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.

Online Info Session: Applying to SAIC's Graduate Programs

Thursday, January 3, 6:30 p.m. (CT)



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 first submit SAIC's Graduate Application form and then a corresponding ePortfolio for the Art Therapy department. ePortfolios are required for each additional program to which you wish to apply. All submissions happen via the software SlideRoom. Admission to SAIC is for the Fall term only.

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 as you begin the application.

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: SAIC Graduate Application

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at or 800.232.7242.

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

Application fee: $90
Application fees will be discounted by 50% through December 1.


Official College Transcripts

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. 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.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes.

Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Statement of Purpose

Write a 500- to 700-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 recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at



Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an ePortfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Your portfolio should represent your area of highest achievement in an arts profession. For example, studio-based work accompanied by descriptions; creative or scholarly writing; or documentation of art education projects in schools, museums, or community-based settings. A visual portfolio should consist of up to 20 images, or up to 10 minutes of time-based work, or a combination of the two in which one image is equivalent to approximately two minutes of time-based work.

Please note: you will be asked to briefly present the first image in your portfolio during the group interview. The first image in your portfolio must therefore meet the following specifications:

  • It should be saved as a 72 dpi .jpg file
  • The longest side should be a maximum of 800 pixels
  • The entire file should not exceed 2MB in size

The rest of your portfolio can consist of the following formats:

  • 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)



In-person interviews are required. Interview Day takes place in mid February. For applicants residing outside the United States at the time of application, please contact the department at or 312.899.7481 to schedule a Skype or phone interview.



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 the Human Services form in your SlideRoom ePortfolio. Please include total hours for all human service experience.


International Applicants

International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language  is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline. SAIC accepts official scores from both Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

Minimum Required Scores
TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
More information about the TOEFL.
More information about the IELTS.

Official test scores that meet the minimum requirement must be received by the application deadline.


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.



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

An introductory art therapy course is strongly encouraged.


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)
  • Studio Elective (3)
Third Year Fall 6
  • ARTTHER 6020 Art Therapy Fieldwork III (3)
  • ARTTHER 6010 Graduate Thesis I: Art Therapy (3)
    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: 6 credit hours for fall and spring semesters, 6 credit hours in the summer.

    View Grad Brochure [PDF]

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.