Learn more about our graduate programs in Expressive Therapies, and find out if Lesley is the right fit for you.
Expressive therapies students are trained to use the arts as therapeutic modalities within various fields including, but not limited to, mental health, schools, hospitals, and in communities as agents of social change. At Lesley, expressive therapies students in all modalities are also trained as a Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC) and learn to work as an integral member of a therapeutic team where they clinically assess, diagnose, treat, and evaluate individuals, groups, and families. While we train expressive therapists to offer specialized services, we also believe in educating students in our philosophy of working collaboratively in order to cultivate the skills needed to help support and facilitate transformation and empower people and communities through clinical applications of the arts. See the next question for specific information regarding the modalities we offer.We are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a vibrant cultural center for artistic and academic pursuits. The expressive therapies program has existed for 40 years. During this time, it has cultivated and maintained significant relationships in the community who serve the field placement needs of the on campus program in various and diverse settings. All of our core faculty have terminal degrees (including PhD, PsyD) and are recognized leaders in the field with extensive expertise and teaching experience. All of our adjunct faculty are credentialed and licensed professionals who are registered/accredited by their respective professional associations and have expertise with a range of populations. Our faculty are committed to best teaching practices, and are innovators in our field who are dedicated to conceptualizing and implementing rigorous, contemporary expressive therapies education for the 21st century.Our graduate program is unique in many ways; we were the pioneer expressive arts graduate training program in the United States, celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2013. The current program and philosophy remain true to our pioneering vision. An example of this is the implementation of a low-residency master's degree. This hybrid model extends our on campus experiences to students throughout the world by blending it into a low residency learning model that includes guided online instruction.
We offer two graduate degrees: a Master of Arts and a Doctoral Degree. We offer our degrees in the following formats: M.A.On Campus (traditionally weekly and intensive weekend classes)Low-Residency (Intensive residency with online extension)Ph.D.Low Residency (Intensive residency with online extension)
Yes. At the M.A. level students choose to specialize in one specific art form, while also learning how to integrate other expressive arts. In addition, all students (regardless of their specialization) are exposed to all art forms during their training because of our philosophy of expressive arts, which considers creativity and artistic process to be fundamental to the training process. Specializations are offered in:
Students are accepted into the therapy specialization to which they have applied. These specializations provide a specific, supportive learning structure and experiential model for understanding and examining the theoretical underpinnings and applied practice of the chosen specialty. Within each specialization, students focus on theory with analysis of theoretical literature, group work, case presentations and clinical applications. Throughout the course of your graduate studies, you also have the opportunity to work and study alongside students in other specializations. At the Ph.D. level, applicants must be eligible for a professional credential in one of the expressive arts therapies specializations and are required to have practiced within that specialization for at least 5 years.
M.A. program: “Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Art/Dance/Drama/Expressive Arts/Music Therapy”Ph.D. program: “Doctor of Philosophy in Expressive Therapies”
Our 60-credit master’s program fulfills the pre-master’s requirements for Massachusetts Mental Health Counseling Licensure (LMHC)Our graduate programs fulfill the educational program requirements for registration/certification by the associations representing each specific modality.
At the M.A. level, Massachusetts has rigorous internship, fieldwork placement, and course requirements needed to pursue licensure. It is up to the student to research the requirements needed for states other than Massachusetts. Lesley University has a licensure advisor who works with alumni to verify work done while enrolled in Lesley’s program in order to support applications for licensure in other states. A special note about our low-residency M.A. Program: Students enrolled in our low-residency format will be responsible for meeting pre-master’s* educational and internship hours requirements in their home state. These may differ from state to state, so please review your state requirements and compare them to the Massachusetts pre-masters requirements.
Residents of most states, as well as those from other countries, are eligible to apply. However, until the required state authorization processes are completed, we are unable to accept low-residency applications for our master's degree program in Expressive Therapies delivered in the low-residency format from residents of the following: Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, or the District of Columbia. All are eligible to apply for our traditional on-campus programs in Cambridge, MA. If you have questions or would like to learn more about your options, or if you are a current student considering moving to one of the states listed above, please contact Deb Spragg, Director of the Field Training Office, at email@example.com. Please note: The Ph.D. Program does not prepare students for licensing or credentialing. Students must be eligible for a professional credential prior to applying to the program. * "Pre-master’s” requirements are those that are fulfilled during our training programs. "Post-master’s” requirements refer to required accrual of supervised hours after graduation.
Lesley offers 2 educational experience models: on campus and low-residency.Our on campus master’s option provides a traditional graduate school experience which requires living in the Boston area for the academic years enrolled, and can be completed in 2 or 3 years.Our low-residency option provides students the opportunity to receive quality education and training in Expressive Therapies through expertly designed hybrid distance learning, which combines a commitment to being “on campus” for 3 weeks every summer for 3 years, with guided online study and applied practice in your local community throughout the years enrolled in the program.In the doctoral program, students attend three summer residency sessions, each three weeks long, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There they meet with faculty and advisors, attend seminars and classes, and design research projects. In between residencies, students continue work from home and stay connected with faculty, advisors, and peers via online classes, email, phone, and videoconferencing communications. After the three residencies students must complete the dissertation, which usually takes 1 – 2 years.
