Master of Arts in Art Therapy

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy (MAAT) program at Cedar Crest College prepares students to use the power of imagery and art making within personal, psychological and cultural constructs to support others by promoting restoration, clarity and wellness.  This studio-based program, designed to meet the Educational Standards of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), immerses students in art therapy theories and practices that are based in a humanistic model of treatment that fosters emotional, psychological, and spiritual growth.

Developing the skilled artist as a human service professional with education and experience in all aspects of the therapeutic relationship is central to the program’s philosophy.  The program’s foundation in the arts enables the student to hone the studio practices that are essential in helping clients through recovering their symbolic language and increasing self-awareness.  Through critical examinations of social factors and studio art applications the student is prepared to function as a competent, ethical, creative and compassionate art therapist within a variety of treatment settings. 

Cedar Crest College’s MAAT program offers students a comprehensive education in the field of art therapy.  Because the program prepares students for the sensitive task of addressing emotional, psychological, and social issues with art therapy clients, the aim of the curriculum is to balance clinical skill development with self-examination.  The study of art therapy is combined with courses in studio art, psychotherapy, and counseling to foster cultural competence and to develop and refine the student’s knowledge of and ability to work with varying client populations.

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree at Cedar Crest College is a 60 credit program that consists of 39 credits in art therapy coursework, 9 in studio arts, and 12 in fieldwork experience.  Students must also complete an in-depth culminating project. The art therapy and studio courses are taken on Cedar Crest’s campus in evening and weekend-accelerated formats.

Extensive fieldwork is an integral part of the program and provides students with the opportunity to apply academic concepts in a practical setting.  The fieldwork program is fully supervised by College faculty who are Registered Art Therapists as well as on-site professionals who have a minimum of a master’s degree in art therapy or a related field. 

In order to ensure that students gain experience in working with diverse populations, they are required to complete 1,000 hours of fieldwork within four distinct site placements.  Sites are available at various clinical and human service locations throughout the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. The first two sites are assigned by the Program Director while the second two sites are arranged by the student and approved by the Director.

Culminating project
Students will complete scholarly research within the format of an in-depth case study to meet the requirement of the culminating project.  Integration of the core values of the program should be included in the topic chosen.  The project is open to a range of formats including art-based inquiry to more quantitative approaches and is mentored by a faculty advisor who works closely with the student throughout the second year of the program.  A final oral presentation of the work in a public venue is required.

Courses Required

Students will complete scholarly research within the format of an in-depth case study to meet the requirement of the culminating project.  Integration of the core values of the program should be included in the topic chosen.  The project is open to a range of formats including art-based inquiry to more quantitative approaches and is mentored by a faculty advisor who works closely with the student throughout the second year of the program.  A final oral presentation of the work in a public venue is required.

Art Therapy Core Content
ATP 520 History and Theory of Art Therapy (3 credits)
ATP 539 The Studio as a Therapeutic Environment (3 credits)
ATP 549 Cultural Perspectives (3 credits)
ATP 552 Group Process in Art Therapy (3 credits)
ATP 555 Professional Ethics for Art Therapists (3 credits)
ATP 559 Artistic Development across the Lifespan (3 credits)
ATP 575 Theories of Assessment in Art Therapy (3 credits)

Two Electives
ATP 547 Investigations in the Treatment of Trauma (3 credits)
ATP 533 Family Systems (3 credits)
ATP 572 Art Therapy in the Treatment of Addictions (3 credits)

Related Content
ATP 501 Research for the Art Therapist (3 credits)
ATP 505 Systems of Psychotherapy (3 credits)
ATP 534 Psychopathology (3 credits)

Studio Art
ART 535 Advanced Studio Problems: Concepts in 2D (3 credits)
ART 536 Advanced Studio Problems: Concepts in 3D (3 credits)
ART 537 Advanced Studio Problems: Elective (3 credits)

Practicum/Internship and Supervision
ATP 601 Fieldwork/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 602 Fieldwork/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 603 Fieldwork/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 604 Fieldwork/Group Supervision (3 credits)

Culminating Project
ATP 620 Culminating Project: Case Study (3 credits)


The professional knowledge and experience of the faculty ensures that students in this program are provided the best of instruction in the areas of studio art, art therapy, psychology, and counseling.  The faculty of the art therapy program are credentialed in their respective fields and have a diverse range of scholarly and studio achievements including presentations, publications, exhibitions, active membership and service in state and national associations, and ongoing professional practice.

