Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Art Therapy

By Nikita Nath

Updated January 8, 2024
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Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.

Degrees

Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online
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Art therapy is a unique discipline that incorporates many creative methods of expression through visual art media. Students pursuing an art therapy degree online will get a well-rounded experience in education which immerses students in the practice and theory of therapeutic arts. This program teaches students how to use creative skills to resolve emotional conflicts and foster personal growth and self-awareness. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that art therapists’ median average salary is around $55,900[1]. A student who has completed an online art therapy degree can work in hospitals, mental health facilities, and many other organizations where they can work with a varied population.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Art Therapy

The Best Online Art Therapy
Degree Programs

With numerous colleges offering art therapy degrees, finding the right one could be challenging. One needs to consider the program’s cost, structure and mode of delivery, specialization options, affordability, accreditation, faculty quality and experience, and graduation rates. FBD has combed the country for colleges offering art therapy bachelor’s programs and drawn up a list of the best based on these and other critical factors. Here is the list of the best art therapist degree online: *

Lindenwood University, founded in 1827, is a private university in St. Charles, Missouri. Through 9 colleges and schools, the university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees to more than 6,900 students.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Lindenwood University-Oncampus 209 S Kingshighway, Saint Charles, Missouri 63301 $18,640 53%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from Art Therapy
Online Programs

The online art therapy degree requires students to complete about 120 credits. The program is offered online but is also available on-campus or in a hybrid mode that combines in-person and online classes. The degree’s curriculum is designed to provide holistic education to students, which transforms the way they look at the subject of art therapy. The bachelor’s degree will give them an integrated educational experience in the theory and practice of art therapy. Students will learn how to use art to resolve emotional and mental conflicts and grow self-awareness among themselves and their clients. The program also focuses on art application, assessment, and techniques to help students connect with struggling clients to verbalize their feelings and develop efficient art-based strategies to help them with their daily functioning. Students also engage in experiential learning through internships and fieldwork, which are part of the curriculum.

Most art therapy degree online programs differ in curriculum depending on the institution and its requirements. However, some of the standard courses found in most programs include:

Art History

This course gives students a background of how art came to be studied and its relevance to various periods in human history. It emphasizes the broader aspects of visual cultures and historical emphasis on sculptures, architecture, ceramics, and other forms of art.

Contemporary Art

In this course, students understand artworks produced after the modern art movement took place. The period of artwork they study roughly ranges from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. They also try to understand the contextual frameworks around cultural identity, community, nationalism, and aspects relevant to contemporary art.

Creative Arts

In this course, students focus on creative arts and their non-verbal expressions. They learn to develop imagination and innovative arts-based techniques to understand the emotional expression of students. The course teaches how to use creative arts for healing and bettering the well-being of individuals.

Senses Awareness and Development

This course teaches students about higher-level consciousness, including sound, taste, smell, sight, and touch. They acquire skills like promoting sensory development in individuals, especially children.

Some examples of other courses one can expect in the bachelor’s degree in art therapy are:

  • Art and Philosophy
  • Art and Religion
  • Color Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Chinese and Japanese Art
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Cognitive Development
  • Artistic Design
  • General Psychology
  • Child Psychology
  • Statistics and Experimental Methods
  • Sculpture
  • Painting
  • Theories of Personality

Read the Guide to Bachelor Programs to understand more about bachelor’s programs.

Degree Types for Art Therapy
Degree Online Programs

The art therapy online degree is frequently offered in three variations – the Bachelor of Arts in Arts Therapy or BA in Arts Therapy, the Bachelor of Creative Arts Therapy or BCT, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Therapy or BFA art therapy. These degrees differ slightly in their orientation and focus, but they all aim at similar outcomes.

Bachelor of Arts in Arts Therapy

The Bachelor of Arts in Arts Therapy or BA Arts Therapy is the most common degree in art therapy. The degree uses a combination of psychology and arts-based strategies in its curriculum. It aims to provide knowledge of art therapy and train students to be professionals in this field while helping them understand the underlying concepts and principles of art therapy.

Bachelor’s in Creative Arts Therapy or BCT

The Bachelor’s in Creative Arts Therapy or BCT is a degree program that uses art to help students understand the professional relationship they will develop with clients experiencing challenges in living, battling illness, and seeking overall personal development. Students learn to apply the principles and concepts of therapeutic art practice and focus on using creative expression through different arts that foster mental well-being and healing.

Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Therapy or BFA Art Therapy

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Therapy or BFA Art Therapy aims to provide students with a broad knowledge and expertise in the field of art therapy. The degree emphasizes the underlying concepts and principles related to the art-making processes. It helps students understand artistic fields, methodology, skills, and industries.

