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 SAIC Internships with psychology classes from the Liberal Arts department and studio coursework as a preparation for a graduate education in Art Therapy.

The profession of art therapy requires a master's degree. To learn about the SAIC Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program, please download the Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling Program Guide [PDF] for detailed information. Undergraduate students interested in eventually applying to graduate art therapy programs in the United States should take the required pre-requisite minimums: 12 semester credits in psychology courses, including Abnormal Psychology and Developmental Psychology, and 18 semester credits in studio art courses. Undergraduate 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 3020 Expressive Arts in Therapy—This course will explore the relevance of imagery, creative writing, storytelling, nature, drama, music, and dance as communication and change agents for diverse lives and contemporary communities. Students will work in small group to research artists and creative works that embody substantiality, foster growth or healing, and articulate the power of imagination using an expressive therapies model. Engaging in a Personal Geography project students will discuss the use of creative expression, processing, and product in a multicultural context. (3 credits)

ARTTHER/PERF 3034 Disparate Bodies—This studio seminar focuses on how performance processes can facilitate social changed in the community. Students examine various forms of performative activism and intergroup dialogue as a means to address issues of privilege, social identity and structures of power. A key aspect of the course will take place in an off campus community setting. The course will present various perspectives that can benefit artists, educators, art therapists and community workers to engage communities and increase awareness. (3 credits)

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