Music Therapy Major

Music Therapy

Are you a musician with a desire to help people cultivate their physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being through music? The Music Therapy Program — the first and only Music Therapy program in Washington state — offers many opportunities for musicians to use their skills and aptitude to serve others through the functional use of music.

The SPU Music Therapy Program’s rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum is designed to train you to realize your potential as a music therapist, prepare for the six-month clinical internship, and, ultimately, pass the national examination to earn your Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) designation.

As a Music Therapy major, you can choose from three emphases:


When you major in Music Therapy at SPU, you will take academic courses that focus on core music and music therapy classes, as well as the balance of a comprehensive university education.

You will also have the opportunity for practicum experiences within diverse health care and educational institutions in the Seattle area. And you will have the close supervision by board-certified music therapists in an educational climate that nurtures the discipline of being a strong musician, the heart to serve others, and the focus to help you reach your goals.

Major Courses and Degree Requirements

The SPU Music Therapy Program is an integrative, rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum. Music Therapy students are required to do the following:

  • Fulfill the requirements of a Music degree as accomplished musicians, including a junior recital on your major instrument.
  • Take classes in core music therapy, psychology, special education, and biology/physical education, as well as fulfill University required courses.
  • Pass proficiency exams on piano, guitar, and voice.
  • Fulfill 180 hours of practicum experience during undergraduate training. A six-month clinical internship is required once you have completed your major's courses in order for you to be eligible to sit for the national Board Certification Exam.

The minimum total credits required for a major emphasis is 124 quarter credits. The minimum total credits required for the degree is 180 quarter credits.

Admission to the Major

Preparing for admittance to the program

Music therapists are first and foremost strong musicians. Taking private lessons on your primary instrument is essential. Music therapy majors must pass proficiency exams in voice, guitar, and keyboard before graduation. Having experience with one or more of these instruments, especially piano, will be extremely helpful to your studies and clinical work.

Continuing students

You may apply to the Music Therapy major when you have completed your freshman year at SPU. To be admitted to the major, you must have earned a 3.0 overall GPA and have decided upon your area of emphasis. Once admitted, you are required to maintain a 2.8 minimum GPA.

Transfer students

If you are transferring to SPU and intend to apply for the Music Therapy major, you must follow these steps:

Post-baccalaureate students

The Music Therapy degree is a competitive program, and a limited number of spaces are available for post-baccalaureates. If you already have a BA in music and want to add a music therapy degree, apply to SPU as a post-baccalaureate student, and once admitted to SPU, you must pass two courses before applying to the Music Therapy program: “Introduction to Music Therapy” and “Music Therapy Skills & Repertoire.”

An audition and interview will determine your ability to meet proficiency requirements and strength of musicianship. If accepted, you will need to take only the core music therapy courses and additional courses in your area of interest (e.g., special education or psychology).

Audition/interview process

The audition to gain acceptance to the Music Therapy major involves the following:

  • Perform on your primary instrument.
  • Play piano and guitar, and sing with a strong voice. All three proficiencies are required for a degree in Music Therapy. If you are not proficient in one or more of these, we would discuss your ability to meet standard level within a reasonable time period.
  • Write a short essay on why you want to pursue a degree in Music Therapy and articulating your professional and personal interests.
  • Be interviewed by the director of the Music Therapy Program as well as Music Department faculty.

Career Opportunities

Nationwide, Board-Certified Music Therapists are employed in many settings, including clinical, educational, and social-service agencies, such as:

  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Hospice Care
  • Medical and Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Oncology Treatment Centers
  • Private Practice
  • Pain/Stress Management Clinics
  • Schools
  • Senior Centers and Nursing Homes
  • Substance Abuse Programs
  • Wellness Programs

Faculty Contact

Carlene J. Brown

Associate Professor and Chair, Music Department; Director, Music Therapy Program

Phone: 206-281-2920
Office: Crawford 206

Carlene Brown

Why I Teach at SPU

Carlene Brown, Associate Professor and Chair, Music Department; Director, Music Therapy Program

"I love teaching, especially at SPU. I primarily teach freshman students, an experience that I consider to be fun, inspiring, enlightening, and challenging ― especially Music Theory at 8 a.m.! Music Therapy students are passionate and motivated to use their musical gifts to serve others. I am blessed to watch students grow and see how transformative learning and service can be. Yet I, too, am privileged to see the world through their eyes and perspectives. My learning and growth have been alongside them as well."

Did You Know?

Help Icon SPU Music Department students and Seattle's Experience Music Project recently teamed up to create a two-week music therapy camp for children living with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.