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PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research-focused 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 Creative Arts Therapies department is to provide exemplary and innovative professional preparation for our students to become ethically informed, clinically competent, critically engaged, socially and culturally responsive practitioners and scholars.

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program aims to prepare the next generation of researchers and leaders in creative arts therapies. By providing a research environment that encourages innovative and rigorous research, we seek to cultivate scholars who will advance knowledge, theory and clinical practice; drive innovation; and contribute to the growth of the creative arts therapies and ultimately to the mental, physical and social health of the society.


The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program is one of four graduate programs offered by the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University. The department also offers Master of Arts degrees in Art Therapy and Counseling, Music Therapy and Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling. PhD students have the opportunity to be involved in the MA programs through teaching, supervision and thesis and culminating project advisement. Because the department is part of the College of Nursing and Health professions, students and faculty have many opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and scholarship.


The PhD program offers a flexible in-person/hybrid learning format to help students balance school, family and work demands. Students who wish to receive a research fellowship are required to be residential for the first two years of the program. Students who opt to be self-paying will be able to attend classes remotely.


The PhD curriculum consists of interactive learning modules that are designed to promote critical thinking, integrate interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge, develop research skills and gain hands-on research experience. The modules include:

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. The research module includes interdisciplinary research courses as well as courses in grant writing and scientific writing.

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.

Each PhD student is offered a Research Fellowship which provides full tuition remission as well as a generous stipend. In return, students assist faculty in their federally funded research labs. 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 identity, gender expression, age, religion/spirituality, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status and culture. Each person will be responsible and accountable for creating and maintaining a culture of respect at every level of the program.

At the University level, through numerous initiatives, programs and offerings, we strive to cultivate a more inclusive university dedicated to fostering, celebrating and protecting our diverse community of students, faculty and professional staff.

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 2 years of full-time equivalent of creative arts therapies clinical practice preferred.
  • Professional credentialing in discipline 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.

International Students:

  • English Proficiency Requirement

    International applicants whose native language is not English must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. Applicants must submit either a TOEFLiBT exam score (minimum of 100), Duolingo English Test score (minimum of 130), or IELTS score (minimum of 7.0).

    Test scores may be waived if your bachelor’s or master’s degree is from a college in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland; or your bachelor’s degree is from one of the following countries where English was the language of instruction: Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British West Indies, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Trinidad/Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), United States territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands), Virgin Islands, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

  • Transcript Evaluation

    If you previously attended college outside of the United States, an official course-by-course transcript evaluation is required. You are responsible for contacting your previous schools and requesting that official transcripts be sent to a current NACES-member agency for evaluation.

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 University City Philadelphia campus or remotely via Zoom.


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