Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling: Admissions Requirements
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 you application by doing the following:
- Complete all prerequisite coursework (see requirements below).
- Engage in ongoing artistic development.
- Gain substantial volunteer or paid experience with special 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.
Undergraduate prerequisite courses must be taken for credit through an accredited college or university. The minimum program course prerequisites consist of 33 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 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:
- Only digitally photographed or scanned artwork will be accepted. No traditional slides, please!
- Images should be saved as 72 dpi JPGs. Please no Photoshop, TIFF, or GIF formats.
- 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.
- Please save the file in this format: last name_first initialAT08.jpg. For example: Doe_JAT08.jpg.
- Email the image via an attachment to email@example.com 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.
For more information on the application and admissions process, visit the graduate admissions website.
Ready to apply? Complete your online application now.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 email@example.com, 800.232.7242, or 312.629.6100.
In-person interviews are required. Group interviews are scheduled for February 13 and February 20. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Slideroom under the section "forms." Please include total hours for all human service experience.
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
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
Three semester credit hours in an introductory art therapy course strongly encouraged.