Campus Art Therapy Masters District of Columbia Graduate Programs

Art therapy is a unique and interesting professional field. A mix of art and psychotherapy, graduate programs for art therapy require a distinct blend of creativity, fine art, psychology and education. Before making the important decision to enroll in a masters in art therapy on-campus program, students should closely investigate the courses offered and make sure that they match up to their own personal, academic, and professional goals.

Earning a Campus Based Masters in Art Therapy

Art therapists are often required to teach creative art while applying the principles of psycho-therapeutic theory, so it’s vital to enroll in a program that emphasizes these aspects. Specialized art therapists may want to teach specific subjects like music, drama or dance in addition to traditional artwork, so prospective students should make a point to look into graduate programs that emphasize their specific areas of interest. Other elements of an art therapy graduate program that prospective students should carefully consider at are the social services, mind-body techniques and education aspects of a programs curriculum, art therapists typically utilize all of these skills on a daily basis. Prospective art therapy graduate students should also be sure to weigh their options and select the programs offering an instructional style that will best fit their personal learning style. Certain students may gravitate more towards hands-on art therapy classes while some may prefer learning more about psychology and the details of psychotherapy.

Art Therapy Masters Programs Accreditation for Campus Based Options

Before enrolling in a campus based masters in art therapy program, its crucial to make sure that the programs has been fully accredited and is in solid academic standing. Students should always make a point to consult with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation at and the United States Department of Education at to make sure that the art therapy graduate programs they’re interested in are fully accredited.

The American Art Therapy Association, (AATA), the educational governing board for the field, specifies academic standards for art therapy programs. The AATA is a great resource for prospective graduate students to use for educational and professional purposes as well. The Art Therapy Credential Board also grants registration to graduates after reviewing and confirming their academic credentials. Those looking to enroll in online art therapy graduate programs should be extra cautious as to avoid any diploma mills and institutions that lack the proper accreditation credentials1.

Campus Based Art Therapy Masters Degrees | Myths and Realities

Many misconceptions exist in the world of art therapy and the curriculum art therapy masters candidates undertake prior to pursuing their professional careers. Addressing these myths is vital to ensuring academic success in the long run.

Myth: Pursuing a masters in art therapy is just a waste of time and money.

Reality: Earning a graduate degree in art therapy may be a solid investment of time and money for those interested in pursuing a career in this field. Art and recreational therapists earned a medium pay of $42,280 per year in 2012 and the field is projected to grow by a solid 13 percent from 2012 to 20222.

Myth: Only artistic people should even consider earning a campus based master's degree in art therapy.

Reality: The reality of the situation is that art therapy requires a diverse and complex set of skills that a wide array of prospective students may possess. In addition to traditional creative arts skills, those pursuing art therapy degrees are required to learn about psychotherapy, counseling, education and psychology. Thus, art therapists with graduate degrees are taught the skills necessary to help them become qualified mental health professionals with a specialized set of skills. Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of art therapy but have doubts about their artistic talents may want to still consider earning an art therapy degree, especially if their interests include subjects like psychology and education.

Myth: Only a Bachelor’s degree is needed to become an art therapy professional.

Reality: Since art therapy is a specialized field, art therapists may benefit from earning an advanced degree or certificate. While a bachelor’s degree may provide students with a basic understanding in the field, earning a graduate degree may help the practitioner become more highly skilled, and potentially more prepared to pursue a career in this field after graduation.

Myth: Art therapy master's programs are basically the same as undergraduate programs.

Reality: Earning a campus based master's degree in art therapy requires students to undergo a more intensive course of study than is required to earn a bachelor’s degree. Graduate programs for art therapy, in general, tend to emphasize hands-on learning as well as more advanced theories in psychology, psychotherapy, education, counseling, human development and the creative arts. Students are typically required to work harder and explore more advanced concepts and theories in graduate school for art therapy.