Areas of Specialization for Art
Therapy Online Programs

Students can focus on one area within art therapy and become experts in it through specialization. Specialization also usually leads to niche jobs and easier employability in a wide range of settings. Some areas of specialization students can take up in art therapy degrees online are:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Sculpture TherapyIn this concentration, students engage in sculpting based on art therapy. They understand how sculpting can be used to create objects representing a thing or thought.Art therapists, sculptors, public artists, studio artists, art directors
Expressive Arts TherapyExpressive arts therapy is a multimodal and integrative approach that utilizes many methods, including visual arts, drama, writing, and dance, for people to attain more personal growth. The subject helps individuals explore different forms of expressive art.Jobs in nonprofits and healthcare industries
Painting TherapyIn this specialization, students understand painting therapy’s role in promoting social skills and self-improvement. They learn how to use painting therapy to deal with traumatic and emotional problems that individuals go through. Jobs as art therapists in individual, group, or community settings
Art CounsellingArt counseling is a specialization that uses arts to communicate and express. Students learn how to use art to facilitate individual and group counseling settings. They will also learn to use the arts for team-building activities. As art therapists that work with individuals with disabilities and special needs students and in addiction centers and counseling settings
Creative Arts TherapyIn this concentration, students focus on creating a performance or product to address cognitive, emotional, social, and physical issues through the art process. They learn about many strategies and tools to help individuals cope with mental disorders.Creative arts therapists, art therapists, drama therapists, etc.
Photography and PhototherapyIn the specialization, students learn how to use phototherapy techniques to bring deep insights and enhance communication with clients. They learn to use photo-interactive activities to increase the self-awareness of clients. As art therapists in community, individual, and hospital settings

Why should I do an Art Therapy
Degree Online?

The art therapy degree online program benefits students who want to develop the ability to evaluate, apply, integrate, and transfer information learned to specific disciplinary or social contexts. Through the program, students will learn how to use available technology to interpret, present, and retrieve all kinds of information related to art therapy. One of the most efficient skills that the students pursuing this degree would develop is the ability to participate and identify the information required for emotional, technical, and creative human expression. They can also understand how to evaluate and apply the findings they came across in the curriculum and use them in real-world situations.

The online art therapy bachelor’s degree curriculum equips students to develop certain abilities that foster their development in life and academics. Those interested in art and the therapeutic values one can bring out and use to reach out to people with behavioral and mental problems are best suited to take up the art therapy degree. The ability to heal or comfort people in unusual, unique, or distinct ways can be a rich and rewarding experience.

This program has many learning outcomes transferable to the student’s personal and professional development. After earning their degrees, students will be able to showcase specific and diverse skills, including the ability to:

  • synthesize and analyze the different elements of art therapy and put them together as a whole to be used as effective strategies;
  • communicate effectively by exchanging thoughts, opinions, feelings, and ideas amongst different cultural groups, using symbols, signs, gestures, and language appropriate for everyday use;
  • demonstrate knowledge and expertise in intercultural understanding by engaging in behaviors that encourage efficient relationships in individual or group settings while respecting cultural differences;
  • make decisions based on values by perceiving what the individual finds socially worthwhile, beautiful, and ethical;
  • cultivate different perspectives and understandings of human expressions, which can be integrated into one’s cognitive, affective responses and individual spiritual experience of arts;
  • find solutions to different situations and complex questions presenting difficulty and uncertainty;
  • interact, interpret and manipulate numbers and data to be able to draw logical inferences and practical applications of those inferences; and
  • demonstrate responsibility in society by accepting responsibilities and developing efficient art-based solutions.

To understand more about bachelor’s degrees, read the Guide to Bachelor Programs.

Free Courses for Art Therapy
Degree Online Students

There are many free courses that students pursuing an online art therapy degree could pursue. One can take them to gain insights into different topics in art therapy or explore several components of art therapy and their real-world applications. Free courses can also be used for personal and professional therapy applications. Here are a few examples:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Introduction to PsychologyThrough this free course, students can learn about the cures and causes of mental illness. The course tries to answer students’ questions about mental health. It also attempts to provide a comprehensive understanding of behavior and thought. Coursera
Dementia and the Art-Online CourseThis course is designed for students interested in the field of dementia and art therapy. Students will learn how to use art to communicate the experiences of people who are living with dementia. They will understand how to use art features to help treat dementia. Future Learn
Art and Ideas: Teaching with ThemesThis course helps students build skills that support them with theme-based teaching practices. It helps them build confidence in integrating contemporary and modern art.Coursera

How to get into Art Therapy Degree
Online Programs?

