Best Master’s in Art Therapy Programs 2020

Best Master’s in Art Therapy Programs 2020

| Staff Writers

Best Master’s in Art Therapy Programs 2020
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Individuals facing disabilities, injuries, or illnesses may benefit from the use of recreation-based therapies. By introducing activities like dance, sport, or arts and crafts, therapists can help patients learn skills that increase their independence, form relationships, or cope with anxiety or stress.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects occupations in this field to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029, a rate much faster than average. Additionally, professionals who specialize in elderly populations may be in even greater demand to help with an anticipated increase in age-related injuries and illnesses.

An art therapy master’s program prepares graduates to work with a variety of ages and therapeutic modalities. Programs typically take two years to complete, along with a supervised clinical practicum. Programs may also include a thesis project and/or comprehensive exam. Curricula usually include art therapy techniques, assessment procedures, history of art therapy, characteristics of disabilities and illness, human development, psychology, and psychiatric terminology.

Art therapy master’s programs prepare students to become licensed, registered, and board-certified, pursuant to their state requirements. Based on our methodology, the rankings in this guide showcase the best programs.

Methodology

View ranking methodology here.

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Best Master's in Art Therapy Programs

Rank School Location
1 New York University New York, NY
2 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
3 George Washington University Washington, DC
4 Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY
5 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
6 Springfield College Springfield, MA
7 Nazareth College Rochester, NY
8 Marywood University Scranton, PA
9 Albertus Magnus College New Haven, CT
10 Cedar Crest College Allentown, PA
  1. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Founded in 1831, NYU is a private nonprofit school serving approximately 51,900 students. NYU offers a master of arts in art therapy program that focuses on scholarly research, cross-cultural competency, and evidence-based clinical practice. Additionally, the program prides itself on offering instruction that speaks to current social justice issues and takes advantage of modern learning technologies.

    This program trains students in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning domains, ultimately preparing them for entry-level careers as art therapists. Learners complete 39 credits of core major classes, nine elective credits, and a 12-credit internship. In addition to coursework and internship requirements, master's degree-seekers must complete a thesis project.

  2. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    FSU is a public school located in Tallahassee. Founded in 1851, it is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the state. The school serves approximately 42,000 students and offers a master's in art therapy.

    FSU's art therapy graduate program prepares students for entry-level careers using the affective, cognitive, and psychomotor learning domains. Learners must pass a master's comprehensive exam and complete a master's thesis or supervised research project for graduation. Candidates also complete at least 1000 hours in a supervised practicum.

    Most full-time students complete the program in two years, including two summer semesters. Prospective students should submit a statement of purpose, GRE scores, an academic writing sample, and three letters of recommendation.

  3. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Located in Washington, D.C., GW is a private institution dating back to 1821. The nonprofit school offers a master's degree in art therapy that emphasizes individual counseling skills, family and group therapy, psychopathology, and human development.

    Art therapy students must complete at least 900 internship hours, pass a comprehensive exam, and write a master's thesis to graduate. Graduates can sit for professional licensure exams in art therapy and counseling.

    Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Application materials include transcripts reflecting at least 18 undergraduate credits in art, 12 credits in the behavioral or social sciences, and coursework in abnormal psychology and human development. In addition, applicants should submit two letters of recommendation, an art portfolio, and statement of purpose. The admissions committee also requires an interview.

  4. Pratt Institute
    Location

    Brooklyn, NY

    Located in Brooklyn, New York, Pratt is a private, nonprofit school offering a master's in art therapy. This program combines theoretical and experiential learning, helping students develop innovative approaches to treating clinical issues with art therapy.

    Students can take the program on campus following the regular academic schedule or in a low residency format. Learners usually need four semesters to complete their master's degree in art therapy and creative development.

    Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree and 12 prerequisite credits in psychology, abnormal and developmental psychology, and two other psychology-focused classes. Pratt also expects applicants to possess 18 credits of studio art courses in sculpture, painting, and drawing. Perspective art therapy master's students must participate in an interview in person or online with the admissions committee.

  5. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel is a private, nonprofit institution located in Philadelphia. The university's master of arts in art therapy and counseling introduces diverse methods for treating patients in art therapy sessions.

    Graduates prepare to treat both individuals and groups by employing a combination of clinical concepts and theory. The program also helps students build therapeutic relationships with patients as they develop individual identities as art therapists.

    Candidates pursuing a master's in art therapy must work with a multidisciplinary faculty committee to complete a thesis research or capstone project. Students also complete a clinical practice course, three practicums, three internships, and a final project. In total, learners complete 1200 art therapy educational hours.

