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 Educational Standards set forth by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), 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 creative student 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 their verbal and nonverbal communications and toward 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 thoughtful self-examination. The study of art therapy is combined with courses in studio materials and methods, 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.

Program Mission

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy program at Cedar Crest College offers an educational experience that prepares students in clinical practices to effectively function as competent and ethically responsible art therapists.  Development of a therapeutic studio model and dedication to a strengths-based approach to treatment inspires compassionate leaders who can promote the healing potential of the arts within a variety of human service settings.

Program Goals

The mission of the graduate art therapy program reflects the goals and vision of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) in that it strives to educate the next generation of professionals as competent, ethically sound, and culturally proficient mental health practitioners. It is expected that graduates will become leaders in the field and will assist in advancing art therapy as a regulated human service profession in a global environment. Specific to Cedar Crest’s graduate art therapy program is the inclusion of a studio model of art therapy practice that operates within a strengths-based approach to treatment with the goal of graduating students who preserve an ‘artist-as-therapist identity’ as clinicians.

Central to the MAAT program’s alignment with the mission of Cedar Crest College is the holistic education and development of each individual student regardless of life stage or level of experience.  Provision of unique opportunities for students to broaden interpersonal skill sets within a diverse community of peers, teachers, professionals and community members aligns with the College’s recognition of an advancing global generation of leaders.  Additionally, the philosophy of the program, which focuses the MAAT curriculum on developing the student’s professional identity as an artist-therapist demonstrates an important relationship to the College’s educational foundation in the liberal arts. Graduate students are provided opportunities to broaden their awareness of others while learning, first hand, how creativity empowers individual and social change thereby preparing the skilled artist as a human service professional.

Program Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the program students will be able to:

1. Describe the historical developments of art therapy as a mental health profession and demonstrate theories and techniques of contemporary practices that distinguishes among the therapeutic benefits of a variety of art processes applicable to various categories of mental health diagnoses and corresponding treatments. 

2. Distinguish between effective therapeutic strategies that consider the specific values, beliefs, and actions influenced by a client’s race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, political views, sexual orientation, geographic region, physical capacity, and historical or current experiences within the dominant culture.

3. Apply principles of human development, artistic and creative development, human sexuality, gender identity development, family life cycle, and psychopathology, to the assessment and treatment of clients maintaining global awareness between pathological and strengths-based approaches to therapeutic services.

4. Know the legal, ethical, and cultural considerations necessary when conducting art therapy research and incorporate a professional ethos that originates from ethical decision-making models, supervision, and professional and legal consultation to respond appropriately to ethical and legal dilemmas.

5. Continuously deepen self-understanding through personal growth experiences, reflective practice, and personal art-making to strengthen a personal connection to the creative process, assist in self-awareness, promote well-being, and guide a professional ‘artist-as-therapist’ practice.  

6. Apply multicultural perspectives when implementing studio art therapy practices and art-based assessments that aim to cultivate effective therapeutic interactions by engaging clients in media, strategies, and interventions with an understanding of their applicability to the treatment process for individuals, groups, and families.

General Program Information

Art Department
The graduate art therapy program is housed in the art department of the College and occurs on Cedar Crest’s campus in evening, weekend-accelerated, hybrid, and on-line formats. Core curriculum classes are held mainly in the graduate art therapy studio on the lower level of Alumnae Hall in Room ALH-13.  MAAT candidates may use the studio at times when a class is not in session and also have access to computer labs throughout campus. Art therapy literature is located on the lower level of the Cedar Crest College Library, online through the Cressman Library website and through library access to the American Art Therapy Association journal database.   

The professional knowledge and experience of our faculty ensures that students in this program are provided the best of instruction in the areas related to art therapy. Full-time art therapy faculty are registered, board certified art therapists who continue to work professionally.  Additional faculty are credentialed, working professionals in their respective fields including psychology, counseling and art therapy studio practices.  All faculty have a diverse range of scholarly and studio achievements including presentations, publications, exhibitions, active professional membership, and service in state and national associations.

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree at Cedar Crest College is a 60 credit program consisting of courses in art therapy, studio materials and methods, psychology and counseling, and 900 hours of internship experience. Students must also complete an in-depth culminating project.  

Internship Experience
Extensive practical experience is an integral part of the program and provides students with the opportunity to apply academic concepts in various professional settings.  The internship program is fully supervised by college faculty who are Registered, Board Certified Art Therapists as well as on-site credentialed professionals who have a minimum of a master’s degree in art therapy or are licensed in a related mental health field. 

