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PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research degree program for art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists who are interested in pursuing advanced scholarship and academic leadership in their discipline. The primary mission of the program is the cultivation of scholars and academic leaders for the purpose of generating and disseminating substantive and rigorous research that contributes to theory building, best clinical practices, and the construction of an evidence base in the arts therapies fields.

Program Components

The Ph.D program consists of four interactive learning modules.

  • Interdisciplinary: The seminars challenge students to study, explore, critically evaluate and synthesize areas of collective knowledge that contribute to the articulation of the interdisciplinary philosophical and theoretical foundations for the fields in the creative arts therapies
  • Research: The purpose of the research module is to educate the doctoral students in the traditional and innovative approaches to research that will contribute to the generation and dissemination of substantive research in the students' respective fields.
  • Self/Other Artistic Knowledge: The self/other artistic learning module introduces the exploration of the intrinsic inter subjective therapeutic processes emergent through reflective artistic inquiry that parallels the actual arts therapies experience.
  • Practicum: The practicum emphasizes the transferability of theoretical knowledge to practical application through one required teaching practicum and subsequent practicum experiences of the student's choice. The student-selected practicum experiences include specialization in one or more of the following areas: 1) academia/teaching; 2) research and/or 3) advanced clinical practice. The practicum also helps students strategically position themselves as they prepare for graduation.
  • Dissertation: The dissertation is an original, rigorous research project the content of which directly relates to the student's interests, the relevance and advancement of knowledge in the student's discipline, and the contribution to theory and practice of the student's creative arts therapy specialization.


The rationale for emphasizing the generation and dissemination of research is based upon the emergence and growth of the clinical practice of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy over the past century. Implicit in the emergence and growth of these professions is the responsibility to critically evaluate existing theory and clinical practices in order to advance knowledge and promote credibility through the generation and dissemination of robust research. The core values central to our research agenda are as follows.

Stewardship and scholarship in the Creative Arts Therapies Includes:

  1. Critical evaluation, generation, and preservation of the philosophical assumptions inherent in and essential to the theory and practice of the CATs.
  2. A dynamic interaction between collective interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge and self/other artistic inquiry.
  3. A systematic investigation and articulation of the dynamic intersubjective aesthetic forms of knowledge inherent in the therapeutic processes and actions that parallel arts therapies practice.
  4. The evaluation and implemenation of rigorous and innovative research methods that investigate the existing evidentiary gaps while preserving the epistemological integrity of the creative arts therapies.
  5. Generation, dissemination and translation of rigorous research that contributes to the preservation, critical evaluation and advancement of our fields and the health of society.


The success of the PhD program in part is due to opportunitiesfor mentorship in research which contributes to the development of cutting edge scholarly excellence in our students and faculty. The program offers opportunities to work closely with experienced researchers on: research projects, the dissertation, co-authored publications, presentations at pertinent and prominent conferences, and networking with renowned scholars. These opportunities are crucial to students in positioning themselves for their future as Creative Arts Therapies Scholars and academic leaders.

Multidisciplinary Context

The achievement of the scholarship goals in the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies relies upon a strong commitment to the study of philosophy, theory and practice of the creative arts therapies within an inter-professional, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary context. The incorporation of the three creative arts disciplines of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy in a multi-disciplinary degree program is founded upon respecting the identity of each discipline while simultaneously emphasizing the philosophical mutuality amongst and between disciplines. Being situated in the College of Nursing and Health Professions provides a natural inter-professional discourse between students and faculty of related health professions. This discourse contributes to developing additional critical perspectives and cultivation opportunities for collaboration. Finally, intersecting study of interdisciplinary knowledge in the curriculum promotes a view and common language facilitating engagement in the larger intellectual conversation and professional landscape.

A Culture of Diversity

Diversity exists on multiple interactive levels in our program- the diversity of the region, the diversity of the various colleges within the university, and our commitment to cultural diversity in all aspects of our program. The Department of Creative Arts Therapies and the Ph.D Program are uniquely positioned in a regional and university culture with extensive and diverse resources that contribute to the richness of the educational and research experience.


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

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program in Creative Arts Therapies initially screens applicants based on the required application documents. Applicants who demonstrate the initial criteria will be invited for an interview with faculty. The application process is designed to assess the applicant's scholarly aptitudes and commitment to advanced academic achievement as well as compatibility with the program. Admission into the PhD program includes both firm and malleable requirements. The following requirements are firm and cannot be waived: a Master's degree in Art, Dance/Movement, Music or Expressive Therapy; a minimum of two years full-time post master's clinical experience; certification in the Creative Arts Therapies field, and at least one research course. Other admissions criteria may be somewhat flexible. Applicants who have questions about the criteria, and whether they meet them are encouraged to contact the Admissions Coordinator at

Completed applications due by January 15 for following Fall. After January 15, applications will be reviewed on a space-available basis.

A Master's Degree in Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, or Expressive Therapies.

Standardized Tests and GPA:

  • GPA of 3.5 or above from the Master's degree education
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are not required but recommended on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the PhD Program.


  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended for Master's and Bachelor's degree studies must be sent directly from the institutions to Drexel's Enrollment Management department by postal mail at: Drexel University, Application Processing, PO Box 34789. Philadelphia, PA 19101 or electronically to 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.
  • Transcripts for any coursework completed outside the U.S. must be evaluated and submitted by an approved credential evaluation service. This includes courses taught in English. Information about approved credential evaluation services is available at
  • Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions

Prerequisites (in addition to or included in Master's degree):

  • 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.

Research Education and Training:

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.

Letters of Recommendation:

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, research and teaching. Recommenders should also address the applicant's maturity, initiative, independent self-directed motivation, and commitment to higher education.

Clinical Experience and Credentials:

  • A minimum of 2 years full-time equivalent post-master's degree creative arts therapies clinical practice.
  • Professional Credentials including Board Certification and/or Registration in the applicant's Creative Arts Therapies discipline. A professional license is preferred but not required.


Should provide a concise overview of relevant professional and education experience.

Academic Writing Proficiency:

Central to success in the PhD 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 must submit several academic writing samples. These writing samples provide the opportunity for each applicant to select the scholarly writing that best represents their abilities. 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.
  • *On-site spontaneous writing assignment about research interests

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 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 PhD 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)

Arts-Based Work Sample:

Applicants are asked to include one original arts-based example representing their own artistic practice in their own creative arts discipline. This might include a video and/or audio of a musical composition; an original choreographed dance or authentic movement; and/or a reproduction of a 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional visual arts piece. The arts-based submission should include a 200-word description of the origins of the piece, how it exemplifies the applicant's arts-based practice, and how it relates to the applicant's creative arts therapies philosophy and practice. The arts-based work sample and description should be sent directly to Admissions Coordinater Kristen Scatton at


Following the initial screening of the application materials, the applicant may be scheduled for an interview with the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies faculty if they meet the application criteria. 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.
  • *An on-site writing assignment may be included as part of the interview on a case-by-case basis.

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:

  • Minimum TOEFL score: 107
  • Minimum IELTS score: 8

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

Application Link (if outside organization):


MSA: Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.