Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions

Music Therapy

Welcome to Music Therapy

Music therapy is defined broadly as the use of music to advance health-related goals and improve the quality of life. Clinical applications range across the entire life span as music therapists work with a wide range of people including individuals with and without disabilities. Because of the large variety of people with whom music therapists work, and the breadth of possible uses of music, the profession of music therapy encourages specialization at the graduate level. NYU Steinhardt offers a Master of Arts Degree in Music Therapy. The music therapy program is approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and upon graduation students are qualified to sit for the examination for Board Certification in music therapy (MT-BC) through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). The program is approved by the New York State Education Department and qualifies the student for licensure in Creative Arts Therapy (LCAT) after graduation and 1500 hours of post-graduate supervised practice.

The music therapy program attracts students from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds to study and apprentice with leading professionals in music psychotherapy. Classes are small, and students are encouraged to develop their particular specialization in music psychotherapy during the program. At the core of our program is clinical training: the New York metropolitan area offers rich opportunities for clinical observation and internships in facilities such as medical and psychiatric hospitals, prisons, schools and centers for special needs children, rehabilitation centers, and treatment centers for the homeless, elderly, and terminally ill, among others.

Professor Barbara Hesser, CMT, LCAT, FAMI, Program Director, leads an internationally recognized clinical faculty. All of the faculty members are practicing music therapists who bring a rich and diverse understanding of clinical work to their teaching. In addition to teaching courses, they are active in their clinical practice, professional writing and research, and serve the professional music therapy association (AMTA) in many capacities. This dedication to ongoing clinical, professional and creative work is an important aspect of the philosophy guiding our program. In addition to the regular required coursework, these professionals offer workshops throughout the year that expose students to various music psychotherapy specializations, such as the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM), Analytical Music Therapy (AMT), Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (NRMT), and others.

NYU Steinhardt also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Music Education that is open to music therapists who want to focus on music therapy and develop research skills, whether this is in service of an academic career or to be integrated into clinical positions. The degree is a highly individualized one with a great deal of student choice in terms of research topics and methods, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods options. Students can matriculate on either a full-time or part-time basis and all course work is completed in residency on the NYU campus. Associate Professor Kenneth Aigen, DA, MT-BC, LCAT, serves as the adviser for all doctoral students.

The Nordoff-Robbins Center, located around the corner from the NYU music therapy program, offers NYU music therapy students a unique opportunity to gain entry level music therapy skills and advanced competencies with a specialization in the Nordoff-Robbins approach. Center staff members teach in the program and provide clinical supervision as well. Nordoff-Robbins publications, research, and clinical material are embedded into the curriculum of the master’s music therapy program. The on-site location affords daily interaction both at the formal and informal levels between Center staff, program faculty and music therapy master’s students. Our unique relationship with this center provides our students with opportunities to actively engage with some of the most innovative clinical and research practices currently used in music therapy.

For more information, please contact: 1-212-998-5452 or