Every college has its own eligibility criteria and requirements that incoming students must meet. Although at most institutions, no minimum grade point average or standardized test score is required to enter a bachelor’s in art therapy, applicants in good academic standing will be preferred for admission. Some of the art therapy degree admissions requirements common to most universities across the United States are:

  • Completed application form with fee
  • 130 credits or more in secondary school (differs by the institution)
  • ACT and SAT (optional at some colleges)
  • Official high school transcripts
  • Personal Statement (should be well written as it highlights the writing ability of the student)
  • Evidence of extracurricular activities and other accomplishments
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Portfolio (optional for some programs)
  • Interview with an admissions counselor (required by some colleges)

How Long does it take to complete an Art
Therapy Degree Online?

Full-time students usually take about four years to complete an art therapy online degree. But one should note that the duration of a program will be influenced by the delivery mode (online, offline, or hybrid), the chosen specialization, and any internship, fieldwork, or capstone requirements. Some universities allow students to pursue the program part-time, in which case they would require four to six years to complete. Here is a quick summary of the art therapy online degree duration:

  • Time to complete a full-time art therapy bachelor’s degree: about 4 years
  • Time to complete a part-time art therapy bachelor’s degree: between 4 and 6 years
  • Total credits required: about 120

Accelerated Art Therapy
Degree Online

An accelerated degree helps individuals fast-track their studies and lessen the years it would take to complete the program. Students can take on more course load in a shorter timeframe, although they will have the same coursework as a traditional degree. Accelerated programs are also usually cheaper because of the lesser time spent in college, but they tend to be demanding and taxing with time and effort. Here are a couple of examples of accelerated art therapy degree online programs:

  • Ursuline College – offers an option for a bridge program in the art therapy bachelor’s degree. Students can bridge from a bachelor of arts into a master of arts degree or opt for a 3+3 bridge program. 
  • Carlow University – offers a bachelor’s degree in art therapy with an option to fast-track the program by allowing students to transfer up to 90 credits.

Accreditations for Art Therapy
Degree Online

The accreditation process ensures that colleges provide students with good-quality education that meets the highest standards. The Art Therapy Credentials Board approves most art therapy programs in alignment with the American Art Therapy Association. The board manages all the testing and credentialing processes of art therapists across the United States. It also ensures that organizations providing accredited art therapy degree online programs adhere to high levels of quality. Another agency that issues guidelines for art therapy programs is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

In the absence of programmatic accreditation, students should at least consider universities accredited regionally or nationally. In most instances, they are accredited by six regional agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The six are:

  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

To understand more about accreditation, read the Guide to College Accreditation.

How to Pay for an Online
Art Therapy Degree?

An art therapy degree online is usually a pricey endeavor. Although students who attend classes online do not have to pay for transportation, food, or other campus-related expenses, those who choose the online option must still pay a high tuition fee, which can run into tens of thousands of dollars. Students with financial constraints can use the following outside funding sources to help reduce their financial burden:

Scholarships

Scholarships are popular among students because they are easy to find and do not require repayment. These awards are given to deserving and meritorious students based on their academic performance and accomplishments.

Grants

Grants, like scholarships, do not have to be repaid. In contrast to scholarships, which are typically awarded based on academic merit, grants are usually awarded based on a student’s financial needs and economic status.

Work-Study Programs

Students can fund their education by working part-time while enrolled in a work-study program. The majority of these positions are related to the student’s academic or volunteer interests. Participating in work-study programs can also provide valuable work experience.

Student Loans

A student loan is another option for students who require additional funding and may not qualify for federal aid. These loans are distributed by banks and financial institutions. A loan to pay for education will increase the total cost because interest will be added to the loan. Understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans by reading about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans.

FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students can fill out and submit to check if they qualify. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Find out more about financial aid and everything there is to know about college funding in the How to Pay for College guide.

Scholarships for Art
Therapy Students

A scholarship is an excellent funding mechanism for those looking to offset some or all the high college education costs. Scholarships are frequently given to meritorious students with outstanding academic track records. Others who have excelled in extracurricular activities or who can demonstrate financial need may also be eligible for select scholarships. Here are a few options that online art therapy degree students can explore:

ScholarshipDescriptionAward/AmountApplication Deadline
Nancy Mattis Memorial ScholarshipThe Seattle Art-Therapy-NW Creative and Expressive Arts Institute provides the Nancy Mattis Memorial Scholarship, which aims to provide students with the tuition fee to pursue various expressive arts therapy programs with a professional training orientation.VariesClosed for 2023 | TBA for 2024
Creative Art Therapies ScholarshipThe Fine Arts Association provides the Creative Art Therapies Scholarship. Deserving students and those from lower economic backgrounds are eligible for this scholarship. The student’s family income must be 200% below the federal poverty line.VariesVaries
Marcia L. Rosal Fund for Art Therapy ScholarshipThe Marcia L. Rosal Fund for Art Therapy scholarship is awarded to students in their second year of studying an art therapy program at Florida State University. It allows students to advance their art therapy knowledge without financial burden.VariesClosed for 2023 | TBA for 2024

FAQs Related to Art Therapy
Online Programs

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is the collaboration of mental health and human services professions that enriches the lives of families, communities, and individuals through various active art-making, applied psychological theories, and human experiences within the therapy.

