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Professional Doctorate of Art Therapy Degree Requirements

Experience the professional doctorate difference. Mount Mary University’s professional doctorate of art therapy program features:

  • Low-residency: The program is a low residency, 3-year terminal degree program designed for working professionals with busy lives. Through small classes with expert mentors, structured, hands-on and online coursework is balanced with independent artistic inquiry, practice opportunities and applied research.
  • You, the creative practitioner: Unlike a traditional research degree, the professional doctorate program puts your expertise and professional identity front and center to validate and acquire a range of professional competencies that will help you advance your career. You will be stretched in exhilarating ways as you learn how to navigate systems and organizations, supervise across the disciplines, consult with consumers and peers, envision new programs, and lead change.
  • Collaborative learning:To accommodate your busy life, you’ll attend an annual 12-day summer intensive session and participate year-round in an interactive virtual learning community to provide close-knit peer and faculty support. You’ll join a cohort of art therapist peers from around the world with diverse yet compelling interests. You’ll collaborate with active, pioneering faculty in art therapy and other disciplines who have track records of excellence in teaching, scholarship and innovative practice.

Program of Study

During the program, you will develop 11 key competencies to advance your art therapy career goals. The program’s 40 credit hours are distributed in three interacting areas and a culminating project:

  • Transformational leadership (10 credits): Leadership for advanced practitioners begins with personal and professional goal setting, followed by creating a capacity for new ways to think, reflect, act and evaluate information in a relational, ever-changing environment. You’ll practice art-based action-research while learning key leadership skills such as critical reflection and negotiation, systems thinking and organization, and professional role development.
  • Advanced practice (15 credits): You will draw on artistic, clinical, social action and scientific knowledge to advance your practices. At the doctoral level, these areas integrate to deepen your artistic and clinical skills in providing direct care, community and organizational development, management, supervision, and expansion into new practice arenas.
  • Practice inquiry and research (11 credits): Practice inquiry is an ongoing systematic exploration of art therapy questions with the goal of translating art, scientific evidence and praxis into knowledge. Doctoral research contributes to the collective advancement of art therapy.
  • Culminating project (4 credits): This is a capstone experience that demands the equivalent rigor and scope of a traditional dissertation while preserving the practitioner-scholar perspective. You will design, propose, conduct and report on the results of a meaningful project in an art therapy practice setting, which is directed at improving professional practice and makes an original contribution that impacts or transforms the profession in its questions, narratives, theories, practices, publics and positions.

See a complete list of required courses in the Graduate Bulletin (PDF) and view the professional doctorate of art therapy program course sequence.

Degree Requirements

Upon successful completion of the professional doctorate of art therapy program, you will receive a Doctor of Art Therapy degree. This degree is conferred not solely upon completing required courses but in recognition of high attainment in coursework, examinations, research and scholarship. To be awarded the Doctor of Art Therapy degree, you must:

  • maintain practice credentials and/or license while in the program
  • submit an approved learning plan that addresses the doctoral competencies
  • successfully fulfill the learning plan, including 40 credits of coursework, electives and internships
  • pass the oral and written qualifying examination
  • submit an approved culminating project proposal
  • complete the culminating project and present it for oral defense and approval

See complete degree requirements in the Graduate Bulletin (PDF) .

Transfer Credits

A maximum of 9 credits or 30 percent of total program credits, whichever is greater, may be transferred from other regionally accredited institutions with the approval of the program director. All transfer credits must be at a grade B or better, and must be documented with official transcripts. Credit earned prior to admission will be evaluated during the admission process only.