• Production still from SERSE
  • french horns
  • choir and orchestra
  • pianist, clarinetist, and violinist
  • violin section of orchestra
  • wind orchestra
  • Jazz Band on stage

Music Therapy FAQ

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is a field that uses music along with the personality of the therapist as a treatment for rehabilitating, maintaining, and improving the lives of persons with physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities. Music Therapy is a creative arts therapy similar to others such as Art, Dance, and Drama Therapy. It is a healing art, based on scientific principles, grounded in research and is constantly expanding as a profession.

Some examples of clinical music therapy include: working with handicapped children being "mainstreamed" into public school to improve their physical coordination as well as academic skills through music's structure; an elderly person suffering from a stroke may benefit from music therapy by regaining communication skills as well as coordination. An adult or adolescent with behavioral, emotional, or mental problems can learn new adaptive skills, explore feelings, and regain normal functioning in society through music therapy.

Music therapy interventions can be designed to:

  • promote wellness
  • manage stress
  • alleviate pain
  • express feelings
  • enhance memory
  • improve communication
  • promote physical rehabilitation
  • learn skills for daily living

Where are Music Therapists employed?

Music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, children's hospitals, schools and centers for the developmentally disabled (intellectually disabled, cerebral palsied, etc.), community mental health centers, juvenile detention and treatment centers, convalescent (nursing) homes and retirement centers, and public and private schools. Some therapists are involved in special education programs; others work in private practice with children and adults, referred by doctors and health agencies.

What are the personal qualification of a Music Therapist?

The Music Therapist must possess strong musical talents and abilities, balanced emotional and social attributes, a commitment to assisting people toward healthier adjustments to life, and a dedication to the study of music and its functional adaptations for influencing behavior change based on scientific research in music psychology and clinical practice.

Why study Music Therapy at CSUN?

The CSUN Music Therapy program emphasizes a competency based approach to education. Didactic and experiential methods combined with individualized attention allows for steady development growth in the student. A wide range of populations are available for fieldwork experience with supervision by trained professionals preparing the student for clinical internship. The Music Therapy program brings in a wide variety of professionals to do educational presentations and seminars to further stimulate the growth of students.

The Music Therapy Association of Northridge (MTAN) is an active student group providing support for the Music Therapy major and also assisting in orienting the new student to the program. If you would like to communicate with the current MTAN President please email her by following the link on this home page that takes you to the student facebook page

Yearly scholarships are available for outstanding students. Currently, CSUN is the only State University that offers this degree.

Is it a degree program?

Upon completion of the curriculum, you receive a BA in Music Therapy.

What education is required?

California State University, Northridge is one of more than 60 colleges and universities offering a four-year academic and clinical program based on the education requirements established by the American Music Therapy Association. Included in the program are courses in Music, General Education (with special emphasis in psychology and special education) and Music Therapy.

Following the four years of academic work, a six-month clinical internship in an approved clinical setting is required. Upon successful completion of these requirements, the student receives a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music Therapy. The student is then eligible to take the National Board Certification test. If you already possess an undergraduate degree in music, you are eligible for the Music Therapy Equivalency upon the completion of the music therapy courses and any other required course work.


  • Mu 292 Music Therapy Orientation
  • Mu 360 Functional Skills for Music Therapy
  • Mu 392 Music In Therapy
  • Mu 477 Music Therapy Practicum
  • Mu 491 Psychology of Music
  • Mu 492 Influence of Music on Behavior
  • Mus 390 MI Music Therapy Improvisation
  • Mu 494 Music Therapy Internship

These music therapy core courses are offered over a two-year period. As you are involved in these courses you will be learning many of your clinical skills in a fieldwork setting. These usually consist of about two hours per week of hands-on training with a Music Therapist. You will complete a minimum of four of these fieldwork's (actual course is called a practicum, MU477). After all the course requirements are satisfied, you must complete a six-month clinical internship at an approved setting. When you have finished your internship, you may apply for registration with the American Music Therapy Association, and you are eligible to sit for the national exam to become a Board Certified Music Therapist. The CSUN program is approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the National Association for Schools of Music (NASM).

I have a degree in music already, what do I need to do to become a Music Therapist?

You would then enter the program under what is called an "equivalency" status and actually apply for the "Music Therapy Certificate."  This means that you need to complete the music therapy coursework, as well as any other classes that are required by the American Music Therapy Association. If you already have the psychology, anatomy or special education requirements on your transcripts from another institution, those requirements may be waived depending on the content of the course verified by the course syllabi. The Director of the Music Therapy Program will need a copy of your transcripts to verify that your music degree meets the same requirements as those of CSUN. In most cases this is not a problem.

