PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

Major: Creative Arts Therapies
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 48.0
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 academic leadership in their discipline. The primary mission of the program is the cultivation of scholars and academic leaders for the purpose of generating and disseminating substantive and rigorous research that ultimately contributes to theory building, best clinical practices, and the evidence base in the arts therapies fields.

The PhD program consists of four interactive learning modules.

  • Interdisciplinary-The seminars challenge students to study, explore, critically evaluate and synthesize areas of collective knowledge that contribute to the articulation of the interdisciplinary philosophical and theoretical foundations for the fields in the creative arts therapies
  • Research- The purpose of the research module is to educate the doctoral students in the traditional and innovative approaches to research that will contribute to the generation and dissemination of substantive research in the students’ respective fields.
  • Self/Other Artistic Knowledge- The self/other artistic learning module introduces the exploration of the intrinsic inter subjective therapeutic processes emergent through artistic inquiry and parallel to the actual arts therapies experience. 
  • Practicum- The emphasis on the transformation of theoretical knowledge to practical application and specialization is accomplished through the practicum requirement. All students are required to complete a teaching practicum for one term. Beyond that students are required to complete a specialization practicum in:  1) academia/teaching;  2) research; 3) clinical supervision; or 4) applied clinical research and practice. The practicum helps students position themselves as they prepare for graduation.
  • Dissertation-The dissertation is an original, rigorous research project the content of which directly relates to the development of and contribution to the theory and practice of the student’s creative arts therapy specialization


The rationale for emphasizing the generation and dissemination of research is based upon the emergence and growth of the clinical practice of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and music therapy over the past century. Implicit in the emergence and growth of these professions is the responsibility to critically evaluate, validate, and advance clinical practice through the cultivation of substantive research and the dissemination of the resulting knowledge. The core values central to our research agenda are as follows.

Stewardship and scholarship in the Creative Arts Therapies Includes:

  1. Critical evaluation, generation, and preservation of the philosophical assumptions inherent in and essential to the theory and practice of the CATs.
  2. A dynamic interaction between collective interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge and self/other artistic inquiry.
  3. A systematic investigation and articulation of the dynamic intersubjective aesthetic forms of knowledge inherent in the therapeutic processes and actions  that parallel arts therapies practice.
  4. The use of rigorous and innovative research methods based upon the systematic and critical evaluation of the pluralistic ontological and epistemological foundations of knowledge in the arts therapies
  5. Generation, dissemination and translation of rigorous research that contributes to the preservation and advancement of our fields and the health of society.

PhD in Creative Arts Therapies

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program is a research degree for art therapists, dance/ movement therapists, and music therapists who are interested in focusing their careers on scholarly pursuits and academic leadership in their specific discipline. The primary mission of the program is the cultivation of scholars and academic leaders for the purpose of generating and disseminating substantive, quality research that ultimately contributes to the bodies of knowledge, best clinical practices, and the efficacy of the arts therapies fields.

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 legitimization of the fields. In pursuit of the program mission, the innovative curriculum includes four interactive learning modules that comprise a three-year full-time degree program:

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

The learning culture, curriculum, and pedagogy of the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies are the primary components contributing to the comprehensiveness of this advanced research degree. The learning culture is one of creativity, innovation, initiative and support. The curriculum and pedagogy emphasize the interaction between intellectual, emotional, inter-subjective and artistic learning for the purpose of generating knowledge in the arts therapies.

The learning culture, curriculum and pedagogy are elaborated in the following constructs:

  • A learning culture that supports the exploration and integration of intellectual, emotional, artistic, and self/other knowledge as parallel to the psychotherapeutic and creative processes.
  • An educational philosophy, curricular structure, and innovative pedagogy which supports dynamic and creative inquiry into interdisciplinary and discipline specific bodies of knowledge.
  • A comprehensive approach to traditional and innovative research methods that best support the ontological, epistemological, theoretical,and applied practice in the arts therapies.
  • The integration of theoretical, experiential, and pragmatic knowledge.
  • A dialectic between didactic, intrinsic, and practical learning experiences.
  • The cultivation of aptitudes and competencies in intellectual, subjective, inter-subjective and artistic inquiry for each student.

