You should consider many factors when selecting an online school for art therapy education. Some of the most important include on-campus and experiential requirements, available specializations, and the support for meeting credentialing standards.
How to Select an Online Art Therapy School
Because the Art Therapy Credentials Board, the regulatory body for art therapy practitioners, only recognizes masters-level degree programs in art therapy, all available degree programs are at the graduate level. Online art therapy master's degree programs are available at a handful of colleges. Students must determine what program fits them best based on the resources each program provides and the availability of the type of education they want.
Degrees are not generally available in a fully online format, so students who wish to enroll in an art therapy program will most likely be required to spend time on campus. Students whose schedules do not permit regular course attendance can pursue focused hybrid degree programs. In these, students visit campus for a short period of intensive in-person training sessions, then return home to complete the remainder of the program remotely. A certain number of supervised hours are also required working with clients.
Support for Credentialing Requirements
Because the art therapy credentialing process has both educational and work requirements, students should consider how much support an online art therapy education program gives them in fulfilling all licensing requirements. Some programs arrange for clinical training experience that can be applied to a student's licensing requirements. Other programs may not provide any assistance with such training.
Art therapy is a broad discipline serving many types of clients. Some schools have particular strengths in training graduates in therapy with certain media, such as painting or dance. Others focus on particular types of therapy, such as family counseling, special education, or behavioral counseling.
Online Art Therapy Degree Options
Master of Art in Art Therapy
A hybrid master's degree program in art therapy is designed to give students a full master's degree program in a distance learning format, leaving aside only a few weeks of residency at a college campus, which are backed up by coursework taken at a location of the student's choice with the assistance of a faculty mentor. Students may use any of several means of communication to complete the distance-learning portion of the degree, including e-mail and other online communication. Coursework includes:
- Multicultural art therapy
- Career counseling
- Professional ethics and business practices
Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy and Creativity Development
This master's program is specifically designed to give students the professional experience they need to enter the field and work successfully in art therapy. It does not have as much general coursework as a Master of Art program. Distance learning classes are often offered in an online format through education software that allows students to access their classes via the Internet and combines several different types of communication into one interface. Substantial in-person practical work is required. Students take coursework in:
- Materials in creative arts therapy
- Development of personality
- Family art therapy
- Clinical diagnosis and treatment issues
Schools with Online Programs in Art Therapy
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers a hybrid online and in-person master's degree in art therapy. The flexible learning schedule involves primarily online classes with on-site clinical experiences overseen by a registered art therapist. With proper documentation, private art instruction can be used to earn related art course credits.
Prescott College provides a hybrid ('limited residency') master's degree in counseling with a concentration in expressive art therapy. This program is designed to work with the student's schedule and lifestyle, offering many courses online with in-person courses and experiences as available to help enhance learning. Slightly longer than average, this program will last anywhere from two and a half to three years worth of study depending on state licensure requirements. It combines the usual 60 credit master's work with 30 credits needed to earn a post-graduate certificate in art therapy, leading to one of the best educational opportunities available to students in this field.
It is important to consider many factors when deciding what kind of online art therapy school you wish to attend. These can be the program format at a school, your education's support for necessary credentialing, and the variety of specializations available.