Best Art Therapy Schools: List of Top U.S. Schools

Learn about the education that can lead to an art therapy career. Find out about degrees, schools, rankings and locations to make an informed decision about preparing to be an art therapist.

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School Information

A master's degree, along with board certification, is the standard level of education needed in order to practice art therapy. Art therapy is a branch within the field of counseling, so art therapy master's degree programs are often found alongside a school's psychology offerings. The two East Coast universities described below are among the top school options for studying art therapy at the graduate level, and a list of additional programs and highlights is also provided.

Top U.S. Schools with Art Therapy Programs

1. New York University in New York, NY

In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked the psychology program at New York University (NYU) as 29th best in the nation. NYU has been offering studies in art therapy since the 1950s, and its Master of Arts (M.A.) in Art Therapy was one of the first five programs in the country to gain approval from the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

Students in the M.A. program learn to understand visual art and psychotherapy, as well as learning how to use them to address the physical and emotional needs of clients. Coursework includes art therapy for various age groups and cultures.

2. George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The George Washington University (GW) art therapy program is approved by the AATA and the school's psychology program was named 91st in the 2009 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Students in the M.A. in Art Therapy program at GW take classes in counseling, group therapy and art therapy. The focus of the program is the use of painting, sculpture and drawing to diagnose and treat patients; those in the program can also take concentrations in trauma training and art therapy and counseling.

Good Schools in the U.S. with Art Therapy Programs

College/University Name Distinction Location
Drexel University Drexel's Department of Creative Art Therapies is based in the Division of Graduate Health Professions, but it is also connected to the university's school of fine arts Philadelphia, PA
Emporia State University Emporia's AATA-approved Master's in Art Therapy Counseling can be completed in two full-time years; a dual art therapy/mental health curriculum is also offered Emporia, KS
Florida State University FSU's art therapy program is approved by the AATA, and the school sponsors a chapter of that organization Tallahassee, FL
George Washington University GW's relationships with more than 100 organizations facilitate internship opportunities in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland Washington, D.C.
Hofstra University Hofstra has maintained AATA approval for 30 years and students can take advantage of networking, mentoring and supplemental learning opportunities through the student-run Creative Arts Therapy Club of Hofstra (CATCH) Hempstead, NY
New York University Projects at NYU include hands-on art therapy opportunities with schools and orphanages in Ghana and an art therapy group for first responders from 9/11 New York, NY
School of the Art Institute of Chicago This institution is one of the few art schools to offer an AATA-approved master's degree for art therapy; requirements include 900 clinical experience hours and fieldwork done with both children and adults Chicago, IL
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville The only AATA-approved school in Illinois, SIU offers 8-10 full-tuition assistantships and stipends for first-year art-therapy graduate students, and incoming classes are limited in size to keep student-faculty ratios low Edwardsville, IL
Southwestern College This small school's art therapy students can take advantage of a Conscious Entrepreneurship Initiative that focuses on helping graduates prepare for the business side of an art therapy career - e.g., opening a practice, creating a brand and using social media Santa Fe, NM
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