Helping Others Using The Power of Music: Music Therapy Degree

Do you love music? Are you skilled at playing musical instruments and singing? Would you love to pursue a career where you get to use music to help people with emotional, social cognitive and even physical needs? If your answer is yes, a degree in Music Therapy is the best way to accomplish this goal. Music therapy is a health profession where music, medicine and psychology is combined to assist those in need. The work done by music therapists goes beyond what can be accomplished with therapeutic music and can have a big impact on the lives of others.

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Music Therapy Degree Information

Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy

The Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy degree can take up to four years to complete and is aimed at preparing students to complete the Board Certification Examination. The degree consists of a number of course work along with a clinical internship. Typical course topics include Music Application and Theory, General Psychology, Music in Special Education, Psychology of Music, Music in Psychotherapy, and more. Students typically also have to take part in Guitar and Keyboard classes as well as Ear Training and Arranging.

Master of Arts in Music Therapy

The Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree is aimed at students who have already completed their bachelor’s degree in music therapy. In addition, students are required to hold board certification before enrollment in this degree. It can take up to two years to complete and is ideal for music therapists who want to increase their knowledge with the aim of moving into research. Required courses for this degree may include Essential Research Methods, Advanced Clinical Improvisation, Culturally Competent Practice in Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Pedagogy, and Supervision. Electives may include Lyric Writing, Advanced Music Cognition, and Advances in Neuroscience while Specializations range from Global Music Therapy to Research Design and Methodology.


Before becoming a music therapist, students must first complete a CBMT Board Certification examination. Before students may take part in this examination, they must first complete all the academic and clinical training requirements established by the American Music Therapy Association. The certificate issued by the Certification Board for Music Therapists is valid for five years and music therapists must fulfill all the requirements for recertification to obtain a new one.

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Music Therapy Degree FAQ

Who Is An Ideal Candidate To Study Music Therapy?

One of the most important factors when it comes to a career in music therapy is the ability to play musical instruments as well as sing. However, what is more important is that you have a desire to help other people and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of the people you treat. It is a field that requires a lot of patience and empathy, but also creativity and a sense of humor. Good communication skills are also important as well as the ability to work well with others. Other good skills and abilities to have for this profession include motivational skills, flexibility, and critical thinking skills. You should also be able to cope in situations that can be very challenging at times. Students who are interested in working in this field can prepare by taking music classes in high school as well as making use of volunteering opportunities.

Is It Possible To Study For A Music Therapy Degree Online?

Although online degree programs for music therapy are available, they are typically aimed at students who already have a bachelor’s degree in the field. This is because a music therapy degree requires students to have a certain amount of hours in clinical experience with patients before they can graduate. Online courses for music therapy offers greater flexibility than their campus-based counterparts, but still requires the same amount of time and work. To take part in an online course, students must have access to a computer or laptop with an internet connection. The actual course materials may be provided via slideshows, online lectures or videos.

What Type of Employment Options Might Be Available With A Music Therapy Degree?

Most people with a degree in music therapy opt to become music therapists. Typical employers for music therapists range from psychiatric and medical hospitals to senior centers, retirement homes, and rehabilitation facilities. Music therapists who specialize in working with children might also end up being employed by schools. Instead of working for a full-time employer, some music therapists prefer opening their own private practice where they can assist clients with problems. Other careers where a degree in music therapy can be useful include special education teachers, postsecondary teachers and independent music teachers.

What Type of Responsibilities Might I Have When Working In This Field

Those who opt for a career as a music therapist typically assist people who suffer from a range of problems. Music forms an integral part of the therapy and can be used for problems that range from physical to mental and emotional. Ailments that can be treated with music therapy include everything from depression and autism to chronic pain, dementia, cognitive issues, schizophrenia, grief, and much more. Assessing clients to determine what type of music will be suitable for therapy will also be one of your duties. Activities used during therapy may include lessons, music listening, songwriting as well as musical performances.

How Much Can I Potentially Earn When Employed As A Music Therapist?

The usual factors, such as experience, education and geographic location plays a big role in how much you can potentially earn when employed as a music therapist. Music therapists fall under the category of recreational therapists, which according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, earns a median annual wage of about $46,410. The top-paying industries for this profession are government and hospitals, followed by ambulatory healthcare services and nursing care facilities. Employment for people in this profession is also projected to grow by about seven percent until 2026, which is the average for all occupations.

What Are The Other Benefits To Studying Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a great field to work in if you care more about using your musical talents to help others than about playing in front of fans on a stage. It is also great if you are interested in becoming a therapist, but the thought of a typical therapist couch session doesn’t sound appealing. Music therapy is not an easy option as you have to study how to become a good therapist as well as master different music instruments, but it is a very rewarding path to choose.

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