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You need a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution to enroll in Adler University programs.


Chicago | Doctorate

Art Therapy (Ph.D.)

Program Overview

Program Overview

Adler University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) 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.

The doctoral program prepares students to be leaders in the field of art therapy, and for senior-level capacities as innovators, educators, and administrators who are committed to social justice. 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.

Graduates of the program are also eligible to apply for several licensures and credentials.



Successful completion of the 60-credit hour Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy program includes coursework and a training practicum from those listed below.

Core Courses
  • Professional Orientation I & II
  • Community Engagement and Socially Responsible Leadership
  • Advanced Philosophy of Art I
  • Professional Identity & Advanced Ethics
  • Qualitative & Emergent Research Methods in Art Therapy
  • Professional Identity and Advanced Ethics
  • Quantitative Research Methods & Art Therapy
  • Art Based Research
  • Advanced Philosophy of Art II
  • Neurodiversity & Neuroaesthetics
  • Foundations in Thanatology in Art Therapy
  • Applied Statistics in Research and Art Therapy
  • Clinical Supervision & Consultation
Field Training
  • Social Justice Practicum I
  • Social Justice Practicum II
  • Doctoral Seminar I
  • Doctoral Seminar II
  • Doctoral Seminar III
  • Doctoral Internship
  • Special Topics in Art Therapy
  • Trauma Informed Care
  • Seminar in Human Sexuality
  • Intermodal Applications in Art Therapy
  • Advanced Adlerian Theory & Integrative Art Therapy Experientials & Interventions
Dissertation and Comprehensive Exams Coursework
  • PhDAT Comprehensive Examination
  • Dissertation I – III

Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University course catalog here.

Social Justice Practicum

Social Justice Practicum

Doing is learning. A unique and proven program designed to give students real world experience throughout their time at Adler University, the Social Justice Practicum is a required 200-hour internship that spans four courses (or terms for online programs). Every student is given a number of civic-minded categories to choose from. They submit their desired areas of interest. After which, they are assigned a specific and aligned community outreach site where they will work 8 to 10 hours per week.

Student Outcomes

Student Outcomes

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 practitioner-scholar
  • Programming, curriculum development, and grant-writing as a community leader and activist
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.

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.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements

In addition to the admission requirements common to all of the Adler graduate programs, applicants to this program are required to have:

  • A master’s degree, by the date of matriculation, in art therapy or a related discipline from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a related field from an international institution.
  • Applicants who did not graduate from Adler University’s Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy program or an equivalent program will be required to complete the equivalency requirements in addition to the doctoral curriculum.
  • Proof of registration as an art therapist or 18 hours of studio credit hours.
  • A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in applicant’s graduate degree program.
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to the applicant’s likelihood of success in a doctoral program.

Applicants must submit the following in order to be considered for admission:

  • Application for admission
  • Proof of registration as an art therapist or 18 hours of studio credit
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Interview with a faculty member
  • Official valid transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended (U.S and Canada)
    • Please have official transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions
    • Unofficial transcripts may be accepted for any schools in which a degree was not received
    • International transcripts must be evaluated by a transcript evaluation service

Applicants who are graduates in good standing from Adler University’s Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy program may have one letter of recommendation and/or interview waived. Approved applicants will be invited to complete an interview with faculty. Please submit all application materials to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.

Official transcripts should be sent to:

Adler University – Office of Admissions
17 N. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60602

Official electronic transcripts should be sent to [email protected].


For more information for International Applicants, click here.



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.

Chicago Campus

Located in the heart of the city, the Adler Chicago campus was designed to provide and inspire the learning and living experience. To that end, we have created an environment that caters to your mental, emotional and intellectual growth. Our classrooms are bright and spacious with windows to the outside world. Our technology is the very latest and best. In our Library, you will find every resource you need to research, form and shape your journey. At Adler, we have made it our mission to create a space with more than enough room to share your thoughts and flex your intellect.

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