Doctoral 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 allows 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 that 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.

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 by 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 PHD 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 people that you are treating and stay on top of the progress of this particular method of therapy.

On the other hand, while 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 PHD 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 Degrees?

At present, Temple University offers its students the opportunity to earn a PhD in Music Therapy through the hybrid format. NYU Steinhardt offers a PhD in Music Education with a focus in Music Therapy through their on-campus program. In addition, the University of Kansas – School of Music also has an on-campus option offering a Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education degree with an emphasis in Music Therapy.

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?