If you’re creatively talented and have a yearning to help people heal, a career in art therapy is an excellent fit. Part professional artist and part psychologist, the art therapist works closely with medical doctors and patients to help give them prescribed therapeutic sessions in the arts to express themselves and treat a variety of mental and health conditions. Most often these artistic exercises involve painting, drawing, or sculpting, but other times it involves therapeutic dance, music, or performing arts as well. Some art therapists work in doctor’s offices and hospitals, while others work with clients in their own office practices. Some work with special needs patients. Solo art therapists often promote their own services in the local community.
Top 5 Masters in Art Therapy
|1||Saint Mary of the Woods||Township in Indiana|
|2||Cedar Crest College||Allentown, Pennsylvania|
|3||Eastern Virginia Medical School||Norfolk, Virginia|
|4||New York University||New York City, New York|
|5||Naropa University||Boulder, Colorado|
What it Takes to Become an Art Therapist
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies art therapists as a niche within the professional counseling field. Aspiring art therapists who are serious about their work will need to be prepared to achieve the qualifications of the general counseling field also, as a majority of art therapy jobs are in the general therapy sector. The BLS projects that licensed therapists receive on average $30,000 to $95,000 per year in an annual salary. As more awareness is being recognized for the importance of therapy work, employment is estimated to rise close to 5% in this category. Students who are interested in helping individuals in their community with therapeutic methods and who are artistically talented are excellent candidates for becoming an art therapist. They will also need to have excellent listening and communication skills on the job. Aspiring art therapists who plan to provide services on their own will also need to know essential business skills such as billing. Patience and an interest in human psychology are also important to achieve career success.
To become an art therapist, a student will need a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A Masters in Art Therapy program is particularly helpful. Graduate students will need to submit a portfolio of their work to the school, along with completing a practicum and internship. They will also need to be licensed. Depending on the state, they would need to be licensed in either art therapy or in another field of counseling. The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) provides credentialing for Registration and Board Certification. In addition, there are state licensures as mental health clinicians which are offered by each state, and so people need to contact the State Licensure Board for the state they are interested in working in. For more information, visit https://arttherapy.org/.
The Top 24 Schools with a Masters in Art Therapy Program
Saint Mary of the Woods
This Catholic school in Indiana is small but mighty with its powerful MA in Art Therapy program. With an affordable rate, a campus experience with undivided devotion and attention, and a historical supporter of women’s rights, Saint Mary of the Woods is an excellent choice for quality education that makes a difference in people’s lives.
Cedar Crest College
This private school in Allentown PA focuses on the deep theories of art therapy and helps prepare students for real-world situations in their professional studio. If you’re looking for quality and value in the Mid Atlantic states, Cedar Crest’s Masters in Art Therapy program is a solid choice.
Eastern Virginia Medical School
The hands-on approach with Eastern Virginia Medical School’s (EVMS) Art Therapy and Counseling Program brings learning to life for students, who have the opportunity to practice at three of their 50 internship locations in Hampton Roads, VA. They will also help prepare students for the required therapy licensing exams. The result? 94% of graduate students in 2019 gained employment right away in their field, a very impressive number for a niche medical field.
New York University
New York City is well known in the professional fine arts circuit, so it’s no surprise that their Masters in Art Therapy Program is also top flight at New York University (NYU). Coursework at NYU focuses on cross-cultural and evidence-based clinical practice with cutting edge educational technologies and an emphasis on promoting social justice in the therapeutic fields. It is definitely one of the cutting edge art colleges of New York
Established in 1974, this relatively new college in Boulder, CO takes on art therapy counseling with a unique Buddhist approach and up to 1,000 clinical hours needed for credits to licensure. The program focuses on practices such as mindfulness and a transpersonal experience with creating art.
Mount Mary University
Mount Mary University is well respected in Wisconsin for its comprehensive Art Therapy program. The university was influential in reaching out to Croatia and establishing an art therapy initiative to help residents express themselves and heal in the Cold War-torn country.
Loyola Marymount University
This California-based Catholic school has a vibrant art therapy concentration program that prepares students to become nationally licensed art therapists. Their summer internship program in Mexico and affiliation with the Art Therapy Research Institute enriches graduate students for a meaningful launch in their careers.
Lesley University has one of the most extensive art therapy programs, as it not only has one concentration but four! The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling has concentration options in art therapy, expressive arts, music, and even dance to further hone their therapeutic study skills.
Located in the heart of New York City, the prestigious Pratt Institute offers a high-quality educational experience in their Art Therapy and Creativity Development program, which includes two years of carefully attentive internship for undivided attention and learning.
Prescott College’s innovative art therapy program is designed as a crowning piece for the Master of Science in Counseling. Everything in the coursework is offered online, including the master’s, so students can work their studies with great flexibility in their own communities.
Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling
Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling offers a fully accredited art therapy program grounded in the principles of social justice, equity, and access. Offering both an MA and MS track, as well as options toward LPC and LCAT licensure in the state of Oregon, the program is ideal for students who are interested in becoming practitioners as well as those planning to conduct research or pursue a PhD.
