The equivalency program in music therapy is designed for those persons who already hold an undergraduate degree (most typically in music performance or music education), but who wish to complete requirements for professional certification as a music therapist. Rather than completing a second bachelor's degree, the student completes courses beyond the bachelor's degree that are required for professional training.

In the equivalency program, students complete the additional coursework required beyond their bachelor's degree for professional certification by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Students who have an undergraduate degree in music often enroll under the classification of special student.

For most students with an undergraduate degree in music, the equivalency program requires three semesters of on-campus study (may be part-time enrollment for the third semester, depending on analysis of the transcripts), followed by a six-month required internship off campus. Some students who have a BA (rather than BM) and who require additional music credits sometimes enter as a transfer student, and they take at least a semester longer to complete the equivalency program.

Students with undergraduate degrees in areas other than music must complete basic coursework in music (i.e., music theory, lessons on a major instrument, music history, composition, etc.) in addition to the core music therapy program.

Following coursework at Iowa, the student must successfully complete a six-month internship at an approved clinical site. Transcripts of coursework from the student's undergraduate program along with the equivalency program at Iowa are submitted toward professional certification following completion of the internship.

Because this is a professional certification-only option, those students enrolled under the classification of special student do not officially fit the categories of undergraduate or graduate students. Consequently, students will not qualify for some university-sponsored financial aid, which is expressly for graduate or undergraduate students. However, they may qualify for some School of Music scholarships or loans offered through private lending institutions.

This program can be completed in conjunction with work toward a Master of Arts in Music Education. For example, students enrolled in the graduate program in music education can apply several of the music therapy core courses toward the Master of Arts in Music Education. In such cases, the student should contact the head of the area of graduate study to determine admissions policies and program requirements.

Curricular requirements

The equivalency program consists of a set of courses that student with a baccalaureate degree other than music therapy (such as music performance, music education) are required to take beyond their undergraduate course work (as verified on their college transcripts) in order to qualify for professional certification as a music therapist. This list provides a general guide for those courses that are required.

If a student’s transcript verifies successful completion of an equivalent course at an accredited college or university (such as Abnormal Psychology), that course can fulfill the requirement for completion of the equivalency program.

Dr. Dvorak will develop a curricular plan of courses for each individual equivalency student based upon examination of the transcripts.

Note: A description of the course content for these classes can be found in the University of Iowa Catalog.

Requirements for students with an undergraduate degree in music

download course checklist

Requirements for students with an undergraduate degree in music

Select one course from this list:

  • Art and Visual Culture (ARTH:1010)
  • Elements of Art (ARTS:1010)
  • Basic Drawing (ARTS:1510)
  • Basic Acting (THTR:1140)
  • Basic Acting II (THTR:1141)
  • Drama in the Classroom (EDTL:3180)
  • Introduction to Arts Management (DPA:3510)
  • Other visual or performing arts classes outside of music

  • Human Anatomy (HHP:1100), 3 semester hours
  • Elementary Psychology (PSY:1001), 3 semester hours
  • Choose one of these:
    • Abnormal Psychology for Allied Health Professionals (PSY:2930), 3 semester hours
    • Abnormal Psychology (PSY:3320), 3 semester hours
  • Choose one of these:
    • Introduction to Developmental Science (PSY:2401)
    • Child Development (PSQF:4106)
    • Exceptional Persons (EDTL:6906:0EXW)
    • Any course in child psychology or development
  • Choose one of these:
    • Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience (PSY:2701)
    • Introduction to Clinical Psychology (PSY:2301)
    • Introduction to Social Psychology (PSY:2501)
    • Introduction to Cognitive Psychology (PSY:2601)
    • Cultural Anthropology (ANTH:1101)
    • Language, Culture, and Communication (ANTH:1401)
    • Found of Critical Competence (CCCC:2220)
    • Intro to Disability Studies (DST:1101)
    • Note: Other courses in psychology or sociology accepted with advisor permission.

  • Choose one of these:
    • Arranging for Band (MUS:3665), 2 semester hours
    • Garage Band (MUS:1007), 2 semester hours
  • Group Instruction Piano I-III, (MUS:1211/MUS:1212/MUS:2213), 3 semester hours each
    • Note: Students can test out of this requirement by successful completion of a competency exam. Improvisation skills are required.
  • Secondary Performance, Voice (MUS:1120), 1 semester hour
    • Note: Voice majors are exempt.

  • Orientation to Music Therapy (MUS:1687), 2 semester hours
    • Note: Offered only in the fall semester.

Choose 4 s.h. from the following 3 courses:

  • Music Foundations in Therapy I (MUS:2671), 2 semester hours
    • Note: Offered only in the fall semester.
  • Music Foundations in Therapy II (MUS:2672), 1-2 semester hours
    • Note: Offered only in the spring semester.
  • Percussion Experiences for Teachers and Therapists (MUS:3676), 1 semester hour
    • Note: Offered only in the spring semester, every other year.

  • Music in Special Education (MUS:3680)*, 3 semester hours
  • Psychology of Music (EDTL:5630), 2 semester hours
    • Note: Offered only in the fall semester.
  • Introduction to Music Research (EDTL:5640), 2 semester hours
    • Note: Offered only in the fall semester.
  • Music Therapy with Children (MUS:4685)*, 3 semester hours
  • Music Therapy with Adults (MUS:3690)*, 3 semester hours
  • Practicum I (MUS:3675:02), 1 semester hour
    • Note: Offered only in the fall semester.
  • Practicum II (MUS:3675:001), 2 semester hours
  • Practicum III (MUS:3675), 2 semester hours
  • Internship in Music Therapy (MUS:4670)**, 2 semester hours

*These three courses rotate over a three-semester period.

**A six-month period of clinical training off-campus in an approved facility following completion of all other on-campus courses.

Note: Most of the courses not in the music therapy core can be fulfilled at another college or university (including distance or online learning or community college enrollment) as long as the course content is equivalent (as demonstrated through the course catalogue or syllabus) and appears on a college transcript. This will be determined through analysis by your advisor or your transcripts and other documentation.

Additional requirements for students with previous degrees not in music

Note: Students with a prior degree other than music will require 50 semester hours of basic music courses (not including core courses in music therapy), with a specific course of music instruction determined by Dr. Dvorak. The following list indicates those types of music courses that must be completed.
  • Two years (four semesters) of music theory
  • Three years (six semesters) of college-level private lessons
  • Three years (six semesters) of musical ensemble
  • One year (two semesters) of music history

Other specific courses may be needed (adding up to 50 semester hours of basic music).