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Music Therapy Ph.D.

3 - 5
years to complete your Ph.D.
people received music therapy in 2020
facilities where music therapists provide services
approved music therapy education programs in the US
Overview Open Accordion

Accelerate your career as a music therapy clinician or educator. Advance your scholarship and reach your professional goals.

As a student in this online Ph.D. program, you will gain knowledge in three core areas:

  1. Clinical practice: Further your understanding of advanced clinical competencies with an emphasis on evidence-based practices.
  2. Research: Engage in coursework and collaborative research projects focused on advancing research skills. Develop original research in your area of interest.
  3. Academic higher education: Participate in courses focused on teaching and learning in a higher education setting.

Study with experienced faculty and researchers

Learn from faculty with a range of backgrounds, areas of focus, and approaches in therapy. Faculty are connected to the community and collaborate with colleagues in human development, music education, early childhood, psychology, gerontology, communication studies, and occupational therapy.

Small class sizes allow for maximum participation and intimate discussions with fellow students and faculty.

Study online, on your time

Online coursework provides flexibility for working professionals. Earn your Ph.D. from a respected, regionally accredited public research university. Balance your academic studies with your career and personal obligations.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

This unique Ph.D. program can help you gain the knowledge to take the next step in your career. After successful completion of the program, you may consider job opportunities such as:

  • Professor
  • Director of Clinical Practice
  • Researcher
  • Supervisor
  • Clinical Administrator
  • Advanced Clinical Practitioner
Faculty Open Accordion
Blythe LaGasse

Blythe LaGasse, Ph.D., MT-BC

Professor of Music; Music Therapy; Coordinator of Music Therapy

Dr. Blythe LaGasse is coordinator and associate professor of music therapy at Colorado State University. She is director of the online program in music therapy. She has been a music therapist specializing in working with children with autism spectrum disorder for over sixteen years and is an active clinician.

Dr. LaGasse was a faculty trainer for the Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) Academy for eight years. She holds a certificate of proficiency in DIR/Floortime from the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning. Dr. LaGasse has publications in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, and Music and Medicine. She was the 2016 recipient of the American Music Therapy Association Arthur Flagler Fultz Research grant award and in 2016 she and co-investigator Dr. Erik Johnson were awarded the GRAMMY Foundation grant award.

Dr. LaGasse was the 2015 recipient of the American Music Therapy Association Research Award. She was the 2016-2017 recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. She was the Fall 2017 recipient of the CSU Online Innovative Educator Award.

Andrew Knight

Andrew Knight, Ph.D., MT-BC

Associate Professor of Music; Music Therapy

Dr. Andrew Knight holds a bachelor's degree in percussion performance, with a jazz emphasis, from UW-La Crosse, a music therapy equivalency and master's degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in educational foundations and research from the University of North Dakota (UND).

Dr. Knight has research interests in substance use disorders in adults and early childhood social/emotional developmental issues. He directs the Parkinson's Disease vocal exercise group in collaboration with the Parkinson's Support Group in Larimer County and is a Music Together Within Therapy™ provider. His research has been published in the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives, among other journals, and serves as Associate Editor for Book Reviews for JMT. He is the 2017-2019 president of the Midwestern Region (MWR) of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), on the AMTA Assembly of Delegates, and has won the MWR and AMTA Service Awards. Along with Dr. Blythe LaGasse and Dr. Alicia Clair, he is a co-editor of the 2018 Introduction to Music Therapy textbook published by AMTA.

Lindsey Wilhelm

Lindsey Wilhelm, Ph.D., MT-BC

Assistant Professor of Music; Music Therapy; Internship Coordinator

Dr. Wilhelm holds degrees in music therapy from Colorado State University (BM) and the University of Iowa (MA, Ph.D.) and is a Fellow in Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT). A board-certified music therapist since 2007, Dr. Wilhelm has worked with both children and adults in a variety of community, educational, rehabilitative, and medical settings. Her current research areas and interests include music therapy applications for aging adults with hearing loss; students' self-care practices; and music therapy applications for family caregivers.

