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Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling


The Art Therapy and Counseling graduate program equips students with the skills and knowledge to apply the theory of art therapy in various treatment situations. Working with specified treatment objectives, students learn to combine art therapy theory and practice with psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic technique. They can work with individuals and/or groups using the theoretical and clinical education they have received. This integrated approach provides a comprehensive foundation for sound clinical work with many different clinical and culturally diverse populations.

This distinctive program was founded in 1967 at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital; it was the first continually operating program in the world to offer graduate-level art therapy education. Committed to progress within the field of art therapy and counseling, the program provides students with extensive exposure to current psychological, developmental, psychotherapy, and art therapy theory and practice.

The Art Therapy and Counseling program's 90-quarter-credit curriculum is designed to meet the Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) educational requirements. Be advised, however, that licensure requirements vary widely from state to state, and may change at any time. Therefore, if you are or will be interested in counseling licensure in the future, you are strongly advised to access and check the requirements for any state(s) in which you plan to work and practice. It is the students' responsibility to know and understand the requirements for any type of future licensure.

What you'll learn

Through a dynamic and multi-dimensional learning process, students of the Art Therapy and Counseling program develop a clear understanding of the significant role that imagination and empathy for the patient plays in art therapy. The students also learn about themselves and the role that their cognitive and emotional reactions play in the relationship between themselves, as art therapists, and the patient/client.

The Art Therapy curriculum is a synthesis of multiple dynamic and interactive educational components including theory, practice/clinical, intersubjective experience, clinical supervision, and research. Together, these interactive components provide a foundation for the development of an understanding of the complex interaction that occurs in the art therapy process between the therapist, the patient/client, and the art process.

Key program components include:

  • Advanced education in the theoretical and clinical foundations of art psychotherapy;
  • Multiple supervised clinical placement opportunities with a range of populations in a variety of settings, such as medical and psychiatric hospitals, inpatient and outpatient behavioral health facilities, schools, continuing care facilities, community health centers, correctional facilities and more;
  • Emphasis upon the study of emergent art making within the context of the therapeutic relationship;
  • Integration with students of other creative arts therapies while helping each student develop a strong identity as an art therapist;
  • Master's thesis research or capstone project guided by a chosen multidisciplinary committee;
  • Experiential art making processes integrated with theoretical, clinical and self-exploratory learning.

What makes the Drexel Art Therapy and Counseling program unique?

  • This groundbreaking program was the first of its kind.
  • Students combine art theory with real-life clinical fieldwork.
You are part of the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions with access to various practice environments, the arts studio and educational facilities.


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

Background checks:

As a student of the College of Nursing and Health Professions you will be required to satisfactorily complete a criminal background check, child and elder abuse checks, drug test, immunizations, physical exams, health history, and/or other types of screening before being permitted to begin clinical training.

You will not need to submit documentation of these requirements as part of your application to the master's program. Failure to fully satisfy these requirements as directed upon enrollment may prevent assignment to a clinical site for training. A background check that reflects a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor may affect your ability to be placed in certain facilities, and later, to become board certified and licensed.


  • Final deadline: Dec. 30, 2020

A Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or above on all previous coursework.

Standardized Tests:


  • 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 to Drexel University, Applications Processing, PO Box 34789, Philadelphia, PA 19101, or submitted through a secure electronic transcript delivery service 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
  • Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions

18 credits of studio art coursework that can include a variety of 2D and 3D mediums, and 12 credits of psychology coursework, including one 3 credit course in developmental psychology, and one 3 credit course reviewing psychological disorders.

Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required. To electronically request recommendations, you must list your recommenders and their contact information on your application. You may request recommendations with your application or through the Discover Drexel portal after you submit your application.

We advise that you follow up with your recommenders to ensure they received your recommendation request — they may need to check their junk mail folder. Additionally, it is your responsibility to confirm that your recommenders will submit letters by your application deadline and follow up with recommenders who have not completed their recommendations.

    Personal Statement/ Essay:
    A 300-750 word typed essay. Considered an autobiography, this essay is intended to serve as a writing sample while telling us more about you.

    Required. Include relevant education, work and service/volunteer experience.


    • Art portfolio: Submit a portfolio of 10–15 works of art that demonstrate facility with a range of media and personal understanding of the creative process. An image list (title, media, and dimensions) must accompany the portfolio. Portfolios must be uploaded through SlideRoom.
    • Interview: Select candidates will be invited to participate in an on-campus interview. International applicants will be invited to participate in a video conference interview.

