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PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research-focused, high-to-low residency program housed within the Department of Creative Arts Therapies in the College of Nursing & Health Professions at Drexel University, a comprehensive global research university located in Philadelphia, PA.


The mission of the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is to cultivate advanced thinkers in the creative arts therapies who will experience, systematically investigate and articulate the convergent influences of interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge, knowledge of self and other and artistic knowledge on the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the creative arts therapies. In addition, the aim is to develop stewards of the disciplines who will identify, protect and evaluate relevant traditions of the fields while cultivating innovative research, theory and practice. This stewardship, research and scholarship will contribute to the advancement of the creative arts therapies professions and ultimately to the mental, physical and social health of the society.

The clinical practice of art therapy, dance/movement therapy and music therapy has emerged and grown over the past century. Implicit in this growth is the responsibility to critically evaluate existing theory, assess the nature and outcomes of clinical practice, contribute to the generation of new theory and establish a strong evidence base for our professions with substantive research.


The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program is one of four graduate programs offered by the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University. Originally established as part of Hahnemann Medical College in 1974, the department also offers Master of Arts degrees in Art Therapy & Counseling, Music Therapy & Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling. MCP Hahnemann University merged with Drexel in 2002, resulting in the creation of Drexel's College of Nursing & Health Professions.

In 2010, after several years of development, the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program launched under the direction of Nancy Gerber, PhD, ATR-BC who had previously directed the department's Art Therapy Master's program. With the PhD program's establishment, tenure-track research faculty joined the department and continue to conduct funded research on the creative arts therapies. In 2018, Joke Bradt, PhD, MT-BC was named program director.


In pursuit of the program mission, the curriculum includes interactive learning modules that comprise a 4-5 year full-time degree program. The residency requirements are highest in the first year and become lower in subsequent years, accommodating distance learning. The interactive modules are:

Interdisciplinary: Challenges 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: Educates students in traditional and innovative approaches to research that will contribute to the generation and dissemination of substantive knowledge in the students' respective fields.

Self/Other Artistic Knowledge: Introduces the exploration of the intrinsic intersubjective therapeutic processes emergent through artistic inquiry and parallel to the actual arts therapies experience.

Practicum: Emphasizes the transformation of theoretical knowledge to practical application through a research practicum and teaching practicum.

Dissertation: An original, rigorous research project, the content of which directly relates to the development and contribution to the theory and practice of the student's creative arts therapies discipline.


A hallmark of quality doctoral training is mentorship. Our PhD faculty pride themselves in offering close mentorship to our students. Besides supervision in terms of research and academic development, faculty also mentor students in areas of career development and professional networking. In addition, because the PhD program is based on a cohort model, students receive significant support from their fellow students.


The PhD program offers students a well-rounded foundation to become independent researchers and scholars. Students gain skills in traditional and innovative research methods through course work as well as extensive hands-on research experiences.

Students who are offered admission into our program will qualify for a Research Fellowship which provides tuition remission as well as a generous stipend. Research Fellowships are available pending faculty research funding. In return, students assist faculty in their federally funded research labs for 20 hours per week. Research Fellowship work may range from assisting with literature reviews, grant writing, data collection and data analysis to being a study coordinator of a clinical trial.

Moreover, because the PhD Program is situated in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, students participate in interdisciplinary research courses and engage in interdisciplinary team science.

Finally, an important aspect of becoming an independent researcher is to build a track record of funded research and scholarly dissemination. Through mentorship, our students have been successful in obtaining funding for their dissertation research. In addition, research fellows present with our faculty at prominent conferences and co-author publications. These experiences in the conduct and dissemination of research are unique to the PhD program at Drexel University and are unparalleled in doctoral training programs in the Creative Arts Therapies in the U.S.


The Department of Creative Arts Therapies seeks to promote social justice and to embrace diversity. All program faculty, supervisors, staff, and students shall maintain respect for differences including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identify, age, religion/spirituality, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and culture. Each person shall strive to create and maintain a culture of respect for all.

Diversity exists on multiple interactive levels in our program. Regionally, our program is housed in a city of rich cultural and academic history. Within this environment, our university includes colleges representing diversity ripe for interprofessional collaborations. The College of Nursing & Health Professions, which houses the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies, is one of the nation's most innovative and successful healthcare colleges.

On the program level, the PhD program's commitment to diversity permeates the learning culture, curriculum and andragogy. To that end, we strive to continually and thoughtfully consider the ways in which our personal values and beliefs are culturally situated and powerfully influence our perspectives about theory and research in the Creative Arts Therapies.

Admission Requirements

The application process involves an initial written application screen, followed by an interview for selected candidates with the final decision contingent on overall aptitude.

Available online at Application fee: $65

Applications received by January 15 will receive priority in admission decisions.

A Master's degree in art therapy, dance/movement therapy, music therapy, or expressive therapies.

Minimum Master's GPA of 3.5 or international equivalent.

Research Education and Training:

  • Documented graduate level research courses with a minimum grade of "B."
  • Documentation of having conducted or collaborated on a research project.

Clinical Experience and Credentials:

  • At least two years of full-time equivalent of creative arts therapies clinical practice preferred.
  • Professional credentialing in disciple required. Please submit a copy of your current professional credentials/certification directly to the admissions coordinator at

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

Letters of Recommendation:
Three letters of recommendation are required as a part of the application process. The letters should be from individuals who can address the applicant's aptitudes for research and scholarship. Recommendation letters should also address the applicant's maturity, initiative and commitment to higher level education. Letters of recommendation can be requested and submitted through the online application.

Should provide a concise overview of relevant professional and education experience. Please upload the resume/CV directly into your online application.

Admissions Essay:
The admissions essay is an important part of the application and writing proficiency assessment process. Please upload the essay directly into your online application. The essay consists of two parts:

  • Reasons for Application: Briefly describe 1) your professional background, 2) your reasons for applying to the PhD program and 3) your academic and career goals. Please limit this section to one page, single-spaced.
  • Research Interests: Please write a brief paper describing 1 or 2 areas of interest for your own research. Please include references to scholarly publications related to your areas of interest. This paper should be written in academic voice, adhere to APA style and be no more than two pages, single-spaced.

Following the initial screening of the application materials, qualified applicants may be invited for an interview with the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies faculty. Interviews are scheduled in-person at our Center City Philadelphia campus or remotely via Zoom.

International Students:

  • Transcript Evaluation: Transcripts for any coursework completed outside the U.S. must be evaluated and submitted by an approved credential evaluation service. This includes courses that were taught in English. Information about credential evaluation services is available at
  • TOEFL: Students whose first language is not English and who have not earned a degree in the U.S. must submit TOEFL scores (minimum: 107) or IELTS scores (minimum: 8).
  • Additional Documents: After confirming attendance to Drexel, students will receive an email from ISSS with instructions for applying for their I-20/DS-2019 and submitting supporting financial documents.

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


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.


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