Marywood University’s practical art-based approach is front and center in their master’s program, with an attractive tuition rate to match. Graduates will also be able to pass licensing for the state of Pennsylvania and the National Art Therapy Certification Examination.
University of Louisville
Unlike most master’s in art therapy programs, the University of Louisville offers an MEd with an emphasis on education and research and art therapy worked into the curriculum. Graduates are ready for licensing in the state of Kansas and other applicable options.
Emporia State University
Emporia’s unique offering of a dual degree program is a great option for the serious student to go all in. It’s a great value considering the graduate tuition rate, and students can come out on top with a stronger educational portfolio in their careers.
Edinboro University School of Graduate Studies
This award-winning master’s program is one of the first accredited in the United States, and there’s a good reason for it. Edinboro’s engaging and lively educational environment not only educates graduates to provide therapy but empower permanent change.
Notre Dame de Namur University
Notre Dame de Namur offers both master’s programs in an interesting tandem path that leads to a Ph.D. in Art Therapy for continued expertise. 30% of its students are attracted to the program from outside its home state of California.
Florida State University College of Fine Arts
Florida State’s renowned art therapy program is ranked #1 in the nation by TopCounselingSchools.org, adding high value to this affordable graduate program for dedicated art therapy students.
Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions
The Art Therapy and Counseling graduate program equips students with the skills and knowledge to apply the theory of art therapy in various treatment situations. The program, at a minimum, aims to prepare competent entry-level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains. Working with specified treatment objectives, students learn to combine art therapy theory and practice with psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic technique. They can work with individuals and/or groups using the theoretical and clinical education they have received. This integrated approach provides a comprehensive foundation for sound clinical work with many different clinical and culturally diverse populations.
This distinctive program was founded in 1967 at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital; it was the first continually operating program in the world to offer graduate-level art therapy education. Committed to progress within the field of art therapy and counseling, the program provides students with extensive exposure to current psychological, developmental, psychotherapy, and art therapy theory and practice. The Art Therapy and Counseling program’s 90-quarter-credit curriculum is designed to meet the Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) educational requirements.
Students can take this flexible master’s degree in either the master of science or master of education track in a format that fits the needs of their busy schedule. They can also enter straight into the workforce after graduation, or continue to learn at the Ph.D. level for further enrichment.
University of Wisconsin
This practical master’s in art therapy program is among the few top accredited degrees in the Midwest region, and the school has also partnered with a local art gallery for hands-on application of art techniques for clinical work.
The George Washington University
George Washington’s competitive art therapy program is highly sought-after among students in the field, and it’s no wonder why. Besides having trauma training, they are one of the oldest programs in the country, have a community clinic with state of the art recording systems to aid their students in training, and have a study abroad program that has visited over 5 countries in the last 15 years.
The M.A. in Mental Health Counseling Art Therapy Specialization at Caldwell University is a uniquely designed 63-credit interdisciplinary program that prepares you to effectively function as mental heath counselor and art therapist in a variety of human service settings.
The program integrates the practice of art therapy within the mental health counseling model, reflected in educational philosophy, course readings and course content. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) and fulfills coursework requirements for licensure in New Jersey as a Professional Counselor and CACREP Standards for Clinical Mental Health Counselors. The program is also approved by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and fulfills coursework requirements for registration as an art therapist with AATA and licensure as a Professional Art Therapist (LPAT) in NJ.
Graduate coursework is a combination of didactic and experiential teaching methods, allowing students to successfully blend theory and practice. The program requires that students complete prescribed coursework, practical and internship experiences, and pass a written and oral comprehensive examination.
Seton Hill University
The comprehensive MA in Art Therapy program at Seton Hill is an enriching and worthwhile education. Art therapy graduates have moved on to provide their services in hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters in their communities, and that’s something to smile about.
Albertus Magnus College
While some art therapy programs focus more on the mental medical side, Albertus Magnus takes on a more personal approach to the healing of the soul. Students take a deep dive into the art-human connection as they learn art-making as a universal language for therapists and patients alike.
Our Ranking Methodology
Each of the graduate tuition rates above was calculated by the in-state rate for an academic semester year for graduate students. One academic year is defined by Best Value Schools as two course credit semesters. All of the listed ranking data is sourced from each school’s website, and curated from the Google Search web engine. The school data is sourced from the specific campus over the parent-school if it applies. Three areas were scored for each college – estimated tuition, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of graduate student enrollments in the last academic year. From there, all the institutions were scored first by the lowest in-state tuition, then by the smallest student-to-faculty ratio, and finally by the highest number of graduate enrollments. A weighted total was applied with a 50% emphasis on tuition and a two-thirds emphasis on the student-to-faculty ratio to get the final rankings shown.
At Best Value Schools, we take great strides in preserving the most accurate college data to the best of our abilities. If you are employed at any of these schools and find information that needs to be corrected, simply reach out to us and we will be happy to correct it and make updates. Students who are information in learning more information about a Masters in Art Therapy can begin their journey right here on our Best Value Schools website. The world is waiting for you to step into your future… are you ready? Let’s get started today to help you prepare for the art therapy career you’ve always been dreaming of.