AcademicsUndergraduate AcademicsDegree in Art Therapy

BA in Art Therapy

Degree in Art Therapy

Explore the healing power of art by combining your unique artistic process with the study of traditional and Eastern psychology in Naropa’s Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy.

Program Overview

Naropa’s Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy offers dynamic, community, hands-on learning, and a deeply introspective undergraduate curriculum that addresses heart, mind, and spirit. 

Naropa’s degree in Art Therapy emphasizes mindfulness, both in the artistic process and in the approach to teaching the psychology behind effective art therapy.

Major in art therapy at the only Buddhist-inspired accredited university in the United States.

As the West’s founding school for contemplative education, Naropa integrates mind, body, and spirit in a holistic education aimed at transforming students, communities, and the world.

Naropa offers both an undergraduate art therapy program and a graduate art therapy program, resulting in rich opportunities for mentorship and career guidance. A graduate mentor will guide you through your major in contemplative art therapy, serving as a sounding board, coach, and support.

You will learn the practice and theory of art therapy at a school that puts mindfulness at the core of its curriculum. As you earn your undergraduate degree in contemplative art therapy, you will master studio techniques, explore Buddhist psychology, collaborate with motivated peers, and engage in fieldwork in the surrounding community.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

Naropa University’s undergraduate program is a four-year, fully accredited Bachelor of Arts program. 

The Art Therapy major is an in-person 51-credit major during which students engage in an in-depth liberal arts education that integrates traditional and new approaches to the behavioral sciences, a strong introduction to art therapy theory, visual arts studio education, and community-based service learning opportunities. The innovative, carefully designed curriculum blends the intellectual and experiential traditions of East and West perspectives.

The curriculum encompasses both art therapy courses as well as significant credits in visual arts, world art history, and psychology, with a field placement in senior year.

Two people sitting together side by side, only visible from the chest upwards. One is a man with short grey hair and round glasses, and the other is a woman with long, wavy dark brown hair. They are both wearing aprons and their hands are stained with clay.

Course Spotlight

Warrior Artist: Risk and Revelation in Studio Art

In this course, artists evolve into scholarly individuals, emphasizing confidence and articulate expression about their work’s influences. Through research and focused discussions, students clarify their art’s relationship between self and broader contexts. Spontaneous warrior exams challenge students to articulate insights instantly. Essential questions deepen understanding of art’s impact on viewers.


A Bachelor of Arts degree (120 credits) consists of a Core Curriculum (24 credits) and at least one major, as well as minors and/or elective courses of the student’s choosing.

The Art Therapy Major has a total of 51 credit hours.

Art Therapy Major Requirements

  • ATH230 Introduction to Art Therapy (3)

  • ART101 2-D Design: Art Techniques and Experimentation (3)

  • PSYB101 Introduction to Psychology (3)

  • ART125 Introduction to Drawing (3)

  • ART200 The Contemplative Artist (3)

  • ART155 Figure Drawing (3)

  • ART325 Drawing II: Precision, Perception, and Form (3)

  • PSYB368 Psychology and Neuroscience of Emotion (3)
  • ART245 Introduction to Painting: Realism (3)

  • ART215 Watercolor (3)

  • ART345 Painter’s Laboratory (3)

  • ART301 Reconceptualizing Art History (3)

  • ART340 Contemporary Art History 1945 to Present (3)

  • ATH-330 Art Therapy Theory & Applications(3)

  • ATH-430 Art Therapy: Studio Methods(3)

  • PSYB-314 Psychology of Mindfulness Meditation(3)

  • PSYB-325 Awakening Compassion: Working with Others(3)

  • PSYB-345 Developmental Psychology(3)

  • PSYB-371 Personality Theories(3)

  • PSYB-415 Maitri: Working With Emotions(3)

  • PSYB-420 Psychopathology(3)

  • ART440 Warrior Artist: Risk and Revelation in Studio Art (3)

  • COR440 Capstone II (3)

Total: 51 credits

Why Choose Naropa?

Introspective Curriculum

Naropa’s unique Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy not only offers a vibrant arts community and experiential learning, it also delivers a deeply introspective undergraduate curriculum aimed at healing you, your future clients, and the world.

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Community Engagement

With the undergraduate major in art therapy, students can choose between two culminating, senior-year experiences: the Field Placement or the Internship. Both opportunities provide career relevant learning in art therapy and integrate community-oriented skills such as grassroots organizing, grant writing, and policy research.