In order to ensure that students gain experience in working with diverse populations, they are required to complete 100 hours of practicum (observational) experience and 800 hours of internship within up to four distinct site placements.  Sites are available at various clinical and human service locations to prepare students for professional engagement with diverse individuals.  Multiple internship experiences have been secured by the program and include areas in PA such as Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, and Wilkes-Barre, as well as in other states including New Jersey and New York.

Each internship setting holds different expectations for interns, but most require the student’s current health and immunization records.  Interns may also be required to complete site-specific health clearances such as PPD testing, seasonal flu shot, physical examination, and D&A testing prior to starting clinical hours. 

Background checks are consistently required by internship placements including Criminal Record Check; Child Abuse Clearance; and/or FBI Fingerprinting and must be copied and retained in the student’s file:

All students are required to follow The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for confidentiality as well as the Code of Ethics outlined by the American Art Therapy Association and the Art Therapy Credentials Board. 

Culminating project
In order to meet the requirement of the culminating project, students will complete a focused literature review in conjunction with an in-depth case study and artistic enquiry.    Integration of the core values of the program should be included in the art therapy topic chosen.  The project is open to a range of formats including art-based to more quantitative approaches and is mentored by a faculty advisor who works closely with the student during the final semester of the program. 

Required Curriculum

Core Courses (39 credits)
ATP 501 Research Design and Methodology (3 credits)
ATP 505 Theories and Systems of Counseling Psychology (3 credits)
ATP 520 History and Theory of Art Therapy (3 credits)      
ATP 533 Family Art Therapy (3 credits)
ATP 534 Psychopathology (3 credits)
ATP 539 The Studio as a Therapeutic Environment (3 credits)
ATP 547 Investigations in the Treatment of Trauma (3 credits)
ATP 549 Cultural Perspectives in Art Therapy (3 credits)
ATP 552 Group 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)
ATP 620 Culminating Project (3 credits)

Internship Experience (12 credits)
ATP 601 Internship/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 602 Internship/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 603 Internship/Group Supervision (3 credits)
ATP 604 Internship/Group Supervision (3 credits)

Electives (9 credits)*
ATP 535 Art Therapy 2D Materials and Methods (3 credits)
ATP 536 Art Therapy 3D Materials and Methods (3 credits)
ATP 537 Advanced Topics in Art Therapy Material and Methods (3 credits)
ATP 572 Art Therapy in the Treatment of Addictions (3 credits)

*Additional electives are provided every other year under the “Special Topics” heading

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) credential 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 credential do so immediately following completion of the MAAT degree, as the requirements for this credential 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.  

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 staff at the School of Adult and Graduate Education.
Applications for the MA in Art Therapy are accepted and reviewed at specific intervals 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:

  1. A completed graduate application form (on paper or online).
  2. Official undergraduate transcripts with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  3. A minimum of eighteen (18) credits of study in studio art which demonstrates a developed commitment in art making and creative processes.  It is important that the applicant evidence a range of experience using a variety of art materials.
  4. Psychology coursework at a minimum of twelve (12) credits which must include developmental psychology and abnormal psychology. The applicant must have accomplished a “C” or better in all prerequisite psychology courses and all psychology credits must have been completed within 10 years of application to the MAAT program. 
  5. A 500-750 word personal essay that includes the following areas:
    1. Describe the focus of your art making.
    2. How did you come to choose art therapy as the focus of your graduate level education?
    3. What are your future goals as a professional art therapist?
    4. How will the MA in Art Therapy program at Cedar Crest College help you succeed in meeting these goals?
  6. Two letters of recommendation from individuals (one must be from a previous faculty or course instructor) who can assess your qualifications and potential related to the demands of graduate study.
  7. A current résumé detailing any human service experience including relevant volunteer or employment experience.
  8. 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 interpersonal skills, academic performance, relevant human service experience, creativity 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 MAAT Program Director, in consultation with SAGE Graduate Admissions 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, writing sample, letters of recommendation, and art and psychology coursework indicated in transcripts as well as listed experience in the résumé.  Each applicant is considered from a holistic perspective.

Art Portfolio
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.  The portfolio review will be based on representation of a high level of investigation in a variety of studio materials and techniques.

Academic performance
The applicant’s transcripts are reviewed for completion of the prerequisite course work in psychology and studio art, as well as for overall academic achievement.  Because graduate art therapy education must meet rigorous standards set forth by the American Art Therapy Association and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, it is important that applicants possess a high level of critical thinking and writing skills.  Letters of reference from college or university faculty are highly valued in considering previous academic accomplishments.
Note: Interested applicants missing three or more prerequisite courses cannot be considered for admission and should delay application in order to allow for sufficient time to complete undergraduate coursework.

