Valparaiso University’s music therapy degree has been accredited by the American Music Therapy Association. The accreditation means the program can officially accept students, both new and transfers, and allow them to take the full curriculum.
“Basically, the American Music Therapy Association is responsible for quality control,” said Sangeeta Swamy, an assistant professor of music and the director of the music therapy program. “They looked at our curriculum in detail, every single syllabi...making sure it’s high quality, and that it’s reasonable and doable for students.”
Accreditation is a necessity for making sure that the program is the most effective that it can be while having the most payoff, ensuring that students are both qualified and supported as they head into the field. With the rising interest in obtaining music therapy degrees, Swamy advised that many undergraduate institutions will offer what look like forms of music therapy - like a double major in music and psychology - without actually giving students the necessary certifications.
“A lot of places will say they’re offering music-something...only students graduating from accredited programs can get that board certification and legitimately practice as a board-certified music therapist,” Swamy said.
Now, students who graduate from Valpo’s program will be prepared to go right into the workforce and begin practice without having to spend time and money taking additional grad school classes.
“We’re probably one of very few programs in the country that offers a music therapy degree within four years that includes an internship so the students can practice, so as soon as they graduate they can take the board certification exam and practice,” Swamy said.
Students are already looking into the program. Prospective students and those who aren’t already involved in Valpo music can audition, while music students can switch their majors to music therapy. Vocal musical skills and the ability to play multiple instruments are prerequisites for those looking to enter the program, and eventually, the workforce.
“Music therapists are working with all kinds of different people, just like any healthcare profession,” Swamy said. “Music is medicine to be able to work with and help these people.”
Brianna Irvine is a freshman music therapy major with an entrepreneurship minor, and she’s excited to be one of the first students to experience the newly accredited program. At first, she was planning to pursue music education.
“Then I heard that they were starting a music therapy program and I thought, ‘Wow, this changes everything,’” Irvine said.
Irvine is hoping to work in pediatrics.
“I see myself probably working in a hospital, probably taking care of kids with disabilities. I’ve always been the person to see someone beyond what they look like or beyond what other people say,” Irvine said. “I love getting to know other people, and I love getting to know their backgrounds and who they actually are...And that’s an important thing for music therapy and it’s important for anybody in the medical field.”
Those interested in the music therapy program can contact Professor Sangeeta Swamy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.