Best Art Therapy Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Art Therapy programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Art therapy is the use of art to promote healing and self-expression. Art therapists work with clients of all ages to explore their emotions and to express themselves creatively. Art therapists use a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage.

Art therapy is a growing field, as more and more people are recognizing the benefits of using art to promote healing. Art therapists are in demand in a wide variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and private practice.

Art therapy degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in art therapy, including art therapist, art therapist assistant, and art therapy educator. Students in art therapy degree programs learn about the different theories and techniques of art therapy, and how to apply those techniques to promote healing.

How to Choose the Right Art Therapy Program

When it comes to choosing the right art therapy bachelors degree program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. The first is accreditation. It is important to make sure that the program you are considering is accredited by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). This will ensure that you are getting a quality education that will prepare you for a career in art therapy.

Another important factor to consider is the curriculum. Make sure that the program you are considering offers coursework that is relevant to your interests and career goals. It is also important to make sure that the program offers a balance of theoretical and practical coursework.

Finally, you need to consider the cost of the program. Make sure to research tuition rates and fees, as well as other associated costs such as housing and commuting. You should also consider financial aid opportunities and tuition discounts. By considering all of these factors, you will be able to choose the right art therapy bachelors degree program for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Art Therapy Programs

The best programs for Art Therapy ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Taylor University
Upland, IN

The Pre-Art Therapy program at Taylor University is an interdisciplinary program that combines core psychology, studio, and art therapy coursework to introduce students to the therapeutic uses of art. The program is designed to prepare students for continued study at the graduate level, and provides pre-requisite coursework for most graduate programs in art therapy. Students in the program have the opportunity to complete a practicum in a variety of settings in the art therapy field.

Rank 2
Millikin University
Decatur, IL

Millikin University’s Art Therapy undergraduate degree is one of the most affordable in the nation. The degree is offered for students who wish to prepare for a career using art as a form of therapy. The program provides appropriate preparation for application to select graduate schools to follow a program leading to a master’s degree and certification as an art therapist.

Rank 3
Marian University
Indianapolis, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts & Art Therapy degree from Marian University is a unique program that combines a strong foundation in studio arts with courses in psychology and community-based internships. The program is designed to prepare students for graduate study in art therapy and provides them with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in this field.

Rank 4
Marian University
Fond Du Lac, WI

The Bachelor of Arts in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts from Marian University is a unique program that combines the expressive arts with therapeutic arts to provide students with a well-rounded education. The curriculum exposes students to a variety of creative processes, including the visual arts, movement, drama, music, and writing. This program is ideal for students interested in pursuing a career in art therapy or psychology. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families in a variety of settings.

Rank 5
Seton Hill University
Greensburg, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy from Seton Hill University is a preprofessional degree that prepares students for graduate study in art therapy or other helping professions. The program combines art and psychology to help students make a difference in the world. Students in the program will explore community arts, complete field work, and enjoy state-of-the-art facilities.

Rank 6
Arcadia University
Glenside, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Arcadia University is a very flexible program that allows students to tailor their coursework to their specific interests and career goals. The program offers three different tracks: the Core Liberal Arts Track, the Pre-Professional Track, and the Ph.D. Track. The Core Liberal Arts Track is designed for students who want a broad foundation in psychology and the liberal arts. The Pre-Professional Track is for students who want to pursue a specialized profession, such as school psychology, art therapy, or music therapy. The Ph.D. Track is specifically for students who want to enter a Ph.D. program in psychology. All students in the program are required to complete a Senior Capstone Experience, which can be either an internship-based project or an original research-based project.

Rank 7
Marywood University
Scranton, PA

Marywood University’s Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy program is designed for students who are interested in both a commitment to art-making and serving others. The curriculum combines studio art courses with behavioral and social science courses to prepare students for graduate level studies in art therapy. The program emphasizes the healing and therapeutic qualities of art for the clients served. Students are taught and guided by registered and board certified art therapists who are active clinicians and artists. Art therapy coursework is presented through hands-on experiences that encourage creativity as students gain knowledge of current trends in art therapy. Additionally, students complete an art therapy internship under supervision of an art therapy professional.

Rank 8
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture is a professional pathway program that integrates mental health, human services and the creative process. The program supports students’ development of a broad range of skills needed to succeed in careers from art therapy to counseling, enriching the lives of individuals, families and communities.

Tyler Art Therapy offers students access to the resources of the nation’s leading art schools; a large, urban, public research university; and faculty who are committed to the power of healing through art. Students benefit from the school’s location in Philadelphia and the city’s rich array of schools, communities, clinics, museums and galleries near Temple, opening up opportunities for networking, internships, jobs and graduate school.

Rank 9
Concordia University-Chicago
River Forest, IL

Concordia University-Chicago’s Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Art Therapy is a great choice for students who want to become art therapists. The program is very intensive and will prepare students for success in art therapy graduate work. Students will take courses in studio art, psychology, and professional strategies for artists. The program also includes an internship, which will give students the opportunity to gain experience in the field.

