A master’s degree in art therapy is a stepping stone to a satisfying career. It leads one to work as a counselor or advisor who helps people through the medium of art. Art therapists work in diverse settings like a private practice; schools; mental health clinics; hospitals; nursing homes; residential treatment centers; social service centers; and even prisons and homeless shelters. Most MA in Art Therapy degrees prepare students for entry-level skills in the profession and to get a post-graduate certification as an art therapist. As a therapist, they learn to integrate theories and tools of art therapy with traditional techniques and theories of psychotherapy and counseling.
In this article, you will find a list of the top master’s degrees in art therapy in the United States. These programs are known for their student outcomes and for their flexible curriculum that allows a broader range of students to pursue a master’s degree online as they continue to work. Students learn to use art therapy for assessment, prevention, and treatment for a wide range of issues and concerns. They combine the artistic and creative process to promote healing and self-understanding among patients.
An online master’s degree in art therapy teaches students how to use the non-verbal and creative process to treat a diverse population including children, individuals, families, adults, couples, and groups. It is an effective medium to deal with issues like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, behavioral and medical issues, relationship challenges, and post-traumatic stress disorder among others.
If you are interested in becoming a professional art therapist, go through this list of the top online master’s degrees in art therapy. Many of the schools listed here also prepare students for licensure as a professional counselor.
• Curriculum diversity
• Rankings and Accolades
• Student outcomes
Brooklyn based Pratt Institute offers a Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy and Creativity Development. The accredited graduate degree helps students graduate with the skills to work in both clinical/patient-centered and research-focused fields. The 57-credit program prepares graduates to become accomplished clinicians and help individuals and communities reach their full potential. The program integrates experiential and theoretical learning which allows students to develop a rich creative thought process so that they can adapt and apply innovative solutions to clinical issues.
Tuition per credit: $1,847
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers a Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling that trains students to become compassionate leaders and counselors who combine artmaking and healing effectively in various social and cultural contexts. The 60 credit program includes courses like Materials and Media in Art Therapy; History and Theory of Art Therapy; Psychopathology; Counseling Techniques; Group Art Therapy; Assessment and Evaluation in Art Therapy; and Cultural Dimensions in Art Therapy among others. Students typically complete coursework and fieldwork in three years along with a thesis or graduate project.
Tuition per credit: $1730
George Washington University offers a Master’s in Art Therapy via its Columbian College of Arts and Sciences with two options, one for thesis and one for practice. The accredited art therapy graduate program also offers students a combined BA/MA pathway. The school and its program stand out for the art therapy clinic which offers students a hands-on learning experience, both in terms of practice and dealing with people. The 61 credit program also includes 900 internship hours (with 400 direct client contact). Together these provide the maximum educational credit received toward credentialing as a Registered Art Therapist (ATR) with the Art Therapy Credentialing Board. Students are also well-prepared for art therapy and counseling state licensure, which vary from one region to another.
Tuition per credit: $1,655
Hofstra University offers a Master of Arts in Creative Arts Therapy which is a popular choice for students who wish to combine their counseling and creative passions. The 60-credit program offers a broad approach to art therapy which combines the application of approach and media techniques, with lecture and discussion, and field experiences through practicum and internship. The choice of electives offers options like pursuing specific licensure, focusing more specifically on art psychotherapy, or getting involved in the global therapy community. Students get exposed to various expressive therapies and populations which gives them comprehensive training to practice at multiple settings, from clinical to social.
The program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association since 1984. Graduates are eligible for licensure in NYS.
Tuition per credit: $1,398
Lesley University offers an online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Art Therapy that helps students explore the therapeutic power of art and how it can help others. The 60-credit accredited art therapy master’s program students learn to promote healing through drawing, painting, sculpting, and other media. As they discover art making’s potential to help others, they also gain deeper self-awareness and understanding all of which combine to make them effective therapists. They build their expertise in the therapeutic applications for art-making, build on their foundational skills and gain the experience they need to become a licensed mental health counselor.
