The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Master of Arts (MA) in Art Therapy program offers students an academically rigorous, personally challenging, and comprehensive education in the field of art therapy. Because the program prepares students for the sensitive task of addressing emotional and psychological issues with art therapy clients, the aim of the curriculum is to balance clinical skill development with self-examination and the development of judicious use of personal transparency. Thus, the program fosters students’ development in both emotional and intellectual realms.

In addition to coursework, students gain a minimum of 900 hours of clinical experience and complete at least two fieldwork placements—one working primarily with children or adolescents, and the other with adults or seniors. Available fieldwork experiences are vast, including mental health facilities, drug treatment programs, medical centers, residential care, schools, community organizations, and correctional facilities.

AreaCredit Hours
Art Therapy Core   39  
Art Therapy Fieldwork  6  
Art Therapy Thesis  6  
Studio Electives (or other approved course)  9  
Total Credit Hours60  

MA in Art Therapy Course Sequence

TermCredit Hours
First Year Fall  15  
  • 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 Technique (3)
  • Studio Elective (3)
First Year Spring  15  
  • ARTTHER 5008 Assessment and Evaluation in Art Therapy I (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 5009 Research in Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 5019 Group Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 5020 Art Therapy Fieldwork I (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6008 Cultural Dimensions in Art Therapy (3)
  • Studio Elective (3)
First Year Summer   6  
  • ARTTHER 6001 Fieldwork II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6007 Substance Use (3)
  • ARTTHER 6009 Assessment and Evaluation in Art Therapy II (1.5)
Second Year Fall  12  
  • ARTTHER 5010 Human Growth and Development (3)
  • ARTTHER 6001 Art Therapy Fieldwork II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6002 Ethical and Legal Issues in Art Therapy I (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6010 Graduate Thesis I: Art Therapy (3)
  • ARTTHER 6018 Family Art Therapy (3)
Second Year Spring  9  
  • ARTTHER 6001 Art Therapy Fieldwork II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6003 Ethical and Legal Issues in Art Therapy II (1.5)
  • ARTTHER 6006 Professional Development and Career Counseling (3)
  • ARTTHER 6011 Graduate Thesis II: Art Therapy (3)
Second Year Summer  3  
  • Studio Elective (3)
  • Completion of thesis
Total Credit Hours60  

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 two and four, 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 program. Serious academic or interpersonal deficiencies may result in termination from the program.
  5. Fieldwork/Internship Requirements: The MAAT program requires students to complete an internship(s). Students are obligated to meet the requirements of their internship site. Such requirements may include a criminal background check, drug-testing, the submission of immunization records, CPR training, etc. 
  6. Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 9 credit hours for fall and spring semesters, 6 credit hours in the summer.

Interested in learning more?

Click around the pages of this website for more information on admissions requirements, MA in Art Therapy faculty, students and alumni, and more.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or