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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree in Art Therapy

Majors Overview March 21, 2015

Get information about a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program in Art Therapy and its education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree Programs in Art Therapy

Creative art forms and psychology are used in combination by art therapists in treatment of patients suffering from emotional conflicts. Schools typically offer a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Art Therapy. Students that wish to go on to earn a master’s degree in the field would benefit from enrolling in this program. Certification by the Art Therapy Credentials Board is obtainable through completion of a master’s degree.

Students enrolled in undergraduate art therapy programs gain an overview of personality theory, ceramics, drawing, art history, child psychology, and general psychology.

Students learn the basics of various artistic mediums while also being taught ways of utilizing those mediums in the treatment of emotionally conflicted or depressed patients. Akin to other bachelor’s degree programs, Bachelors in Art Therapy degree programs require enrolled students to complete general education courses, such as social studies, mathematics, and English composition.

Students aspiring to become registered art therapists need to complete a program that carries accreditation by the American Art Therapy Association. Creation of a strong portfolio of artwork, completion of courses in behavioral science and psychology, and completion of at least one volunteer fieldwork or clinical internship experience are required of students before they graduate from the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma, in addition to relatively high scores on standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT. Some artistic ability and an interest in helping people should also be demonstrated.


Coursework in an undergraduate degree program in art therapy typically combines art and psychology classes. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Adult development
•Art with diverse groups
•Visual art therapy
•Creative connections
•Artistic expression
•Art history
•Abnormal psychology

Career Choices

Upon completion of an undergraduate degree in art therapy, students may either pursue a master’s degree in the field or choose from various popular career options:

•Art teacher’s aide
•Therapeutic staff support
•Child welfare specialist
•Life skills counselor
•Activities specialist
•Rehabilitation aide
•Art therapist assistant
•Community art advisor
•Artist in residence
•Teaching artist

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth rate of 14% has been predicted for recreation workers. Over the same period, fine and craft artists are expected to see a job growth rate of only 3% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, recreation workers brought home an average annual wage of $22,240, while fine artists earned $44,380 over the same period (BLS).

Continuing Education Options

Art therapy students commonly pursue a master’s degree, which is often considered mandatory for aspiring art therapists. Graduate programs in the field typically combine core psychology and art courses, research experience, and hands-on clinical experience. Requirements vary by state for art therapists, who often have to satisfy norms established by individual state boards in order to obtain licensure and professional registration.

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