Keyboard and voice recording setup

Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy

Music Therapy is the process of clients and qualified music therapists working together through music to promote mental and physical health. Through carefully planned musical experiences, the client is provided with opportunities to address therapeutic goals across a wide range of needs. Music therapists work with individuals and groups from a variety of age ranges and life circumstances. The therapist may work as a member of a therapeutic team or as a private practitioner to assess client needs, formulate treatment goals and develop music-based strategies for healing. Music therapists work in medical, psychiatric, developmental, nursing, end-of-life, forensic and community care. The Cali School assists our graduates in the process of identifying professional opportunities.

Music Therapy at the Cali School

The Music Therapy program of the John J. Cali School of Music, College of the Arts, Montclair State University, was established in 1969. Located just 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan and the rich vibrance of the creative culture of New York City, the program among the country’s oldest and most distinguished in public higher education. Approved by the American Music Therapy Association, the Montclair State program features a unique arts-oriented, humanistic, culture-based, justice-centered curriculum of academic instruction, artistic engagement (including specifically in digital music technologies, with a lab dedicated to this area), and supervised clinical training experiences involving numerous communities of care in New Jersey and the Greater Metropolitan New York area. The program values interdisciplinary inclusion of instructional contributions from music therapy and related scholars and educators from diverse backgrounds around the world.

Montclair State University offers both a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts program, as well as a 40-credit Master of Arts program. Both programs provide eligibility for earning the Music Therapist—Board Certified (MT-BC) credential, via successful completion of all program requirements and passage of a national exam administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

For more information on the Music Therapy program at Montclair State, please contact Dr. Michael Viega (Undergraduate Program Coordinator) at, or Dr. Brian Abrams (Graduate Program Coordinator) at

Join us for Music Therapy Day. Information here.

Find a Program to Meet Your Needs

1. If you hold an undergraduate degree in Music Therapy and/or are you Board Certified: Learn about the MA in Music Therapy

2. If you do not have a music therapy degree and/or certification, but you hold an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent (usually 60 undergraduate music credits) in music coursework, learn about these options:

3. If you do not hold an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent (usually 60 undergraduate music credits) and if you have no, or limited, university-level music coursework/training: Learn about the BA in Music Therapy

BA in Music Therapy

The BA in Music Therapy program at Montclair State University, approved by the American American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), normally takes 4 1/2 years to complete. The training of a music therapist is a unique combination of music, psychology and music therapy, including music therapy clinical work.

In addition to regular coursework, a six-month full-time supervised internship is required. Students may intern at any of the over 150 approved internship facilities across the United States. While some Montclair State students intern in this immediate area, many take advantage of the opportunity to work in another part of the country. The intensive spirit of the internship provides the student with the day-to-day supervision necessary to refine one’s clinical skills and end one’s academic training. Some internships provide a stipend and/or room and board.

The graduate of this program is eligible to apply to take the examination for Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) through the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

Link to Undergraduate Course Catalog:

MA in Music Therapy

The Master of Arts (MA) in Music, Concentration in Music Therapy program offers a 40.5 credit combination of supportive psychology and research courses, including courses in assessment, clinical improvisation techniques, group music therapy (experiential and client-centered), and teaching and supervision. All of these courses include applied work.

Students have the opportunity to complete professional level writing in the thesis seminar, two relevant electives and a final thesis.

The program has been known as a comprehensive, eclectic music therapy program since 1969. We take pride in the ability to provide you with excellent clinical placement experiences; careful academic advisement; and nationally and internationally known faculty within the music therapy program, the music school, and other departments you may wish to explore, such as gerontology, child life, psychology, learning disabilities, special education and behavioral neuroscience.

Link to the Graduate Course Catalog: MA, Music Therapy

David Ott Laboratory for Music and Health

Another unique feature of the Cali School Music Therapy program is the David Ott Laboratory. Find out more here.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students do not apply for scholarships to the Cali School. They may be awarded at the time of acceptance into the program or after students are already enrolled. Several scholarships and fellowships for music therapy majors are provided through the David Ott Music Therapy Fund, established by Tom and Lucy Ott in memory of their son, David. Two David Ott Scholarships of $500 each are awarded each year to undergraduate and/or post-baccalaureate music therapy students, one to an upper-level student and one to an intern. The David Ott Fellowship is awarded to an incoming matriculated graduate music therapy student and provides a total of $4000, with $1000 awarded each semester for four semesters. The Cali School of Music provides scholarships on a competitive basis.

Montclair State University’s tuition is quite reasonable compared to many other schools, leading to less need for large scholarship assistance than at more expensive schools. Additional information on financial aid is available from the University Financial Aid Office or at 973-655-4461.

Readings and Resources

Introductory Readings – Books

  • Bruscia, K. (Ed). (1991). Case Studies in Music Therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.
  • Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K., Thaut, M. (1997). An Introduction to Music Therapy: Theory and Practice. 2nd Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill.
  • Goodman, K. D. (1981). Music therapy. In S. Arieti (Ed.), American Handbook of Psychiatry, Vol. VII: Advances and New Directions. New York: Basic Books

Journals and Web Resources


For more information, contact:

Dr. Mike Viega, Undergraduate Music Therapy Coordinator

Dr. Brian Abrams, Graduate Music Therapy Coordinator