study art therapy

I am frequently asked two questions: whether I can recommend to study art therapy and where to do it. The first question is easy to answer: Yes. Art therapy is great and I would choose it again. The second question is addressed in this blogpost about universities with art therapy studies in Germany.

brush and whisk with traces of paint on the studio floor

not all art therapy is alike

In Germany, “art therapist” is not a protected professional title like e.g. physician or psychotherapist. Accordingly, the qualifications behind the title “art therapist” vary widely. From weekend workshops to extended trainings to Bachelor and Master degrees, everything is called art therapy. So, you should take a close look: A study of several years obviously offers deep knowledge in comparison to just a weekend workshop. This is especially important, because as an art therapist you therapeutically and artistically work with (vulnerable) people. In order to do this work responsibly and safely for both, your clients and yourself, you need profound knowledge and professional training.

training or study?

If you already have a university degree in a subject related to art therapy (e.g. art pedagogy), under certain circumstances a profound training can be a good option. However, in general I would prefer an academic degree in art therapy rather than just a training because of two reasons: It offers several years of intensive study. The other reason is the increasing academization of our discipline, meaning the career prospects are much better with an academic degree than just with a training.

which is the best university for me?

There are several universities in Germany that offer art therapy studies – with different entry requirements and focuses. Most of them are full-time courses of study. Some also offer part-time studies you can pursue while working.

As for myself, I studied from 2003 – 2008 at the Hochschule für Kunsttherapie (today: Nürtingen-Geislingen University) and since 2016 I’m a research assistant at the HKS – University of applied sciences and arts in Ottersberg. I like both universities very much and can only recommend them. But our community is rather small. So I have contact to the other universities mentioned below or teach there.

To decide which course of study is the right one for you, see for yourself. You know best what suits you. Check the information you get on the websites. Then get in contact with the institutions and see for yourself digitally, by phone or on site. Universities offer a variety of ways to get an insight. For example, at our university the HKS – University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Ottersberg, you can find:

  • open day
    next date november 2020
  • hospitational day
    open classes
    next date june 25 2020 (digital)
  • student adivsory service
    free of charge
    general study counselling and advice on the application procedure
    advisory service for students by students
    student advisory service for foreign students
  • portfolio course
    in the current situation around Corona the portfolio courses are online and free of charge
  • art summer
    with art courses and further education
HKS - University of Applied Sciences in Ottersberg
my workplace: HKS – University of applied sciences and arts in Ottersberg

at which universities can I study art therapy?

Below you find a list of universities where you can study art therapy. All are members of the German association for art therapy (DFKGT) and/or the German society for creative arts therapies (DGKT). The commissions of these associations demand and ensure the educational quality standards. You can therefore be sure that these institutions offer qualified art therapy education.

Good luck with your university applications!

  10 comments for “study art therapy

  1. 11/06/2020 at 23:10

    I am a Filipino an art lover and I don’t have a formal study in the Art Professional..! But I do Any Arts and I learnt it by selfthought! As an experimentations.
    Now my desire is to make it my fulltime career.
    I am presently in Dubai and don’t have job now bec. the outbreak.
    It is really an interesting ideas.. such kind of study in Art therapy!
    I used to heard this ideas many times before but it didn’t caught my attention on this matter…! But when I learned that there is an academy that has giving such training in this field of Art Therapy.., I felt that my desires and my interest.. just used to fascinated it to try and to learn what’s Art Theraphy really is.

    • kunsthochzwei
      15/06/2020 at 21:50

      Hey, thanks for your nice feeback! For more information on art therapy in English, I can recommend the websites of the British association of art therapist (BAAT) and the American art therapy association (AATA). If you feel like it, you can also subscribe to my newsletter.

  2. 27/04/2021 at 04:10

    Thank you so much for making this information accessible… I’m South African, with a German passport and I am searching for a university that offers art therapy and even other alternative healing modalities, like music and dance, tuition free. I’m also interested in visionary art. Do you recommend any specific ones? Thank you for your kindness and advice!

    • kunsthochzwei
      27/04/2021 at 11:52

      Thanks for your comment, Cassandra! If you’re looking for a tuition free study program, check the German state universities. They all are public and free. Some of them are mentioned above, for example the HfWU Nürtingen-Geislingen which offers art therapy and drama therapy. More details can be found on their website or their student advisory service.
      In addition, in this blogpost you’ll find a list with German professional societies for Creative Arts Therapies. On their websites you’ll find more information on studying drama, music, dance and movement therapy.

  3. Adeeb
    20/02/2022 at 01:19

    Hallo am living in Germany and still need work on my language,
    Am asking can I study art therapy in Germany with English language in an academy instead of a university?
    And what’s the duration of the education how many years or semester?
    Is this a private academy
    And what’s the requirements needed to in role in such fields.
    When does each course starts?
    Am passionate about art, and it has helped me as well tough times in my life, and i would like to help others as well.
    Waiting for your reply and feed back
    Thank you


    • kunsthochzwei
      23/02/2022 at 13:33

      Hey Adeeb, thanks for your comment! This varies between institutions. I‘d recommend to directly ask the institution‘s student advisory service. However, I would always recommend an academic education in art therapy over just a training. If you are going to work with people it‘s responsible to have a solid education. Also your job chances are much better with the growing academization of our field.

  4. Cynthia
    28/03/2022 at 09:55

    Thank you for organizing these pieces of information for we who want to absorb these related resources!I am Cynthia and I am from Taiwan. Because I can’t speak German and I want to find an English taught PhD program. Do you know about any schools? Thank you!

    • kunsthochzwei
      28/03/2022 at 16:19

      Hey Cynthia, thanks for your feeback! As far as I now, there are not many structured Phd programs in art therapy. Individual doctorates, such as I did, are more common. The only program I know of is at the Drexel University, Philadelphia. The British association of art therapist (BAAT) or the American art therapy association (AATA) might have more information on this matter. If you find other PhD programs, feel free to share it here. :)

  5. Auro
    17/05/2022 at 14:54

    Hi there!
    First of all, thank you so much for making this thread on Art Therapy. I am an aspiring art therapy student with a Bachelors degree in Art & Literature with a major in trauma studies. I’m writing this question because (a) I suspect you to be the right person to ask. (b) You might he able to point me into the right direction. I am looking for an Art Therapy Masters degree but with a heavy inclination towards the field of psychology, specifically Junghian psychology if possible. I found some courses with this specific criteria in the U.S but I can’t afford to sell a kidney to fly over and study there. Do you know if this kind of course exists somewhere in Europe? An art therapy MSC or MA with a good amount of focus on the field of psychology e.g symbols and Junghian interpretations of dreams. In essence what interests me is Jung/psychology and art therapy. And if I can combine these two in a Masters degree, that would be phenomenal :) Any pointers or ideas are super welcome.
    Thanks so much

    • kunsthochzwei
      18/05/2022 at 08:34

      Hey Auro,
      thanks your your comment! I’m familiar with German, but not with all European study programmes in Creative Arts Therapies. The comments above might help you further with your research. If you find an overview on international programmes, please feel free to share here.

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