Music Therapy Equivalency Program

Music Therapy Equivalency Program

If you didn’t major in music therapy as an undergrad, the music therapy equivalency program offered at many of the schools providing music therapy training allows you to gain the competencies necessary for becoming a certified music therapist. Since music therapy is often a profession that isn’t discovered until students are partway through college –– or even long afterwards — the equivalency program is designed to remedy the gap in training.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in music

According to the American Music Therapy Association, students complete “only the required coursework necessary to satisfy professional competencies in music therapy without necessarily earning a second baccalaureate degree. The equivalency program consists of all core music therapy courses at the undergraduate level, all clinical training requirements including the internship, plus any related coursework in science and psychology (i.e. anatomy, abnormal psychology, and other related courses).”

Note that students or graduates who received a BA instead of a BM in music may need to spend additional time taking music credits they’re missing.

If you do NOT have a bachelor’s degree in music

Many music therapy schools require an undergraduate degree in music to qualify for the music therapy equivalency program. There are some that will accept students with a degree in education or psychology plus a minor in music or a strong background in music. Since every school implements its music therapy program differently, make no assumptions. Check the AMTA website to see which schools will allow you to apply with your background.

Additional considerations

  • Some schools offer the equivalency program as a certification-only option, which means students won’t qualify for school-based financial aid.
  • The music therapy equivalency program is implemented in conjunction with a master’s-level music therapy degree program at a number of schools (“combined equivalency master’s”).
  • To get an idea of how your background compares to that of someone with a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, look at your transcript in comparison to the AMTA Professional Competencies.
  • After reading the websites of schools you’re interested in, if you are unsure about how to proceed, contact the program director of those schools. If those schools are on (see sidebar on this article), you can use the forms on their pages to ask your questions.
  • At the present time, only one school, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, offers a distance music therapy equivalency program; see more information in sidebar.
  • Most music therapy programs require an audition to qualify for the equivalency program.

These participating schools on offer music therapy programs:

Appalachian State University
Hayes School of Music

Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program, combined equivalency master’s, master’s

Baldwin Wallace University
Conservatory of Music

Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program

Belmont University School of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program

Berklee College of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program

Colorado State University
School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, combined equivalency master’s, master’s, online master’s

Music therapy program offered: bachelor’s

Florida State University College of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, master’s, PhD., and equivalency programs

Loyola University
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency master’s, master’s

Music therapy program offered: bachelor’s

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program on campus and distance, master’s

Southern Methodist University
Meadows School of the Arts

Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s

Temple University
Boyer College of Music & Dance

Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, combined equivalency master’s, master’s, Ph.D.

University of Miami Frost School of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate in music education with music therapy emphasis.

University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, two-year MA (requires an undergraduate degree in Music Therapy or acceptable equivalent) and three-year + Internship MA (undergraduate degree in Psychology, Special Education or other acceptable equivalent plus a strong music background).

Western Michigan University School of Music
Music therapy programs offered: bachelor’s, equivalency program, combined equivalency master’s, master’s

Link Here for More Information
about Music Therapy


  1. Shirley

    I am currently doing my undergrad majoring in family studies and minoring in music. What would be the best way to go about trying to get a masters in music therapy? Would it be possible?

    • Many schools will require you to have majored in music rather than minored in order to proceed with their Equivalency Program. Best thing to do is to look at websites of schools you’re interested in, check out their requirements for their Equivalency Programs, and then contact them directly if you don’t find the information you need. Also find out if there are classes you could take now or even when you graduate to be considered for their Equivalency Program.

  2. Allison

    Hello I’m a junior in high school. I’m interested in persuing a degree in Music Therapy through a equivalency program such as the University of Miami’s program. I want to get an undergraduate degree in Music Performance with a minor in Psychology. Is this is a good choice to become more proficient in music and guitar skills in order to take the board exam? Thanks.

    • If you know you want to be a music therapist, you could look for an undergraduate program that offers a major in music therapy. Look at the links on all of our music therapy articles to get started. But if you think you may also want to be a performer in addition to being a music therapist, the plan you have should work well for you. It could also open the door to other career options such as teaching music on the K-12 level (you’ll need to take a program offered by many universities to get the pedagogical training for this). If you do take an Equivalency Program after you graduate from your undergrad program, you’ll probably want to look for an Equivalency Program that leads to a master’s degree.

  3. Lisa

    I am very much dismayed at the requirements and stringent degree pre-requisites it now takes to “become” a music therapist. I have been a lifelong musician, and for years, have performed as a soloist and in groups, not needing to previously have a degree.

    I have previously taken college courses years ago in music theory and music business, and now I find out that in order to even be any kind of music practitioner you need the bachelors in Music Therapy at the very least. This not only costs over $40,000 but is tough when you’re older to travel daily to school without an online option there. I know my local college music therapy course here would be around $40-50,000, which is impossible for me to consider.

    I would appreciate your comments on this!

    • Music therapists must complete a comprehensive course of study in music, biology, psychology, and social and behavioral sciences. Regardless of their primary instrument, they must also become proficient enough on other instruments: singing, piano, guitar. These have been shown to be the most useful instruments in music therapy. And music therapists must be qualified to work with people with physical, emotional, cognitive, and social/behavioral problems and those who might be on the Autism Spectrum, have Alzheimer’s Disease, or are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Music Therapy training is geared toward helping students become adept at working with these populations. You can learn more by viewing articles on this website and by visiting the website of the American Music Therapy Association. The training in Music Therapy also includes a lengthy internship. And you’re right – more often than not these days, a master’s in Music Therapy is required in order to work in a number of settings.

      Another option would be the Music for Healing and Transition work – you can learn more about therapeutic music here.

      • I would like to echo the sentiment that the requirements are very stringent. As a mature student at 50 I am back to the drawing board as to pre requisites for music therapy qualification. I was a Registered Nurse. For 15 years up to the birth of my third child. I have taught music together classes to 0-5 year olds for ten years. I have taken private singing lessons since the age of 16 and am in auditioned choral groups with singers who have masters in music, who teach music for a living. I took piano lessons to Grade 7 in the U.K. And teach both piano and singing privately. I am regretting not taking a music degree from the outset and wish my experience counted for credentials. I am going to take an undergrad, and wonder if an online degree in Psychology or in Human Development and Family Studies would be best to lead towards a potential degree in music therapy.

  4. Derek

    Hello and thank you for the info. I received my undergrad in multidisciplinary studies from Stony Brook University with concentrations in music, history and sociology (a few psych and education classes too).I currently write and perform music of different styles and have been largely focusing on electronic music production (which seems to have it’s own niche in the therapeutic community, binaural beats, meditative music, trance, etc.) I was wondering what courses/courses of action would be required to pursue a combined equivalency Masters degree in music therapy with my current background and skills. Perhaps a meeting with the head of the department/program? I imagine requirements vary based on the school. Any information would be helpful and much appreciated.

    • Start by looking at the schools we work with that are linked on this article. Check their application requirements. Some will require that you were a music major as an undergraduate. Others won’t. Use the forms on the participating school pages to ask the question you’ve asked us below. You can then visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website to look for other schools. And yes, a follow up with the music therapy department chair could be helpful but make sure you do your homework first by seeing what you can learn from their websites.

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