What career options are available after completing an art therapy program?

How much does a bachelor’s in art therapy cost?

Can you get an art therapy degree online?

What kind of coursework does the Bachelor of Art in art therapy online have?

Is a bachelor’s in art therapy enough to become an art therapist?

Career Opportunities and Salaries
after Art Therapy Degree Online

With mental health issues on the rise and people scrambling for new and novel treatment methods,  several career opportunities are available for students with art therapy degrees online. Art therapy is not a distinct occupation but a style of therapy. Therefore, the places where art therapists could be employed and use their skills would depend on the individual’s skills, interests, and career objectives. Some of the positions and roles they could take up are:

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Medical and Health Services ManagersMedical and health service managers direct, plan, and coordinate business activities with healthcare providers. They work in healthcare facilities, including hospitals and other medical practice organizations.Analytical skills, organizational skills, communication skills$101,34028% (much faster than average)
Recreational TherapistsRecreational therapists direct, plan, and coordinate recreation-based treatments of patients. They use art therapy or other creative therapies to work with injured, ill, or disabled people.Communication skills, creativity, divergent thinking skills$47,9404% (faster than average)
Special Education TeachersSpecial education teachers work in public schools, non-profit organizations, or community settings. They help students with physical and emotional challenges to lead normal and balanced lives.Interpersonal skills, communication skills, compassion$61,8204% (as fast as average)
Career and Technical Education TeachersCareer and technical education teachers teach cosmetology, culinary arts, auto repair, etc. They teach vocational and technical content to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to enter the workforce.Analytical skills, verbal skills, interpersonal skills$61,1602% (slower than average)
High School TeachersHigh school teachers teach academic lessons, and other varied skills students need to attend college or start their careers.Verbal skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills$61,5708% (faster than average)
Teacher AssistantsTeaching assistants work with licensed teachers to give special attention to students through instruction and helping them with additional tasks.Verbal skills, interpersonal skills$29,3605% (as fast as average)
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorsSubstance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and advise people suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, or other behavioral and mental problems.Interpersonal skills, social skills, verbal skills$48,52022% (much faster than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Art
Therapy Degree Online Students

Gaining professional certifications is crucial for one’s personal and professional growth. Certification will help individuals gain new skills and stay updated with the emerging changes and trends in their field. Employers often prefer candidates who are certified because apart from the degree one holds, certification is proof that one has the required expertise and high professional standards. Unfortunately, bachelor’s degree holders are not qualified for licensure and most certifications; a master’s degree is the minimum requirement.

Additional Resources for Art Therapy
Degree Online Students

For students pursuing degrees in art therapy, it is imperative to understand how the therapy is practiced in different settings like clinics, public, community agencies, and hospitals and get to know the new developments in the field. Joining art and mental health organizations can provide insight into understanding how different art therapies are helpful in real-life situations. One could also make use of the many resources available, such as publications, journals, conferences, forums, etc. Here are a few resources that art therapy degree online students can consider:

Title/ResourceDescription
American Art Therapy AssociationThe American Art Therapy Association is a non-profit, professional organization. It is an educational institution dedicated to the development and growth of the art therapy profession and is one of the world’s leading organizations in art therapy.
Americans for the ArtsAmerican for the Arts is an organization that aims to build support and recognition for using arts in diverse areas. They use art to transform people’s lives in different situations, like at-risk youth, veterans, etc. They have a diverse network of organizations and individuals
National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies AssociationsThe National Coalition of Creative Art Therapies Associations (NCCATA) promotes art therapy, dance/movement therapy, poetry therapy, and music therapy. They are a coalition of various organizations; they do not have individual members. Instead, they have separate membership organizations.
Art FeedsArt Feeds is a nonprofit art education organization offering more than 400 projects and lessons for children of all ages. These lessons are fun and engaging and help build children’s social and emotional skills. Members of the organization can use these resources for multiple purposes. 
Mental Health Liaison GroupThe Mental Health Liaison Group, or MHLG, is a collaboration of national organizations representing mental health and addiction providers, advocates, consumers, family members, and more. They collaborate with over 60 member organizations dedicated to elevating the conversation around mental health.

Author Bio:

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.

Degrees

Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online

Disclaimer:

The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.