Music Therapy/Therapist

Music therapy degrees train individuals to use music to improve health or functional outcomes. This expressive art therapy involves listening and singing to music, and oftentimes playing an instrument, as well. It’s often used to soothe mental health concerns, including autism, schizophrenia, depression, dementia, and more. Music therapy degrees can only be obtained from schools that are approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), which have accredited 70 schools and counting. Music therapy degrees are conferred at the baccalaureate and master levels, though only a baccalaureate is required to become a Music Therapist.


A bachelor’s in music therapy traditionally takes four years to complete. The curriculum includes the principles of therapy, music theory, composition, arranging, keyboard, guitar, voice, improvising, and much more. A clinical internship is typically required for a certain number of hours. This all prepares students to take the Board Certification Examination to earn the Music Therapist - Board Certified (MT-BC) credential.

Graduates who have completed their bachelors in music therapy and passed their MT-BC naturally become Music Therapists. The caveat with music therapy is that it’s not as well-known throughout the country—it’s mostly popular in large cities, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, but is slowly being used in more regions. Most Music Therapists are employed at hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, or assisted living facilities. The entry-level salary for a Music Therapist is $39,155.

Master Level

While a master’s degree is not required to become a certified Music Therapist, there has been some talk that the AMTA will eventually require graduate education. There are 30 schools that are AMTA-approved to confer this degree, so be sure to check that the school is accredited. Curriculum at this level is a combination of pedagogy, psychology, and music, as well as a specialization, including in a specific method of music therapy.

There are two degree types at this level: a Master of Science in Music Therapy and a Master of Music Therapy. The MS will center around allied health and the physical sciences. The MST will advance the knowledge of theory, research, and practice of music therapy.

Doctorate Level

There are eight AMTA-approved colleges offering a PhD in Music Therapy. At this level of education, the curriculum is much more research and academia based. It will include rigorous research, research design and methodology, as well as quantitative methods and survey research. Program completion, depending on the program, can be accomplished in as little as three and as many as seven years.

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Molloy College
Rockville Centre, NY