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Online Bachelor’s Specialization in Pre-Professional Art Therapy

Unlock your own creativity

As the saying goes, you need to help yourself before you can help others—tapping into the source of your own creativity will provide the basis for your study of art therapy. You’ll gain experience in a wide range of artistic media and approaches, including drawing, painting, and sculpture.

You’ll also cover complete foundational coursework in psychology and human development. MIU’s unique approach to unifying knowledge across disciplines also means that everything you learn will be integrated with your own individual self-development.


Prepare for your future in art therapy

This specialization will prepare you for most graduate programs in art therapy, which is a necessary prerequisite to becoming a licensed art therapist. Art therapy can also be incorporated into other therapeutic practices, if you decide to pursue graduate school in a related field.

In addition to fulfilling all the requirements needed to apply to graduate school for art therapy, we offer some distinctive features that you won’t find anywhere else and can greatly enhance your experience.

MIU offers America’s only accredited degrees in several fields including:

You’ll have the option to take courses in some of these other fields for your elective(s), giving you the opportunity for a broad and well-rounded exposure to other healing modalities.


Develop a broad portfolio under the guidance of nationally-recognized faculty

One strength of our art therapy program is the exceptional quality of our faculty. Their track record of providing outstanding guidance and support to help our students get accepted to prestigious graduate schools is unparalleled in a university of our size.

You’ll get one-on-one attention from faculty in our small classes. You’ll also take a capstone Art Therapy Portfolio Development course that teaches you how to build the portfolio and supplemental materials you’ll need to apply to top graduate programs.

Recent graduates of MIU art programs have attended and/or received scholarships, paid teaching assistantships, or salaried fellowships at the University of Iowa, Penn State, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and Yale University, among others.


Explore inner awareness

MIU provides a unique perspective on traditional psychology, with a focus on developing one’s full potential in the light of consciousness. Self-development and self-awareness are emphasized in all aspects of your university experience.

Our classes will offer you the understanding and tools necessary to begin navigating and articulating the inner workings of the mind. Each course helps build a foundation for future opportunities in impactful careers promoting healing and well-being.

What is art therapy?

logoThe American Association of Art Therapy describes art therapy as a mental health profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Uses and benefits

logoArt therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. It improves cognitive and sensorimotor functions, fosters self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivates emotional resilience, promotes insight, and enhances social skills.

Your career opportunities


In our online specialization, you’ll complete the prerequisites to apply to most graduate programs in art therapy. The licensing available after graduate school is necessary to pursue a board certified career in art therapy.

    Work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or mental health clinics, using art to help patients cope with emotional, physical, or psychological issues.
    Employ art therapy techniques in educational settings to assist students with developmental challenges, emotional stress, or learning disabilities.
    Organize and lead community art programs aimed at promoting mental health and social cohesion in diverse community groups.
    Establish a private practice offering art therapy services to individuals, groups, or families seeking personal development or emotional healing.
    Conduct research to explore and expand the evidence base for art therapy practices and outcomes, contributing to the broader field of mental health.
    Collaborate with special education professionals to design and implement Art therapy interventions that support students with special needs in school settings.
    Specialize in working with elderly populations in settings such as nursing homes or senior centers, using art to improve their cognitive functions and emotional well-being.
    Incorporate art therapy into broader wellness practices, helping clients achieve balance and well-being through creative expression and mindfulness techniques.

Get started by contacting Adriene

Adriene Crimson, admissions counselorAdriene Crimson is this program’s admissions counselor for US students. Adriene will provide you with all the details of becoming a student, including connecting you with the program director or faculty.

Contact Adriene >

Contact Adriene >

International applicants may connect with us through our international inquiry form.


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Online and easy for transfer students

If you transfer in 60 or more credits, your degree can be completed in as little as four semesters. Transfer students can inquire with their admissions counselor to learn the exact number of credits needed to graduate.

