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Art Therapy: Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling

SAIC's Master of Arts (MA) in Art Therapy and Counseling program cultivates influential, compassionate leaders who are critically engaged with the social and cultural contexts surrounding artmaking and healing.

While the undergraduate experience is broad and exploratory, a graduate education is specific to professional development in a particular discipline. That is why we encourage people interested in our Master of Arts (MA) in Art Therapy program to think beyond mere application requirements and concentrate on building a background of excellence in the classroom, studio, and workplace.

Before You Apply

You will strengthen your application by doing the following:

  • Complete all prerequisite coursework (see requirements below).
  • Engage in ongoing artistic development.
  • Gain substantial volunteer or paid experience with diverse and varied populations in human service settings.
  • Talk with art therapy professionals, read the literature, and attend association meetings to better understand the field.
  • Learn the philosophical, theoretical, and practical differences among graduate art therapy programs.
  • Engage in life experiences that expand cultural awareness, sensitivity, and knowledge.
  • Participate in personal therapy.

Prerequisite Courses

Undergraduate prerequisite courses must be taken for credit through an accredited college or university. The minimum program course prerequisites consist of 30 semester hour credits in the following subject areas.

  • Studio Art (18 credits)
  • Psychology (12 credits, including Developmental Psychology and Abnormal Psychology)

Candidates may be enrolled in some of this coursework at the time of application, but all prerequisites must be successfully completed prior to entering the program. Documentation of prerequisite courses in which applicant is enrolled at the time of application or a specific plan for how missing courses will be completed prior to beginning the MA in Art Therapy and Counseling should be submitted along with the other application materials.

The Application

The Department of Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) requires an online application for its MA in Art Therapy and Counseling program. Applications will be evaluated based on your artistic ability, academic performance, human service experience, interpersonal skills, and overall readiness for the program.

You will need a valid credit card and current email address in order to complete the application form. Please review the following requirements carefully before submitting your application:

  • Applications for the fall semester must be submitted no later than February 1. No applications are accepted for spring semester.
  • There is an $80 nonrefundable application fee ($100 for international applications). The application fee is discounted by 50 percent through December 1.
  • You must upload one 500- to 750-word statement of purpose that describes the focus of your body of work and how you came to choose art therapy as the academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work and describe how the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program is particularly suited to your professional goals.
  • In addition to your application, you must submit an ePortfolio by 11:59 p.m. (CST) on February 4. Your portfolio should represent your current and focused body of studio work with up to 15 images, or up to eight minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two as appropriate.
  • An on-campus group interview is required for all applicants to the MA in Art Therapy and Counseling program. Group interviews will be conducted in February and March. After completing the online application, you will be prompted to register for an interview date. Phone interviews are acceptable for applicants residing outside of the United States at the time of the interviews.

    The Group Interview Day runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It includes brief presentations by MA in Art Therapy and Counseling graduate students, an art-making activity, candidates’ self-introductions through discussion of their relevant work experience and personal art practice (see “Digital Slides for Group Interview” section below), a brief one-to-one interview with a faculty member, a campus tour, and time for questions and discussion with both faculty and current students. This format provides the opportunity for mutual scrutiny of candidates and the program.

    Digital slides for group interview day
    During the group interview, applicants will briefly present an example of their artwork. Applicants must email a digital image of the artwork to be presented prior to the interview. To submit your slide in a timely manner and make the process go as smooth as possible, please follow these guidelines:

    1. Only digitally photographed or scanned artwork will be accepted. No traditional slides, please!
    2. Images should be saved as 72 dpi JPGs. Please no Photoshop, TIFF, or GIF formats.
    3. The longest side of the image should be a maximum of 800 pixels. The entire file should not be more than 2 MB in size.
    4. Please save the file in this format: last name_first initialAT08.jpg. For example: Doe_JAT08.jpg.
    5. Email the image via an attachment to arttherapy@saic.edu by FEBRUARY 1. The subject line of the email should read "Group Interview Slide."
  • A current résumé must be included with your online application.
  • A detailed summary of your human service experience.
  • An official college transcript and two letters of reference for admission into the program. You can ask your references to upload their letter to your online application or mail them directly to the school.
  • Include a human service summary of relevant volunteer or employment experience that lists the name of each site, the type of setting, your roles and responsibilities, dates of service, and total contact hours. This will be uploaded on the application.