Preparation for registration and licensure

The MAAT program provides a curriculum that fulfills the current Art Therapy Credentials Board Registration (ATR) and Certification (BC) guidelines and qualifies graduates to apply for the Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) exam offered through the Bureau of Professional & Occupational Affairs State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.

Applicants to the program are encouraged to research licensure standards in the state or country in which they plan to practice as licensure requirements and availability vary by jurisdiction. Students receiving transfer credits toward the MAAT from previous graduate coursework are advised to contact the licensure board in the state or country in which they plan to practice to ensure those credits will count toward the total number of credits needed to fulfill requirements for licensure application in that jurisdiction.

It is strongly recommended that graduates who choose to apply for the LPC exam do so immediately following completion of the MAAT degree, as the requirements for this exam are periodically revised. Graduates who pursue the licensure option after graduation are advised to make use of the many study manuals and test-preparation courses available.   

Program Goals and Learning Objectives

The goals of the MA in Art Therapy are to enable students to:

  1. Have a broad knowledge of foundational approaches, theories, techniques, and evaluation methods of art therapy.
  2. Articulate a professional position regarding an artist as therapist identity and have experience exhibiting their artwork in a professional manner.
  3. Develop a professional attitude and personal view of art as therapy, art in therapy, and the use of art in a therapeutic framework.
  4. Apply analytical, evaluative and integrative skills of studio art, art therapy, and strengths-based psychology to engage in clinical work with insight and self-awareness.
  5. Integrate theories of art therapy with practical application and a high level of professional, ethical, and cultural competence with diverse populations.
  6. Develop proficiency as art therapy researchers, understanding the inter-relationship between theory, practice, and science.

General Admissions Requirements

Students are admitted to graduate programs at Cedar Crest College on the basis of individual qualifications. Requests for application materials and all correspondence relating to admission should be addressed to:

Cedar Crest College
School for Adult and Graduate Education
100 College Drive
Allentown, PA 18104-6196
Phone: 1-610-740-3770
Fax: 1-610-740-3786

Online Application Materials:

On the Allentown, Pennsylvania campus, the main office for the School for Adult and Graduate Education is located in Blaney Hall, Room 105. The office is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time; Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Students are encouraged to contact the College to discuss their educational plans. Upon request, arrangements can be made to discuss curriculum requirements including internships and culminating project as well as AATA and ATCB guidelines with the Program Director of the MA in Art Therapy, Rebecca Arnold ( For more information, please contact the program’s Admission’s Advisor: Ann Ludman at 1-610-606-4666, x3357; or

Applications for the MA in Art Therapy are accepted and reviewed throughout the year. Application deadlines appear on the program website and accepted students are admitted to the MA in Art Therapy program in the fall.

MA Application Requirements

In order to be considered for admission to the program, applicants must submit the following items:

  • A completed graduate application form (on paper or online).
  • Official undergraduate transcripts with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • A minimum of eighteen (18) credits of study in studio art which demonstrates proficiency and disciplined commitment in art making.  Equivalency of non-academic studio art experience or art therapy based coursework may be substituted for academic studio coursework and are subject to approval from the Director of the art therapy program.  It is important that you evidence a range of experience using a variety of art materials and processes.
  • Psychology coursework at a minimum of twelve (12) credits which must include developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and theories of personality with at least a C in each.
  • A 500-750 word personal essay describing the focus of your art making and how you came to choose art therapy as the focus of your graduate level education including future goals as a professional art therapist and how you feel the MA in Art Therapy program at Cedar Crest College will help you succeed in these goals.
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals (previous faculty, instructors or employers, etc.) who can assess your qualifications and potential for graduate study.
  • A current résumé detailing any human service experience or relevant volunteer or employment experience.
  • A Portfolio including 12-16 examples of art work in each of the following three categories: painting, human figure drawing, and clay work demonstrating personal expression as well as technical skills in a range of media and subject matter.  Figurative work in two and three dimensional media should be included.