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 human service experience prior to applying for the MAAT program.  A strong candidate will also possess significant experience working with people in counseling, social service, recreation, or education programs or have significant volunteer experiences in human service organizations. 

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 one-self in a professional manner, and to listen effectively. The art therapist must be a team member, a group leader, an advocate for the profession, 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/therapy, self-awareness, emotional stability, ethical integrity, and readiness for the personal demands of graduate art therapy education. 

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 an 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.

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 graduate 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 (

Degree Program Retention Policy

Students must achieve academic competency standards outlined in the 2016 CAAHEP/ACATE “Curriculum Competency Requirements for Educational Programs in Art Therapy” in order to obtain the MAAT degree.  In order for the MAAT program to quantitatively measure these outcomes, the core curriculum of the program follows a competency-based structure that incorporates assignment descriptions, rubrics and competency exams for the assessment of student learning.

Students who receive a “B” or higher or a grade of “P” (or “Pass” for a course that is listed as Pass/Fail) will maintain normal progress through the program. Any grade earned that is lower than a “B” will require review by the program director under the expectation that the student will retake the course in order to achieve the minimum “B” grade.  All grades are 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 may 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, and 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, therefore, the student should consult with the Student Financial Services Office.

Academic Warning, Probation, and Dismissal

Students who require an additional review are subject to 1) academic warning; 2) academic probation; 3) dismissal from the program.  Dismissal from the program may be implemented if any of the following areas are identified at any time during the student’s education:

Leaves of Absence

Students wishing to take a leave of absence from the program must request to do so, in writing, by completing the “Withdrawal or Leave of Absence Application” and must be discussed with the MAAT Program Director. The requested leave will have no bearing on the maximum period of completion of the culminating project. 

Overall Student Evaluation

Ongoing evaluation by the MAAT faculty is supplemented by a formal progress review in the spring of each academic year.  This review process includes a self-evaluation form completed by the student, a faculty evaluation form completed by each of the student’s instructors, and a meeting between the student and program director 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 program director and/or faculty may address these issues by calling an additional review outside of the regularly scheduled review times.

During the review process students are also highly encouraged to provide an overall evaluation of the MAAT program including effectiveness of the curriculum, faculty, program director, learning environment, and available internships. 

Completion of the Graduate Program and Graduation

The College officially confers degrees for graduates in August, January, and May. To successfully complete the Master of Arts in Art Therapy degree, a student must adhere to the following:

To participate in Commencement, students must be certified for graduation by their department chair and/or program director and must be registered for the courses that will satisfy degree requirements in their entirety within four months of the ceremony date.  Such students who participate in Commencement but fail to satisfy degree requirements are not and shall not be considered to have graduated from the degree program.

MAAT graduates are welcome to participate in the annual May commencement ceremony held on the Allentown, PA, USA campus. However, students may participate in only one Commencement ceremony per academic degree.

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 their faculty advisor by the end of the final semester of enrollment must request an extension during each subsequent 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 after initial enrollment in the course.  If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved project, the student will receive no credit for the grade.   

Graduate 2017-2018 Tuition and Fees

MAAT Graduate Tuition, per credit $821.00
Deposit (non-refundable) due upon acceptance to the program $250.00
Master’s Thesis Binding Fee (non-refundable)(ATP 620) $100.00
Full-Time/Part-Time Student Activity Fee, per semester (Fall/Spring) $20.00
Full-Time Technology Fee, per semester (Fall/Spring) $100.00
Part-Time Technology Fee, per semester (Fall/Spring) $50.00
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 Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are designed to promote the educational goals and objectives of the master’s program by providing students with opportunities to actively participate in a range of program and community experiences that serve to promote the mastery of knowledge and practice in the field of art therapy.

To be eligible to receive an assistantship, a student must:

  1. Have completed all undergraduate prerequisites for the master’s program.
  2. Have completed at least 12 credits of graduate art therapy coursework.
  3. Submitted an assistantship application to the Program Director.

The available assistantship is held by the student recipient over the course of one academic year and is awarded on a competitive basis by the Program Director in consultation with the art therapy graduate faculty. The Program Director provides the final decision in regard to the award recipient and this decision is not subject to appeal.

Graduate Program Handbook

Each student has access through the MyCC website to 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.



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