We encourage you to download and read the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Program Guide‌ [PDF] for more detailed information.

Application Deadline: February 1

If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling, you will need to build a portfolio, gather all of your application materials, and complete the electronic application by the deadline of February 1 (spring admissions are not accepted).

To prepare the strongest application possible, carefully review the Admissions Preparation & Application section of the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Program Guide‌ [PDF] as you begin the application process.

 

You may mail your application to:
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Office of Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Email: gradmiss@saic.edu
Fax: 312.629.6101

Completed Online Application

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry. Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline.

Start your application here: Graduate Online Application.

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at gradmiss@saic.edu or 800.232.7242.

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your online application, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded.

Domestic application fee: $80
International application fee: $100

Completed Online Application

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry. Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline.

Start your application here: Graduate Online Application.

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at gradmiss@saic.edu or 800.232.7242.

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your online application, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded.

Domestic application fee: $80
International application fee: $100

Application fees will be discounted by 50 percent through December 1.

Official College Transcripts

Submit one official transcript from each college you have attended. If transcripts are issued directly to you, forward them to SAIC with the seal unbroken and the registrar's signature intact. A transcript request form is available for download from the online application, but is not required. If you are in possession of unofficial copies of your transcripts you are welcome to upload them to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio, but you are not required to do so.

If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable. If admitted to SAIC, you must submit a final, official transcript verifying the completion and award of your degree directly to SAIC's admissions office prior to your matriculation.

Address transcripts to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds.

Statement of Purpose

Write a 500- to 750-word statement that describes the focus of your body of work and how you came to choose art therapy as the academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level.

Also discuss future directions or goals for your work and describe how the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program is particularly suited to your professional goals. Upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

Letters of Recommendation

You are responsible for securing two letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of reference from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via SAIC's ePortfolio. When completing the References section in your ePortfolio, you will be asked to provide the names and other information associated with each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent to each of your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the ePortfolio.

If your recommenders prefer they may submit recommendations by mail. Be sure to supply your recommenders with addressed, stamped envelopes and ask them to sign across the seal.

Address recommendations to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201  
Chicago, IL 60603

ePortfolio

The Admissions Committee reviews portfolios for clear direction and potential for development. Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. Instructions for submitting ePortfolios will be sent either to the email address associated with your SAIC application, or to the email address associated with your ePortfolio account, if you already have one. You will receive the link to your ePortfolio 24 to 48 hours after you save the first page of the online application.

Submit a portfolio that represents your current and focused body of work. The portfolio should consist of up to 15 images, or up to eight minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two as appropriate.

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

Direct all inquiries regarding the ePortfolio to admiss_portfolio@saic.edu, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.

Interviews

In-person interviews are required. Group interviews are scheduled for February 11 and February 18, 2017. Students will select the preferred interview date within the application. For applicants residing outside the United States at the time of application, please contact the department at arttherapy@saic.edu or 312.899.7481 to schedule a Skype or phone interview.

Résumé

A current résumé is required. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

Human Service Summary

Include a human service summary of relevant volunteer or employment experience that lists the name of each site, the type of setting, your roles and responsibilities, dates of service, and total contact hours. This information will be entered into Slideroom under the section "forms."  Please include total hours for all human service experience.

International Students

Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a U.S.-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.

Minimum Required Scores

TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
For more information about the TOEFL, please visit here.
For more information about the IELTS, please visit here.

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

Prerequisites

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC.

It is strongly recommended that applicants have substantial human service experience. In addition, applicants must demonstrate through a transcript analysis that they have completed 18 semester credit hours in studio art courses and 12 semester credits in psychology, including the following subjects:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Developmental psychology

Three semester credit hours in an introductory art therapy course strongly encouraged.

