Best Master’s in Art Therapy Programs

Art therapists combine creativity and clinical methodology to support a wide variety of patients. Explore top master's in art therapy programs.

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by Kim-Ling Sun

Published on July 27, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Art therapy is a clinical healthcare profession where mental health providers use artistic expression to address their clients' developmental, medical, social, educational, or psychological conditions. According to Payscale data, the average salary for a graduate with a master of arts in art therapy was $51,000 in June 2022.

Cost is a primary factor for most students when deciding to attend grad school, especially if you're considering going into debt to earn your degree. According to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, the average cost of tuition and fees for a master’s degree program was $19,792 in the 2019-20 academic year.

Master's in art therapy programs are available from in-person and online colleges. These programs take 2-3 years to complete. Students can potentially save money by looking for in-state programs and considering online college options.

Our Top Pick

New York University - New York City, New York

Why It's #1: New York University is the number one ranked school on our Best Master’s in Art Therapy Programs list. This institution has a high graduation rate of 85%. Although NYU has a relatively high tuition rate of $33,000 per year, about 52% of NYU’s students receive financial aid. Entrance into this graduate program is more competitive than average, with a 16% admission rate. Additionally, 10% of students take advantage of online classes at NYU, making it a flexible option for busy professionals.

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Best Accredited Master's in Art Therapy Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

New York University

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $2,020

Out-of-State | $2,020

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A 

NYU’s master’s in art therapy program consists of 39 credits in core art therapy courses, 12 hours of internship, and 9 hours of psychology electives that can be taken at NYU as well as local consortium universities. The program has a fieldwork component that gradually eases students into clinical work. Students must also present a substantial thesis project at a mini-conference.   

This master’s in art therapy program prepares graduates to earn licensure through the Art Therapy Credentials Board Exam and to pass the New York State Licensed Creative Art Therapist exam.

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#2

Florida State University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $479.32

Out-of-State | $1,110.72 

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health and Education Programs

FSU's master's in art therapy program prepares graduates to earn licensure through the Art Therapy Credentials Board Exam and enter the job market as entry-level art therapists. This in-person program strives to foster culturally sensitive graduates.

Enrollees complete three practicum experiences in order to engage in community and clinical settings. Courses follow a semester format requiring, on average, two years of full-time study. Students in this program can also seek a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in art education with a concentration in art therapy. 

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additional application materials include GRE scores, a personal statement, a writing sample, and a personal portfolio. Prospective students must also complete an interview with faculty.

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#3

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,720

Out-of-State | $1,720

Credits to Graduate

61

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A  

George Washington University's master’s in art therapy program prepares graduates to work in social and clinical therapy. Coursework focuses on various aspects of art therapy, including dealing with trauma and methods of diagnosis and assessment. 

Art therapists-in-training become well versed in the theoretical understanding of this area of psychology and develop practical skills they can apply in their practice. Students complete 900 hours of internship work and submit a thesis on a focused area of study.

Applicants must submit a portfolio and personal statement and interview with faculty.

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#4

Pratt Institute-Main

School Information
Location Brooklyn, New York
Admission Rate 56%
Graduation Rate 70%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

On-Campus and Hybrid | Scheduled Classes (Low Residency Option)

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,984

Out-of-State | $1.984

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A 

Pratt’s master’s in art therapy program combines classroom coursework with a hands-on internship. Coursework provides students with a synthesis of creative therapy through theory and practice. Students are required to participate in clinical learning through practicums. 

Pratt offers students the unique opportunity to enroll in their 2.5-year low residency program to accommodate personal or professional commitments. Low residency is not available for students who require an F1 Visa.

Prospective students must submit all official transcripts, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, a visual portfolio, a writing sample, and a resume.

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#5

Lewis & Clark College

School Information
Location Portland, Oregon
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 77%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,025 

Out-of-State | $ $1,025 

Credits to Graduate

56 (MA); 60 (MS)

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

The master’s in art therapy at Lewis & Clark College is a full-time program ideal for those who want to become practitioners, conduct research, or pursue a Ph.D. This program offers both a master of arts (MA) and a master of science (MS) degree track. Students interested in pursuing the MS need to first gain admittance to the MA program.

Coursework in both the MA and MS programs cover research and art therapy trauma treatment. The MS program expands upon this curriculum with courses on qualitative research methods and proposal writing. 

Application requirements include prerequisite courses, personal essays, recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal portfolio. Applicants must also have completed a minimum of 200 hours of human services volunteer work.

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#6

Eastern Virginia Medical School

School Information
Location Norfolk, Virginia
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,000

Out-of-State | $1,341

Credits to Graduate

61.5

Program Information

Program Accreditation | American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation 

Students who pursue a master’s in art therapy at Eastern Virginia Medical School have the option to attend part time or full time. The program combines coursework in artmaking as well as clinical practice and specializations to prepare them to work in this field. Students practice service learning in a variety of settings and complete a capstone project in an area like human research or community engagement. Students may also partner with faculty on research for their capstone.

