PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

Major: Creative Arts Therapies
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 48.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 51.2399
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 29-1129

About the Program

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research degree program for art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists who are interested in pursuing advanced scholarship and assuming academic leadership in their discipline. The primary mission of the program is the cultivation of scholars and academic leaders in the creative arts therapies who can:
1) generate and disseminate relevant, robust rigorous research;
2) contribute to theory evaluation and building;
3) develop evidence-based best clinical practices; and
4) cultivate academic proficiency in educating the next generation of art therapists, dance/movement therapists and music therapists.

The PhD program consists of four interactive learning modules.

  • Interdisciplinary-The Interdisciplinary Seminars challenge students to study, explore, critically evaluate and synthesize areas of interdisciplinary knowledge relative that to creative arts therapies origins, philosophy, and theory.
  • Research- The research module includes intensive study of multiple approaches to research. The purpose of the research module is to cultivate students' philosophical perspectives and develop research skill along a spectrum of traditional and innovative approaches. The research curriculum contributes to the generation and dissemination of robust and relevant research in the students’ respective fields.
  • Self/Other Artistic Knowledge- The self/other artistic learning module introduces a laboratory based pedagogical model in which students explore the intrinsic arts therapies intersubjective processes and transformative mechanisms that emerge through artistic inquiry and which parallels the actual arts therapies experience. 
  • Practicum- The Practicum emphasizes the transformation of theoretical knowledge to practical application and specialization. All students are required to complete a teaching practicum for one term. Beyond that students select and complete two terms of a practicum of their choice in:  1) academia/teaching;  2) research; or 3) applied clinical practice. The practicum helps students position themselves as they prepare for graduation.
  • Dissertation- The dissertation is an original robust research project that directly relates to the development of and contribution to the theory and practice of the student’s creative arts therapy specialization. The dissertation is the culmination and representation of the students' doctoral work that not only advances knowledge in their field, but also positions them for career opportunities in academia and research.


The professions of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy have grown and have become increasingly integrated as interventions in healthcare, education, and human services. Implicit in the emergent growth and integration of these professions is our responsibility to evaluate existing and develop new evidence-based theories and clinical practices. The mission of the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies is to generate, critically evaluate, and disseminate research to address this need and ultimately to advance the knowledge and evidence bases for these professions. Consequently, we have identified the following core values central to our research agenda.

Stewardship and scholarship in the Creative Arts Therapies Includes:

  1. Critical evaluation of the philosophical assumptions inherent in and essential to the understanding, preservation and advancement of theory and practice of the CATs.
  2. Critical evaluation of the research approaches and methods best suited for the investigation of theories, processes, and mechanisms in the creative arts therapies.
  3. Generation of knowledge that contributes to the construction, evaluation, and credibility of best evidence-based theory and clinical practices.
  4. Translation, dissemination and application of rigorous research that contributes to the preservation and advancement of our fields and the health of society.

PhD in Creative Arts Therapies Admission Requirements

Applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Creative Arts Therapies are screened based upon the required application documents plus a personal interview by the faculty. The application documents and interview are designed to assess the applicant's aptitudes in scholarship and commitment to advanced academic achievement and the development. Admission into the PhD program includes both firm and malleable requirements. The firm requirements include a Master’s degree in Art, Dance/Movement, Music or Expressive Therapy, a minimum of three years post master’s clinical experience, certification in the creative arts therapies field, and at least one research course. We encourage prospective students to inquire about applying to the PhD program even if they are uncertain that they meet all of the admission requirements. In many cases applicants are considered on a very individual basis and assessment. For this reason we look forward to speaking with applicants regarding eligibility and answering any questions.

Degree Requirements

Master's Degree in Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, or Expressive Therapies.

Prerequisites (in addition to or included in Master’s degree)

  • 6.0 semester  (9.0 quarter) credits equivalent in graduate level research coursework.
  • 3.0 semester (4.0 quarter) credits equivalent of graduate coursework in multiculturalism, anthropology, or sociology.

Research Education and Training

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research degree. Consequently it is essential that those entering the program demonstrate foundational education and experience in research.  

  • Documented research courses with a grade of no less than a ‘B’.
  • Documentation of having conducted one research project. This can be a master’s thesis project or post-master’s research.

Scores and GPA

  • MGPA of 3.5 or above from the master's degree education
  • GRE's are not required but recommended on a case-by-base basis at the discretion of the PhD Program

Clinical Experience and Credentials

  • A minimum of 2 years full-time equivalent post-master’s degree creative arts therapies clinical practice.
  • Professional credentials including board certification and/or registration in the applicant’s Creative Arts Therapies discipline. A professional license is preferred but not required.

