Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy

Henrik Karlsson, MA, MT-BC, Coordinator


The Music Therapy program provides the training for the Music Therapy Board Certification Examination.

For acceptance into the Music Therapy major, four steps are required:

1. Admission to the university, see Office of Undergraduate Admissions for information: https://www2.howard.edu/admission

2. Passing the audition for guitar, piano, voice or instrumental minor. Auditions are scheduled with the appropriate area coordinator. Contact: https://music.howard.edu/faculty-staff.

3. An interview with Music Therapy faculty. This meeting includes an assessment of music skills relevant to music therapy practice (see below for info). Contact: https://profiles.howard.edu/profile/46041/henrik-karlsson

4. A personal essay, of 2-3 pages, submitted to the Music Therapy coordinator before the interview. Topics to include: how the applicant learned about music therapy, what the applicant finds interesting about this profession and why the applicant might be suited for music therapy clinical practice.


At the end of Freshman year, all music therapy students take a guitar barrier exam. Passing the exam is required for continued studies within the music therapy major. The exam is taken as part of the Methods and Techniques in Music Therapy course.

After successful completion of all HU academic requirements, students must complete a Music Therapy Clinical Internship at an AMTA approved site. Approval from the program coordinator is required to begin the Internship, after which the student will be qualified to sit for the Music Therapy Board Certification Examination.

Applicants with a baccalaureate degree in music who seek admission to Music Therapy program will have customized programs designed that fulfill all the requirements for the Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy. An audition, transfer of credits (up to 96 credits of courses with the grade of "C" or better from an accredited 4-year institution), and consultation with the program coordinator are required for acceptance as a transfer student or second bachelor's degree candidate.

For their senior project, music therapy students can either perform a recital on their principal instrument, or do a presentation based on their clinical work and theoretical knowledge.

Senior project and successful completion of internship are required for graduation.


How to Prepare for the Music Therapy Interview


1. Learn Basic Guitar Accompaniment

For songs such as:

     - Amazing Grace

     - You Are My Sunshine

     - Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)

Be prepared to sing and accompany yourself on two songs. Originals are welcome, as are any of your favorite songs in R&B, Gospel, Pop, Rock etc.

Guitar is the most important instrument for music therapists. Because of its portability and its musical qualities, guitar is used in all types of clinical settings – from small hospital rooms to larger community spaces. If you are interested in studying guitar as your principal instrument, please contact professor Gerard Kunkel: gkunkel@rcn.com.

The Hal Leonard Guitar Method Book I is recommended for beginners on the instrument.

If you prefer to accompany yourself on piano, you can do that but keep in mind that music therapy students have to pass a guitar barrier exam at the end of freshman year in order to continue in the major.


2. Learn About Music Therapy

  • The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), is our professional organization and a good source of information. Look up the AMTA at: www.musictherapy.org
  • Volunteering in, for example, a hospital, a special education program or a nursing home is a good way to learn about what it means to work in a helping profession
  • .Watching videos of board certified (MT-BC) music therapists working with different patient populations, will give you an idea of what it is that music therapists actually do.
  • As you prepare for the interview, think about why you are interested in music therapy and why you think you might be good at this type of work.