This online program allows for maximum flexibility – live and learn wherever suits you best! Earn your degree full- or part-time, whatever works best for you.

TM & Consciousness-Based Education

MIU is the only university that integrates the study of consciousness with practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM®) technique, a powerful tool to promote inner peace and wellness. All students at MIU learn the TM technique, giving them a unique edge as they approach the understanding, exploration, and increase of creativity in their own lives.

You’ll have the opportunity to focus on self-development in addition to gaining the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed — this is the essence of our Consciousness-BasedSM approach to education. We also encourage you to put self-care first and prioritize your own well-being as the basis of being able to support others through the transformative power of art therapy.

Featured faculty

sean downey

Sean Downey

sean downey

Sean Downey received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Boston University. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Steven Zevitas Gallery (Boston, MA) and LaMontagne Gallery (Boston, MA), and has been included in recent group exhibitions at Richard Heller Gallery (Santa Monica, CA), Abigail Ogilvy Gallery (Boston, MA), the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA (Portland, ME), the Leroy Neiman Gallery at Columbia University (New York, NY), LaMontagne Gallery (Boston, MA), and Park Place Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). He is a 2013 recipient of the Blanche E. Colman Award, a 2014 recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, and a 2015 MacDowell Colony Fellow.

Degree requirements

To graduate with a Specialization in Pre-Professional Art Therapy, students must complete:

  • required courses for the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences or any other bachelor’s degree program you choose
  • 32 additional credits of courses to prepare for art therapy including studio art, psychology, and electives

Featured courses

drawing-for-beginners

Drawing for Beginners: The Art of Noticing

drawing-for-beginners

This course will focus on observational drawing as a way to activate seeing and strengthen perception. Students will learn a variety of basic observational drawing approaches and techniques for creating convincing drawings from life.

Painting-the-senses

Painting the Senses

Painting-the-senses

You will explore how paintings and sculptures mirror the qualities and potentials of your own consciousness. You will discover that the greatest art allows us to transcend through all layers of awareness: the senses, intellect, and feelings to universal consciousness, the Unified Field of Awareness deep within everyone.

3D-design

3D Design

3D-design

This course studies the dynamics of three-dimensional design. The media and methods of study emphasized in studio work will include paper, clay, plaster, cardboard, wood, and wire.

models of human development

Models of Human Development

models of human development

We explore models of human development across the lifespan that explain the
transformations of your sense of self through the lifespan. This course allows you to locate your life experience in perspectives on social, mental and ego development and the experience of higher states of consciousness.

Cost & Aid for bachelor’s degree, 2024-25

    US Online Undergraduate

    This estimate is based on one year for a typical online Federal Pell Grant recipient (represents 70% of our online undergraduates). File your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and then contact our financial aid office for questions on variables.

    Annual Cost and Typical Financial Aid
    Tuition and fees$16,190
    Grants and scholarship (typical)-$11,400
    Net cost per year$4,790
    Federal student loan-$4,790
    Your payment$0

    Part time online enrollment is available. Tuition is $600 per credit with normal load of 9-11 credits. Federal student loans are available and the federal Pell Grant is proportional to the credit load.

    Additional Financial Aid Information

    The grants and scholarship described above consist of the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Education Grant, and institutional scholarship based on (1) full-time enrollment and (2) financial need determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    Many companies offer tuition assistance programs to their employees. If you’re currently employed, we encourage you to check on this. If they offer assistance, please contact MIU’s Financial Aid office.
    Federal Student Loans have limits based on lifetime usage, annual limits, and limited to the educational costs for each semester. Here are the annual maximum limits:

    • $5,500 per year for first-year dependent
    • $6,500 per year for second-year dependent
    • $7,500 per year for third, fourth, fifth-year dependent
    • $9,500 per year for first-year independent
    • $10,500 per year for second-year independent
    • $12,500 per year for third, fourth, fifth-year independent
    Federal Student Loan Repayment is postponed as long as you are enrolled at least half-time each semester. If your enrollment drops below half-time, you have a six-month grace period before repayment begins. There are also postponements for low income and unemployment, as well as repayment based on income and Public Service Forgiveness.