Academic Writing Proficiency

Central to success in the PhD program is the ability to write at a professional scholarly level. Even though this ability will develop as a result of being a doctoral student, it is essential that the applicant demonstrate an interest in, commitment to, and aptitude for scholarly writing. Academic Writing Proficiency is evaluated based upon the following criteria and documentation:

  • Academic Writing Sample: Demonstration of scholarly writing proficiency from an academic writing sample. This could be a graded graduate writing sample or an independently authored publication. Applicants are also invited to generate a new writing sample specifically for this application. All scholarly writing samples should be selected to best represent the applicant's scholarly accomplishments and potential.
  • Publication or manuscript for submission: Documentation of having submitted an article for a peer reviewed publication. The documentation should be in the form of a manuscript that was submitted to a journal or as a chapter in an edited book. This manuscript can also be used for the academic writing sample if it was authored solely by the applicant. If it was co-authored, an additional independently authored sample is required to fulfill the requirement for demonstration of scholarly writing proficiency.
  • Admissions Essay: The admissions essay is an important part of the application and writing proficiency assessment process. Since the PhD is the highest level of scholarly education, the expectation is for incoming students to possess and demonstrate competency in in this area as reflected in their writing. The scholarly writing not only requires writing skill but also represents a thought process—the ability to review, organize, select and synthesize ideas of self and other. In addition, scholarly competence requires familiarity with acceptable writing styles. For those reasons we require an admissions essay which is in three parts:
    • Reasons for Application: In this section briefly describe your professional background, your clinical practice and interests and how these experiences coalesced in your decision to apply to the PhD Program (1 page).
    • Research Interests: In this section describe 1) two areas of interest for your own research; 2) a summary of current research in these areas; and, 3) the direction you hope to take your research (3 pages).
    • Academic and Career Goals: Conclude your essay with a summary of your academic and career goals (1 page).
  • All writing samples should be submitted in APA format.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required as a part of the application process. The letters should be from individuals who can knowledgeably address the applicant’s aptitudes for scholarship and teaching. Recommenders should also address the applicant’s maturity, initiative, self-directed motivation, and commitment to higher education.


When the application is completed it will be reviewed by the faculty admissions committee to determine if the applicant meets the admission criteria. Following the initial screening, a determination is made of whether or not the applicant meets the admission criteria. If the determination is made that the applicant does meet the admission criteria, the applicant is scheduled for an interview with the faculty in the PhD program in Creative Arts Therapies. The interview protocol includes:

  • Review of application materials and associated questions to address scholarly competencies for the program.
  • Discussion regarding the theory and practice of the creative arts therapies and the applicant’s specific discipline.
  • Discussion of the applicant’s research interests, competencies, and ideas.
  • Discussion of the applicant’s reasons and motivation for applying for doctoral education.
  • An on-site writing assignment may be included as part of the interview, on a case-by-case basis.

Please contact Ms. Kristen Scatton, Admissions Coordinator, for additional information about the admission requirements and the application process at or 267-359-5511.

Note: Admissions Schedule

The early priority deadline is January 15th, with rolling admissions through July 1st.

For additional information about how to apply, visit the Drexel Admissions page on PhD in Creative Arts Therapies.

Degree Requirements

The mission of the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program is to cultivate stewards of the professions who can preserve the traditions of the disciplines, promote scholarly and clinical advancement, and contribute to the evidence base of the fields. In pursuit of the program mission, the curriculum includes four interactive learning modules and a dissertation research project that comprise a full-time degree program:

  • Interdisciplinary module
  • Research module
  • Self/other artistic module
  • Practicum module

Located within these four learning modules and within the dissertation research are the following educational constructs and objectives:

1. Learning Culture: To creative an innovative learning culture in which students can become advanced, critical, and creative thinkers, scholars and leaders in their field.

2. Epistemological Integrity: To cultivate a learning culture respectful of the epistemology of the creative arts therapies disciplines and resulting in the generation of an indigenous to the Creative Arts Therapies disciplines.

3. Philosophy and Theory: To identify and articulate the interdisciplinary philosophical assumptions which contribute to the worldview, indigenous epistemology, theory, and practice in the arts therapies.

4. Theory and Practice: To systematically examine and assess existing theory, propose revisions as necessary, and develop new theoretical constructs that contribute to the evidence base for the creative arts therapies disciplines.

5. Research: To expand the quality and quantity of original research while systematically and critically evaluating the traditional or innovative research paradigms most compatible with the epistemology, knowledge gaps, and research questions in the Creative Arts Therapies.

6. Research and Evidence Base: To generate and disseminate research contributing to theory building and critical evaluation of epistemologically relevant evidence based practice in the fields of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy.

7. Dissemination and Translation: To expand the dissemination of knowledge and arts therapies services to both professional and public communities.

