Masters in Art Therapy

Art therapists use their artistic skills to help people deal with addictions or physical, emotional and mental issues. Learn more about the curriculum of a master's degree program in art therapy as well as career and certification information for graduates. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn in a Master's in Art Therapy Program?

A master's program in art therapy can train you in counseling techniques that incorporate methodologies from both art and psychology. Many programs challenge established conventions about mental illness and its treatment, advocating the use of art instead of a medicine as a first course of action. As an art therapy student, you'll learn to help clients build self-expression and communication skills, as well as to heal and develop personally. You also might examine ways to incorporate a sense of community as a part of therapy, which will allow you to grow both personally and professionally as you counsel others. Your program might include a research component, resulting in a thesis, and you'll likely be required to complete an internship.

Program Requirements May include an internship and/or thesis
Prerequisites A bachelor's degree is required; some schools may require standardized test scores, a personal statement, letters of recommendation and/or a creative portfolio
Common Courses Psychology, art, ethics, human growth, principles of fieldwork
Licensure Eligibility Varies by state; may include degree, internship, clinical experience and exam
Possible Work Environments Residential treatment center, correctional facility, hospital, therapeutic school, mental health clinic
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 Are The Prerequisites?

You must have at least a bachelor's degree to be considered for admission to a master's program in art therapy. Letters of recommendation, GRE scores, a personal statement and a creative portfolio also may be required. Most schools prefer applicants with an aptitude in art, as well as a background in psychology or statistics.

What Classes Will I Take?

A master's degree program in art therapy will include a mix of art and psychology classes. Courses you might see in your curriculum include the following:

  • Principles of art therapy
  • Human growth and development
  • Group art therapy
  • Principles of fieldwork
  • Ethics in art therapy

What Are My Licensure and Certification Options?

Some states have licensure requirements specific to art therapists. Qualifications might include graduation from an approved art therapy program, completion of a supervised internship and at least 1,000 hours of supervised postgraduate clinical experience, and passage of the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) certification exam or a similar state-level test. In other states, you might have to meet requirements as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP).

In addition to ATCB's voluntary Registered Art Therapist - Board Certified (ART-BC) credential, you might be able to apply for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Both certification programs require completion of a master's program, passage of an exam and proof of supervised postgraduate experience.

Where Might I Work?

As a graduate of a master's program in art therapy, and with any necessary licensure, you might find work as a counselor with a mental health clinic, residential treatment program, therapeutic school, correctional facility or hospital. You also might gain employment with a nursing home or school.

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.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

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  • Grand Canyon University

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  • Northcentral University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Hofstra University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Hempstead
  • Ursuline College

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    • Ohio: Pepper Pike
  • The College of New Rochelle

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    • New York: New Rochelle
  • Southwestern College

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    • New Mexico: Santa Fe
  • School of Visual Arts

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    • New York: New York
  • University of Louisville

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    • Kentucky: Louisville