See Also

Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Program Guide‌ [PDF]

 

Area Credit Hours
Art Therapy Core 39
Art Therapy Fieldwork 6
Art Therapy Thesis 6
Studio Electives (or other approved course) 9
Total Credit Hours 60

MA in Art Therapy and Counseling Course Sequence

Term Credit Hours
First Year Fall 12
  • ARTTHER 5001 Materials and Media in Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 5002 Psychopathology (3)
  • ARTTHER 5003 History and Theory of Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 5025 Counseling Techniques (3)
 
First Year Spring 12
  • ARTTHER 5008 Assessment and Evaluation in Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 5019 Group Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 6008 Cultural Dimensions in Art Therapy (3)
  • Studio Elective (3)
 
Second Year Fall 12
  • ARTTHER 5020 Art Therapy Fieldwork I (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6002 Ethical and Legal Issues I (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 5010 Human Growth and Development (3)
  • ARTTHER 6018 Family Art Therapy (3)
  • Studio Elective (3)
 
Second Year Spring 12
  • ARTTHER 6001 Art Therapy Fieldwork II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6003 Ethical and Legal Issues II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 5009 Research in Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 6007 Substance Use (3)
 
Third Year Fall 6
  • ARTTHER 6020 Art Therapy Fieldwork III (3)
  • ARTTHER 6010 Graduate Thesis I: Art Therapy (3)
      OR
    ARTTHER 6019 Art Therapy Graduate Project (3)
 
Third Year Spring 6 (or 9)
  • ARTTHER 6020 Art Therapy Fieldwork III (3)
  • ARTTHER 6006 Professional Development and Career Counseling (3)
  • Optional 3 Credit Course
        ARTTHER 6011 Graduate Thesis II: Art Therapy (3)
 
Total Credit Hours 60 (or 63)

Degree requirements and specifications

  1. Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years to complete the degree This includes time off for approved leaves of absence. Thesis in Progress: Students who have not submitted a finished thesis for review and approval by the end of the final semester of enrollment are given a Thesis in Progress grade (IP). All students with a Thesis in Progress grade (IP) will be charged the Thesis in Progress Fee in each subsequent full semester until the thesis is completed and approved and the grade is changed to Credit (CR). If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved thesis, the grade will be changed to No Credit (NCR).
  2. Transfer credits: A minimum of 48 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to 12 graduate transfer credits (from previous master's degrees) may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
  3. Electives: One studio elective may be taken prior to the sixth semester, including during a summer semester or winter interim, by any student wanting to complete the program in five semesters. An elective non-studio course may be substituted for one studio with the prior approval of the Department Chair.
  4. Professional Progress Review: At the end of semesters I and IV, each student participates in a Professional Progress Review (PPR). The PPR is an evaluative process used to determine the student's progress in the program. It includes a self-assessment as well as evaluation by each of the student's faculty members. Satisfactory progress in the program is necessary prior to advancing to the next phase of the MA in Art Therapy and Counseling program. Serious academic or interpersonal deficiencies may result in termination from the program.
  5. Fieldwork/Internship Requirements: As part of the MAATC internship requirement, students are obligated to meet the trainee expectations of their internship site. These requirements may include a criminal background check, drug testing, the submission of immunization records, special training, etc.
  6. Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 9 credit hours for fall and spring semesters, 6 credit hours in the summer.

Application Deadline: January 15

If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling, you will need to build a portfolio, gather all of your application materials, and complete the electronic application by the deadline of January 15 (spring admissions are not accepted).

To prepare the strongest application possible, carefully review the Admissions Preparation & Application section of the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Program Guide [PDF] as you begin the application process.

Completed Online Application

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry. Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline.

Start your application here: Graduate Online Application.

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at gradmiss@saic.edu or 800.232.7242.

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your online application, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded.

Domestic application fee: $80
International application fee: $100

Application fees will be discounted by 50 percent through December 1.

Official College Transcripts

Submit one official transcript from each college you have attended. If transcripts are issued directly to you, forward them to SAIC with the seal unbroken and the registrar's signature intact. A transcript request form is available for download from the online application, but is not required. If you are in possession of unofficial copies of your transcripts you are welcome to upload them to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio, but you are not required to do so.

If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable. If admitted to SAIC, you must submit a final, official transcript verifying the completion and award of your degree directly to SAIC's admissions office prior to your matriculation.

Address transcripts to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201 
Chicago, IL 60603

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds.

Statement of Purpose

Write a 500- to 750-word statement that describes the focus of your body of work and how you came to choose art therapy as the academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level.

