Foster human potential and 
shape the future of art therapy.

Foster human potential and
shape the future of art therapy.

Ph.D. in Art Therapy

  • Train to be a leader in the art therapy field as a researcher, educator, administrator and/or practitioner committed to social justice.
  • Learn to teach clinical art therapists through our rigorous curriculum taught in studio spaces designed to encourage the artistic and therapeutic process.
  • Work with renowned faculty to advance art therapy as a force for positive social change.
  • Earn your degree in three years of full-time study or choose from part-time options.

Our Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy program prepares researchers, educators, and scholars to train the next generation of clinical art therapists—and use human creative expression as a powerful catalyst for change. Taught by renowned experts, our curriculum emphasizes the potential of art therapy as a socially responsible practice to address some of today’s most pressing issues.

Our innovative program offers students who hold a master’s degree in art therapy, counseling, or related fields a unique opportunity to advance their career as a leader in the art therapy field. Focused on scholarship, socially conscious pedagogy, Adlerian principles, and art-making, our students train to be leaders, equipped with the real-world experience, research background, and intellectual curiosity needed to think deeply about human creative expression.

We offer an immersive learning experience that brings together an ambitious community of individuals on a state-of-the-art campus in the heart of downtown Chicago. Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training professionals who are committed to a more just society.


Our doctoral program prepares leaders in the field of art therapy and beyond, for senior-level capacities as innovators, educators, and administrators. With its clinical core and emphasis on creating new knowledge, graduates may serve diverse populations in a range of settings—from academia to community organization, integrative healthcare systems to private practice. Potential career applications include:

  • Colleges and universities, as instructors and faculty
  • Human-service, healthcare, and community contexts, as consultants, leaders, administrators and clinical supervisors
  • Private-practice, hospitals, schools, and agencies, advancing clinical practice as a practioner-scholar
  • Programming, curriculum development, and grant-writing as a community leader and activist

Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for the following licensures:

  • The credential of Registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) may be attained upon completing all necessary post-graduate training.
  • The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential in the state of Illinois.
  • The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in Illinois, upon completing all necessary post-graduate training. Students interested in applying for licensure elsewhere should work with their faculty advisors to plan their curriculum accordingly.
  • The National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, as well as sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) upon graduation.

Professional Development & Training

Gain the knowledge and skills to create real change in individuals’ lives through administering in clinical healthcare practices as advanced supervisors, researchers and scholars, community advocates, clinicians, and educators, who use art therapy as a healing modality that contributes to advancing and providing new knowledge to the profession.

Distinguishing Adler University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy is our focus on research excellence and the emphasis on Adlerian principles—the professional and academic advantage of our program. Graduates will complete a doctoral dissertation, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in in-depth scholarship on an important issue in the field of art therapy. Integrating science, practice, critical thinking skills, and ethical and cultural awareness, the completion of a dissertation is the culmination of mastery in a chosen specialization. Our diverse faculty brings together rigorous classroom learning with individualized mentorship, artistic guidance, and hands-on experience.

Unique to our institution is the Social Justice Practicum, a nonclinical experiential practicum completed by all Adler students to cultivate the skills for becoming agents of social change. Working with our network of hundreds of community partners, students develop the practical knowledge and understanding of what it means to engage with communities and be a socially responsible practitioner.

We offer extensive field training, including a 700-hour art therapy internship focused on the clinical work and principles of art therapy in settings such as schools, mental health centers, and community organizations.

Cohort Learning, Format & Support

Our program is designed to be completed in three years of full-time study.
When you enroll, you join a cohort or group of students who will take classes together throughout the course of the program. This cohort model emphasizes collaboration, communication, connection, and camaraderie among students.

Our program environment is characterized by Adlerian encouragement, empathy, genuine care, and good will, with the expressed purpose of supporting the personal and professional growth of each of our students based on their interests and professional focus.

Upon graduation, you will become a member of the University’s Alumni Association, which along with our Office of Alumni Affairs, provides extensive ongoing networking and professional development opportunities.