Drama Therapy

Welcome to Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is the intentional use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote health, thus treating individuals with a range of mental health, cognitive and developmental disorders. New York University was the first university in the country to develop an academic program leading to a graduate degree in Drama Therapy.

NYU Steinhardt offers an MA in Drama Therapy and a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences for students with a background in drama therapy. See more information on the PhD and find out how to apply. Drama Therapy students also have the option of pursuing an EdD in Educational Theatre. Learn more about the EdD and how to apply.

About the MA in Drama Therapy

The NYU Program in Drama Therapy offers two degree tracks. Graduates of the 50-credit track will have met the academic requirements for New York State licensure as a creative arts therapist (LCAT) and, once licensed, will be entitled to practice drama therapy throughout New York State. This track includes the required coursework in drama therapy and applied psychology with one elective. Graduates of the 60-credit track will have met the academic requirements for most states outside of New York. This track allows students to do advanced training in Role Theory and Method, Psychodrama, Arts-Based Research, or to pursue other electives in Applied Theater, e.g. Theater of Oppressed, or in Applied Psychology, e.g. Marriage and Family Counseling.

The program attracts theatre professionals and educators, therapists, and those working in the fields of medicine, healthcare, and special education. Students come from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds to study and apprentice with leading professionals in the creative arts therapies. Classes are small and instruction individualized. The Drama Therapy Program has been approved by the North American Drama Therapy Association and the New York State Department of Education. (See also Music Therapy in this department and Art Therapy in the Department of Art and Art Professions.) For more information regarding licensure, please visit the North American Drama Therapy Association

The New York metropolitan area offers rich opportunities for clinical internships in hospitals and shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, prisons, and special facilities for the homeless, elderly, developmentally disabled, and the terminally ill, among others.

MA Admission Requirements

All students should have a solid practical background in the art form of drama/theatre, including experience in improvisational drama and theatre performance. Candidates should also demonstrate a strong academic background in psychology or a related social science, including course work in developmental and/or abnormal psychology. In certain cases, alternative experience relevant to drama therapy will be considered. A personal interview and audition are required. Interview dates are scheduled by the program director each year. Students are admitted only in the fall semester of each year.

For general inquiries, please contact the Drama Therapy office at: 212-998-5402 or email nyudramatherapy@nyu.edu (please note new email)

MA Mission Statement

The Drama Therapy Program at New York University prepares students at the for a career as a drama therapist and aims to produce clinicians and scholars who have a strong sense of professional identity as drama therapists and future licensed professionals in the mental health field. The primary approach at New York University is that healing occurs as clients are able to create an effective system of integrated roles and learn to live within the many contradictions within and among them. This approach is based upon role theory as well as theories of narrative psychology.  

MA Learning Outcomes

The training of the drama therapy student at NYU has three components: Clinical (Theories and Application), Research, and Professional Identity/Clinical competency. 

1. Clinical: Students will identify and describe theories of drama and psychology and they will be able to apply these theories in case management and client treatment.

2. Research: Students will develop effective research skills.

3. Professional Identity and Clinical Competency: The NYU Graduate Program in Drama Therapy aims to produce clinicians who have a strong sense of professional identity as drama therapists and future licensed professionals in the mental health field. In addition, it is our goal to produce individuals who are what D.W. Winnicott might call “good enough” clinicians and scholars – individuals who have a knowledge base in both general psychology and drama therapy theory, individuals who are able to discuss the theoretical underpinnings for their clinical interventions with a clarity and depth, individuals who demonstrate competency in the applications of the theater arts, individuals who have a strong sense of social justice and a commitment to doing some good in the world, individuals who approach their clinical practice with an abiding sense of humility, creativity, spontaneity and integrity. 

Program Benefits for International Students

If you’re an international student, you may be able to work in the United States after graduation for an extended period of time. Most students studying on F-1 visas will be eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) off-campus work authorization. F-1 students in our program may also be eligible for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) OPT extension, allowing you to extend your time in the United States to pursue degree-related work experience for a total of 36 months or 3 years. For more information on who can apply for this extension and how, see NYU’s Office of Global Services: STEM OPT.