  6. Springfield College
    Location

    Springfield, MA

    Massachusetts-based Springfield is a private, nonprofit institution offering a master's degree in art therapy. This program combines practical therapy theories and techniques with hands-on practice.

    Full-time students typically need two years to complete all required coursework in psychology, studio art, counseling, and therapy. Candidates also complete a practicum experience during their second semester and an internship during their second year.

    Prospective students should hold a baccalaureate degree in art, psychology, art education, art therapy, or a related field. Other prerequisites include at least 18 credits of studio art classes, 12 or more credits in psychology, and one class in three-dimensional art. Springfield requires applicants to submit a portfolio of work.

  7. Nazareth College
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Located in Rochester, New York, Nazareth is a private, nonprofit college serving approximately 3,000 students. Full-time students can complete Nazareth's 60-credit master of science in creative arts therapy in around two years.

    Nazareth master's students engage in clinical training experiences with specialists in physical therapy, speech-language pathology, music therapy, and occupational therapy. Program graduates may sit for the New York state licensed creative arts therapy (LCAT) credential exam.

    Candidates must submit an online application with a resume, professional statement, and three letters of recommendation. Applicants should also provide their official transcripts and a 20-piece portfolio demonstrating their expertise in two- and three-dimensional art. Incoming students must possess at least 18 credits in studio art and 12 or more credits in psychology or a related area.

  8. Marywood University
    Location

    Scranton, PA

    Located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Marywood is a private school offering a master's in art therapy. Along with 60 semester hours of coursework, candidates must write a traditional master's thesis and complete a clinical practicum for graduation.

    Prospective graduate students must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university or college with a "B" or higher average. Application materials include a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts demonstrating the applicant's likelihood for success in the program.

    Degree-holders pursue careers in a variety of settings, including Community Counseling agencies, prison systems, medical hospitals, private practices, community art studios, and women's shelters.

  9. Albertus Magnus College
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    This private Connecticut school offers a master of arts in art therapy and counseling degree that emphasizes the ethical, practical, and theoretical aspects of art therapy. The program prepares learners to become licensed professional counselors in Connecticut.

    Master's students must complete at least 60 credits with a 3.0 or higher GPA and 725 hours of supervised clinical experience. Learners must also write a traditional master's thesis.

    Applicants to the master's in art therapy program need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 2.8 GPA or higher. Albertus expects incoming students to possess at least 18 credits of studio art classes and a minimum of 15 psychology credits. The college accepts up to 12 graduate credits toward this degree.

  10. Cedar Crest College
    Location

    Allentown, PA

    Cedar Crest is a private school in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The nonprofit institution's master's degree in art therapy offers a combination of on-campus, online, and hybrid courses that integrate foundational theories with hands-on application. Full-time learners typically complete the 60-credit program in five semesters.

    Incoming students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Application materials must include official transcripts reflecting at least 18 credits of studio coursework and 12 psychology credits completed within the last 10 years. Additionally, prospective students should submit a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a portfolio of original work.

Applying to a Master’s in Art Therapy Program

Applicants to art therapy master’s programs must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Art therapy programs often ask students to submit GRE scores, minimum GPAs, transcripts, and 2-3 letters of recommendation. Programs may also require academic writing samples, portfolios, resumes, and statements of purpose. Candidates may also be invited to interview.

While prospective students may not need particular undergraduate majors, admissions prefers degrees and coursework in studio art, psychology, and behavioral and social sciences.

Art therapists must obtain a clinical or professional license as a counselor, psychotherapist, or therapist, depending on the requirements of the state where they plan to practice. The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) administers testing and awards national credentials for provisional registered art therapists, registered art therapists, and board-certified art therapists.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do art therapists work?

    Art therapy degree-holders find employment at correctional facilities, drug and alcohol treatment centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, and private practice. The BLS also predicts an increased need for art therapists to work with elderly clients in settings like community centers, hospice care, and long-term residential care facilities.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    The American Art Therapy Association formulated educational standards for art therapy schools with a rigorous annual review process. To ensure compliance with these standards, master’s in art therapy students should seek training at schools approved by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

  • Is an online master's in art therapy a good degree?

    Art therapy degrees online do not offer a fully virtual learning experience but involve on-campus instruction and in-person supervised clinical practicums or internships. Because the ATCB only recognizes art therapy master’s programs, students must earn a graduate degree and should find a hybrid art therapy master’s program worthwhile.

  • How long does it take to become an art therapist?

    To become an art therapist, students first need to earn a bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years. Most master’s in art therapy programs take two years to complete. Clinical internships in some states — at particular work sites or in specific specialties — may add to the timeline, but the total commitment averages 6-7 years.

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