Art Therapy Schools

Art therapists help people with special needs or disabilities by leading them through art classes. Learn about the education, training and certification requirements for a career in art therapy. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Art therapy programs are available as undergraduate- or graduate-level studies. Requirements for employment in the field might include licensure and/or registration with a credentials board. Typically a bachelor's degree is required to work in the field. However, a graduate degree would likely improve employment prospects.

What Schooling Do I Need to Work in Art Therapy?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), recreational therapists - including art therapists - only need a bachelor's degree to find entry-level employment. The BLS reported that as of 2014, four states required licensure for recreational therapists, and these standards vary; for example, licensure requirements include a bachelor's degree in North Carolina. However, some credentialing agencies ask that candidates pursue a graduate degree. To become a Registered Art Therapist through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), candidates must have at least a master's degree.

What Do Undergrad Programs Cover?

You can study in pre-art therapy at the undergraduate level. Through 4-year programs, you learn how psychology and art combine as you earn a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. You start out with classes in basic art techniques like painting and drawing, along with psychology courses that look at issues in behavioral and child development. Graduates go on to earn their master's and doctoral degrees to become certified art therapists.

What Schools Offer Bachelor's Degree Programs in Art Therapy?

Bachelor's degree programs in art therapy are offered in varying formats; internships are available. Here are a few of the bachelor's programs available.

  • Lesley University offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Art Therapy
  • Marygrove College offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program in Art Therapy
  • Endicott College offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree program in Art Therapy

What Do Graduate Programs Cover?

Master of Science or Master of Art in Art Therapy programs typically last two years and require students to study art and its therapeutic values through classroom lectures and studio visits. You may complete an internship in the second year and work in an educational, community or psychiatric setting. You can further your art therapy studies by earn a doctoral degree. While in graduate school, you may take courses in:

  • Children's art therapy
  • Art history
  • Advanced issues in psychotherapy
  • Human development

Doctoral degree programs are also available in art education, art therapy or art administration. Career paths include teaching at a university or college or running art therapy programs for special needs or disabled people.

What Schools Offer Master's Degree Programs in Art Therapy?

About 30 schools nationwide offer graduate-level art therapy programs. Below are three, including a dual-degree bachelor's/master's program and a master's with a 3-year, 62-credit transpersonal art therapy concentration.

  • George Washington University offers a Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts (B.A./M.A.) dual-degree program in Art Therapy
  • Naropa University offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a transpersonal art therapy concentration
  • Cedar Crest College offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree program in Art Therapy

What Schools Offer Doctoral Degree Programs in Art Therapy?

Doctoral degree programs in art therapy often include research components, practicums and dissertations. The 3-year, 45-credit Ph.D. program at Lesley University includes a low-residency structure, where students learn from home, but live on campus for three weeks each summer they are enrolled to attend seminars, conduct research projects, and work with other doctoral students.

  • Notre Dame de Namur University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in Art Therapy
  • Drexel University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in Creative Arts Therapies
  • Lesley University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in Expressive Therapies

Can I Study Online?

If you have commitments that don't let you adhere to a traditional program, you can enroll in a distance-learning art therapy program at the graduate level. You can take some online courses, but you still need to take part in on-campus clinical experiences or off-site internships.

What Else Should I Consider When Choosing Schools?

You may wish to consider schools with programs that meet the guidelines of the American Art Therapy Association or the ATCB. These associations place the standards for the field and allow students to make a transition into an art therapy career more smoothly. The former accepts members and offers credentialing, while the ATCB issues registration and certification in the art therapy field.

Art therapy is a vast field of study that includes components of psychology in tandem with a therapeutic approach to the visual arts and, sometimes, other forms of artistic expression, such as music and dance. Potential students will learn how to work with others in order to help them. Some students might eventually find employment in education or areas of research, depending on what type of degree is to be completed.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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