West Virginia University will launch the state’s first degree program in music therapy. The new major, leading to a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy, was approved by the WVU Faculty Senate at its meeting Monday (March 7).

“The demand for board-certified music therapists across the country is strong,” said Paul Kreider, dean of WVU’s College of Creative Arts. “As the only degree program in music therapy in West Virginia, this will offer our residents the chance to get the training they need to pursue a career in this growing field.”

Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including general hospitals, hospice and palliative care, community mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, adult day care facilities, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and schools, and in private practice.

“Music therapists provide services for clients and patients across the lifespan, regardless of their age or ability level. We see a wide variety of individuals and groups that include adults and children in various medical settings, those with cognitive and developmental disabilities, speech and hearing impairments, physical disabilities, and neurological impairments,” said Dena Register, director of the music therapy program in the School of Music.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for music therapists is expected to rise by a minimum of 17% by 2020. The Certification Board for Music Therapists is the national credentialing agency and reports that, on average, surrounding states have had a 15-20% growth in the number of music therapists working in their state since 2010.

“The need for music therapists grows as people age and programs develop that challenge and support traditional models of rehabilitation,” said Register, who has led the development of WVU’s new major.

The program has been designed in alignment with national standards established by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), WVU’s accrediting agency, and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). WVU will complete accreditation with both NASM and AMTA in 2016.

The course of study for the degree will be competitive with similar programs, particularly the few land-grant institutions that offer music therapy and also have a school of medicine. Students will develop foundations in music skills, therapeutic applications, and specific music therapy competencies.

For additional information on the program and enrollment in the College of Creative Arts, please contact James Froemel, program coordinator for undergraduate admissions, at 304-293-4339 or jfroemel@mail.wvu.edu.



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