    Additional Requirements for International Applicants

    • Transcript Evaluation: All international students applying to a graduate program must have their transcripts evaluated by the approved agency: World Education Services (WES), 212.966.6311, Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 5087, New York, NY 10274-5087, Web site:
    • TOEFL/IELTS: Applicants who have not received a degree in the United States are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System test. An official score report must be sent directly to Drexel University Application Processing. The minimum TOEFL score is 90, and the minimum IELTS score is 6.5. For more information visit the Web site:, then click on TOEFL.
    • I-20/DS-2019 and Supporting Financial Documents (international students only): 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.

    International Consultants of Delaware, Inc.
    P.O. Box 8629
    Philadelphia, PA 19101-8629
    215.222.8454, ext. 603

    Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools
    3600 Market St., Suite 400
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-2651

    World Education Services, Inc. (WES)
    Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 5087
    New York, NY 10274-5087

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

    Application Link (if outside organization):


    The MA in Art Therapy & Counseling is a 90-quarter credit program. The minimum completion time for the program is two years (seven quarters) on a full-time plan of study, although some students may take longer to complete all program requirements, or opt for a decelerated plan of study. The majority of classes are taught in-person on Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions campus in Center City Philadelphia, with select classes offered online.

    The coursework consists of both Art Therapy-specific and general mental health counseling coursework. Art Therapy-specific topics include:

    • Assessment and treatment planning for children, adolescents, adults, older adults and families
    • Group dynamics in art therapy
    • Neuroscience and trauma approaches
    • Studio art for art therapists
    • Media, materials and processes
    • Social and cultural foundations in art therapy
    • Symbolism, creativity and metaphor in art therapy
    • Professional identity for art therapists

    Mental health counseling coursework covers theories and skills in:

    • Human psychological development
    • Psychopathology and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
    • Social and cultural foundations in counseling
    • Behavioral research
    • Group dynamics in counseling
    • Theories of counseling and psychotherapy
    • Career counseling
    • Clinical appraisal and diagnosis
    • Professional ethics
    • Foundations of Creative Art Therapies

    Clinical experience is integrated with classroom learning, with students participating in two practicums and one internship throughout the course of the program. For more information on the clinical education component of the Art Therapy program, click on the "Clinical Practices" tab above.

    A Culminating Project rounds out the curriculum. Second-or third-year students conduct a Culminating Project that integrates practice with theory and/or research. Under the guidance of their Culminating Project advisor, students design a project that explores aspects of both their respective Creative Arts Therapies discipline and counseling. Examples of Culminating Projects include development of a method, a community engagement project, research thesis or artistic project. Culminating Projects may be connected to a student's internship, but it is not a requirement. At the end of each academic year, students present their Culminating Projects to peers, faculty, friends and family at their respective program's Colloquium. Students are also encouraged to submit projects to regional and national conferences when applicable.


    AATA: Approved by the American Art Therapy

    Clinical Practices

    The students learn how to apply the theory of art therapy in various treatment situations. Working with specified treatment objectives, students learn to combine art therapy theory and practice with psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic technique. They can work with individuals, groups or families using the theoretical and clinical education they have received. This integrated approach provides a comprehensive foundation of sound clinical work in different treatment settings and with different clinical populations.

    The Art Therapy program offers 1200 clinical art therapy educational hours. The number of clinical practicum and internship hours offered by the program meets the educational standards of the American Art Therapy Association and exceed the hours required in most art therapy graduate programs. Students begin their clinical experience as soon as they enter the program. The clinical education parallels the classroom education and is enhanced by 3 to 3.5 hours of individual and group supervision per week. As part of the clinical and supervisory experience, students receive a visual/verbal log in which to record their clinical experiences in words and artwork. They use these logs in their supervision in order to better articulate and understand the complex dimensions of the art therapy process.

    First-year students have three clinical practicum experiences, one in each quarter. The first quarter clinical practicum is accompanied by an intensive course on Professional Orientation and Ethics I. The first practicum experience is one in which the art of clinical art therapy observation is taught through practical experience, role modeling, and art therapy supervision. The second practicum emphasizes a gradual increase in active participation in art therapy sessions while integrating their learned observational skills. This occurs with the guidance of the on-site art therapy supervisor. The degree of involvement in the art therapy process increases concomitant to the student's skill development which is discussed in various clinical supervision venues, and evaluated through the clinical evaluation process. The third quarter is a continuation of practicing art therapy under the guidance of an art therapist wherein observation skills and art therapy skills begin to mature. In order to provide a range of clinical art therapy experience, the student spends the first two quarters at one clinical site and the third quarter at a different clinical site. Consequently, the student experiences two different treatment settings, two different human service provider systems with different organizational dynamics, and two different clinical populations. These clinical practicum experiences are assigned by the Clinical Coordinator, and require that an art therapist be on site with the student during the first year. The on-site art therapist serves as a role model for the first-year student to observe.

