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Southern New Hampshire University

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Purdue University Global

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Grand Canyon University

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Columbia Southern University

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Liberty University

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Saybrook University

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Art Therapy Graduate Schools

Art therapy graduate programs explore the theories and techniques of using art to facilitate psychological healing. Learn about master's degrees, courses of study and professional certification requirements.

Becoming an art therapist most often requires a relevant master's degree, which can be earned at a number of colleges across the country. To learn more about choosing an art therapy degree program that's right for you, take a look at the information below.

Can I Earn a Graduate Degree in Art Therapy?

In order to qualify for entry-level practice in art therapy, you must have a master's degree specifically in art therapy. Depending on the school, the program may lead to a degree such as a Master of Science in Art Therapy, Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy, Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Art Therapy or more commonly, Master of Arts in Art Therapy.

You'll need a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in order to qualify for admission to the graduate program. Although your undergraduate major is not particularly important, you'll have had to have taken a certain number of courses in psychology, human behavior and studio art. You'll also have to present a portfolio of your artwork and a certain number of letters of recommendation from academic and professional sources.

How Should I Choose a School?

The best way to choose a school that offers a good graduate program in art therapy is to contact the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) (www.arttherapy.org). This is a national organization that promotes the therapeutic use of art and provides standards of professionalism and competence in the field. As part of their mission, the AATA provides a list of colleges and institutions, whose graduate programs in art therapy have met the criteria and received official approval of the organization.

Which Schools Offer a Master's Degree Program in Art Therapy?

There are many schools that have art therapy master's degree programs. A few of them include the following:

  • Mount Mary University hosts a Master of Science in Art Therapy degree program
  • Florida State University has a program leading to a Master of Science in Art Therapy
  • New York University offers a Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree

What Will I Learn?

You'll learn to use art to treat emotionally and physically damaged children and adults. Through various courses, you'll also learn how to apply treatment techniques to AIDS patients, the homeless, trauma survivors and substance abusers. Your clients may consist of physically and mentally wounded soldiers, first responders or victims of abuse.

In all programs, you'll learn to use artistic creation in combination with professional counseling skills to achieve communication with individuals in a therapeutic relationship. You'll be prepared to apply what you learn in settings such as hospitals, correctional facilities, schools, treatment centers, veterans' hospitals, public service agencies and hospice.

Following graduation, once you complete 1,000 hours of direct client contact, 100 hours of supervision and 50 hours being supervised, with three letters of recommendation, you'll qualify as a Registered Art Therapist (ATR). With two more years of experience, you'll qualify to sit for the certification examination, which is administered by the Art Therapy Credentials Board. Successful completion of the exam earns you the designation, 'Board Certified Registered Art Therapist' (ATR-BC). Certification is renewable every five years with the completion of 100 hours of continuing education credits.

What Courses Will I Take?

All programs include a large amount of clinical practicums, under the supervision of faculty and Art Therapy Certified Supervisors (ATCS). In most programs, a thesis is required. Common courses include:

  • History and theory of art therapy
  • Adolescent and adult art development
  • Psychopathology
  • Counseling and art therapy
  • Research methods
  • Expressive therapies
  • Ethics and professionalism
  • Multicultural art therapy
  • Group art therapy

A master's degree program in art therapy is likely to be the best path on the way to a career in art therapy, and there are a number of graduate schools which offer such programs. Programs often include a combination of coursework and hands-on experience, which helps prepare students for work in the field.