Art Therapy (MA)

Department Website

Program Description

This 54-credit Master of Arts program in Art Therapy at New York University was identified with the training of art therapists since the 1950s when Margaret Naumburg, an eminent pioneer in the field, began to teach here. This tradition was continued when Edith Kramer came to the University in 1973. By 1976, the Master of Arts in Art Therapy Program had obtained approval from the New York State Education Department, and in 1979 New York University’s Graduate Art Therapy Program was one of five programs to receive approval and accreditation from the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). Over the years, the program has gained a reputation for excellence and soundness in clinical training that is borne out by the number of international applicants as well as the success of its graduates. Every summer, the program offers students a unique opportunity to experience internships abroad and practice clinical applications of art therapy unique to specific cultural contexts, such as in Tanzania, Peru, South Africa, Brazil, India, Ghana, and Bolivia.

The program strives to create a balance between the therapeutic potential of the creative process itself and the informed use of psychological understanding in the treatment of patients. Students learn to modify and adapt the two disciplines of visual arts and psychotherapy in order to affect the synthesis of art therapy. Students learn to use art materials and the creative process according to the physical and psychological needs of clients.

In the diagnosis, planning, and treatment of individuals and groups, the art therapist functions typically as a member of a multidisciplinary team. Professional skills include a working knowledge of the concepts and methods of art therapy, as well as the ability to communicate its approach and methods to the team. Students are required and encouraged to study a wide range of psychological frameworks. In the course of a variety of classes, students become familiar with a range of theoretical approaches.

The 54-credit master’s program offers unique opportunities to graduate students in art therapy. The program is staffed by 12 highly qualified and diverse adjunct faculty who provide an excellent education and training for students. Students receive an MA degree in art therapy upon the completion of coursework that includes an internship practicum and final project thesis.

Career Opportunities

Art therapy is a rapidly growing field that had its beginnings in the treatment of severely emotionally disturbed children and adults through the use of art. In recent years, it has expanded to reach a broad range of populations, such as substance abusers, the homeless, survivors of trauma, and elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Art therapists frequently work in such settings as hospitals, community mental health centers, Child Life programs, shelters, prisons, nursing homes, and schools.

Faculty and graduates of the program have held executive positions in regional and national art therapy associations (AATA, NYATA) and regularly present papers at conferences.

Professional Registration and Development

New York University’s Master of Arts degree in art therapy meets the educational requirements for registration (ATR) by the American Art Therapy Association and for New York State Creative Art Therapy License (LCAT). New York University is also concerned with the continued growth and development of art therapists. The art therapy program has instituted post-master’s courses of interest to working professionals, such as Supervision Techniques in ARTT-GE 2221 . In addition, it offers a lecture series and symposia featuring speakers from the fields of art, art history, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, and psychology. These special programs allow art therapists and related professionals to expand their knowledge and experience.

Doctoral Studies

NYU Steinhardt offers a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences for students with a background in art therapy. See Rehabilitation Sciences (PhD) for program details.


Admission to graduate programs in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development requires the following minimum components:

  • Résumé/CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • Proficiency in English

See NYU Steinhardt's Graduate Admissions website for additional information on school-wide admission. Some programs may require additional components for admissions.

See How to Apply for admission requirements and instructions specific to this program.