Listed below are the answers to several questions most frequently asked of our Admissions staff.

Is this program approved?

Yes, as of spring 1998, the Art Therapy concentration is an approved program with the American Art Therapy Association. Additionally, Naropa University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA) since 1986.

What prerequisites do I need?

The undergraduate prerequisites are 18 semester credits (or the equivalent in quarters) in studio art from an accredited university, including 6 credits in 2D studies (drawing and painting) and 3 credits in 3D studies in either ceramics or sculpture, and 9 additional elective credits in other studio art courses such as (but not limited to) printmaking, film, digital arts, metals/jewelry, photography, fiber-textile arts, and either sculpture or ceramics if not taken for the 3-D requirement. In addition to the required coursework in drawing, painting, and either ceramics or sculpture, we anticipate that our applicants will have well-rounded experience with various art materials and processes.

 Twelve semester credits in psychology including 3 credits each in Developmental or Lifespan Psychology, Psychopathology or Abnormal Psychology and Personality Theories, as well another elective psychology course (3 credits) are also required. We strongly encourage prospective students to apply even if they haven’t completed all prerequisite courses. If this is the case, please clearly state in your application how and when you plan to complete these outstanding courses before classes begin at Naropa.

Do I have to be a successful, competent artist to be accepted into the program or to be an art therapist?

There is no expectation that students be professional artists. However, while we do not require our students to be successful professionals, we do want our students to be, active, engaged artists. Basically, the best way to learn about art therapy is to create your own artwork.

What about the portfolio requirements?

You will notice that a twenty-slide (or digital CD) portfolio is required along with a typed summary and a brief descriptive comment for each piece. Please understand that your work will not be subjected to a gallery-type critique. Nevertheless, the practice of art therapy presupposes a working relationship with basic art media (drawing material, paint, clay and a familiarity with the artistic journey that goes beyond  classroom assignments). Please send a disc in a proper envelope or your slides in one 8 ½" x 11" "sleeve" sheet. If you would like them returned to you once an admission decision has been made, include a self-addressed return envelope (padded) and adequate postage.

How experienced do I need to be at working with others before applying to the program?

It is important to pursue some form of foundational working knowledge with various client populations before applying to the program. This can be accomplished through volunteer work or a paid position prior to submitting your application; however, this is not a requirement and should not prevent someone from applying to the program.

How long will it take to complete the program?

The Art Therapy concentration is a 62-credit, three-year (six semester) program, which provides a strong sense of community among students and allows time for deeper integration of course work while offering the ability to maintain outside obligations to self-care, work and family. 

What is the Counseling Experiential requirement?

The Counseling Experiential requires that our students participate in a thirty-hour counseling relationship with a qualified psychotherapist of their choosing (it is recommended but not required that this requirement is fulfilled with a registered art therapist). This component emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and first hand experience in individual therapy. Subsidized counseling provided to Naropa students through Student Affairs may not be used to fulfill the Counseling Experiential requirement.

I'm not sure art therapy is the career for me. Where else can I get information about the profession

Start with the American Art Therapy Association website. Network within your state art therapy association. Review these periodicals: American Journal of Art Therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy: The Journal of the American Art Therapy Association.

How much do I need to know about Art Therapy, Transpersonal Psychology and contemplative practice for entry into the program?

We strongly recommend that interested students inform themselves about Art Therapy and Transpersonal Psychology by reading the suggested books listed on our website. We also prefer our applicants to have direct experience with some form of contemplative practice. Clearly this invitation can take many forms such as a sitting meditation practice, hatha yoga, martial arts or religious affiliation with a specific tradition. The main point for us is that you practice and consider the fruits of transformation that comes with sincere engagement with your chosen tradition. If you have not yet cultivated a practice, please know that you are still welcome to apply—we just want to invite you to cultivate your own personal path of spiritual transformation.