How long will it then take me? Presently the core courses are offered on a two-year rotating basis. Therefore it will take you two years of part-time schoolwork. Music Therapy courses are offered on Tuesday and Thursday. At the end of the two years you must complete a 6-month full-time internship at an AMTA approved facility. Depending on the facility, this internship may or may not be paid. 

We only take new students for the fall semester.  First apply online for the music therapy certificate under “graduate programs.”

We are already filled for the 2023-2023 school year.  If you wish to be considered for 2023-2024, first apply to the university, then contact the head of the music therapy program via email to schedule an interview in January 2023.  At that interview you will be asked to play guitar, piano and to sing while playing these instruments.  Preparing a couple of pop songs is advised.

I do not have a degree in music, but my degree is in another field, how can I become a Music Therapist?

In order to become a music therapist you would need to complete a second Bachelors Degree in Music Therapy. Unfortunately, CSUN is not accepting any students who wish to apply for a second degree.

I am an incoming freshman, what do I need to do?

First, apply to the University. Second, make sure you check the music department’s web page for audition information and apply for the audition. On that day, you will be scheduled to meet with Professor Borczon for a personal interview.  As part of the overall interview process there will an informal evaluation as to your guitar, piano and singing skills.  Preparing a couple of pop songs is advised. 

The program is a complete 4-year program that has an additional 6-month internship that is completed after all the required coursework is finished.

I have not really had formal instruction in music, but I want to pursue music therapy. What should I do?

The CSUN program, as most Music Therapy programs do, requires a proficiency level on your primary instrument. The style for all instrumental and vocal auditions is classical. Please check the web page for audition requirements by instrument. You will not be fully admitted to the program unless you have passed an audition. See AUDITION AND PLACEMENT.

I am a transfer student, what do I need to do, and how long will it take me?

First, apply to the University. Second, make sure you check the music department’s web page for audition information and apply for the audition. On that day, you will be scheduled to meet with Professor Borczon for a personal interview.  As part of the overall interview process there will an informal evaluation as to your guitar, piano and singing skills.  Preparing a couple of pop songs is advised.  

The length of time to complete the degree varies depending on the evaluation of your transcripts and what the University will require you to take.

It is recommended that you transfer at the earliest possible date so you can become quickly involved in our program.

What are the requirements for private instruction?

You will be required to progress through your sophomore year on your primary instrument. No recital is required. For information on audition requirements for your primary instrument see AUDITION AND PLACEMENT.

What happens on my interview and audition date?

When you sign up for the audition via the music department website you will subsequently get an email from the Music Department informing you of your audition date.  If you have not reviewed the audition requirements you can do so at this link: 

Note that you will be doing the BA audition requirement.

On your audition date you will also be scheduled for a ten-minute interview with the Director of the Music Therapy Program. Please note there will be a short assessment on piano and guitar for all applicants during the interview.  At the junior transfer level it is highly recommended that a strong level of proficiency is demonstrated on functional guitar, functional piano, and you can sing in tune while accompanying yourself on these instruments.

The Music Therapy Wellness Clinic

The Music Therapy Wellness Clinic provides individually designed music activities for children and adults with disabilities and special challenges, including autism, developmental delay, physical, mental and emotional disorders, and learning disabilities.

The Music Therapy Wellness Clinic is dedicated to creating an environment where an individual with special challenges can acquire necessary life skills through the unique, creative and enjoyable medium of music. The Music Therapy Wellness Clinic allows an opportunity for each participant to express his or her true creative essence while gaining skills and enhancing self-esteem

The Benefits of Music Therapy Include:

  • Development of fine and gross motor skills
  • Improvement in acquisition and application of academic fundamentals
  • Development of practical life skills
  • Increase in socialization
  • Enhancement of self-esteem
  • Expansion of the quality of life through musical enjoyment and creative self-expression

The Music Therapy Wellness Clinic provides individual and group sessions conducted by a highly trained and experienced Music Therapist. A variety of instruments are used, including piano, guitar, percussion, autoharp, recorder and harmonica, as well as voice. Check out the Clinic information page.

Where can I go to get more information about Music Therapy and job opportunities in the field?

It is difficult to find literature in general bookstores and even many libraries are deficient in this area. I recommend going to to find many interesting books on the field of music therapy. The Journal of Music Therapy may be available at your library, or contact the American Music Therapy Association at 301-589-3300 or on the web at

For further information, write to:

Hilary Yip, Music Therapy Chair
Department of Music
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8314
Telephone: 818-677-3174