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PhD in Creative Arts Therapies


The Drexel PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is an innovative research degree for art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists who are interested in focusing their careers on scholarly pursuits and academic leadership in their specific discipline.

The primary mission of the program is the cultivation of scholars and academic leaders for the purpose of generating and disseminating substantive, quality research that ultimately contributes to the development of best clinical practices, education, value and sustainability of the arts therapies fields.

This unique doctoral program celebrates the emergence and growth of the clinical practice of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy over the past century. Implicit in the growth of these professions is the responsibility to critically evaluate, validate, and advance clinical practice through the cultivation of substantive research and the dissemination of the resulting knowledge.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education site visit team recently said of our program: “…as the program develops, Drexel University could take a leadership role in the development of a philosophy for doctoral education in the Creative Arts Therapies.”

What you’ll learn

The achievement of the scholarship goals in the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies (CAT) relies upon a strong emphasis on, and commitment to, the study of theory and practice of each creative arts therapies discipline within a dynamic multi-disciplinary context and interdisciplinary curriculum.

The learning in this program focuses on the development of interdisciplinary contextual and discipline specific scholarship and research skills. The scholarship centers around the systematic study of both the intrinsic aesthetic intersubjective therapeutic processes and the extrinsic interdisciplinary philosophical foundations of the CAT fields. The dynamic interaction between these extrinsic and intrinsic domains is integrated with the study of traditional and innovative research traditions, an original research project and practicum application. The curriculum is organized around four interactive learning modules: Interdisciplinary, Studio Based Self/Other Knowledge, Research and Practicum.

This innovative curriculum, along with dynamic pedagogies, contribute to the student’s ability to construct and articulate truth, knowledge, theory and clinical practice in each student’s creative arts therapies discipline.

What makes the Drexel PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program unique?

  • An integrated blend of learning in the classroom with experiential and practical learning in the field.
  • Dynamic interaction between extrinsic and intrinsic knowledge.
  • The comprehensive study of traditional and innovative research approaches.
  • Faculty who are national leaders in their fields.
  • Interdisciplinary approach to advanced scholarship in the creative arts therapies fields.


The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admission Requirements

A Masters Degree in Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, or Expressive Therapies. GPA of 3.5 or above from the master’s degree education

Standardized Tests:
GRE with scores of 1100/4.0 or MAT with scores of 396 or above.


  • Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
  • Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
  • If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency
  • Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions
  • 6 semester  (9 quarter) credits equivalent in graduate level Research coursework.
  • 3 semester  (4 quarter) credits equivalent of graduate coursework in Multiculturalism, Anthropology, or Sociology.

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research degree. Consequently it is essential that those entering the program demonstrate foundational education and experience in research.   

  • Documented research courses with a grade of no less than a ‘B’.
  • Documentation of having conducted one research project.  This can be a master’s thesis project or post-master’s research.
Three letters of recommendation are required as a part of the application process.  The letters should be from individuals who can knowledgably address the applicant’s aptitudes for scholarship and teaching. Recommenders should also address the applicant’s maturity, initiative, self-directed motivation, and commitment to higher education.
  • You may use our electronic letter of recommendation service 
  • If a recommender prefers to submit an original, hard copy letter, please remind them that it must include an ink signature and be submitted in a sealed envelope.
Personal Statement/ Essay:

Central to success in the Ph.D program is the ability to write at a professional scholarly level.   Even though this ability will develop as a result of being a doctoral student, it is essential that the applicant demonstrate having both interest in, commitment to, and aptitude for scholarly writing.  To demonstrate this interest, commitment, and aptitude each applicant is being asked to comply with the following criteria. This requirement provides the opportunity for each applicant to both select the scholarly writing samples from their previous work that best represent their abilities as well as generate a new writing sample just for this application. All writing samples should be submitted in APA format, double spaced, 11-12pt. font.

  • Academic Writing Sample: Demonstration of scholarly writing proficiency from an academic writing sample.  This could be a graded graduate writing sample or an independently authored publication.
  • Publication or manuscript for submission: Documentation of having submitted an article for a peer reviewed publication.  The documentation should be in the form of a manuscript that was submitted to a journal or as a chapter in an edited book. This manuscript can also be used for the academic writing sample if it was authored solely by the applicant.  If it was co-authored an additional independently authored sample is required to fulfill the requirement for demonstration of scholarly writing proficiency.
  • Admissions Essay: The admissions essay is an important part of the application and writing proficiency assessment process.  Since the PhD is the highest level of scholarly education the expectation is for incoming students to possess and demonstrate competency in  this area as reflected in their writing.  The scholarly writing not only requires writing skill but also represents a thought process—the ability to review, organize, select and synthesize ideas of self and other. In addition, scholarly competence requires familiarity with acceptable writing styles.  For those reasons we require an admissions essay which is in three parts.  These parts are:
    • Reasons for Application: In this section briefly describe your professional background,  your clinical practice and interests and how these experiences coalesced in your decision to apply  to the Ph.D Program (1 page).
    • Research Interests: In this section describe 1) two areas of interest for your own research; 2) a summary of current research in these areas; and, 3) the direction you hope to take your research (3 pages).
    • Academic and Career Goals: Conclude your essay with a summary of your academic and  career goals (1 page)

Following the initial screening of the application materials for the initial criteria if a determination is made that the applicant meets the criteria, the applicant is scheduled  for an interview with the faculty of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies.  The interview protocol includes:

  • Review of application materials and associated questions to address scholarly competencies for the program.
  • Discussion regarding the theory and practice of the creative arts therapies and the applicant’s specific discipline.
  • Discussion of the applicant’s research interests, competencies, and ideas.
  • Discussion of the applicant’s reasons and motivation for applying for doctoral education.


Professional Credentials including Board Certification and/or Registration in the applicant’s Creative Arts Therapies discipline. A professional license is preferred but not required

Clinical/Work/Volunteer Experience:
A minimum of 3 years full-time equivalent post-master’s degree creative arts therapies clinical practice.

International Students:

International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must  meet one of the following requirements:

If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have:

  • a minimum combined score for listening, writing, and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher.
  • a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.

Tuition and Fee Rates
Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central

Application Link (if outside organization):


AATA: Approved by the American Art Therapy Association.