Various, colorful fabric pieces hanging from the ceiling of a gallery space.

Candice Block, "Pleasure Poetry," 2020

MA in Art Therapy & Counseling Admissions Information

Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Admissions Information

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

SAIC's Art Therapy 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 MAATC 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 MA in Art Therapy and Counseling program offers you:

  • A comprehensive art therapy and counseling education that emphasizes development of the artist-art therapist

  • Preparation to function as art therapists in specialized settings

  • Critical engagement within social and cultural contexts

Experience and Connections

Students will take foundational courses with a diverse and experienced group of faculty and complete fieldwork hours to build the personal and professional resources needed to practice in the fields of art therapy and counseling. Students can choose from a diverse array of healthcare and social service settings with the support of a fieldwork placement coordinator, fieldwork supervisors and faculty academic advisors. Our three-year program allows students to critically engage with core art therapy questions in their first academic year of coursework. In their second and third years, students will further explore and focus their learning at two fieldwork placements.

The MAATC program is designed to meet Illinois counseling licensure requirements. Due to the variable requirements of art therapy and counseling credentials in different states or countries, students and alumni are given access to a licensure specialist to assist with post-graduation applications for Illinois professional counseling licensure and similarly designed credentials in other states or countries.

Professional Licensed Counselor Disclosures

Doing Counseling Education at a School of Art and Design

The dynamic exploration and study of art is central to art therapy. MAATC students bring a range of academic backgrounds and are encouraged to use every opportunity at SAIC to produce innovative creative projects and individualized educational initiatives. As a component of the Art Therapy masters program curriculum, students will take six credits of studio coursework and three credits of specialized coursework on art-based community practice. In addition to rigorous scholarship, research, and direct service experiences, students will encounter various approaches to the study of art throughout the MAATC curriculum, from personal artmaking to art reception studies. Students will have the opportunity to initiate and develop their own focused practices while studying at one of the most historically significant accredited independent schools of art and design in the nation.

Thesis Abstracts

Each year, SAIC celebrates the culmination and closure of students' studies at the masters level. In studio areas, the celebration takes place in the form of the thesis exhibitions. The academic areas complement this with the publication of students' theses.

SAIC Art Therapy and Counseling Thesis in the Flaxman Catalog

Application and Admissions Information

  • Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee
    Application Deadline: January 10 - $90 Application Fee
    Apply online via SlideRoom

    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. When you click the "submit" button on 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 refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

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

    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 formats. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

    SAIC Graduate
    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. 

  • 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.

    A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

  • Two Letters of Reference are required. You are responsible for securing 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

  • A current résumé is required. A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

  • Your Art Therapy 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 slide should be a maximum of 800 pixels
    • The entire file should not exceed 2MB in size

    Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

    Submission specifications:

    • 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)

  • TOEFL: 100 
    IELTS: 7
    DUOLINGO: 120

    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 the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. 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.

  • 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 role and responsibilities, dates of service, and total contact hours. Human Service is defined as sustained employment or volunteer experience working directly with participants (non-familial) in one or more human services settings. Experience in working with people in counseling, social services, recreation, or education programs is considered essential to preparation for graduate study in art therapy. Experience hours totaling 500 is considered a minimum, and strong candidates have in excess of 900 hours. This information will be entered into the Human Services form in your SlideRoom E-Portfolio. Please include total hours for all human service experience.

    Prerequisites: Applicants must demonstrate, through a transcript analysis, that they have completed 18 semester credit hours in a studio art course and 12 semester credits in psychology, including the following subjects: Abnormal psychology, Developmental psychology. An introductory art therapy course is strongly encouraged.

  • The department conducts interviews by invitation only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an interview in Mid-February. Notification will be sent by late January. For students at a distance or unable to travel, interviews may be conducted remotely.

Take the Next Step

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242, or