    The second-year internship offers an opportunity for students to mature and specialize as clinical interns. With the guidance of the Clinical Coordinator and the clinical guidelines and requirements students can choose their own clinical site which need not have an art therapist on site. This internship lasts the entire academic year and gives the student the experience of being part of a treatment team. Often when students choose an internship site where there is not a pre-existing art therapy service, they receive first hand experience of developing this service, with administrative and clinical supervision. The result of this experience often is the creation of job. A large percentage of the students are offered jobs at the conclusion of their internship in sites where they have created the service. Students receive off-site supervision by a registered art therapist as well as two group small supervisions on campus.

    News & Events

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day On, Not a Day Off


    We will honor, on January 18, 2021, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This holiday has been a national day of service—a “day on, not a day off”—to improve our communities for the past 26 years.

    We still feel the weight of how much more there is to be done even 52 years after Dr. King's death. Every day for CNHP is a “day on” because we are passionate about social justice and the minimizations of health disparities and health inequities. CNHP is committed to our students, alumni, faculty and professional staff and have long honored this day through service.

    Image with a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and a quote: Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. Dr. King wrote about race relations in a way that was mutually beneficial, writing from the “Letter from Birmingham Jail;” In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality.

    His words are especially relevant today: “I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. In summary there is never the wrong time to do the right thing and to grow from our mistakes."

    These tools, Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change, shared by the King Center resonate with me deeply as a social change agent.

    1. Information gathering.
    2. Education.
    3. Personal commitment.
    4. Negotiation.
    5. Direct action.
    6. Reconciliation.

    These tenets are to be reflected in our mission within diversity, equity and inclusion, the course learning objectives and our actions as students, alumni, faculty, professional staff and partners. I must add for a point of reflection: Own your own stuff so that change can occur; I know I do!

    Appreciate you as social change agents,

    Veronica Carey, PhD
    Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    Drexel Academic Tower Updates


    December 9, 2020

    When the announcement about a new home for the College of Nursing and Health Professions was made in May 2019, no one could have imagined that construction would be delayed by a global pandemic. It was expected that groundbreaking would be in spring 2020 with a substantial completion delivery of mid-2022. Beginning in late July, it is still the hope to maintain the same timeline.

    Google Earth screenshot of the location of the Drexel Academic Tower

    With CNHP being the first occupants of the new facility, some of the College of Medicine’s administrative functions, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies and its first- and second-year medical program will join the College in phases. President Fry, in a message to the University in late 2019, said “at the new academic building, many of Drexel’s health-related programs will be under one roof, enhancing opportunities for interdisciplinary education in a facility that affords health sciences students, faculty and professional staff the best possible environment for continued development and growth.”

    Art Therapy Graduate Student Conducts an Online Mindful-Art Session for Healthcare Professionals


    Emily Wexler sitting outside drawing a mandalaEmily Wexler, a graduate student at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, is working toward a master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling. After taking Michele Rattigan’s Mindfulness and Clinical Practice course, she discovered what she learned from Rattigan, MA, ATR-BC, NCC, LPC, an associate clinical professor in Creative Arts Therapies, she could apply to help a variety of health professionals with stress.

    Reflecting on the internship Wexler had in pediatric medicine at Cooper Hospital, she witnessed providers working long hours without taking a break or tending to themselves. “I started to notice the different ways that people could be affected when we don't take that break,” Wexler remarked. Her original plan was to work with her team at Cooper then conduct a one-time mindful art experience in the art studio in Three Parkway with physician assistant students. “I'd have all the materials and would be able to do something a little more complex with watercolors and markers,” said Wexler. She also wanted to make it an experience that physician assistant students could continue at home. “Not all students will have watercolors at home, so thinking about what materials people have at home, I landed on pencil or pen and paper,” she shared. Those are pretty much the simplest art materials and most people will have that readily available. Then COVID-19 happened.