Tuition per credit: $1,160
Drexel University offers a Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling equips students with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively apply the theory of art therapy in various therapeutic situations. The 90-quarter-credit curriculum teaches students how to combine art therapy theory and practice with psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic technique. An integrated approach combines theoretical and clinical education with specified treatment objectives to help individuals and diverse groups. The art therapy and counseling combination includes courses in psychology, psychotherapy, developmental, and art therapy theory and practice areas.
Tuition per credit: $709
Southern Illinois University offers an affordable online Master of Arts in Art Therapy Counseling via its College of Arts and Sciences which is also popular for its high-quality curriculum. 60 semester hours program combines classroom instruction, with research methodologies and practicum experience. Students get immersed in experiential learning to foster socio-cultural wellness via creative practices in the theory, application and reflection of art therapy counseling. Graduates of this program go on to become competent, entry-level art therapists. They apply their psychomotor (skills), cognitive (knowledge), and affective (behavior) learning to help others. All courses follow the ACATE Educational Standards.
Tuition per credit: $1,019
Notre Dame de Namur University offers a Master of Arts in Art Therapy that is both grounded in Catholic principles and professionally focused. The 63-credit program prepares students to sit for both the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Registered Art Therapist exams. The flexible curriculum teaches students how to incorporate art therapy in various settings that range from community centers to schools to prisons. Courses include History and Foundations of Art Therapy, Communication and Counseling Skills, Advanced Human Development, Methods of Group and Family Therapy, Psychopathology and Substance Abuse: Theory, Treatment, Assessment among others.
Tuition per credit: $959
The College of New Rochelle offers a Master of Science Degree in Art Therapy/Counseling that trains students to use the art therapy process in professional clinical practice. The 60-credit program combines studio art experience with depth-oriented psychology theory that includes subjects like ego psychology, psychoanalysis, and object relations. Students have the option of choosing optional specializations like photography/phototherapy and sculpture/art therapy, concentrations in specific client populations and stages of life: child art therapy and thanatology (dying and death) which helps tailor their degree further.
The Master of Science in Art Therapy / Counseling program is approved by the New York State Department of Education and the American Art Therapy Association.
Tuition per credit: $996
Springfield College offers an online Master of Science in Art Therapy/Counseling that takes a hands-on approach to learning. The accredited graduate degree in art therapy focuses on real-world skill-building and experiential learning along with research and a deep dive into theory. Students learn to integrate art and psychology to help people deal with various issues. Classes include art therapy, psychology, counseling, research, along with expressive studio art. Together they help develop one’s artistic and creative skills which in turn opens up new avenues of counseling and healing.
The art therapy/counseling program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association.
Tuition per credit: $1,073
Adler University offers an online Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy program which is known as one of the best in the country. Designed to help future counselors empower patients through expressive art, it combines the best practices of the artistic and therapeutic process. The rigorous 63-credit curriculum focuses on clinical-based counseling methodologies along with artistic expressions and theories. Students learn to use the creative process to help individuals with their physical, mental and emotional well-being. They go on to practice as licensed counselors, social workers or couple and family therapists, psychologists, and as art therapists.
The program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA)
Tuition per credit: $855
Mount Mary University offers an affordable master’s degree in art therapy that introduces students to a variety of real-world experiences. The rigorous and comprehensive program requires 60 credits for completion. It also includes a practicum that introduces students to a variety of clinical settings, ranging from medical art therapy clinics, residential treatment facilities to domestic violence shelters. The courses promote hands-on experiential learning which integrates academic, aesthetic, and clinical studies with professional practice. Students are empowered to become leaders in the art therapy profession and the larger mental health field. This program is approved by the Educational Program Approval Board (EPAB) of the American Art Therapy Association.
Tuition per credit: $830
Emporia State University offers an online MS in Art Therapy Counseling, which is one of the handful of programs in the US To be approved by the American Art Therapy Association. The 60 credit program combines images, art media, the creative art process along with the basics of patient/client responses to prepares graduates to become effective counselors. The accredited art therapy master’s program prepares them for the human service profession where they can help with an individual’s development, personality, abilities, interests, conflicts, and concerns. Students also have the option to pursue a dual degree if they so wish – an M.S. in Art Therapy and in Clinical Counseling – in a compact three-year curriculum.
