Doctor of Music Therapy degree programs that are offered 100% online are extremely convenient to the working adult; however, currently, if you are looking for one pertaining to the subject of music therapy, it may be hard, if not impossible, to locate.

Primarily, on-campus attendance will be required; however, some programs do offer hybrid options, which allow the student to attend most of the classes online, although some on-campus attendance is needed to fulfill clinical, dissertation, performance evaluation, and residency requirements for graduation.

But don’t let that discourage you from pursuing your dreams, for music therapy is an interesting art form with rewarding outcomes for you and your clients.

For most, a particular song will trigger memories of a happier time. Today, maybe you still enjoy dancing to the songs you grew up listening to because they bring back joyous memories of your youth. As you enjoy songs that bring back that special time, you are also enjoying the benefits of music therapy.

However, much more seriously, music therapy began primarily after World War I and World War II. Veterans often responded positively to musicians who would come to hospitals to perform for them. In 1944, as the demand for qualified musicians and therapists had grown, Michigan State University began offering the first music therapy degree program in the world.

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Best Schools for Music Therapy

Temple University

doctor of music therapy degree

Program Standouts:

Offering one of the best PhDs in Music Therapy, Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University advances scholarship and establishes clinical competence.

The program allows students to immerse themselves in quantitative and qualitative research models and learn how to make significant theoretical and research contributions to the field of music therapy. Temple University’s Music Therapy Ph.D. program is led by world-renowned music therapists.

Campus Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Admission Requirements:

  • Goals Statement
  • Recommendations
  • Resume
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Transcripts

Course Sample:

  • Research in Music Medicine
  • Research in Music Psychotherapy
  • Theory Development in Music Therapy

Degree Outcomes: The Ph.D. in Music Therapy at Temple University creates graduates who are proficient in teaching higher education and clinical supervision. Graduates of the program go on to become:

  • professors,
  • practitioners,
  • researchers,
  • or supervisors in healthcare settings.

NYU Steinhardt

doctor of music therapy degree

Program Standouts:

The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University offers a Ph.D. in Music Education with a Specialization in Music Therapy. Credentialed music therapists specialize in developing research skills and designing a program of study that allows them to specialize in their area of interest.

Dissertation topics and coursework in the Ph.D. can be taken from quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods options. The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Campus Location: New York City, New York

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Admission Requirements:

  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • GRE
  • Proficiency in English

Course Sample:

  • Historical Research
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Interview & Observation

Degree Outcomes: Graduates of the Ph.D. in Music Education with a specialization in Music Therapy at NYU Steinhardt will have developed their research skills and become experts in their specialized area of interest.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Music Therapist do?

As a music therapist, you will incorporate music into a client’s day-to-day activities to help them cope with their special needs. Through music, you can address one’s emotional, physical, cognitive, and social well-being by using a variety of exercises such as playing an instrument, singing, writing songs, or simply listening to a calming melody.

Often, behavioral issues, depression, and anxiety are addressed, as well. Clients, such as Alzheimer’s Disease patients, can benefit greatly from music therapy to help bring back pleasant memories of yesteryear.

Why should I get a Ph.D. degree In Music Therapy?

One of the first reasons for upgrading your education is that music therapy continues to be an evolving field. Music therapy doctorates allow candidates to conduct research both during their programs and after graduation. These studies can take the music therapy field in new directions and help more people.

Being close to the research body of the industry should allow you to deliver better results for the people that you are treating and stay on top of the progress of this particular method of therapy.

On the other hand, while the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) has approved bachelor’s and master’s degrees to work as music therapists, music therapy Ph.D. programs let candidates expand the field and teach new counselors.

Many people who earn music therapy Ph.D. degrees go on to work as professors. These educators train students to help more people through music therapy.

Will earning my Doctorate degree in Music Therapy help my career?

Without a doubt, your time is valuable, and doctoral programs can be expensive, will earning this prestigious degree help your career? Chances are, you have enjoyed your music therapy career thus far, but are you looking for more? A change? Or, a different approach?

Obtaining your doctoral degree in music therapy will provide you with the training required to conduct your own research, open your own clinical practice, or gain that promotion as a supervisor you deserve. Perhaps a position in administration or as a professor teaching music therapy at the university level is your desire. A doctoral degree can help you realize your dream!

How do I earn a Doctoral degree in Music Therapy?

Prerequisites for entering a music therapy doctoral degree program can be rigorous. You must have a master’s degree and at least five years of work experience in the field. You will also need to pass the interview and audition process with flying colors, displaying your exceptional musical skills.

You will also be expected to provide glowing letters of recommendation, examples of your work, published or unpublished, as well as an essay and exemplary scores on your entrance exam.

Your doctoral degree program in music therapy will typically take you up to seven years to complete, including the dissertation process. Other coursework will involve:

  • advanced studies in theory development,
  • music psychotherapy,
  • music medicine,
  • music therapy education,
  • clinical supervision in music therapy, as well as topics such as:
    • how to use music therapy for cancer patients,
    • the terminally ill,
    • hospitalized children,
    • or for pain management.

What job opportunities can I expect after graduating from the course?

Once you have completed the Ph.D. course in music therapy, there are plenty of new job opportunities in front of you. Because of the research nature of the doctoral course, an obvious career path is to stay in academia and still contribute to the development of music therapy.

Postdoctoral fellowships at most research organizations and universities allow professionals to continue researching the effects of music in therapeutic settings. These fellows receive research budgets to conduct studies for their organizations, so you might be interested in this particular career path.

Another interesting path you can choose for yourself is joining a professional organization specializing in music therapy. Professional organizations can help graduates create networks, complete continuing education, and find jobs. The following organizations can help music therapists advance their careers:

  • American Music Therapy Association
  • World Federation of Music Therapy
  • National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations
  • Musicians Without Borders
  • International Society for Music Education

The third and final career option for a Ph.D. course in music therapy graduate is to open your own practice and start treating people with the power of sound. Getting as much experience as possible, after you have completed an advanced degree in the field of music therapy will add to your success.

Being active as a therapist will increase your interest in this form of therapy. Helping people is the ultimate award, so once you have completed your degree, you will be more than prepared to make it your life’s priority and career path.

What schools offer a Doctor of Music Therapy Degree?

At present, Temple University offers its students the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in Music Therapy through the hybrid format. NYU Steinhardt offers a Ph.D. in Music Education with a focus on Music Therapy through their on-campus program.

Final Thoughts

Music therapy is a relatively new and developing form of therapy that you can take part in, conduct, and teach others about it. Whether it is associated with a pleasant thought or just used to calm the everyday stresses of our busy lives, music speaks to everyone.

Don’t hesitate to share your musical talents with those in need. All styles of music can be used to change lives for the better, so why not make a career out of it?

Music therapists work with patients who have physical disabilities, emotional injuries, or developmental disabilities from birth. Many music therapists work in special education programs located in schools, clinics, advanced clinical practice, and hospitals, or have a private practice.

Music therapy jobs are expected to increase 4%, while adding an additional 16,800 jobs in the field between 2022 and 2032.

After earning your bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Music Therapy, a doctorate degree is your next step. Often in a counseling capacity, a graduate degree is required. A music therapy program can absolutely change one’s life! For a rewarding career, pursue a music therapy profession today!

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