Bachelors in Art Therapy: Program Overview

Students in undergraduate art therapy programs learn the basics of various artistic media and how to utilize those media to treat depressed or emotionally conflicted patients. Discover more about the program and its career outcomes.

Essential Information

Art therapists combine psychology and creative art forms to treat patients suffering from emotional conflicts. The most typical undergraduate degree available in the subject is a Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy degree. Some of these programs and coursework are available online.

Students who are interested in becoming registered art therapists must attend a school that is accredited by the American Art Therapy Association. Before students are allowed to graduate and enroll in a master's degree program in art therapy, which is required for certification by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, they generally must create a strong portfolio of artwork and complete at least one clinical internship or volunteer fieldwork experience.

Bachelor's Degree in Art Therapy

Universities and colleges offering 4-year bachelor's degree programs in art therapy typically require that incoming students hold high school diplomas and relatively high scores on standardized tests, such as the ACT or SAT. Students should also demonstrate some artistic ability and should be interested in helping people. The courses found within an undergraduate degree program in art therapy are typically a combination of art and psychology classes. Some examples include:

  • Artistic expression
  • Drawing
  • Art history
  • Visual art therapy
  • Art with diverse groups
  • Abnormal psychology

Popular Career Options

An undergraduate degree in art therapy often prepares students to enter a master's degree program in the subject, but it can also prepare graduates for entry-level careers in the field. Some of these include:

  • Art therapist assistant
  • Rehabilitation aide
  • Activities specialist
  • Child welfare specialist
  • Therapeutic staff support
  • Life skills counselor

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary information specifically for art therapists, the BLS stated recreation workers, including activities specialists, earned a median wage of $23,320 and fine artists earned a median wage of $46,460 in May 2015. The projected job growth for recreation workers is 10% from 2014-2024, while the job growth for fine and craft artists is only 2% for those same years.

Continuing Education Options

A master's degree is very common for art therapy students, and is often required for aspiring art therapists. Graduate programs in the field typically include a combination of core art and psychology classes, hands-on clinical experience and research hours. Many different states have their own requirements for art therapists, and often offer their own association boards through which individuals can achieve licensure and registration in the profession.

Art therapy bachelor's degree programs combine clinical experience and coursework in art and psychology. Normally, students continue their education to earn a master's degree in the field, as it is usually required to become an art therapist.

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