Art therapy uses visual and symbolic expression to circumvent the limitations of language, giving voice to experiences and providing opportunities to understand complex situations, illuminate new questions, and create alternative and innovative solutions to problems.

Admission + Portfolio Requirements

Grounded in the healing potential of making, viewing, and engaging with art, the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) art therapy program prepares students to employ art-based approaches to counseling when working with diverse populations in a range of clinical and community-based settings.

Our 60-credit master of science (M.S.) in art therapy is a hybrid program that engages students in an integrated approach to learning that includes two on-campus residencies and participation in a dynamic online learning environment.

Experiential learning is employed throughout the curriculum to support students’ engagement with academic material while providing opportunities to use the “tools of the trade” to integrate theory with practice as students prepare for clinical art therapy practice.

Our small cohort size promotes a supportive and collaborative learning experience among students and faculty.

As a student in our program, you will:

Contribute to a collaborative learning environment

Small cohort size and a 12:1 faculty-to-student ratio promotes support and collaboration among students and faculty.

Keep existing commitments

Low-residency approach fits with the lifestyle of learners maintaining other personal and professional obligations.

Make a difference locally

Students participate in internship placements opportunities in their home communities.


View the full M.S. in art therapy curriculum.

Program Goals

The program goals for graduating students include the following:

  1. Integrate an Understanding of Social and Cultural Diversity: To apply psychosocial and systemic approaches to gain understanding of diverse clinical, social, and cultural issues that present in clinical and community-based practice.
  2. Apply Art Therapy Theories and Techniques to Practice: To employ the use of creative expression in individual, relational, and societal contexts to depict personal emotions and circumstances while serving as a catalyst for personal and social change, community development, and public health.
  3. Cultivate a Professional Identity as an Art Therapist: To cultivate a strong professional identity and pursue the highest standards of excellence and ethical practice in the art therapy profession.
  4. Develop a Commitment to Lifelong Learning and Professional Development: To demonstrate an intellectual curiosity and a desire for personal growth, as well as a desire for lifelong learning and professional development beyond graduate training that will support competent and ethical practice.

Projected Job Growth and Salary

Projected job growth for art therapist in the U.S. is 7-10% (faster than average). Median salary for art therapists in the U.S is $48,220.

Projected job growth for art therapists in New York is 11%. Median salary for art therapists in New York is $55,080.

Salary and job growth information obtained from O’NET OnLine.

Preparation for Professional Practice

Our core curriculum is based on current Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) current standards for the Accreditation of Educational Programs in art therapy. Our program utilizes these standards to prepare competent entry-level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective
(behavior) learning domains.

VPA’s art therapy program provides students with the educational requirements to qualify for professional credentials in art therapy administered nationally by the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

Our program also meets the educational requirements to qualify students for the License in Creative Arts Therapy (LCAT) in New York State and meets educational requirements for licensure in most other states.

Accreditation and Approval

The art therapy program has received plan approval by NASAD (National Association of Schools of Art and Design) and has been approved by NYSED (New York State Education Department).

As a new program, the M.S. in art therapy will be eligible and seek CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs) and NASAD accreditation in 2024.

Disclosure of Professional Licensure or Certification Information

The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions to identify the states for which the institution has made a determination of whether a program’s curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification in the states where students are located and provide notification of the outcome of these determinations. This requirement applies to educational programs that are designed to meet educational requirements for a specific professional licensure or certification that is required by a state for employment in an occupation. The U.S. Department of Education does not require an institution to make an independent determination about whether a program it offers meets the licensure or certification requirements in a particular state.

Syracuse University has conducted an independent determination of the requirements for some states as noted below as of July 1, 2020. However, state requirements are subject to change and to interpretation by state regulators.  In addition, state licensure boards and agencies may require applicants to meet additional requirements beyond completion of an educational program in order to obtain professional licensure or certification including, for example, passing licensure examinations, successfully completing background checks, and complying with other application and eligibility requirements. Students should contact the state licensure board or agency in the state in which they intend to work in order to learn more about the requirements for professional licensure and certification in the state before beginning a program at the University.

Art Therapy

The University has determined that the program’s curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification that is required for employment as an art therapist:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin

For all other states, the University has not made a determination whether the program’s curriculum meets any applicable state educational requirements for licensure or certification that might be required for employment as an art therapist.