If previous coursework was completed outside of the United States, applicants must have their academic degree validated as equivalent to a degree in the United States through a non-profit credential-evaluation agency, such as:

World Education Services
PO Box #745
Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10011
1 -212-966-6311

A $250 non-refundable deposit will be required for all admitted students to save one’s place in the program.

Admissions Decisions

The primary goal of the MAAT application and admission process is to ensure the best possible match between the program’s requirements and offerings, and the candidate’s strengths, professional interests, and educational needs.  It is in the best interest of applicants and the program (as well as future clients) to establish an amiable pairing between the applicant’s potential and the demands of the profession. 

In order to achieve this match, candidates are carefully evaluated in the areas of artistic ability, academic performance, relevant human service experience, interpersonal skills, and overall readiness for graduate education in art therapy.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that each of these areas is directly and adequately addressed in his or her application materials. Given the competitive nature of the admission process, significant deficiencies in one or more of these areas is likely to undermine an applicant’s chances for acceptance into the MAAT program.

The MA Program Director, in consultation with SAGE Graduate Admissions and other program and art therapy faculty members will make final admission decisions based upon a full review of each applicant’s submitted materials. Admissions decisions are based on review of the application portfolio, application essay, letters of recommendation, and art and psychology coursework indicated in transcripts as well as listed experience in the résumé.  Each applicant will be considered from a holistic perspective.

Artistic ability

The applicant must have a minimum of 18 credits in studio art courses which include experiential learning in the media, tools, and methods of both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art.  Portfolio submissions should document a high level of personal inquiry over classroom assignments.  The work will be reviewed within parameters of technical skills, conceptual and expressive abilities and the development of a cohesive body of work. 

Academic performance

The applicant’s transcripts are reviewed for completion of the prerequisite course work, as well as for overall academic achievement, with special attention paid to success in studio art and psychology courses.  Letters of reference from college or university faculty are also taken into consideration relative to academic accomplishments.

Note: Candidates missing three or more prerequisite courses at the time of application should consider delaying application until the following year in order to allow for sufficient time to complete undergraduate coursework. An applicant with 6 or fewer credits in psychology and/or studio art not earned prior to entering the program must successfully complete the UG credits no later than 12 months after matriculation. 

Human service experience

The applicant’s résumé, personal essay, letters of recommendation and interview are the primary means of assessing the student’s level of experience prior to applying for the MAAT program.  A strong candidate will possess significant experience working with people in counseling, social service, recreation, or education programs or demonstrate a minimum of 100 hours volunteering for human service organizations.  In addition, engagement in one’s own personal therapy is viewed as valuable experience. 

Interpersonal skills

The ability to function within a variety of roles is an essential aspect of the work of the art therapist including the ability to interact productively with others, to express oneself, and to listen effectively. The art therapist must be a team member, a group leader, and a person skilled in developing and maintaining therapeutic relationships with individuals while preserving an environment conducive to art making. 

Consideration is given to the applicant’s maturity, relational skills, experience in personal counseling, self-awareness, emotional stability, ethical integrity, and readiness for the personal demands of graduate education, professional practice in art therapy, and making therapeutic connections with others. 

The applicant’s interpersonal skills are evaluated through review of the letters of recommendation and the interview process.  The personal essay and interview are appropriate times for the applicant to highlight the above areas as they relate to his or her overall readiness for the Master of Arts in Art Therapy program at Cedar Crest College.


Matriculation is required for any student who plans to receive financial aid or a graduate degree. A student applies for matriculation by submitting a completed application for admission to the School for Adult and Graduate Education. After submitting a complete application, students receive a letter from the College informing them of the decision concerning their acceptance as a degree candidate. Students are matriculated into the program once they are registered for classes during their first semester of academic study.

Graduate programs may permit non-matriculated and visiting students to enroll in graduate courses on a case-by-case basis. In the event that a graduate course reaches its enrollment maximum, matriculated students are given preference over non-matriculated students.