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 courses
  • Candidacy/Qualifying exam (administered after the completion of one year or 45 quarter credits)
  • Approval of dissertation proposal
  • Practicum in one of the following: teaching, research, clinical supervision or advanced clinical practice
  • Completion of dissertation
  • 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 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
ARTS 715Innovative and Emergent Research Methods3.0
RSCH 759Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
RSCH 770Foundations in Research Methods3.0
Research Specialization
Select one of the following:3.0
Advanced Quantitative Research Seminar
Advanced Qualitative Research Seminar
Innovative and Emergent 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.

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 and commitment to advanced academic achievement and the development of scholarship. 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

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with minimum scores of 300 combined (150 Quantitative and 150 Verbal Reasoning) and 4.0 in analytic writing, or
  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT) with scores of 396 or above
  • MGPA of 3.5 or above from the master's degree education

Clinical Experience and Credentials

  • A minimum of 3 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.

Please contact Ms. Rachel Ward, Admissions Coordinator, for additional information about the admission requirements and the application process at (215) 762-6921 or

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.

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 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
ARTS 718Studio Based Artistic Inquiry III3.0
 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  
Advanced Qualitative Research Seminar 
Innovative and Emergent 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.

Creative Arts Therapies Department Faculty

Yasmine Awais, MAAT, ATR-BC, ATCS, LCAT, LPC (Art Institute of Chicago). Clinical Professor. Art therapy with diverse populations, art therapy in non-profit settings, clinical supervision.
Joke Bradt, PhD, MT-BC (Temple University). Associate Professor. Research in music therapy, chronic pain, systematic reviews.
Natalie Rae Carlton, PhD, ATR-BC, LPCC (Leslie University) Director, Art Therapy MA Program. Associate Clinical Professor. New media and art therapy, social justice in art activities, transgender and LGBTQ identity.
Nancy Gerber, PhD, ATR-BC (Union Institute and University) Director, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies. Associate Clinical Professor. Art therapy assessment and treatment of adolescents and adults; modern psychoanalysis and art therapy; arts therapy education and doctoral education; arts based research and mixed methods research.
Sharon W. Goodill, PhD, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC (Union Institute and University) Chair, Department of Creative Arts Therapies. Clinical Professor. Medical dance/movement, mind/body studies, movement assessment for DMT, CAT research and leadership.
Scott Horowitz, MA, MT-BC, LPC (Drexel University) Director of Field Education. Clinical Instructor. Interdisciplinary practice and education, developmental models of clinical and practicum supervision, music therapy and neurodevelopmental populations.
Florence Ierardi, MM, MT-BC, LPC (Temple University) Director, Music Therapy and Counseling MA Program. Associate Clinical Professor. Clinical improvisation, trauma-informed music therapy, multicultural music therapy perspectives.
Girija Kaimal, EdD, MA (Harvard University). Assistant Professor. Art therapy, educational research, program evaluation, art therapy.
Dawn Morningstar, MCAT, VC-DMT, LP (Hahnemann University). Associate Clinical Professor. Specialty in working with children and adolescents, Dance/movement therapist at Drexel's Parkway Health and Wellness faculty practice outpatient clinic.
Michele D. Rattigan, MA, ATR-BC, NCC, LPC (MCP Hahnemann University) Coordinator of CAT Clinical Services. Assistant Clinical Professor.
Ellen Schelly-Hill, MMT, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC (Antioch NE Graduate School) Director of Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling MA Program. Associate Clinical Professor. Adults diagnosed with mood disorders, anxiety, chronic pain and with histories of trauma; clinical supervision; ethics.
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