Prospective students must submit all transcripts, two references, and a personal statement for consideration.

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#7

Drexel University

School Information
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,342

Out-of-State | $1,342

Credits to Graduate

90

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Drexel University’s master’s in art therapy and counseling program prepares graduates to develop creative, responsive, and effective therapy practice. The program balances traditional lecture and theory with clinically supervised practicum and internship hours. 

Students can complete the program full or part time. Upon completion, students meet the educational requirements to become Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in Pennsylvania and or Registered Art Therapists with Board Certification (ATR-BC).

Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE or MAT scores, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and a resume. Prospective students must also submit a personal portfolio and complete an application interview with faculty.

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#8

Nazareth College

School Information
Location Rochester, New York
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 71%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,045

Out-of-State | $1,045

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Students who pursue a master’s in art therapy at Nazareth College receive interdisciplinary training and hands-on clinical practice. Students gain experience at an on-site therapy clinic while completing coursework. Upon completion of the program, students meet the educational requirements for the New York State Licensed Creative Art Therapy (LCAT) credential. 

This program offers both daytime and evening classes. Students have the ability to attend part time or full time. 

Applicants submit a personal statement, official transcripts, a personal portfolio, letters of recommendation, and a resume. Some applicants are selected to interview with faculty.

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#9

Marywood University

School Information
Location Scranton, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $

Out-of-State | $

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Marywood University’s master’s in art therapy combines therapy theory and technique with a clinical practicum. The core curriculum consists of 9 psychology credits, 36 hours of art therapy, and 6 studio arts credits.

Students graduate ready to take the Art Therapy Certification Examination (ATCB). Graduates are also eligible to become LPCs in Pennsylvania. This program application requires an essay or a digital art portfolio.

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#10

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

School Information
Location Indianapolis, Indiana
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In-State | $1,809

Out-of-State | $1,809

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A 

The master’s in art therapy program at IUPUI offers a curriculum that combines art-based practice with science-based evidence. Graduates can apply for the ATR-BC credential after gaining both clinical and research experience in the program. Students will also be prepared to sit for the national board certification. 

Applicants must submit letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a personal statement, and a personal portfolio. Prospective students are also asked to complete an admissions interview.

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Popular Online Art Therapy Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Master's in Art Therapy ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 35 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Art Therapy Programs

Is a master's in art therapy worth it?

For many professionals, earning a master’s in art therapy is worth the cost of an advanced degree. Though it takes approximately two years of full-time study to complete this degree, it opens the door to rewarding and creative career opportunities.

Art therapy is a field that is expected to see continued growth over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for recreational therapists will grow by 10% from 2020-2030. Overall, California employs the most recreational therapists. Professionals in this state earned an annual mean wage of $71,380 in 2021.

Although becoming an art therapist requires you to pass the Board Certification Exam for this area of specialization, many graduate school programs assist you in preparing for this rigorous exam.

What can I do with a master's in art therapy?

Art therapists can work in a variety of clinical locations. This includes schools, crisis centers, hospitals, rehab facilities, crisis centers, and private practice, just to name a few. Art therapy can be a resource for patients with a variety of conditions, including individuals with PTSD, eating disorders, and long-term illnesses.

Art therapists adjust their activities and mediums based on their clients' age and therapeutic goals. Through clinical hours and internship work, art therapists can specialize their training to work with specific populations.

What continuing education is available for art therapy graduates?

Many art therapists choose to move into practice after completing their master's degree, but some may go on to pursue a doctorate in art therapy. Doctorate programs are not very common, but students can find them at Florida State University, Drexel University, and Dominican University of California. Art therapists with doctorate degrees are qualified to teach at the postsecondary level.

For professionals who want to advance their skills without the commitment of a doctorate degree, there are continuing education courses available. These courses help therapists stay on top of the latest research and trends in the field. They also also allow therapists maintain their accreditation through earning of required continuing education credits.

Do graduates commonly go on to pursue further advanced degrees?

Although not common, some master's in art therapy graduates do go on to pursue advanced degrees so that they may enter an area of specialization or teach at postsecondary institutions. These include a doctorate of art therapy or an additional master's degree in another field.

For example, graduates may choose to pair their art therapy degree with a counseling degree to expand the reach of their practice. This also allows professionals to specialize their skills in an area like marriage and family counseling.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in art therapy?

The highest-paying jobs available to graduates with a master’s in art therapy vary by region and experience. BLS data reports that recreational therapists earned a median annual salary of $55,900 as of May 2021. And in their 2013 survey, the American Art Therapy Association found that most art therapists report an annual salary between $30,000 and $80,000.

Coupling a master's in art therapy degree with an additional degree or license can further increase earning potential. An individual with a master’s in art therapy, for example, can pursue additional training to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. Top earners in this role made a median annual salary of $96,520 in 2021, per BLS data.

Feature Image: Daisy-Daisy / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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