Program Overview

Students who successfully pursue this degree will emerge prepared with academic, clinical and research experience in preparation for the credentials of Registration as an Art Therapist (ATR) according to the educational guidelines established by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), and Licensure as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Positioned within the urban campus Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI), this two-year, full-time residential program is the only one of its kind in the state of Indiana. Built in partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine, the program is housed within a psychodynamic framework and pays close attention to the neurobiological mechanisms that are at the root of creative expression and symbolic, unconscious communication. Honoring the dynamic nature of the psyche, the art therapist calls upon the theoretical and practical application of psychotherapeutic principles through a variety of interventions and in myriad settings including mental health, medical, educational and forensic facilities. In art therapy, the general concepts of science, art and the creative process are understood and applied in a therapeutic context.

While in the program, students receive internship and practicum assignments, giving them on-site experience working with professionals in the field. These experiences are coupled with the use of imagery to conceptualize symbolic communication and expression of the unconscious, taught through the application of present-day assessment and intervention strategies in areas such as neuroscience and trauma, and through research methodologies including art-based and evidence-based practices.


To cultivate the understanding of creativity as a process that elicits the integration of psychic systems, divergent thinking strategies, and overall healing. Students are encouraged to explore their identity as artists and as therapists through the experiential pedagogies offered in the Herron School of Art and Design and within Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana's urban research and academic health sciences campus. Students in the program will also be placed in practicum and internship experiences at regional healthcare facilities, mental health treatment centers and independent organizations that service vulnerable populations.

To integrate the theoretical foundations of art psychotherapy with the most current neuroscience findings in the preparation of skilled Masters level clinicians to assess, intervene and treat people with various emotional, cognitive, physical, and mental health disabilities.

To prepare students with fundamental research skills which encourage the exploration of the multi-disciplinary possibilities and implications of art therapy theory, practice, and program development.


In order to enroll in the Art Therapy program, students must have 18 credit hours of studio art courses and 12 credit hours of psychology courses, including developmental psychology (3 credits) and abnormal psychology (3 credits). These courses must be taken at an accredited institution of higher education. These prerequisites do not have to be completed before applying to the program, but they must be completed before the start of the first semester, at which time official transcripts reflecting the completion of the prerequisites will be required.


* Herron’s Art Therapy program does not yet appear on the American Art Therapy Association’s (AATA) list of approved master’s programs because it is new. Schools need to graduate three classes of students in order to be considered for AATA approval through the Education Program Approval Board. More information regarding ATR registration and Board Certification can be found on the website of the Art Therapy Credentials Board and in their Professional Credentialing Guide for Students and Recent Graduates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is there anything I can do to strengthen my application?

A. If you are still in school, make sure you do as well as possible in your classes in order to earn a high GPA. Specifically, faculty will look for good grades in studio art and psychology coursework. Faculty will also look for volunteer work on your resume as an indication that you have a genuine interest in working with people. Volunteerism need not be limited to working with or observing an art therapist, but can take place in a range of contexts. Finally, learn as much as you can about the discipline of Art Therapy starting with the website of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA).

Q. What should my application portfolio include?

A. The portfolio should include 10-15 pieces of artwork that show experience with 2D and 3D media and processes. While artistic quality can help your application portfolio, the faculty are looking more specifically for your ability to understand the conscious and unconscious motivations of your own personal art making processes. If you are selected to participate in an in-person interview, your portfolio will be reviewed with you as part of the interview process.

Q. Can you recommend any art therapists who I could shadow or interview to get more information about the field of art therapy?

A. We do not give recommendations of art therapists, but you can find therapists in your local area through the websites of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), your state chapter, and the AATA Indiana chapter, INDIATA.

Q. Can I attend the program part-time?

A. No, we do not allow for part-time enrollment. Because students are admitted into the program as a cohort and we have a prescribed and sequential curriculum, we only allow for full-time attendance.

Q. When do the classes meet?

A. Class schedules vary from semester to semester, but students should expect to be on campus in classes and at their internship sites Monday through Friday. In addition to class meetings and internship participation requirements, students can expect to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class working on course work and thesis research.

Q. Where do students have their practicums and internships?

A. Our list of placement sites is constantly growing and changing. Please view our internship placements to gain an understanding of the types of facilities where students work.

Q. What undergraduate degree is recommended for a career in Art Therapy?

A. While most of our students come from backgrounds in psychology and art, there is no specific bachelor's degree that leads directly to a career in Art Therapy. As long as an applicant completes the prerequisites, any undergraduate degree can be appropriate preparation for the program.

Q. What are the prerequisites for attending the M.A. program in Art Therapy?

A. Students beginning the program must have 30 credits of prerequisite coursework as follows: 18 credits of studio art; 12 credits of psychology, which must include 3 credits of developmental psychology and 3 credits of abnormal psychology. These credits must be earned at an accredited college or university. Official transcripts reflecting these credits are required upon application to the program.

Q. Can I take my prerequisites at Ivy Tech (or another college) or do they have to be done at Herron or IUPUI?

A. You can take your prerequisite courses at any accredited college or university. The credits do not have to be taken at Herron or IUPUI.

Q. Do I have to have my prerequisites done before I apply?

A. No, your prerequisites do not have to be done before you apply to the program, although you should have the majority of them completed by the time of application. You could apply to the program, see if you are admitted, and then complete the prerequisites over the summer before starting the program in the fall. Although not encouraged, it is possible to complete up to 6 credits of prerequisite coursework within the first year of study in the program. These considerations are made on a case by case basis.

Q. Can coursework that I did several years, even decades, ago count toward the prerequisites?

A. Yes, there is no guideline on how recent your coursework must be. However, your application portfolio should include recent artwork and we recommend you update your knowledge of psychology with new courses. Special situations are reviewed on a case by case basis.