Graduate Studies

Naropa uniquely offers both an undergraduate art therapy program and a graduate art therapy program, resulting in rich opportunities for mentorship and career guidance. Further your studies after completing your bachelor's with our graduate program: Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Concentration in Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling.

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A woman is sitting on her knees and leaning forward and to the left with her torso. She's wearing black clothes which are partially stained with clay. There is clay all around her and on her hands and face. She seems to be experimenting with the material.

How this Program Prepares You

Diverse Learning

The BA Degree in Art Therapy’s curriculum includes therapy courses, and significant credits in visual arts, world and history, and Buddhist psychology, collaborating with motivated peers, and engaging in fieldwork in the surrounding community all by following in the footsteps of art therapy pioneers.

Contemplative Education

The undergraduate major in art therapy instills mindfulness in art, relationships, and self-knowledge through courses like Buddhist Psychology and Contemplative Ceramics, preparing students for meaningful lives beyond school.

Guidance Opportunities

As one of the country’s few undergraduate art therapy programs paired with a graduate art therapy program, the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art Therapy is uniquely positioned to provide mentorship opportunities. Naropa’s art therapy mentorship program prepares undergraduates to excel in the graduate program, to pursue master’s degrees in studio art, or to step into meaningful careers as art instructors, art coaches, or mental health workers.

What You'll Learn


Learn to look inward as a first step in reaching out to help others.

Graduate School Readiness

Receive mindful mentorship that gives you a head start in graduate school.

Self-Awareness as an Artist

Cultivate confidence and dignity in your work as an artist and art therapist.

Foundation in Studio Art Therapy

Follow in the footsteps of art therapy pioneers.

Relational Skills

Refine communication skills through hands-on learning in diverse settings.

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Career Opportunities with a Degree in Art Therapy

Upon completing Naropa’s degree in Art Therapy, students will be equipped to embark on diverse paths, such as pursuing master’s degrees in studio art, counseling, mental health, and art therapy.
Beyond academia, our graduates find themselves thriving in roles like art instructors, caseworkers, art coaches, mental health professionals, and beyond. The deep understanding of art therapy and visual literacy gained here extends its reach into many career possibilities.

Portrait picture of Naropa graduate Jennifer "Fern" Deininger.

Jennifer "Fern" Deininger

Hear from a Graduate


I know that when I finish the [art therapy] program here at Naropa, I will be set up for and have a lot of advantages when entering grad school.

FAQs About the
Degree in Art Therapy

A BA in Art Therapy opens up several career paths and opportunities. After completing Naropa’s Degree in Art Therapy, you will be equipped to take diverse career paths, such as pursuing master’s degrees in studio art, counseling, mental health, and art therapy.

The difference between the online and on-campus art therapy degrees may hinge on variations in course content, but both programs consist of a comprehensive 51-credit major.

Some of the art therapies you will learn at Naropa include ceramics, clay, sculpture, drawing, painting, and watercolor, among others.

Yes, you need a master’s degree to apply for the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) credential. Additionally, to practice as a counselor in the state of Colorado, you will need a legal license to practice, such as an LPC. You can get your master’s degree by continuing your education in Naropa’s Graduate School concentration in Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling or another art therapy graduate program. 


Learn More About the Program

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with your counselor

Rachel Thompson

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions 

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

Naropa University’s unique approach values both academic excellence as well as the willingness to carry out introspective work.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for first-time and transfer students.

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  • Application Requirements for Students with a 3.0 GPA or Higher
    Applicants who boast a solid academic track record are welcome with minimal eligibility criteria.
  • Application Requirements for Students with Less than 3.0 GPA
    If you recognize opportunities for improvement in your academic history but are eager to embrace the advantages of a Naropa education and play a dynamic role in our growing community, we invite you to submit your application.
  • Transfer Your College Credit
    Bring over 60 or more transferable credits from your previous studies by presenting an official college transcript on top of your application.

Discover all application requirements for first-time and transfer students.

Naropa University values inclusion, diversity, and welcoming people from all cultures, regardless of where they come from. We are excited about the unique contributions you will bring to our friendly and diverse community. Learn more about international students’ applications and admission.

Costs and Financial Aid

We want everyone to have the opportunity to pursue an education at Naropa. Take a look at our page on undergraduate costs and aids to learn more about tuition, scholarships, grants, and financial assistance available at Naropa. You can also use our Net Price Calculator to have an approximation of your expenses at Naropa.

Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to undergraduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our undergraduate scholarship page.
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This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.