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Overview of Master Degree Programs in Art Therapy

Majors Overview April 6, 2013

Students will be prepared to use studio art and counseling methods to aid in human development, self-discovery, and healing through the master degree program in art therapy. Typically, students who have graduated from the program will become art therapists in different types of healthcare environments.

Art Therapy Master Degree Program

Students who have enrolled in an art therapy master degree program will learn how to use different art forms as therapeutic methods to calm, heal and aid in development, self-discovery and self-expression for all people. The coursework combines visual arts with psychotherapy training and counseling. Public and private universities and colleges offer the degree as either a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.).

Education Prerequisites

Art therapy master’s degree program typically requires students to hold a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree can be held in any discipline; however, some programs could require students to have a background in a related field such as education, psychology or visual arts. Some programs expect students to complete specific studio art and psychology courses before they grant admission to such candidates. In some programs, an art portfolio is expected to be submitted by students seeking admission.

Course Topics

Typically, students will complete the graduate degree program within two years, if studied full-time. Students learn through clinical experience, research, and classroom lectures. Individuals will acquire clinical experience through supervised learning either off or on campus. Several common course topics include:

•Art therapy for families
•Art therapy research methods
•Human development
•Group therapy
•Art psychology
•Child art therapy
•Assessment methods
•Art therapy theories

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Completion of an art therapy master’s degree program will prepare candidates for employment in addiction treatment center, homeless shelter, government agency, and nursing home settings. Job growth for art and other recreational therapists have been projected at fifteen percent during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS – In May 2010, recreational therapists earned an average annual salary of $41,440, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continuing Education and Licensure

Art therapists are required by some states to register or obtain licensure; however, each state will have its own eligibility requirements. Voluntary certification can also be obtained by individual candidates from various credentialing agencies. The Registered Art Therapist certification is offered by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB). Applicants who want to be eligible will need a master’s degree, post-education supervised professional experience, and supervised internship training. Art therapists who are interested in teaching or research at the postsecondary level should further their studies by enrolling in doctoral degree programs for expressive therapies, art therapy or a related field.

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