8. Leadership and Advocacy: To prepare scholarly leaders, researchers and advocates in the professions of art therapy, dance/movement therapy and music therapy.

For additional information about the program, visit the College of Nursing and Health Professions' PhD in Creative Arts Therapies web site.

General Requirements

The following general requirements must be satisfied in order to complete the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies:

  • 48.0 quarter credits of required and elective courses as designated
  • Passage of the Candidacy/Qualifying exam (administered after the completion of one year)
  • Approval of dissertation proposal
  • Completion of one quarter of a Teaching Practicum and two quarters of additional Practicum of the student's choice in one of the following areas: teaching, research, or advanced clinical practice
  • Completion and passage of the dissertation
  • Passage of final oral exam/oral defense of dissertation

The required courses in the curriculum are organized into four essential learning modules: 1) interdisciplinary; 2) research; 3) self/other and artistic knowledge; and 4) practical application. These courses comprise the key components of the doctoral program, along with the dissertation.

Interdisciplinary Seminars
ARTS 703Interdisciplinary Seminar I3.0
ARTS 704Interdisciplinary Seminar II3.0
ARTS 706Interdisciplinary Seminar IV3.0
Research Courses
ARTS 712Research I: Philosophy & Theory3.0
ARTS 715Innovative and Emergent Research Methods3.0
RSCH 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
RSCH 759Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
RSCH 770Foundations in Research Methods3.0
Research Specialization
Select one of the following:3.0
Advanced Quantitative Research Seminar
Innovative and Emergent Research Methods II
Qualitative Research Methods II
Self/Other Artistic Knowledge Studio Labs
ARTS 716Studio Based Artistic Inquiry I3.0
ARTS 717Studio Based Artistic Inquiry II3.0
ARTS 718Studio Based Artistic Inquiry III3.0
Practical Application Courses
Practica in either research, teaching, clinical supervision, or advanced clinical practice.
ARTS 812Teaching Practicum1.0
ARTS 809Practicum II2.0-9.0
ARTS 810Practicum III2.0-9.0
Dissertation Research - Minimum of 4 credits4.0
Dissertation Research I
Dissertation Research II
Dissertation Research III
Dissertation Research IV
Students, with advisement and in accordance with their educational plan, may choose a course in their content area.
Total Credits48.0-62.0

The dissertation is an original research project, the content of which directly relates to the epistemology, theory, and/or practice of the student's creative arts therapy specialization.

All electives must be graduate courses and can be selected from those courses offered at Drexel University. In particular, doctoral level courses in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, School of Public Health, College of Arts and Sciences, and/or the School of Education may be the most relevant to students in this program. (The Creative Arts Therapies PhD program director will obtain permission for the student to take the elective from the relevant Dean of the College or School, and the relevant program director and course instructor.)

Content areas that are acceptable for electives include the following: anthropology, biology, creativity, culture and communication, ethics, health psychology, literature, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, advanced statistics. Additional content areas may be added by special request as approved by the supervising faculty advisor and program director.

Sample Plan of Study

Term 1Credits
ARTS 703Interdisciplinary Seminar I3.0
ARTS 712Research I: Philosophy & Theory3.0
ARTS 716Studio Based Artistic Inquiry I3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Term 2
ARTS 704Interdisciplinary Seminar II3.0
ARTS 717Studio Based Artistic Inquiry II3.0
RSCH 770Foundations in Research Methods3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Term 3
ARTS 706Interdisciplinary Seminar IV3.0
ARTS 718Studio Based Artistic Inquiry III3.0
RSCH 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Term 4
ARTS 715Innovative and Emergent Research Methods3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Term 5
RSCH 759Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Term 6
Research Specialization - Choose one of the following:3.0
Advanced Quantitative Research Seminar  
Innovative and Emergent Research Methods II 
Qualitative Research Methods II 
ARTS 804*Dissertation Research I1.0-9.0
 Term Credits4.0-12.0
Term 7
ARTS 805*Dissertation Research II1.0-9.0
 Term Credits1.0-9.0
Term 8
ARTS 806*Dissertation Research III1.0-9.0
ARTS 812Teaching Practicum1.0
 Term Credits5.0-13.0
Term 9
ARTS 809Practicum II2.0-9.0
 Term Credits2.0-9.0
Term 10
ARTS 810Practicum III2.0-9.0
ARTS 807*Dissertation Research IV1.0-9.0
 Term Credits3.0-18.0
Total Credit: 48.0-94.0

 The dissertation is an original research project, the content of which directly relates to the epistemology, theory, and/or practice of the student's creative arts therapy specialization.

  • Schedule of Classes
  • All Course Descriptions
  • Co-op
  • Academic Advising
  • Admissions
  • Tuition & Fees