Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy

The Department of Art Therapy Psychology at Notre Dame de Namur University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy that is designed to train students as both researchers and practitioners. The doctoral program builds on the strong tradition the Art Therapy Master’s Program at NDNU has held in educating art therapists since 1979. The Ph.D. in Art Therapy is designed to educate leaders in the field who will be at the forefront in career options, including teaching in the field, research, clinical work, and international job opportunities. The program is currently the only Ph.D. in Art Therapy accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in the U.S.

Individuals applying for and currently in the doctoral program have varied and diverse educational and professional backgrounds. They all have previous training in art therapy and master’ if not in art therapy, they have master’s degrees in fields such as psychology, counseling, social work or art, and all have master’s level courses in both psychology and art. Applicants have professional experiences in private practices, education, and community service, either in the U.S. or internationally.

The Ph.D. in Art Therapy is designed as a three-year, 52-unit program, which is divided into four learning modules: 1) epistemology, 2) theoretical approaches and philosophical foundations, 3) practicum, and 4) research. The cohort model is used, in which student progress through the program as a learning community. Admission is in the fall semester only. The program requires on-campus attendance in classes nine weekends during the traditional school years and two weeks during the summers.

Who should apply?

    • Individuals looking to become pioneers in the field of art therapy and to contribute to the local, national, and international development and recognition of the profession.
    • Prospective and current educators wishing to strengthen their educational credentials in the field of art therapy.
    • Practicing art therapists who wish to contribute to the advancement of the profession through research that develops the evidence base for their work.
    • Visionaries who seek to pioneer pedagogical practices which will help to advance understanding of art as a way of knowing the human experience.
    • Career-changers who sense the growing demand for Ph.D.s in Art Therapy and the opportunity to become the new leaders in the field.

See the NDNU General Catalog for course descriptions.

Admission Requirements

Students may apply to enter the PhD program in the fall, spring, or summer semesters and should meet the following requirements:

  • Application for PhD Art Therapy
  • Three letters of professional recommendation
  • Official transcripts from colleges and universities attended, including one transcript showing a master’s degree from an accredited university in art, art therapy, creative art therapy, psychology, or related field such as counseling or social work
  • Completed Assessment of Academic Work for Required Prerequisites and Art Therapist Registration form.
    1. One of the following is required:
      1. Registration as an Art Therapist
      2. Completion of academic work required for registration as an Art Therapist
  • Partially completed academic work with full completion required before end of the first year of doctoral work
  1. The following graduate-level courses with a grade of “B -” or better in the following subject areas are required:
    1. Assessment
    2. Counseling and psychological theories
  • Cultural and social diversity
  1. Human growth and development
  2. Psychopathology
  1. The following courses are required and can be completed at the baccalaureate or graduate level:
    1. Studio art (18 semester units or 27 quarter units)
  • Professional resume or curriculum vitae showing a minimum of two years clinical work in the field
  • Portfolio of 10 to 12 color images of personal art work representing a range of media. Portfolios may be submitted on paper or on a disc with JPEG or PowerPoint images.
  • Autobiographical statement that includes experiences and personal background in the field of art therapy and outlines interest in the PhD Program, 3-4 page and double spaced
  • Three letters of professional recommendation
  • One published article or scholarly academic writing on an art therapy or psychology subject in a publication acceptable form
  • In-person interview with NDNU faculty in the Art Therapy Department


Kaitlin Aparicio
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions

Richard Carolan, Ed.D.
Program Director

PhD Program Administrative Coordinator