Creative Arts Therapies PhD

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
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, plus a dissertation:

  • Interdisciplinary- Delivered as seminars, these modules challenge students to study, explore, critically evaluate and synthesize areas of interdisciplinary knowledge relative to creative arts therapies origins, philosophy, and theory.
  • Research- Includes intensive study of multiple approaches to research. The purpose of the research module is to cultivate students' philosophical perspectives and develop research skills 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- 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- 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- 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 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.

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

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
Intermediate Mixed Methods Research
Self/Other Artistic Knowledge Studio Labs
ARTS 716Studio Based Artistic Inquiry I3.0
ARTS 717Studio Based Artistic Inquiry II3.0
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 Credits45.0-59.0

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 715Innovative and Emergent Research Methods3.0
RSCH 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Term 4
RSCH 759Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Term 5
Research Specialization - Choose one of the following:3.0
Advanced Quantitative Research Seminar  
Innovative and Emergent Research Methods II 
Qualitative Research Methods II 
Intermediate Mixed Methods Research 
ARTS 804*Dissertation Research I1.0-9.0
 Term Credits4.0-12.0
Term 6
ARTS 805*Dissertation Research II1.0-9.0
 Term Credits1.0-9.0
Term 7
ARTS 812Teaching Practicum1.0
ARTS 806*Dissertation Research III1.0-9.0
 Term Credits5.0-13.0
Term 8
ARTS 809Practicum II2.0-9.0
 Term Credits2.0-9.0
Term 9
ARTS 810Practicum III2.0-9.0
ARTS 807*Dissertation Research IV1.0-9.0
 Term Credits3.0-18.0
Total Credit: 45.0-91.0
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