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How to Choose a School with a Music Therapy Program

Music therapists are credentialed professionals who work with individuals using music within a therapeutic relationship. Bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as certificate programs, can prepare students for the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) board certification exam, which grants the title of Music Therapist - Board Certified.

Students interested in becoming music therapists can complete a bachelor's or master's degree or a graduate certificate program to become board certified, as long as the program is AMTA-approved. Programs are available at some colleges and universities that have music departments.

Schools with Music Therapy Programs

The following public and private universities offer music therapy programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate Undergraduate: $6,507 (In-state) $21,673 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $11,543 (In-state) $25,975 (Out-of-state)
University of Georgia Athens, GA 4-year, Public Graduate Certificate, Bachelor's Undergraduate: $11,622 (In-state) $29,832 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $10,750 (In-state) $26,348 (Out-of-state)
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $10,158 (In-state) $25,458 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $11,304 (In-state) $27,790 (Out-of-state)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $16,122 (In-state) $31,674 (Out-of-state)
Temple University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate Undergraduate: $15,188 (In-state) $25,494 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $16,144 (In-state) $21,832 (Out-of-state)
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate Undergraduate: $8,104 (In-state) $27,890 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $9,693 (In-state) $26,871 (Out-of-state)
Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's Undergraduate: $48,190
Appalachian State University Boone, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate: $6,852 (In-state) $20,677 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $7,409 (In-state) $19,951 (Out-of-state)
University of Dayton Dayton, OH 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's Undergraduate: $39,090
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate Undergraduate: $10,825 (In-state) $26,659 (Out-of-state); Graduate: $9,958 (In-state) $22,049 (Out-of-state)

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Further considerations when searching for a school in this field may include:

  • Choose a program or degree level that will offer the most benefit for the desired future career. For example, master's degree programs can prepare graduates for administrative, teaching and research positions.
  • Consider programs that offer exposure to a wide variety of clinical experiences, including internships and assistantships.
  • Look for schools that have offer study in concentration areas to specialize your education. These areas include studies in guided imagery and music (GIM), occupational therapy, psychotherapy and jazz.
  • Search for a program that is AMTA-approved to best prepare and qualify for AMTA board certification.

Bachelor's Degree in Music Therapy

An AMTA-approved bachelor's degree program in music therapy qualifies students to sit for the certification examination. Some bachelor's degree programs start incorporating clinical experiences as early as the first year of the program. Students often complete an internship.

Master's Degree in Music Therapy

Master's degree programs in music therapy are typically designed to allow students to specialize within their field and gain experience in research, statistics and clinical experiences. A thesis is generally required. Graduate students complete advanced-level mentoring in areas such as behavioral medicine or oncology.

Graduate Certificate in Music Therapy

Certificate programs are designed for students who have achieved a bachelor's or master's degree in a field other than music therapy who wish to become AMTA board certified. Topics include music techniques for children, human psychology, diversity and more.

Music therapy degrees can be earned at the bachelor's, master's and graduate certificate levels at several 4-year institutions. Students interested in these programs should consider things like clinical experiences and program concentrations during the selection process.


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