Bachelor of Arts in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts

The only program in Wisconsin that combines expressive and therapeutic arts.

The Marian University Bachelor of Arts in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts program not only introduces students to the field of art therapy and psychology, but it fosters a broad development of skills through a curriculum that combines the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing and other creative processes.

Students in the Marian University art therapy program graduate are able to succeed in a wider range of employment and postgraduate opportunities having been exposed to knowledge and competency in the visual arts in areas like music, dance and movement, poetry, and American Sign Language.

Graduates of the Marian University art therapy program will be able to use their skills with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families in a variety of settings, and will have a deepened awareness of their own creative process and how to support self-expression and creativity in others.

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More About the BA in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts

Watch: Expressive and Therapeutic Arts

Alyssa Gruett, Director of the Expressive and Therapeutic Arts (ETA) program at Marian University, describes what a student can expect to learn and develop through this program. ETA introduces students to the field of art therapy and psychology and how the visual arts and movement, drama, music, poetry, dance, and other creative processes can enhance development. By learning and experiencing different modalities, a student’s awareness of his or her own creative process deepens. As a result they learn how to support self-expression and creativity in others. Professors at Marian and a variety of field placement students have the opportunity to learn first-hand from practicing art therapists in the field.

BA in Expressive and Therapeutic Arts Curriculum

Marian University’s expressive and therapeutic arts program is dedicated to the belief that the creative process is healing and life-enhancing. Students have the chance to deepen awareness of his or her personal creative process and style while learning how the foundation of “art as therapy” supports self-expression, healing, and creativity in others.

General Education Courses

As a bachelor’s level student, you are required to take about 30 credits of general education courses as part of the 120 credits required for a bachelor’s degree.  Gen eds are required regardless of your major.

All students take 10.5 to 17 credits in these areas:

  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Argumentative and Research Writing
  • Introduction to Christian Theology
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Introduction to Ethical Reasoning
  • First Year Studies

Core Courses

Expressive and Therapeutic Arts majors will take courses covering topics such as:

  • Therapeutic Arts in Service Learning
  • Art curriculum and Methods
  • Program Design and Grant Writing
  • Techniques in the Creative Process
  • Art History

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate emotional literacy through the ability to identify and articulate a range of personal emotions and their impact on their overall health and life experience.
  • Create, interpret, and identify components of art expression as a form of inner self-directed process
  • Identify the founding pioneers in the field of therapeutic arts and explain their roles in its unfolding development.
  • Recognize components of safe or unsafe therapeutic environments and propose tangible changes and/or contributions as it relates to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of given clients.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a variety of therapeutic methodologies and skills through the creation and applied use of specific activity plans with at least three designated populations.
  • Demonstrate competency as a beginning professional through their personal integrity, core values, adherence to ethical standards, responsible communication and respect for individual diversity as attested by the successful completion of fieldwork assignments.
  • Demonstrate professional readiness through the integration of personal emotional literacy and applied learning experiences, which will be shown through thoughtful reflection and creative expression, cooperative evaluation, successful completion of a minimum of 150 hours of mentored internships, completion of a senior capstone project, portfolio, and the creation of a personal mission statement.
  • Demonstrate concepts and skills supportive of creative, psychological, spiritual and professional development as a whole person, all the while learning from a cross-curriculum and liberal arts courses selected by each student.


The Marian University art therapy program allows students to build a solid foundation in personal and interpersonal skills based in the arts and self-expression. It provides standards of professional competence, develops and promotes knowledge in and of the field of therapeutic arts. A focus on self-study builds strong habits of strength-based self-care and leadership skills. Students are individually advised and benefit from onsite experiences serving a variety of populations in the larger community. Service opportunities demonstrate Marian’s Core Values of community, learning, service, social justice and spiritual traditions. Program experiences culminate in a senior project involving human issues.

Marian University’s Expressive and Therapeutic Arts program prepares students for personal and professional success after graduation through applied learning experiences, including the opportunity to develop and enhance the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural aspects of the well-being of individuals.

Agencies or organizations the Marian University art therapy program collaborates with include:

  • ACC Community Connections
  • All About Life Rehabilitation Center
  • ARC of Fond du Lac
  • Crossroads Care Center of Fond du Lac
  • ASTOP Inc.
  • Berry House
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Children’s Hospital
  • Expressive Therapies, LLC
  • Evolve Healing
  • Fond du Lac Senior Center
  • Fond du Lac County Jail, Juvenile Detention Center
  • Friendship Corner, NAMI
  • Friendship School
  • Grief Relief
  • Heartland Hospice
  • Heritage Homes
  • Hospice Home of Hope
  • John Michael Kolher Art Center Pre-school
  • Public and private schools of Fond du Lac
  • Treffert Center
  • UnMasked Expressive Therapies

Students in the Marian University Expressive and Therapeutic Arts program gain hands-on learning experience through internship experiences which prepare students for employment or success in graduate studies. Although a master’s degree is required for employment as an art therapist, Marian University’s Expressive and Therapeutic Arts program provides a broad foundation of skills for students choosing not to pursue a graduate degree, but seeking employment in positions such as activity director.

Minimum GPA of 3.25 in major courses is required.