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Online Art Therapy Degrees

A degree in art therapy combines the principles of traditional counseling with the expressive potential of art. Fully online degrees in this field are not typically available, but a few hybrid programs are available. Learn about what programs are available, common course topics, related programs and career prospects.

What Hybrid Degree Programs Are Available in Art Therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), a master's degree from an accredited school is the minimum educational requirement for obtaining an entry-level position as an art therapist. As of December 2013, there were approximately 34 colleges and universities in the United States that offered master's programs in art therapy or related areas that had been approved by the association's education board. Hybrid programs, or those that combine on-campus with online study, are rare.

AATA-approved hybrid programs in art therapy can lead to a Master of Arts in Art Therapy. Programs that have not been approved by the association can lead to a Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in expressive art therapy. Prerequisites can include undergraduate coursework in abnormal, basic and developmental psychology, and/or formal or private instruction in studio art.

The programs typically require 51-60 credits to complete. In addition to online coursework, students must participate in an internship. A research-based project or thesis may also be required.

Programs Available Master's degree required to work as an art therapist; hybrid programs are available but rare
Admission Requirements Undergraduate work in psychology; prior art instruction may be required
Common Courses Clinical art therapy, counseling, multicultural therapies, ethics, psychopathology
Related Programs Recreational therapy, which combines art, games and sport for the same purpose; undergraduate and graduate programs available
Job Outlook (2016-2026)7% growth (for recreational therapists)*
Median Salary (2018)$47,860 (for recreational therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Can I Take?

A graduate art therapy curriculum can require courses in clinical art therapy, counseling, ethics and psychopathology. Depending on the school, students may also pursue electives in career counseling or spirituality. Similar coursework can be found through an expressive art therapy program. Both programs cover topics in cultural diversity or multicultural therapies.

What Related Programs Are Available?

Online degree programs in recreational therapy are easier to find and are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Recreational therapists use art and drama activities, games and sports to help people who are disabled or ill, and are often employed by hospitals, nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study, as well as a certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation, is usually required to enter the field (www.bls.gov).

What Will My Job Outlook and Salary Options Be?

Recreational therapists earned a median annual wage of $47,860 in May 2018, as reported by the BLS. During the same month, professionals in the top 10% range received yearly salaries of $77,050 or more (www.bls.gov).