MA in Art Therapy

Art Therapy Department

Cathy Goucher, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC, LCPAT, Chair and Field Instruction Coordinator
Julia Andersen MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT, ATCS, Graduate Program Director
Jill Scheibler PhD, LCPAT, ATR-BC, Graduate Research Coordinator

Degrees offered



Main Campus


The NDMU Master of Arts in Art Therapy represents study related to one of the newest, unique specializations in the helping professions. The Program of Study focuses on engagement with theory and processes of Art Therapy. Study weaves together counseling and psychological theory and techniques toward distinct art psychotherapy practices. This is coupled with rich practical understanding of the creative process and facility with art materials and methods aimed at advancing healing and growth for clients. 

The MA in Art Therapy was designed with an intentional focus to promote and support the advancement of women in a field in which many women express interest and where state and regional need is growing in hospitals, schools, and community health endeavors.

Students should plan to pursue state licensure and/or national credentialing in order to meet requirements for practice in the field.

Program Objectives

Programs within the Art Therapy Department, housed in Notre Dame of Maryland University’s historic Women’s College and the College of Graduate Studies, will prepare women and men for entry into the field of art therapy, with an emphasis on graduates who are strong practitioners and clinicians within the field. Further, building on its tradition to educate students who transform their communities and work toward a culture of inclusivity and social responsibility, the program intends to have a strong emphasis on preparing clinicians who will give back to and meaningfully serve their communities, in addition to their work with clients. 

Art Therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of the visual arts and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques for helping clients improve cognitive abilities, psychological health, and sensory-motor functions. Art therapists are trained in the theories of art therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, and standards of practice, assessment and evaluation, individual and group, as well as family therapy, human development, research methods, and multicultural issues. Through the use of art media, the creative process, and often verbal processing of produced imagery, art therapists help clients manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, reconcile emotional conflicts and improve overall wellbeing. Notre Dame offers a comprehensive training program with a focus on the unique ability of art and art making to reveal thoughts and feelings, while ensuring students learn the skills involved in safely managing the reactions the creative process evokes in therapy and counseling with individuals at all stages of life. 

NDMU’s Masters in Art Therapy (MA) Program has been designed to ensure students will graduate with the necessary coursework and clinical internship hours needed for meeting the Art Therapy Credentials Board’s (ATCB) requirements for professional credentialing (ATR-BC), as well as Maryland licensure requirements (LGPAT/LCPAT) in Maryland. Students planning to practice locally will submit application to the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists as they complete their studies in demonstration that educational requirements have been met and to ask that permission be granted to allow them to sit for the licensing exam required. Achieving a passing score on this exam, the MA graduate will be licensed as an LGPAT, gaining entry into the field and eligibility to work as an art therapist in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, social service facilities, senior centers, government agencies, correctional facilities, schools, and community settings. Additionally, licensed art therapists have sufficient training across a variety of courses and disciplines as to be marketable not only in art therapy, but in general therapy and counseling positions and community programming. 

The Master’s in Art Therapy is offered in a traditional face-to-face, full or part-time format in the liberal arts tradition. In the full-time format, the 64 credit Program of Study, including 1,000 total hours of practicum and internship, should be completed within three years.

Notre Dame of Maryland University requires a Grade Point Average of 3.0 on a 4-point scale for graduation for any of the Graduation Degree or Certificate Programs of Study. This means that students can only receive two C's in their NDMU grad program and still graduate. With permission of the SOASB Dean, a student may repeat only one course that has been failed. The higher grade and course credits will be counted in the student's Cumulative Grade Point Average and toward the credits needed for the degree. Both grades, however, will appear on teh student's official transcript. The repeated course must be taken at Notre Dame. A second grade of 'F' in any course will result in Academic Dismissal from the graduate program. A course with a grade of 'C' or higher may not be repeated. Students wishing to explore appealing a grade are directed to the NDMU grade appeal process.

NDMU is committed to preparing competent entry level Art Therapists in the cognitive knowledge, psychomotor skills, and affective behavior learning domains that have been defined by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. As the curriculum is informed by the requirements set forth by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education for educational programs in Art Therapy, graduates will have knowledge and ability to:


