapy was one of the first five programs in the country to gain approval from the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). Students must also take 49 credits, 12 of which are designated for an internship. Global internships are available in Tanzania, Peru, South Africa and Brazil. In addition, 85 to 100 hours of clinical observation are required in the M.A. program.

In 2013, the university's graduate psychology program ranked at #30 according to U.S. News and World Report.

George Washington University

Washington D.C.'s George Washington University (GW) offers an AATA approved graduate degree in and the institution has relationships with over 100 organizations to facilitate internship opportunities

Students in the M.A. in Art Therapy program at GW take classes in counseling, group therapy and art therapy. The focus of the program is the use of painting, sculpture and drawing to diagnose and treat patients; students can also take concentrations in trauma training.

George Washington University's graduate psychology program was ranked #78 in the nation in the 2013 U.S. News and World Report rankings.

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Drexel University

Drexel University located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania offers a graduate degree in art therapy that has been approved by the AATA. The Department of Creative Art Therapies is based in the Division of Graduate Health Professions, but it is also connected to the institution's fine arts school.

The M.A. in Art Therapy and Counseling program includes theoretical coursework in topics such as human psychological development and trauma treatment using art therapy, as well as practicum and internship requirements. The program culminates in a final master's thesis based on independent study.

For 2017, Drexel was ranked #96 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

Top Schools in the U.S. with Art Therapy Programs

Here are a few more top universities with art therapy programs:

College/University Name Distinction Location
Emporia State University Emporia's AATA-approved Master's in Art Therapy Counseling can be completed in two full-time years Emporia, KS
Hofstra University Networking, mentoring and supplemental learning opportunities through the student-run Creative Arts Therapy Club of Hofstra (CATCH) Hempstead, NY
Florida State University FSU's art therapy program is approved by the AATA, and the school sponsors a chapter of that organization Tallahassee, FL
School of the Art Institute of Chicago This institution is one of the few art schools to offer an AATA-approved master's degree for art therapy; requirements include 900 clinical experience hours and fieldwork done with both children and adults Chicago, IL
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville SIU offers 8-10 full-tuition assistantships and stipends for first-year art-therapy graduate students, and incoming classes are limited in size to keep student-faculty ratios low Edwardsville, IL
Southwestern College Internships can take place in any state Santa Fe, NM

Aspiring art therapists can find graduate level training in the field at well-regarded universities around the United States. These programs typically combine classroom-based coursework with practical experience working with real patients.

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