Online Masters Degree in Art Therapy: Program Overview

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Some master's degree programs in art therapy can be completed partially online, although these programs are somewhat rare. Didactic coursework can be completed through distance learning, but this type of program includes practical training, often through residencies and internships, so that students can apply what they've learned while working with real patients. A somewhat similar alternative that is offered entirely online is a master's degree in psychology, which may offer similar coursework in cognitive processes and therapeutic techniques.

Applicants to master's degree programs in art therapy must hold a bachelor's degree, and they may need to have completed prerequisite courses in psychology and the fine arts. Prospective online art therapy students may need to find out whether or not programs meet education standards from the Art Therapy Credentials Board, the American Art Therapy Association and/or other professional therapy or mental health organizations.

Master's Degree in Art Therapy

Through an online Master of Arts in Art Therapy program, students study concepts in counseling, psychology and art that allow them to utilize therapeutic skills and develop their own art therapy techniques. Students not only acquire art therapy skills, they also learn business practices and professional standards.

To be eligible for enrollment in one of these programs, students typically must have a bachelor's degree and an educational background in fine arts, psychology or counseling. Programs generally require students to gain hands-on experience in art therapy, so most programs require some type of internship.

Information and Requirements

Typically, an online master's degree program in art therapy takes about two years to complete. In most cases, these are hybrid programs that require students to spend some time completing on-campus residencies and internships at local mental healthcare facilities.

The online portions of these programs can typically be completed through an Internet-based application, where students can watch lectures and interact with other students through the school's online campus. Students will need a computer and access to the Internet, as well as software programs needed to complete written assignments and access the program's multimedia resources.

Common Courses

Most art therapy programs are a combination of coursework in the fine arts and therapeutic practices. Depending on the program, these classes may be offered online or on-campus and can include:

Counseling Techniques and Theories

Students study major counseling theories and learn how to incorporate these theories into therapeutic techniques.

Art Therapy Techniques

This course covers the history of art therapy and how art therapy works. Students explore various art-related techniques and their practical use in mental health situations.

Art Therapy and Life Development

Students learn to use art therapy techniques designed for people of different ages, such as adults, adolescents, children and senior citizens. They examine the effectiveness of certain techniques within certain age groups.

Business and Ethics

Designed specifically for individuals who want to open their own practice or take part in a private practice, students learn about counseling and therapy ethics and responsible business practices. They also learn about reimbursement practices and insurance procedures.

Art Therapy Assessment

Students taking this course discover ways to analyze the effectiveness of various art therapy techniques. They learn to evaluate a client's progress and incorporate tools used for evaluation purposes.

Career Information

According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), a master's degree is required for most therapist positions in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and mental health facilities. The median annual salary for art therapists in November 2019 was approximately $44,402, according to

Continuing Education Information

According to the AATA, post-graduate certificates and doctorate degrees programs are available in art therapy for those wishing to further their educations. These programs are not typically available online due to the fact that the intensive practices and procedures that students are required to perform must be done in person at healthcare facilities affiliated with the school.

Students who want to become art therapists can enroll in partially online master's degree programs in the field, which train them to incorporate art into counseling, work effectively with clients of all ages and run their own business practices. For a fully online option, students can pursue an online master's in psychology that includes coursework in therapeutic techniques.

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