On campus master’s level classes are scheduled throughout the week; while you have options as to how to coordinate your schedule, students are expected to arrange their schedules to balance out the time required to attend classes and be at their fieldwork site, in addition to other personal responsibilities. Scheduling will vary between sites and training years. Depending on the class and the semester, some classes are scheduled on what we call an “intensive” basis—being completely taught over Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday; or over the course of one complete week.Low-residency program mirrors our on-campus program and is for those students who want to do the program without having to transplant their life to Cambridge. The residency takes place over three weeks each July for three summers. Courses are taught using a hybrid model, wherein a portion of the course takes place face-to-face during the residency and then continues online. Some courses are strictly on-line. Students complete their fieldwork and internship where they live with the help of our Field Training Office. The doctoral program of study is structured by year, with a blend of online and residency hours. Each doctoral year includes a 9-credit residency seminar, followed by two online 3-credit doctoral seminars. Each course is broken down into sections designed to address specific competencies. The program requires a minimum of 4 years for completion. On-campus residency is required only for years 1 through 3 of the program, with dissertation pursued after successful completion of year 3.
As a prospective graduate student, we encourage you to reflect on your “self as instrument” when considering which type of learning format will best suit your needs. In our efforts to provide quality education/training opportunities in the Expressive Therapies, we offer students a choice in the “how” of learning that requires you to reflect on what your needs are as a student and future practitioner. Both modes of learning require a significant commitment to graduate level academic inquiry and reflection; stamina and endurance; and investment in making the most of your graduate education. However, each mode may compliment your lifestyle in different ways; it is up to you to decide on the mode which best suit your personality, academic style, and life circumstances.
Lesley believes in a rigorous field training and internship experience for its master’s level education. Students complete a total of two years of field training and internship experiences at our approved training sites. These placements provide applied practice experience with a minimum of 1150 on-site training hours in the field during graduate school. For each of these two years, the student will be supervised both on-site and in a small-group university supervision class. The university supervisor will hold an arts modality credential as well as be a Massachusetts Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).The first year of field training requires at least 450 hours at the training site (approximately 15 hours per week). We encourage a community arts approach in the first year; this exposes students to working with populations and supervisors in a variety of ways using the arts, and provides a significant foundation for all future work in the Expressive Therapies and your specific modality. The second year of field training requires at least 700 hours of supervised practice at the site (approximately 20-24 hours per week). Supervision will be provided by a professional approved by the Massachusetts state licensing board to provide LMHC supervision as well as a supervisor credentialed in your modality. Please note: On campus students choosing to study with us on the 3-year track will begin their field training component in the second year of their studies at Lesley.In the low-residency model, students will be responsible for finding an internship site local to them for each of their two years of placement. The hours and supervision required by Lesley will be the same as for the on-campus program (see above). Low-residency students will be supported by a small-group university supervision class using both face-to-face and online delivery.
Please refer to our Tuition and Fees page for current information regarding the program you are applying for.
Yes. For more information regarding types of aid and the application process, visit the Financial Aid page.
On Campus: Cambridge is a wonderful place to live. It is home to many universities in the Boston area. Most of our students share apartments in and around the Boston/Cambridge area keeping the cost down. There is a 10% discount for those living in Cambridge. Please note: There is limited availability of on-campus graduate housing.Low-Residency: While there is on campus graduate housing available, it is limited. You can request a list of possible housing options and are expected to secure your own accommodations during your stay in Cambridge.Visit our Student Housing page for specific information.
For current information regarding the application process, visit our Graduate Admissions page. Please note: The master’s program has one start date in the Fall. The Division of Expressive Therapies does not accept students for the Spring semester. January 15 – Priority Admissions DeadlineMarch 15 – Admissions DeadlineFebruary 15 -- PhD program Admissions Deadline
Yes. It is important to connect with the faculty and visit the campus. If you live internationally, a Skype interview may be possible. If you are selected to interview, you will be notified of interview dates.
Master's ProgramsA bachelor’s degree is required for admission. While we will consider all applicants, undergraduate degrees in your respective art disciple or psychology are preferred with an overall GPA of 3.0. We also look for life experience and volunteering in respective fields to round out your application.Please note: You need to have completed at least half the prerequisite coursework in order to apply. If accepted, all incoming students must complete prerequisite requirements before beginning the program. All applications are completed online through our website and relevant materials are upload to Slideroom.com for review.Art Therapy Specialization:
Dance Therapy Specialization:
Drama Therapy Specialization:
Expressive Arts Therapy Specialization:
Music Therapy Specialization:
Music audition preparation:
Ph.D. ProgramPlease refer to our Doctoral Program page for more information.
Yes! Lesley accepts international students every year and welcomes the diversity and experiences you bring to our community. Depending on the educational experience you choose to participate in, there are several things to take into consideration:
Yes. Anyone can take up to 6 elective credits of master’s level coursework without actually coming into the program, given that any pre-requisites are met, and the course is open to non-degree students.
Graduates of our program are working in a wide range of settings, including human services, health care, and non-profit organizations. Our graduates are working as mental health clinicians and expressive therapists in local, regional, national, and international locations.
Absolutely! We have an extensive list of graduates who are happy to serve as informal “ambassadors” to the program. Please contact Gilda Resmini-Walsh (Assistant Director, Advising & Student Services) at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Of course. Chelsea Willis is our Graduate Admissions Counselor in the Office of Graduate Admissions. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com for more information.
Adjunct Instructor of Expressive Therapies - Drama Therapy/Psychodrama; Field Training Site Liaison for Expressive Therapies
Adjunct Instructor of Expressive Therapies: Drama Therapy/Psychodrama
Expressive Arts Therapy
Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies
Graduate Certificate in Expressive TherapiesGraduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Play Therapy
Graduate Certificate in the Arts in Health
Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Expressive Therapies
Programs of Study
Frequently Asked Questions
Expressive Therapies Research Center
Continuing Education and Professional Development
Expressive Therapies Division
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