Transfer Credit

A minimum of 48 credit hours must be completed in residence at Cedar Crest College. Up to 12 graduate transfer credits (from previous master's degrees in a related area) may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time.

For transfer courses to be counted toward the MA in Art Therapy, they must have earned an equivalent grade of “B” or higher, or “Pass” if graded Pass/Fail. Once matriculated into the program, students will not receive any credit for coursework taken at another institution.

Art therapy courses completed at institutions outside the United States must be equivalent to graduate level as verified through a non-profit credential-evaluation agency such as World Education Services (

Post-Graduate Study

Students who have earned a related master’s degree with a minimum of 48 semester credits from an accredited institution in the United States, or have the equivalent academic preparation from an institution outside of the United States may apply. Related master’s degrees include: expressive or creative arts therapies, counseling, social work, psychology, psychiatric nursing, and other mental health professions.  Other related degrees not directly tied to licensure include fine arts, art education, and special education.  Other related degrees may be considered and require approval by the program director.

The curriculum for the post-master’s MAAT degree will take into consideration the individual’s previous graduate preparation to ensure that the minimum of 24 credits of art therapy content and 30 credits of related content at the graduate level have been completed.  For some students additional credit hours may be necessary. 

Please review the “MA Application Requirements” to apply to the MA Art Therapy program as a post-graduate student. 

Degree Program Retention Policy

Students must receive a “B” or higher or a grade of “P” (or “Pass” for a course that is listed as Pass/Fail) in all core art therapy coursework to maintain normal progress through the program. Any core art therapy coursework grade earned that is lower than a “B” will be part of the annual review process and documented for each student.  Students who receive a grade of “F” (or “Fail”) in any three courses or who receive a grade of “F” (or “Fail”) in the same course twice will be dismissed from the program. Within 30 days of notification, students may appeal program dismissals through a letter to the MAAT Program Director. Appeals are granted at the discretion of the MAAT Program Director and they otherwise follow the appeal process outlined in the Cedar Crest College Graduate Program Catalog.

Repeating a Course

Students who withdraw from or receive a grade of “F” (or “Fail”) in a required MAAT course may petition, in writing, to the MAAT Program Director to retake the course so as to maintain annual progress toward the degree. Such petitions must be submitted within 15 days after the end of the withdrawn or failed course, and they must specify a proposed alternative schedule for degree progress. Petitions are granted at the discretion of the MAAT Program Director pending approval from the Dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Education. Approval of repeat courses depends upon faculty availability.

If a course is repeated, the higher grade earned is computed into the student’s grade point average. However, both grades appear on the permanent record. Repeating courses may affect a student’s satisfactory academic progress requirement for receipt of financial aid; the student should consult the Student Financial Services Office for information.

Leaves of Absence

Students wishing to take a leave of absence from the program must request to do so, in writing, from the MAAT Program Director. The granting of the requested leave is at the discretion of the MAAT Program Director pending approval from the Dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Education. A granted leave of absence has no bearing on the maximum period of completion of the culminating project. 

Overall evaluation

Ongoing evaluation by the MAAT faculty is supplemented by a formal progress review at the end of each fall semester.  This review process includes a self-evaluation form completed by the student, an evaluation form completed by each of the student’s instructors from that term, and a meeting between the student and a faculty panel to discuss the student’s overall progress in the program.  All aspects of the curriculum (clinical and cultural competence, interpersonal skills, and academic performance) are reviewed.  A satisfactory performance evaluation on each review is necessary for the student to advance to the next phase of the educational program.  Occasionally, problems arise for individual students between regularly scheduled reviews and the faculty may address these issues by calling an additional review prior to the regularly scheduled review times.

Academic Warning, Probation, and Dismissal

The following conditions warrant a formal meeting with faculty to re-evaluate the student’s status in the program;

  • A failing grade in any of the art therapy classes.
  • Two or more written academic warnings in a semester.
  • An unsatisfactory progress review in which the faculty panel identifies serious professional, interpersonal, or academic deficiencies.
  • Failure in any of the fieldwork courses.
  • Justifiable expulsion, based on performance, from a placement site.

Among the possible outcomes of such a meeting is academic probation or dismissal from the program.