Pursing Internship and Practicum Opportunities in Campus Masters in Art Therapy Programs

Students currently enrolled or looking to enroll in master's programs for art therapy should strongly consider investing their time in gaining experience in the field, making professional contacts and honing their skills and resumes. Fortunately for students, many professional organizations exist for art therapy professionals and students.  A college or universities career center or members a school’s faculty and staff may be able to assist enrolled in pursuing internship opportunities.  Online resources and information can also be found on many websites, blogs and other digital resources.

Many professional organizations and associations are available for graduate students and recent grads to consider joining. The American Art Therapy Association at, the National Coalition of Arts Therapies Associations at and Art Therapy without Borders at offer a great deal of resources for students and professionals. Additional organizations that might be of interest to art therapy graduate students include the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and the International Art Therapy Organization. Many schools also host their own art therapy student associations as well.

In addition to professional and student organizations, the Internet hosts a wealth of resource sites, blogs and forums that offer valuable advice, guidance and information for art therapy graduate students. Just a few of these sites that may be worth checking out include, and, and also host blogs with great information and tips for graduate students.

Finally, art therapy graduate students should consult with their academic advisers about potential internship opportunities. Many graduate programs require internships as a prerequisite for graduating and even those who don’t often have them available for students as electives. Internships are highly recommended for art therapy graduate students as they may offer valuable work experience, networking opportunities and a way to potentially help make your resume stand out.

FAQ about Earning your Campus Based Art Therapy Master's Degree

Many prospective students have questions about earning their graduate degree in art therapy, especially if they’re interested in taking online classes for it. Here are just a few of the most common questions concerning online degrees and art therapy graduate programs.

Q: Is a master's degree necessary to enter art therapy as a professional?

A: Typically. Art therapy is a more advanced, specialized field that generally requires education beyond a traditional Bachelor’s degree. The American Art Therapy Association requires a Master’s degree for prospective art therapy professionals3

Q: What sort of subjects do master's programs in art therapy emphasize?

A: All accredited art therapy graduate programs conform to American Art Therapy Association standards and generally place strong emphasis on subjects like psychotherapy, creative arts, education, counseling and mind-body techniques. Most programs are a mix of lectures, hands-on learning and rigorous academic testing4.

Q: Where can art therapy master's degree holders expect to pursue their careers after graduating?

A: Art therapy graduates may pursue career opportunities in a wide array of potential workplaces after graduating and becoming fully registered. Some of these may include hospitals, clinics, psychiatric facilities, out-patient mental health centers, halfway houses, elder care facilities, correctional facilities, schools and nonprofit agencies. Employment opportunities may be available in both the public and private sectors.

Q: How can I pursue my career after graduating with an art therapy degree?

A: Upon graduating, all aspiring art therapy professionals must become registered with the Art Therapy Credentials Board5. After successfully becoming registered and certified, recent graduates are encouraged to join professional organizations like the American Art Therapy Association for networking and career development opportunities. Potential career opportunities in the art therapy field may be pursued via online job boards, staffing agencies, professional networking and other means.

Q: What sort of standards do online master's programs for art therapy have?

A: All online graduate programs must be fully accredited and adhere to the basic policies established by the American Art Therapy Association. Academic standards include learning about psychopathology, studio art, human growth and development and other subjects while required curriculum typically includes learning about the history and theory of art therapy, art therapy techniques, ethics, a thesis project and other issues. Generally, graduate students must also complete a practicum or internship before graduating6.

Q: How do art therapy master's degree pograms differ from undergraduate progams?

A: Graduate programs for art therapy must adhere to strict guidelines set by the American Art Therapy Association. In general, graduate programs for art therapy are more intensely focused on the field and emphasize its history, techniques, theories and application as opposed to more general undergraduate programs.


1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6.

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • With FlexPath, you can earn your master’s degree in 12 months and under $11,000*
  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)

*Assumes accelerated pace. Price varies by your pace and transfer credits. Other fees may apply.

Find Schools