    There are a variety of money-saving tax benefits to assist in reducing the cost of education expenses. More about education tax benefits.
    Veterans should contact the VA for information on Veterans Education Benefits. Veterans eligible for BAH monthly benefits: The VA utilizes a scale of credits per block of courses; therefore, the VA sometimes pays part-time benefits for an individual month while the university delivers full-time federal aid for an entire semester. Our Veterans Certifying Official is our Director of Financial Aid.

    Loan Repayment Options

    Payments are a fixed amount that ensures your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
    Payments may be fixed or graduated and will ensure that your loans are paid off within 25 years.
    Payments are lower at first and then increase, usually every two years, and are for an amount that will ensure your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
    Your monthly payments will be either 10 or 15 percent of discretionary income (depending on when you received your first loans), but never more than you would have paid under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.
    Payments are recalculated each year and are based on your updated income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans. Any outstanding balance will be forgiven if you haven’t repaid your loan in full after 25 years.
    Your monthly payment is based on annual income, but your loan will be paid in full within 15 years.

    Tuition, other fees, scholarships, and financial policies are subject to change prior to the entry date. For more information, contact us at finaid@miu.edu for a quick reply — normally one business day — or see more about financial aid.

    International Online Undergraduate

    Typically, online enrollment is two courses at a time (17 credits) or one course at a time (9-11 credits), per semester (two semesters per year).

    Tuition and Fees per Semester
    Full-time (12 or more credits)$8,095
    Fewer than 12 credits$600 per credit


    Tuition, other fees, scholarships, and financial policies are subject to change prior to the entry date.

FAQ

    The Online Specialization in Art Therapy was designed to be completed within one year. Courses are taken two at a time for a total of 8 credits every two months. For students unable to take courses full-time, they can opt to complete the specialization over two years.

    Completion time for the rest of your degree will depend on the degree you choose and if you have transfer credits. Many students opt for the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences as a fast-track degree completion possibility.

    You should plan to spend 12-14 hours per week for a 4-credit eight-week course. If you are taking 2 courses during an eight-week period, you should plan to spend 24-28 hours per week reading, creating assignments and discussion forum posts, and studying course materials. The time it takes to complete an online course successfully depends on your willingness to stick to a regular schedule and learn to study effectively more than on any other factor.
    This specialization prepares you for a graduate program in art therapy. You’ll take courses in studio art, psychology, and electives. Your studies at MIU will include guest lectures by art therapists and a focus on how the subject matter you’re learning can apply to your future in art therapy.

    But the simple answer is “no,” you won’t take “art therapy” courses specifically as part of the specialization at MIU – you’ll get your formal art therapy training in graduate school.

    While practicing as a board certified art therapist requires a graduate degree and licensure there are some other ways that you can use the knowledge you’ll gain from this specialization without following that path.

    Artistic knowledge can be useful and complementary to other professions such as teaching, counseling, and life coaching. Some of these professions would require graduate school in another field and might also require graduate school in art therapy if you want to specifically practice “art therapy.”

    Life coaching is one profession where art can be incorporated without graduate school or licensure. MIU also offers a Specialization in Life & Wellness Coaching as well as other specializations in health-related fields that you can add to your undergraduate degree. Contact your admissions counselor to learn more about how this would affect your length of study before graduation.

    An undergraduate major is a primary field of study during your undergraduate years. This major defines the actual degree and specifies core courses, electives, and the foundational knowledge that you will acquire. An academic specialization is a more concentrated area of courses which you can choose in addition (32 additional credits) to your major field, which may be in the same disciplinary area or something different.
    We accomplish this by using an online learning platform that students find highly engaging. The program also features an extensive collaboration between students and one-on-one interaction between our faculty and each student.

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