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Expressive Therapies

Expressive Therapies

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), low-residency doctoral program

Apply research and creativity to spark individual and societal change.

Transform individuals and communities through creativity, scholarship, and collaboration. Enhance your practice and become a leader in expressive therapies through this low-residency doctoral program, which interweaves artistic expression and inquiry with a focus on research. Join with Lesley’s world-recognized faculty and other committed professionals to expand the theory and practice of expressive therapies, exploring new opportunities for research and global impact.

REGISTER: PhD in Expressive Therapies Virtual Information Session

Lesley University’s doctoral program in expressive therapies provides you with the opportunity for in-depth study, artistic growth, and professional development regardless of your arts therapy specialization.

Guided by your own interests and experience, you’ll conduct relevant research and contribute new scholarship to the field. Whether you’re looking to further your career in higher education or become a leader in an arts therapy discipline, our program is designed to help you meet your goals.

The low-residency model provides a convenient format that allows you to expand your knowledge base in expressive therapies, while accommodating your work schedule and personal life. Complete a 2-week on-campus residency for three summers. During the residency, you’ll meet with your faculty advisor, attend seminars and classes, design research projects, and collaborate with other doctoral students. Between residencies, continue your work from home while staying connected with your faculty advisor and peers via online class sessions.

Graduate Program Inquiry Form

Program Structure

Low-Residency Doctoral Program

45 Credits
Students sit in chairs in a circle having a class discussion on Lesley's lawn.

Low-Residency Format

Participate in one 2-week summer residency on Lesley University’s Cambridge campus for the first 3 years of your program. Between residencies, continue your studies online with Lesley faculty, devoting significant weekly time toward doctoral study. Your final years are dedicated to off-site, independent work on your dissertation with support from your faculty advisors. 

Shaun McNiff speaks about his career in expressive therapies

Innovators in the Field

Established over 40 years ago, we were the first graduate program in the U.S. to train professionals in this emerging field. Today our program is the largest of its kind and remains at the forefront of innovation. Our reputation and outstanding faculty—all practitioners in the arts—are what attract students from around the world.

man walking in harvard square, cambridge

Cambridge, MA

A nexus for higher education and mental health counseling practice and research, each year 250,000 students arrive to Cambridge from around the globe. The intellectual and cultural capital runs deep, and so do your opportunities addressing barriers to wellness. From Lesley’s location, access innovative community, hospital, and school-based mental health programs.

Counselors, therapists, and other mental health practitioners were trained at Lesley University in the last 5 years, making us the largest provider of training for licensed mental health counselors in New England.
Massachusetts is the best state in the nation for mental health care according to Mental Health America, with excellent access to care for both youth and adults.
Careers in mental health counseling are expanding, with projections for a 22% increase in job openings from 2018 to 2028. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Jobs You Could Have
The field of mental health counseling is expanding rapidly, making this an exciting time to pursue graduate study. Common job titles for people with doctoral degrees in mental health counseling include:
Where Graduates Work
Massachusetts and the Greater Boston area have a large concentration of medical, healthcare, and mental health-related facilities and organizations. Graduates find careers in a wide range of places, including:


Total approximate cost for this PhD degree program.
Expressive Therapies
  • Tuition
    $1,150/credit x 45
  • Fees
    PhD Matriculation Fees
    Registration Fee
    Comprehensive Fee
  • Total
Estimated Cost

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.

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Total approximate cost for this PhD degree program. Tuition and fees are for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Use our step-by-step guide to apply for federal and university funding. Scholarships, grants, Work-Study, and loans. It’s all right here.

Next steps to apply

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.