The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers several undergraduate courses for students interested in exploring art therapy as a future profession or considering how the approaches and philosophies of the field can inform their artistic development. While SAIC does not offer a formal undergraduate major in Art Therapy, Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students can combine practical Cooperative Education Internships with psychology classes from the Liberal Arts department with their studio coursework as a preparation for a graduate education in Art Therapy.

Students interested in the principles and practices of art therapy are encouraged to enroll in:

ARTHER 1101 Explorations in Community-based Practice—This studio course explores expanded modes of practice for artists working with communities. Various approaches and strategies of engagement are explored. Off-campus experiential opportunities and service learning are key aspects of this course. Readings, guest lectures, and discussions are used to present various perspectives on art education, art therapy, artists-in-residencies, and other contexts in which artists engage communities.

ARTTHER 2010 The Creative Process as Art Therapy—This class explores and implements concepts from art therapy and related fields and presents a blend of approaches including Eastern traditions, Jungian psychology, and other sources. Studio work and writing are used as tools to understand and cultivate the discipline of self-awareness.

ARTTHER 3009 Introduction to Art Therapy—Open to students at junior level and above, this course offers a didactic and experiential overview of the history, theory, and practice of art therapy processes and approaches as well as a survey of populations, settings, and applications.

ARTTHER 3010 Video and the Human Experience—Art therapy considers many aspects of the interplay of art and the human experience: health, suffering, healing, and creativity. This course will entail the viewing and making of videos to investigate and critique these and related issues. Students will explore the documentary and educational potential of video, its use as a clinical tool, and its capacity as a medium for personal creative expression within the context of art therapy and beyond. Reading, discussion, audiovisual presentations, and digital video production constitute the structure of this class. 

ARTTHER 3012 Ritual and Artmaking in Healing—This class explores the use of ritual and artmaking for personal and societal healing. Students reflect on ritual as part of daily life, cultural rituals, and life-cycle rituals and examine the process by which art embodies, represents, and transforms rituals. The exploration of artmaking and healing rituals in a sampling of cultures, both ancient and contemporary, provides a context for class discussion, group projects, and personal art practice. The role that ritual and artmaking play in encouraging personal healing and promoting social cohesion is discussed and explored.

ARTTHER 4005 Archive and Everyday LifeArchives exist in both physical and imaginative spaces. Traditional archives preserve, patrol, and regulate the production of institutional history and cultural memory. Increasingly, the archive has become a site of critical practice that disrupts its privileged status as a site for affirming cultural norms. This course examines the archive from various perspectives to question its role in everyday life and explore its political implications. Engaging both theory and practice, students not only examine various ways in which artists, scholars, and writers have produced archives, but also experiment with creating their own archives.

Interested in learning more?

Learn more about degree requirements at our BFA in Studio page. For more information, contact the admissions office at 800.232.7242 or or schedule a tour.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or