Tuition per credit: $828.66
New York University offers an online Master of Arts in Art Therapy via its Department of Art and Art Professions. Established in the 1970s, this program prepares graduates to become successful professional art therapists. They combine learning evidence-based practices and scholarly research and develop competence in cross-cultural competence, issues of social justice, and an understanding of technology. The 60-credit program includes courses like Courses include: Art for Art Therapists; Cultural Diversity in Art Therapy; Theory and Practice of Art Therapy; Ethical Issues in Art Therapy; Art Therapy with Adolescents; and Art Therapy with Children; Pictorial Analysis for Assessment and Diagnosis among others.
The program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association and licensed by New York State (LCAT eligible.)
Tuition per credit: $1,795
Seton Hill University offers an online MA in Art Therapy with a Specialization in Counseling which helps students combine their love of art with their desire to help others and make a difference. Nearly all classes in this 60-credit degree include art-making of some kind, making it the core of the program. Students go on to create inspiring and meaningful careers in art therapy and counseling. Students have to complete an internship and a capstone to complete their degree. The clinical and art-based program offers balanced training in expressive art and clinical mental health care and includes art-making in nearly every course.
Tuition per credit: $787
The School of Visual Arts in New York offers a Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy that prepares students to become licensed art therapists. The 60 credit program offers experiential exercises within the academic framework to help develop an in-depth understanding of art therapy. Courses include Theoretical Foundations of Art Therapy; Adolescent art Development; Child Art Development; Methods and Materials in Art Therapy; Adult Art Development; Group Therapy and Practice; Psychiatric Populations and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual among others. These along with workshops, conferences, exhibitions, and internship experiences help students become effective professionals in the field of art therapy.
Tuition per semester: $23,470
Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling offers an MA in Art Therapy that is grounded in counseling theory. The rigorous 54 semester hours curriculum prepares students to become qualified mental health practitioners. They gain knowledge in affective (behavior), psychomotor (skills), and cognitive (knowledge) learning domains. Students learn to use art to become reflective practitioners, deepen self-awareness and provide focused clinical care and service to individuals, groups, and families. It is great for students who wish to combine their creative and counseling talents to help people.
Tuition per credit: $847
The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Arts in Counseling-Art Therapy which is considered one of the most affordable in the country. The 60-credit graduate program can be completed 100% online or in a blended format with on-campus courses and online courses. Designed using the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) educational guidelines, the curriculum provides students with the educational requirements to attain credentials as a nationally Registered Art Therapist (ATR) as well as a Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC.) It integrates counseling and visual arts practice and engages the creative power of art for clinical assessment and treatment. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
Saint Mary of the Woods College offers an online Master of Arts in Art Therapy with an Emphasis in Counseling. Designed for working professionals, these online post-graduate degree is flexible with online coursework which is blended with three on-campus residencies supervised clinical experiences. Students have internships and practicum to complete. The 60-credit program is designed to meet the American Art Therapy Association standards along with registration guidelines of the Art Therapy Credentials Board. The emphasis in counseling prepares them to become ethical art therapists who can engage in holistic healing and make a difference in people’s lives. Students go on to work in diverse settings like clinical, social, psychiatric, medical and hospital settings among others. The online program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Tuition per credit: $496
Florida State University offers an online Master of Science in Art Therapy allows students to tailor their degree with a specialization that infuses all aspects of their work. The accredited master of art therapy degree program prepares students to become competent entry-level art therapists. The 60-credit program emphasizes the theoretical foundation of art therapy techniques and applications along with practicum experiences in community and clinical settings. The innovative program integrates research-informed practices with diverse theories to help students apply the power of the visual arts and therapeutic relationships to promote wellness.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health and Education Programs (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to the Art Therapy program in 2019.
Tuition per credit: $444.26