Updated at: 08-03-2023 - By: Eden Wise


Those who are driven to make a difference in the world through the power of art and creativity can do so by pursuing a Master of Art Therapy degree. Successful graduates are skilled therapists who use a wide variety of artistic methods to help their clients work through emotional difficulties and gain insight into their inner worlds. They use the artistic process to overcome addictions, build social skills, lessen anxiety, and boost self-esteem, all of which contribute to their return to normal functioning. Art therapy seeks to enhance self-awareness, promote personal growth, and develop coping mechanisms by integrating psychotherapeutic counseling methods.

They are qualified to enter the field of art therapy with a master’s degree. Successful graduates find employment in a wide range of fields, including healthcare facilities (such as hospitals and clinics), social service agencies, educational institutions (including schools and daycare centers), and judicial institutions (including prisons). The master’s program requires students to complete a supervised clinical internship and a supervised practicum in art therapy.

People with serious medical health conditions, injuries, or disabilities, as well as those dealing with acute stress, anxiety, and behavioral issues, can all benefit from art therapy.

It takes students around two years to finish a Master of Art Therapy program. Although the standard time to earn a bachelor’s degree is two years, some institutions provide an extended format that allows working students to earn their degree in three years. Thesis work, the comprehensive exam, and a supervised clinical practicum can all be completed in the accelerated format in just two years, making it an attractive option for some students. Graduates of these master’s programs in art therapy are equipped to work with clients of varying ages and to employ a wide range of therapeutic approaches.

Curriculum requirements for a master’s degree in art therapy typically include courses in art therapy theory and practice, assessment methods, the nature of disabilities and illnesses, human development, psychology, and psychiatric jargon. The course work is structured to help students meet the requirements for certification, registration, and licensing. Patients in art therapy don’t have to be experts in the arts, but their therapists do need a solid foundation in the visual arts. They employ a wide range of creative practices to help their clients find emotional and psychological relief.

To compile this list, we looked into which universities offer MAAT programs that are both respected and accredited. We narrowed it down to only the best institutions offering the kinds of rigorous academic programs that are proven to give students a leg up in the art therapy field. We ranked them based on their program offerings, school rankings, program and school accreditation, faculty profiles, student support, program affordability, financial aid, and internship opportunities. Cost effectiveness is used to rank the various programs.

Top Art Therapy Universities

Top art therapy universities

New York University

New York University

If you’re interested in art therapy or therapist, New York University is one of the best universities in the country to pursue your education. New York University (NYU) is one of the world’s largest private, non-profit universities. NYU is a fantastic institution, as evidenced by its Best Colleges ranking of #30 out of 2,241 universities across the country.

In the most recent data year, about 8 students majored in art therapy/therapy at NYU and graduated with a degree in this field.

George Washington University

If you are interested in art therapy or a related field, George Washington University is one of the best places to get your education. Located in the heart of bustling Washington, DC, George Washington University is a large, private, non-profit institution of higher education. As the #40 best university in the country out of 2,241 institutions, GWU is highly regarded.

In the most recent available data year, 17 GWU students earned degrees in art therapy/therapy.

Springfield College

Springfield College is a small, private, non-profit institution in Springfield, Massachusetts. When compared to other universities in Massachusetts, this one comes in at #29 (out of a total of #63).

In the most recent year for which data is available, approximately seven students majored in art therapy/therapy at Springfield College and graduated.

Florida State University

Florida State University

Tallahassee, where Florida State University is located, is roughly the size of Orlando. Florida State University is a fantastic institution with a Best Colleges ranking of #120 out of 2,241 universities in the United States.

In the most recent available data year, about 15 students majoring in art therapy/therapy graduated from Florida State.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling is offered by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Students are able to investigate the connections between personal history and creative expression. Students in the department gain practical experience in the fields of art therapy, counseling, and studio art.

Adler University

The Art Therapy specialty of the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling degree program is offered by Adler University. Students learn how to use art as a tool for social good and to effect positive change in the world. Graduates of this ground-breaking program will be qualified to sit for multiple certifications and licenses.

Students develop into caring professionals who use the therapeutic benefits of the creative process to enhance the mental, emotional, and physical health of their clients.

Lesley University

The Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Art Therapy program at Lesley University. Students can prepare for careers in counseling and art therapy for the mentally ill. As they gain an appreciation for the scientific foundations of human behavior, they gain the tools necessary to meet the evolving needs of people at all stages of life.

Art Therapy Counseling MS

The Master of Science in Art Therapy Counseling is offered by Emporia State University. Art therapy education teaches students how to use art in therapy while also providing them with a solid grounding in clinical practice, theory, research skills, and the fine arts. There is a small student-to-teacher ratio to accommodate a wide range of learning styles and interests.

Pratt Institute-Main

Pratt Institute-Main

The Art Therapy Master’s Program at Pratt Institute combines academic study with professional experience. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of creative therapy by combining classroom theory with hands-on experience. Practicums provide students with hands-on experience in the field.

Students with professional or personal obligations have the option of enrolling in Pratt’s low-residency Master of Architecture degree program, which can be completed in 2.5 years. Students who need an F1 Visa are not eligible for low residency.