Jess Rushing

Jess Rushing, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor; Music Therapy

Dr. Rushing has worked clinically with all ages from premature infants to end-of-life with considerable experience in medical, private practice, and mental health. Rushing’s research interests include music therapy in acute post-stroke care, music therapy supervision using Self-Determination Theory, and community engagement. In addition to teaching and research, she has previously owned a private practice and supervised the UofL Music Therapy Clinic. She is a Fellow of the National Institute of Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy and has completed training in Neurologic Music Therapy. Dr. Rushing is currently the chair elect of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) Arts and Neuroscience Networking Group. She enjoys continuing to be an active clinician.

Laura Beer

Laura Beer, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Music: Music Therapy

Dr. Beer has extensive clinical experience as a music therapist, researcher, author, and educator. She has worked as a clinician in a range of settings, with her most recent clinical experience in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and with children who have multiple developmental challenges. She also serves as editor for Music Therapy Perspectives, one of AMTA’s two national peer-reviewed journals. She is committed to creating a more inclusive and social-justice oriented format for clinicians, students, educators, and allied health professionals. She has numerous publications including "Trauma-Informed Music Therapy: Theory and Practice" (co-editor) and "Using Music in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy," co-written with Jacqueline Birnbaum. Laura lives with her wife Cyndy, three cats, and little dog Gracie, and is humbled every day by their love and support.

Curriculum Open Accordion

The Ph.D. in Music Therapy is comprised of 72 credits, of which 30 credits may be accepted from a prior master's degree.

Clinical Core Courses (15 credits)

Research Core Courses (12 credits)

Academic Core Courses (15 credits)

Directed Electives (15 credits)

  • Electives chosen with the advisor

Dissertation (15 credits)

  • MU 799 – Dissertation
How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Students may be admitted for the fall semester only.

Fall semester February 15

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Minimum Admission Requirements

For full consideration for a Fall semester start, please submit your application by February 15. Applications beyond this date will be accepted and considered on an individual basis.

Admission requirements reflect the minimum standards an applicant must meet. Achievement above the minimum standards will increase the competitiveness of your application. If you have any questions about the application requirements and process, please contact Blythe LaGasse, Ph.D., MT-BC, Program Coordinator.

Note on Applicant Interviews: All finalists for the Ph.D. program will undergo an interview with the music therapy faculty. The applicant will need to demonstrate functional music skills during this interview.

Admission requirements:

  • A bachelor's degree in music therapy from a regionally accredited institution (or a bachelor's degree and completion of a music therapy equivalency program). Note: A master's degree from an accredited college or university may be accepted for a maximum of 30 credits.
  • Current board-certification in music therapy.
  • A minimum of three years of full-time professional clinical practice experience or its equivalent in part-time work, per the American Music Therapy Association’s Standards for Education and Clinical Training.

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience and the personal statement.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Applicants will be required to submit the following information. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Statement of Purpose

The statement should include the following points:

  • Identification of an advisor
  • Description of your interest in the CSU Music Therapy Ph.D.
  • An overview of your music therapy experiences.
  • Outline of your specific areas of research interest and clinical expertise.
  • Detail of your future career ambitions and why they fit with one or more of our Ph.D. program’s core areas of research, clinical practice, and teaching.
  • Writing sample, e.g. a master's thesis, term paper from a graduate class, published research article, or other scholarly writing.
Curriculum Vitae or Resume

Please include at least three years successful full-time experience, or its equivalent, as a professional music therapist.

Video Audition

Provide a video clip of no more than seven minutes showing a therapeutic music experience. This does not need to include a client.

Provide a one-page explanation that includes a client description (i.e., describe an individual with whom you would use this technique/protocol), goal/objective, explanation of choice in the therapeutic music experience, and what you would do next in the treatment process.

Two letters of recommendation

Applicants are required to identify two references who will be requested to provide information electronically. References should be able to speak to your current ability to complete doctoral work and research.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application form and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Music Therapy (Ph.D) – Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Please Note: Students may be unconditionally admitted and registered in their first semester of courses with an unofficial transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted, prior to or during your first semester, before you can register for your second semester of graduate work. Failure to meet this condition will result in your dismissal from the Graduate School.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Morgan Parsley
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

72 (up to 30 cr. considered from a prior Master’s program)
$750 (per 700-level credit); $642 (per master's level credit)
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Doctor of Philosophy in Music Therapy
Time Frame
Can be completed in 3-5 years

Application Dates

Fall semester
February 15 (preferred)
Applications are considered after this date

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