Rank 10
Ohio University
Lancaster, OH

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Therapy from Ohio University focuses on the intersection of visual art and mental health. Students will take a variety of courses in studio arts, art history, and psychology in order to develop their skills in creating artwork, understanding art in context, and understanding human psychology.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Art Therapy Program

Students in a bachelor’s in art therapy program can expect to take classes that focus on the relationship between art and mental health. The coursework emphasizes the use of art as a therapeutic tool to help people cope with psychological issues. Students learn about the history and theory of art therapy, as well as how to apply it in clinical settings.

Most programs require students to complete an internship, which gives them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with clients. In addition to coursework, students in a bachelor’s in art therapy program often have to complete a thesis or capstone project.

To be successful in a bachelor’s in art therapy program, students should have strong communication and interpersonal skills. They should also be creative and have the ability to think outside the box.

Common Art Therapy Courses

Art therapy degree programs typically include a combination of art and psychology courses. Students learn how to use art to help people heal from psychological trauma. The following is a list of five common courses found in art therapy programs.

Psychology of Art

This course covers the psychological aspects of art and the artist. Topics include the creative process, perception, cognition, motivation, emotions, and personality as they relate to the study and production of art. Upon completion, students should be able to apply psychological principles to the understanding of themselves and others as expressed through the arts.

Theory and Practice in Art Therapy

This course covers the history and theory of art therapy with an emphasis on the relationship between the creative process and healing. Emphasis is placed on the major schools of thought in art therapy, the use of art in therapy, and the application of art therapy with diverse populations. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the major schools of thought in art therapy to the understanding of the creative process and its relationship to healing.

Group Art Therapy

This course covers the use of art in group therapy to facilitate healing and growth. Emphasis is placed on the group process, art materials, and the application of art in group therapy. Topics include group dynamics, art materials and techniques, art as a means of communication, and the use of art in group therapy with diverse populations. Upon completion, students should be able to apply knowledge of group process, art materials, and techniques to facilitate group art therapy.


This course is an introduction to the scientific study of human social behavior, with an emphasis on how sociological research can be used to explain and solve social problems. Topics include social interaction, socialization, culture, deviance, crime, family, education, religion, politics, economics, and social stratification. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the sociological imagination to understand their own lives and the lives of others, use basic sociological research methods to test hypotheses about social phenomena, and think critically about social issues and problems.

Ethics and Professional Issues in Art Therapy

This course covers professional and ethical issues related to the field of art therapy. Topics include the history and development of art therapy as a profession, professional organizations and credentialing, ethical and legal issues, standards of practice, and research. Upon completion, students should be able to apply ethical and professional standards to their own practice, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, and understand the role of research in the profession.

Career Options for Art Therapy Graduates

Graduates of art therapy programs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and community centers. They may also work in private practice or research.

Art Therapist

Art therapists use art-making as a way to help people explore their emotions, deal with stress, and work through trauma or other challenges. The therapist might provide a prompt or topic for the patient to work on, but ultimately it’s up to the patient to express themselves through art, whether that’s painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, or some other medium. Art therapists typically have a master’s degree in art therapy or a related field, and they must be licensed in the state where they practice.

Activities Director

Activities directors work in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, retirement communities, daycare centers, and schools. They’re responsible for leading activities and programs that are designed to engage and enrich the lives of those they work with. This can include developing new programs, leading existing programs, and training and supervising staff. Activities directors often work with a team of activity specialists and may have supervisory responsibilities.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors provide therapy to individuals, couples, families, and groups who are dealing with emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues. Counselors typically work in private practices, but they may also work in hospitals, clinics, schools, and other settings. In addition to providing therapy, counselors may also be responsible for conducting assessments, developing treatment plans, and providing referrals to other mental health professionals or community resources.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of disabilities, from mild to severe. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with different types of disabilities. They also develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for each student, which outline the goals and objectives for that student’s education. Special education teachers typically work in public schools, although some work in private schools or specialized private facilities.

Art Teacher

Art teachers work in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as in after-school programs, community centers, and other settings. They develop and teach lesson plans that introduce students to a variety of art forms and styles, often with an emphasis on a particular medium, such as painting, sculpture, or photography. Art teachers also create assignments and projects that challenge students to explore their creativity, express their ideas, and develop their technical skills. In addition to teaching, art teachers may also be responsible for maintaining their classroom and art supplies, grading student work, and communicating with parents or guardians.

Insights From an Art Therapy Graduate

Ernesto Grant is an Art Therapist at NYU Langone Health. He has a bachelor’s degree in art therapy from Pratt Institute. Ernesto has over 7 years of experience as an art therapist.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Art Therapy degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Ernesto Grant: I made the most of my Art Therapy degree program by completing an internship in my field of interest. I also took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. I believe that these experiences helped me to be competitive when applying for jobs after graduation.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Ernesto Grant: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to help people through tough times and see them grow and heal. The most challenging aspect is when people do not want to or cannot engage in the process.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Ernesto Grant: The most challenging course I took was art therapy and the human experience. The course was very theoretical and we had to read a lot of dense material. My advice for students who are about to start this course is to be prepared to do a lot of reading and to be prepared to discuss the material in class.


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