All official transcripts, GRE scores, a personal statement, recommendations, a portfolio, a writing sample, and a resume are required from prospective students.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Students at Eastern Virginia Medical School can choose between a full-time and part-time master’s in art therapy program. Classes in art production are combined with clinical training and electives to give students a well-rounded education in the field. A capstone project is completed by students in areas such as human research or community engagement, where they have gained experience through service learning. The capstone project can also be a chance for students and teachers to work together on research.

All transcripts, two references, and an essay should be submitted by prospective students.

Nazareth College

In order to earn their master’s degree in art therapy, students at Nazareth College engage in both theoretical and practical coursework that spans multiple disciplines. While taking classes, students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in an on-campus therapy clinic. After finishing the course of study, students will have acquired the necessary academic background to sit for the New York State Licensed Creative Art Therapy (LCAT) examination.

You can attend classes during the day or in the evening. Both part-time and full-time enrollment options are available to students.

A personal statement, academic transcripts, portfolio, reference letters, and a resume are all required materials for admission. A subset of applicants will be invited to an interview with faculty.

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

The curriculum of IUPUI’s master’s in art therapy program integrates artistic practice with scientific evidence. After completing the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the ATR-BC certification exam. They will be well-prepared to take the national board exams as well.

Recommendation letters, official transcripts, a personal statement, and a portfolio are required of all applicants. An admissions interview is also required of all potential students.

Temple University

Temple University

Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture presents a Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy program. Undergraduate students at Temple University spend time both in therapeutic practicums and on their own art installations.

Hope Springs is an interdisciplinary project that challenges students to tell a story about the word “hope” using a variety of media.

All of these are examples of possible art projects that could be helped along by the therapists in the course of future art therapy sessions. Temple aims to better understand the client’s experience of art therapy through the use of assigned creative projects.

The Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University is housed in a building that is more than 250,000 square feet in size and features numerous studios, lecture halls, courtyards, and meeting rooms that are ideal for interdisciplinary teamwork.

Long Island University

There is a sizable international student body in LIU’s MA in clinical art therapy and counseling, which typically has fewer than 25 students.

Graduate students in art therapy can get their required 700 internship hours by working at one of more than a hundred different types of facilities across the country.

Studio work, research, grant writing, and an annual community service project are the cornerstones of a well-rounded art therapy education.

Teams of art therapists have recently been deployed to orphanages in a variety of countries, including Nicaragua, South Korea, and Russia.

One of the best features of the art therapy program at LIU Post is the Interprofessional Simulation Center. Here, students take part in educational simulations designed to teach them new skills and help them become more comfortable in their own abilities. New medical technology and digital tools could be used to fine-tune post-event discussions, boost client retention, and forge stronger ties to the local community.

Drexel University

Drexel University is the first university in the United States to admit art therapy students, and it offers master’s and doctoral degrees in art therapy and counseling.

To qualify for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, students must complete 90 quarter credits in the MA program.

The Drexel Art Therapy MA program is well known for its emphasis on practical fieldwork. Two or three practicums are required, and these can be completed in places like hospitals, clinics, and group homes.

When the school year ends in the spring, students have the option of taking online courses over the summer so that they can participate in field experiences outside of the Philadelphia area.

Addictions and Recovery Art Therapy Approaches is an example of a course that can be taken as part of a graduate art therapy elective. Topics covered include the use of artistic expression as a therapeutic tool for treating eating disorders, addictions, and hoarding behaviors by helping patients better understand and articulate their own complex emotional experiences and underlying motivations.


Is a master’s in art therapy worth it?

Getting a master’s degree in art therapy is considered by many to be a worthwhile investment of time and money. It will take you about two years of full-time study to earn this degree, but it will be well worth it when you get into a field that rewards your imagination and intelligence.

Over the next decade, art therapy is predicted to expand at a rapid rate. The BLS predicts a 10% increase in demand for recreational therapists between 2020 and 2030. Recreational therapists are in highest demand in California. The median salary for a professional in this state was $71,380 in 2021.

To become an art therapist, you must first pass the art therapy-specific Board Certification Exam, but there are plenty of graduate-level programs that can help you get ready for the test.

What continuing education is available for art therapy graduates?

The majority of art therapists enter practice after earning their master’s degree, but some go on to earn their doctorate in the field. Even though Ph.D. programs are scarce, serious scholars can pursue their studies at Florida State University, Drexel University, and Dominican University of California. Doctorate-level art therapists can serve as university professors.

To further one’s career without devoting oneself to a full doctorate program, continuing education options exist. Therapists who take these classes are more likely to be aware of recent developments in their field. They make it possible for therapists to keep their licenses active by providing opportunities to earn CEUs.

What do art therapists get paid in the UK?

The average starting salary for an art therapist is £32,306 (band 6), with a possible increase to £39,027 as experience and education are gained. The median annual salary for a band 7 art therapist in the NHS is £40,057. In the UK, senior and principal art therapists in the NHS can earn between £47,126 and £53,219 per year (pay band 8a).


Finally, a comprehensive resource for locating the finest art therapy schools is here. The time you’ve spent reading this is greatly appreciated.