a.  Understand the historical development of Art Therapy as a profession, Art Therapy theories and techniques, as a foundation for contemporary Art Therapy professional practice.
b. Distinguish among the therapeutic benefits of a variety of art processes and media, strategies and interventions, and their applicability to the treatment process for individuals, groups, and families.
c. Recognize that Art Therapy, from a multicultural perspective, takes into consideration the specific values, beliefs, and actions influenced by a client’s race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, political views, sexual orientation, geographic region, physical capacity or disability, and historical or current experiences within the dominant culture.
d. Select culturally and developmentally appropriate assessment and evaluation methods and administer and interpret results to identify challenges, strengths, resilience, and resources for Art Therapy treatment planning.
e. Develop culturally appropriate, collaborative, and productive therapeutic relationships with clients.
f. Know federal and state laws and professional ethics as they apply to the practice of Art Therapy.
g. Recognize and respond appropriately to ethical and legal dilemmas using ethical decision-making models, supervision, and professional and legal consultation when necessary.
h. Recognize clients’ use of imagery, creativity, symbolism, and metaphor as a valuable means for communicating challenges and strengths and support clients’ use of art-making for promoting growth and well-being.
i. Recognize the legal, ethical, and cultural considerations necessary when conducting Art Therapy research.
j. Apply principles of human development, artistic and creative development, human sexuality, gender identity development, family life cycle, and psychopathology, to the assessment and treatment of clients.
k. Understand professional role and responsibility to engage in advocacy endeavors as they relate to involvement in professional organizations and advancement of the profession.
l. Continuously deepen self-understanding through personal growth experiences, reflective practice, and personal art-making to strengthen a personal connection to the creative process, assist in self-awareness, promote well-being, and guide professional practice.
m. Pursue professional development through supervision, accessing current Art Therapy literature, research, best practices, and continuing educational activities to inform clinical practice. 
n. Recognize the impact of oppression, prejudice, discrimination, and privilege on access to mental health care, and develop responsive practices that include collaboration, empowerment, advocacy, and social justice action.
o. Understand the basic diagnostic process and the major categories and criteria of mental disorders, corresponding treatments, and commonly prescribed psychopharmacological medications.

Courses include a balance of didactic and experiential, art media and process enriched, aspects. This intentional construction of coursework will enhance the integration of theoretical approaches with practical application. Full time students may enroll in nine to fourteen credits during fall and spring semesters; nine credits for summer semester. Part-time study is possible, though can be challenging, and study is best completed within several years. Students considering part-time study are advised to contact the Program Director to discuss the potential for mapping out clear expectations and a course of study. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and occasionally on weekends to accommodate working professionals and to allow for greater flexibility within daytime hours for practicum/internship experience. The Program culminates with a Capstone Thesis.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts in Art Therapy Program of Study at NDMU, applicants must have completed a BA or BS degree with a Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above. There is no GRE requirement or general essay requirement for admission. Applicants must first complete the General Application for Graduate Admission, and submit all transcripts for verification of prerequisites needed. Prerequisites are as follows:

  • A minimum of 18 credit hours in studio art including drawing (3), painting (3), and ceramics or photography (3);
  • A minimum of 12 credit hours in psychology including child/adolescent or human development and abnormal psychology; and,
  • At least 12 hours of the studio art and at least 9 hours of the psychology must be completed prior to admission with the remaining being completed within the first year of enrollment in the program.

If contacted for an interview, the applicant will be expected to then provide the following:

  1. A statement of purpose in APA format detailing: affinity for working with people; motivation for pursuing a career in art therapy; personal meaning of art and/or creativity in the candidate’s life; creative strengths and areas of anticipated growth.
    This essay is in addition to the general essay required for the Graduate Application.

  2. Two letters of recommendation.
  3. Art portfolio for review. Portfolio to include: minimum of 15 pieces reflecting knowledge of a range of materials (two and three-dimensional media) and techniques. Actual works or high resolution photos of work acceptable. Expressive work and those not exclusively created as assignments preferred.

Admissions Requirements are consistent with the standards set forth by the Art Therapy Credentials Board and the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Curriculum (64 credits)

     ATP-501  History and Theory of Art Therapy (3)
     ATP-502  Ethics and Legal Issues (3)
     ATP-503  Human Development (3)
     ATP-504  Art Therapy/Counseling (3)
     ATP-505  Internship I (1)
     ATP-506  Internship II (1)
     ATP-507  Assessment (3)
     ATP-508  Psychopath: Art & Diagnosis (3)
     ATP-509  Process: Art Therapy & Counseling (3)
     ATP-510  Techniques & Materials (3)
     ATP-511  Child & Adolescent (3)
     ATP-512  Internship III (1)
     ATP-513  Art Psychotherapy & Trauma (3)
     ATP-514  Group Process (3)
     ATP-515  Research Methods (3)
     ATP-516  Substance Abuse (3)
     ATP-517  Marital & Family Art Therapy (3)
     ATP-518  Internship IV (1)
     ATP-519  Social & Cultural Diversity in Therapy (3)
     ATP-520  Art Therapy and Transformative Social Justice (3)
     ATP-521  Career Counseling (3)
     ATP-601 Thesis Project - Graduate Seminar
     ART-509  Graduate Experience in Photography (3) 
     ART-510  Graduate Experience in Ceramics (3)