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Online Art Therapy Degree Programs and Certification Information

Research online art therapy courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in art therapy are available, but rare, and may require some on-campus sessions or an in-person practicum. For students seeking an entirely online art program may want to consider a Master's of Art Education program. These programs are offered in an entirely online format and may cover similar topics found in an art therapy program.

Art therapists belong to the larger category of recreational therapists, and recreational therapists may not be required to hold a master's degree. Some employers prefer recreational therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.

Online Master's Degree - Art Therapy

Online education in art therapy is extremely limited, though some options exist. Students may find a master's degree program in this field of study offered in a hybrid format, requiring some on-campus attendance or mentored practicums. Candidates learn about the therapeutic possibilities of art creation and how to use art to foster positive psychological and emotional growth.

Information and Requirements

While much of the coursework is offered through an online learning platform, most master's degree programs require some campus attendance. This campus activity is designed to provide face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers. Students may also be required to participate in one or more internships during the program.

Online coursework and assignments correspond with on-campus education. Students need access to an Internet-capable computer and the means to communicate with an academic mentor. Work may be submitted through fax or email.

Common Art Therapy Courses

The curriculum of a master's degree program in art therapy is comprised of a series of psychology and arts courses. Multiple clinical, practicum and internship experiences at approved sites are necessary for graduation.

Counseling Theories, Techniques and Dynamics

This course analyzes the key concepts and methods of counseling and psychotherapy. Group counseling processes and treatment methods are highlighted. Other topics examined include confrontation strategies, resistance determent techniques and termination processes.

Art Therapy Theories and Assessment Strategies

The field of art therapy is studied from conceptual and historical standpoints. Art therapy evaluation and assessment instruments and tests are also identified, as well as ethical and legislative concerns. Students discuss the various therapeutic applications provided by the different types of art media properties.

Clinical Art Therapy

Students explore the real-world application of art therapy at a practicum site. Lessons teach diagnostic and treatment skills for different psychological disorders through a variety of individual, group and family therapy settings. This course provides the supervision and development necessary to advance to an internship position.


Career Information

Many institutions employ art therapists, such as hospitals, mental health facilities, community agencies, schools, correctional centers and nursing homes. Considered recreational therapy, several states require art therapists to obtain state licensure. Additionally, certification by an association, such as the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification or Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc., may be required for many professional clinical positions.

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 18,600 recreational therapists employed in the U.S., earning an average of $47,790 per year (www.bls.gov). Occupational growth was anticipated to increase 12% (about as fast as the average for all occupations) for recreational therapists between the years 2014-2024, according to the BLS.

Students can earn online art therapy master's degrees that are rarely in a fully online format, but most commonly the hybrid one. Upon graduation, it may be required to seek state licensure as many states require therapists to be licensed by accredited organizations and boards.


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