Completion of the Graduate Program and Graduation

To successfully complete the Master of Arts in Art Therapy, a student must adhere to the following:

  • Successfully complete all the requirements for the program.
  • Complete all required coursework for the program, as outlined in the MAAT “Program of Study,” with a grade of “B” or higher or “P” (“Pass”). Please review Retention Policy for more information.
  • Apply to the Registrar for graduation at least three months prior to the graduating semester; or, in the case of students with candidacy extensions, apply prior to the date established by the Registrar for one of the College’s scheduled graduation dates (fall, spring, or summer).
  • Fulfill all financial responsibilities to the College.

Students who have successfully completed all degree requirements specified above may participate in the MAAT’s graduation ceremony. The College officially confers degrees on graduates in August, January, and May. MAAT graduates are welcome to participate in the annual May commencement ceremony held on the Allentown, PA, USA campus.

Maximum Period of Candidacy

The MA in Art Therapy is designed to be completed by full-time students in as few as two years.  Students who have completed all required coursework for the MAAT but have not submitted a finished culminating project (ATP 620) for review and approval by the end of the final semester of enrollment must register for ATP 699: Maintenance of Candidacy (1 credit) during each subsequent full semester.  Once the culminating project has met the requirements for “approved” status, the student is eligible to graduate from the program and receive the MAAT degree. The maximum amount of time for completion of ATP 620 is 2 years.  If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved thesis the student will receive no credit for the grade.    

Graduate Tuition and Fees

M.A. in Art Therapy Application fee (non-refundable) $50.00
MA Graduate Tuition, per credit $738.00
Deposit (non-refundable) due upon acceptance to the program $250.00
Master’s Thesis Binding Fee (non-refundable) $300.00
FT/PT Graduate Activity Fee, $10.00 per semester (spring/fall)
Full-Time Technology Fee, $100.00 per semester (spring/fall)
Part-Time Technology Fee, $50.00 per semester (spring/fall)

Note: The College reserves the right to change fees and charges as necessary. Books, supplies, lab materials and other program costs are not included in the tuition. The deposit is credited toward the tuition cost.

Graduate Program Handbook

Each student will be given a copy of the Graduate Program Handbook prepared specifically for the Master of Arts in Art Therapy. The purpose of the handbook is to provide students with information pertaining to the curricular requirements, policies, and procedures associated with the program. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves and understanding the information presented in the Graduate Program Handbook. MAAT students are also bound by policies established by Cedar Crest College for graduate students, as indicated in the Graduate Catalog, Faculty Handbook, or other official college publications. Questions regarding the content of the handbook or other graduate student policies should be directed to the MAAT Program Director.

MA Program Course Registration

Course registration is available to graduate students in good financial standing with the College. If a student is not financially eligible to register, the student may not register online or with a completed registration form in the Registrar’s Office until that hold is removed. A copy of the registration will be kept in the Registrar’s Office until notification of a change in the student’s status is received from Student Financial Services. Policies pertaining to online course registration vary across programs.

The MAAT program may enroll its students, at the direction of the MAAT Program Director, in the appropriate courses needed to maintain the degree progress specified in the “SAGE Academic Plan” checklist. Upon course enrollment, students will be notified via email of the courses for which they are registered at least 14 days prior to the first day of class. Students who do not wish to enroll in summer, fall, or spring MAAT courses must notify the Program Director prior to the first day of class, or they may drop courses themselves using either the Registrar Office’s online or print procedures prior to the end of the Add/Drop period established by the College. Students so enrolled are academically responsible for any coursework and are financially responsible for any tuition or fees associated with a course.

Professional Organizations for Students

Cedar Crest College’s MA in Art Therapy is an institutional member of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) ( The AATA is “an organization of professionals dedicated to the belief that making art is healing and life enhancing.  Its mission is to serve its members and the general public by providing standards of professional competence, and developing and promoting knowledge in, and of, the field of art therapy.”

Matriculated students in the MAAT program are entitled to enroll as student members in the AATA to receive benefits that include access to the job postings and an archive of past editions of the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.  Additional benefits can be found on the organization’s website.