Expressive Arts Therapy Degree

Expressive Arts

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Expressive Arts Degree Program Overview

The Expressive Arts Therapy Degree prepares students for graduate level studies.

The arts can transform our lives: they can tell hard truths, resolve terrible conflicts, and bring communities together. Though we also know that art can be used in ways that belie the good—as propaganda, for instance, or as mind-numbing entertainment that objectifies people—expressive arts therapies aim to heal individuals and groups and even promote positive social change.

Expressive arts therapies use visual arts and other modalities like writing, music, and dance to help people of all ages and backgrounds express themselves in ways that might not be possible with other forms of therapy. Based on the idea that the arts communicate unconscious and even archetypal material, and that images and symbols carry meaning that can transform experience, arts therapy involves not only the creation of art, but reflection and discovery of its meaning. Arts-based therapies are typically practiced with individuals, groups, and families, and may be particularly effective with children and those who have difficulty expressing unconscious material verbally or who speak a different language.

This major combines coursework in humanistic psychology, studio arts, and integral psychology. It also allows each student to individualize his or her course of study to include courses and/or learning activities in dance and dance movement therapy, photography, creative writing, film/video, music, and art history.

The Expressive Arts major at Burlington College is specifically designed to prepare students to enter graduate programs in art therapy or expressive arts therapies and eventually become certified therapists. It also gives students who are interested in working in human services or community arts organizations a strong foundation to apply what they've learned in many different settings with many different kinds of people.

Expressive Arts Degree Requirements:

In addition, all students are required to complete an upper-level supervised internship in a community-based setting that includes participation in the Action Learning Seminar, a course in research methods, and a 6-credit capstone degree project. Each student also undertakes a 6-credit capstone Degree Project in the last two semesters that is either research-based or that includes both a creative component (usually a portfolio of work and a public show displayed in our gallery) and a process paper.

Every Bachelor of Arts degree candidate must complete Burlington College's General Education requirements and earn 120 credits to achieve a degree. The following course requirements are specific to the Expressive Arts major. Other coursework may be substituted with permission of academic advisor. All courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Entry Level Prerequisites:
PSY100 - Introduction to Psychology
FIN110 - Studio Art I

200-Level Required:
PSY210 - Lifespan Development
PSY220 - Psychopathology
PSY230 - Theories of Personality
TPS272 - Expressive Arts Therapies

Studio Art: 6 credits
FIN315 - Drawing Beyond the Studio
FIN322 - Painting Techniques
FIN344 - Street Photography
FIN351 - Personal Vision through Photo Essay
FIN370 - Silkscreening
FIN371 - Printmaking
FIN377 - Printmaking: Woodblock/Lino-cut
Or other approved course work in music, dance, or creative writing to individualize the student's program of study.

300 Level Required:
PSY307 - Art Therapy 3
WAL331 - Search and Research or
SSC350 - Research Methods in
Social Sciences

Studio Art: 9 credits
FIN222 - Painting Techniques (required)
FIN267 - Ceramics I (required)
FIN215 - Drawing Beyond the Studio
FIN271 - Printmaking

Electives: 3 credits
TPS304 - Art and Symbolic Process
PSY305 - Dance Movement Therapy
TPS312 - Visions of the Night
TPS323 - Psychology of Dreams
COR/TPS336 - Shamanisms
COR/TPS368 - Introduction to Ecopsychology
COR/TPS371 - Arts and Social Change

Students may individualize the major to concentrate on other modalities; approved course work in music, dance, or creative writing may be substituted as appropriate the student's program of study. These changes must be approved by the academic advisor.

Internships: 3 credits
Expressive Arts Degree Project I & II (3 credits each): 6 credits

General Education Requirements

  • Demonstration of proficiency in academic computing
  • Vision and Revision (or assessment of writing sample)
  • Research and Reflection

Evidence of proficiency in the four fundamental learning skills 

  • Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Researching

3 credits in each of the following areas of the liberal arts 
  • Creative Expression
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Historical Consciousness
  • Media Literacy
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Responsible Action
  • Scientific Thought
  • Social Awareness


The arts can transform our lives: they can tell hard truths, resolve terrible conflicts, and bring communities together.