    Michele Rattigan painting at a table

    Considering healthcare professionals in the current highly stressful climate and her understanding of mindful art-creating, Wexler, with some guidance from Rattigan, developed an online version of her original idea and invited those working in hospitals or directly or indirectly with COVID patients and their families to participate.<

    It’s very common, suggested Rattigan, for healthcare workers to push their own personal wellness to the back burner. “I think when people fall into a caretaking role, a couple of different things happen. Because it’s what we’re taught, we put our own values, judgments and biases aside to be fully present for another human being,” she asserted. The other part, speaking as a psychotherapist and a counselor, Rattigan said that “it's not about us,” despite bringing themselves into that relationship to help other people. “It's really important for a person to truly focus on their own health journey. We must avoid exploiting clients and bringing in our own ‘isms’ and stuff into the care process,” Rattigan added. Working through the day focused on each person helps protect that patient because the caregiver can separate themselves from the patient and work objectively. Rattigan contends that healthcare professionals can never be 100 percent objective and “if we don't tend to the parts of ourselves that get wounded or vicariously traumatized and push it somewhere else, it will build up to the point where it's affecting many parts of our lives—behavior, work, sleep patterns, relationships, lack of nutrition or overeating, etc.” That is the point at which it's okay to say “I need to take a step back and breathe. I need to fill that need for myself.” In other words, if we all draw from our wells of compassion—keep giving and giving to others—and never replenish it for ourselves, there's nothing left for us to give and there's nothing left for ourselves. “And that's the point of complete, utter burnout,” Rattigan stated.

    A black outline of a circle on a white backgroundWith the elevated level of stress healthcare workers typically experience turned up even higher by COVID-19 and its open-endedness, Wexler directed her knowledge of mindful art-making in developing a way for them to take a pause—that much needed breath. In April, 40 doctors, nurses, physician assistants and mental health providers Zoomed in for a one-hour mindful art session. Wexler led the group through a mindfulness check-in to help everyone focus on the present moment before she described what would happen during the rest of the session. Beginning with an explanation of a self-compassion mantra, she reminded participants why it’s important to extend the same compassion given to others to ourselves then asked them to create their own mantra. “It should include a statement of self-compassion, a statement of shared human suffering, one statement of self-kindness and your intention,” Wexler shared. “An example could be: ‘I am not perfect. Nobody else is perfect. It is okay to make mistakes. I will continue to try my best and to be my best.’” She instructed them to write it down before proceeding toward the next part—creating a self-compassion mandala using the template she provided, and their own materials like pens, pencils and markers.

    The mandala was specifically chosen for this activity because they are done in the circular form to create balance, wholeness and a sense of completion. “Circles are containers in which one can put all their feelings of overwhelm and stress to alleviate that pressure,” Wexler offered. The group took 30 minutes to create their pieces in whatever way felt right with directions to notice and observe rather than judge. Rattigan and Wexler provided support with Rattigan suggesting doodling if anyone was stuck. “Doodling takes that stress out of it. If it’s a doodle, it doesn't have to look like anything. See what comes of it,” Rattigan contributed.

    An added benefit of this online platform for those who might feel nervous about making art in front of others is that no one can see what they’re doing. Wexler commented that if someone is making something and hates it, only they see it. “They don't have to stress about it. They don’t know the other participants or what they are thinking. This setting helps, as does encouraging people to understand that this is their art,” Wexler said.

    After the allotted time, participants were invited to share about the experience, what they learned and how it felt to do it. A theme emerged—seldom did they take a pause during their day or do something for themselves that could replenish their wells of compassion. They learned how simple it is to do a very quick mindful check-in and how effective making art can be to connect with that present moment and let go of what they’d been doing.

    In this time of healthcare workers being pushed to their limits, unpredictability of this pandemic and their worry about their families, people are struggling. This tool provides people an opportunity to stop, even briefly, and take a few minutes for themselves to recharge with the added bonus that it can be done anywhere.

    Written by Roberta S. Perry


    The Mindful Check-in Wexler did is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique shown below.

    Settle into your chair, feeling the ground under your feet, resting your arms
    on your lap or wherever they feel comfortable.

    Bring your attention to the present moment and focus on the space around you, then NOTICE:

    5 things you can see

    4 things you can feel

    3 things you can hear

    2 things you can smell

    1 thing you can taste

    Take three more deep breaths.

    Wexler shared a video she made for school children on how to make a mindfulness jar. It’s a fun activity kids can do at home and use regularly to settle.

    Hand-drawn mandala
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