Also discuss future directions or goals for your work and describe how the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program is particularly suited to your professional goals. Upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

Letters of Recommendation

You are responsible for securing two letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of reference from current or former instructors. 

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via SAIC's ePortfolio. When completing the References section in your ePortfolio, you will be asked to provide the names and other information associated with each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent to each of your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations through the ePortfolio.

If your recommenders prefer they may submit recommendations by mail. Be sure to supply your recommenders with addressed, stamped envelopes and ask them to sign across the seal.

Address recommendations to:
SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., suite 1201  
Chicago, IL 60603

ePortfolio

The Admissions Committee reviews portfolios for clear direction and potential for development. Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. Instructions for submitting ePortfolios will be sent either to the email address associated with your SAIC application, or to the email address associated with your ePortfolio account, if you already have one. You will receive the link to your ePortfolio 24 to 48 hours after you save the first page of the online application.

Submit a portfolio that represents your current and focused body of work. The portfolio should consist of up to 15 images, or up to eight minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two as appropriate.

Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)

Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)

Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)

Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

Direct all inquiries regarding the ePortfolio to admiss_portfolio@saic.edu, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.

Interviews

In-person interviews are required. Group interviews are scheduled for February 17, 2018. Students will select the preferred interview date within the application. For applicants residing outside the United States at the time of application, please contact the department at arttherapy@saic.edu or 312.899.7481 to schedule a Skype or phone interview.

Résumé

A current résumé is required. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section of your ePortfolio.

Human Service Summary

Include a human service summary of relevant volunteer or employment experience that lists the name of each site, the type of setting, your roles and responsibilities, dates of service, and total contact hours. This information will be entered into Slideroom under the section "forms."  Please include total hours for all human service experience.

International Students

Students whose native language is not English, or who do not have a degree conferred by a U.S.-accredited university, are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. Submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results with your application. The Institution Code for SAIC is 1713.

Minimum Required Scores

TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
For more information about the TOEFL, please visit here.
For more information about the IELTS, please visit here.

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

Prerequisites

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC.

It is strongly recommended that applicants have substantial human service experience. In addition, applicants must demonstrate through a transcript analysis that they have completed 18 semester credit hours in studio art courses and 12 semester credits in psychology, including the following subjects:

Abnormal psychology

Developmental psychology

Three semester credit hours in an introductory art therapy course strongly encouraged.

The Art Therapy and Counseling graduate program is a national leader in articulating the role of the artist and art therapist. As part of their art therapy education, students are expected to be fully engaged in the intellectual dimensions of art therapy theory, research, and philosophy, as well as important trends in related fields such as counseling and psychology. The MA in Art Therapy and Counseling curriculum is designed to meet the standards for post-graduation application for registration and board certification with the Art Therapy Credentials Board, as well as the academic requirements to sit for the Illinois counseling exams and similarly designed licensing guidelines in other states.

The Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program offers you:

  • A comprehensive art therapy education that emphasizes development of the artist/art therapist
  • Preparation to function as art therapists in a variety of settings
  • Critical engagement within social and cultural contexts

Leading Practitioners, Experience, and Connections

Our faculty's combination of clinical experience and scholarly and artistic backgrounds has helped establish social service resources across the United States and around the world. They have contributed to the history of the profession through publications, presentations, exhibitions, clinical innovations, and professional leadership, and students benefit from their commitment to the field and their vast array of professional connections.

Additionally, students embark upon professional practice through required fieldwork experience, which may be selected from a diverse array of healthcare and social service settings, including psychiatric facilities, residential care, schools, drug treatment centers, and correctional facilities. Exposure to the unique challenges, ethical dilemmas, and successes of their fieldwork settings—as well as the requirement to work with both children and adult populations—enriches the students' understanding of the application of art therapy in multiple contexts. Graduates become leaders in the field of art therapy in the areas of professional practice, research, and theory.

Artistic and Therapeutic Practice

The dynamic production and exploration of art is central to art therapy, and MA in Art Therapy and Counseling students' practices are profoundly shaped by their peers at one of the best art and design schools in the world. Artmaking is incorporated into every art therapy class, and students are required to take nine credits of studio coursework. Through academic and studio courses, exhibitions, and events, SAIC influences students' creative visions and offers them the opportunity to produce innovative creative projects and individualized educational initiatives.