Apply: Music Therapy Equivalency Certificate

1. Register & apply: Register (create an account) and complete your application online, which includes submitting a resume, professional statement, and two letters of recommendation as detailed below.


Include information about your degree(s), employment experience, and specialized skills, training, and/or certification(s).

Professional Statement

In this essential component of the application, explain your reasons for seeking this graduate program. Include any information that will advance your candidacy, such as personal and professional attributes and goals, volunteer and professional experiences related to the program to which you are applying, and other related life experiences. Describe your future academic plans and anticipated contributions to the specific profession for which this program will prepare you.

If you did not have an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher and a B average in your major field, you must also address the following in your professional statement:

  • Explain why your grades were below Nazareth's minimum expectations.
  • Outline specific procedures you will follow to successfully navigate and meet the rigorous requirements of graduate study.
  • Describe relevant experiences and/or activities that demonstrate your ability to successfully complete graduate work at Nazareth University.
Letters of Recommendation
  • Submit these through the online application. If you would like to provide additional letters of recommendation, email the Office of Graduate Admissions,
  • Or you can use a credential file for this requirement if the letters were submitted for the purpose of graduate study, not for employment. If you have this type of file, have your college send it to Nazareth’s Graduate Admissions office.
  • These recommendations are used only for admission to a graduate program at Nazareth University. Graduate Admissions will dispose of all letters of recommendation following the admissions review process.

Register for an account & apply online


2. Request official transcripts from each college you attended.

  • If you attended Nazareth, the Office of Graduate Admissions will obtain your transcript upon receipt of your application packet.
  • If you didn't attend Nazareth, ask your previous college(s) to send your transcript directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions. 
  • International applicants: Submit English-translated transcripts, including bachelor's or higher degree equivalency through a NACES-certified evaluation service such as World Education Service, Educational Credential Evaluations, or Josef Silny & Associates. (The evaluation is at the expense of the student.) Also see international admissions requirements.

3. Complete additional requirements:

  • You must have completed, or will be completing, a baccalaureate degree in music or music therapy from an accredited institution with a cumulative index of 3.0 and a “B” average in the major field by the start date of the desired term.
    • Prior coursework must include an Introduction to Psychology course.
  • Prerequisite coursework (9 credits):
    • Intro to Psychology
    • Intro to Music Therapy
    • Psychology of Music
    • If not already complete, consult with the graduate music therapy program director for instructions and options.
  • If you meet the admission criteria, you will be invited by the program director to schedule an interview and an audition (audition requirements are listed below) to demonstrate your strongest musicianship/performance skills as well as a basic competence in functional music theory, piano, and guitar.
Audition requirements

The audition components are the same for the Equivalency Certificate program and for the Equivalency Master's degree.

The elements of the audition give the faculty information about your readiness for the clinical musicianship education that is at the heart of our programs, and give you a sense of the skills and knowledge that will be critical for a successful start to your studies for the certificate or master’s degree.

There are three major components to the audition:

  1. Demonstration of your strongest musicianship
  2. Assessment of your current basic piano and guitar skills
  3. Assessment of your ability to use current skills and knowledge to play/sing spontaneously.

NOTE: You do not need to have previously studied guitar to prepare for the audition: You can learn the skills we are looking for using widely available beginner’s books or videos. We do assume that those with undergraduate degrees in music have, at minimum, studied piano in a class format for at least two semesters. If you have not studied piano (or developed piano skills on your own), talk with the graduate program director prior to your audition about the necessary preparation.

Component #1: Musicianship

This component can be submitted via video recording and we recommend that method, especially if your musicianship is best demonstrated with an accompanist or other musicians. Consult with the program director to determine the best way to present this part of the audition.

For many people, their strongest demonstration of musicianship will be on their primary instrument: the instrument they studied in private lessons during their undergraduate degree. For others, it may be an instrument they regularly play in public that didn’t fit the “formal” studies model of their college or university.

Requirement: Perform one piece (or excerpt), between 4 and 6 minutes long, where you are the primary instrumentalist/vocalist. Your performance should demonstrate some or all of the following as appropriate to the piece: a strong sense of rhythm/groove/pulse, an intonation standard appropriate for the genre, interpretive phrasing, confidence, and obvious nonverbal communication with other musicians and/or your audience (which may be the faculty reviewing your video).

Component #2: Basic Piano, Guitar, and Singing Skills

Components #2 and #3 will be presented during the live audition. We highly recommend that you audition in person, so that in addition to being able to get to know the faculty in person, you can see the School of Music (and its performance spaces) and the York Wellness & Rehabilitation Center, which includes the Lipson Music Therapy Clinic. However, if necessary, we can conduct the live audition via Zoom. Consult with the program director if you intend to audition via Zoom so that you get all the necessary instructions for that setup.

Guitar and piano are the two most common instruments used by music therapists. Music therapy almost always uses harmonic progressions as one of its stimuli, so an accompaniment instrument is a must. Many music therapists use ukuleles, and some use autoharps and electronics, but both the guitar and piano have the capability of producing strong bass notes, which are critical for some clients, and have a wide range – which increases the choices the music therapist has within the session.

You will have classes in guitar and piano as part of the equivalency program at Naz, so at the audition we are looking only for the basics, presented solidly. The requirements are those that can be self-taught if classes/lessons are/were not available.


Sing, with self-accompaniment, two songs from the attached list.

The two songs must meet the following criteria:

  • Accompany one on the piano, and one on the guitar
  • For the piano song, sing the melody and play the harmony with both hands (instead of chords in the left hand and melody in the right.)  You can play the same notes and rhythm (even just playing on the beat) in both hands.
  • Choose one song in 2/4 or 4/4 meter; and one song in 3/4 or 6/8 meter
  • Choose one song in a major key; and one song that is in a minor key or uses at least 2  minor chords (see indications on attached list)
  • Both songs must be memorized
  • Demonstrate eye contact with camera and/or faculty, musicality, steady tempo, and an appropriate level of energy.

NOTE: If you would like to play and sing a favorite song that is not on our list, check with the program director. If it meets the criteria above, you can use it in the audition.

Component #3: Playing and Singing in the Moment

Music therapists make changes within sessions to meet the needs and communicate with their clients. An understanding of basic music theory allows a music therapist to transpose a song to a new key. An ability to change the rhythmic foundation of an intervention can help a client increase or refine movement. Music therapists learn to try new things and make mistakes and try again. During the audition, the faculty will guide you through a demonstration of some of these skills.


Be prepared for the faculty to ask you to do any of the following (on guitar OR piano, whichever makes you most comfortable):

  • Sight read a melody.
  • Transpose a song from one key to another (within “basic” keys like C, D, G, A major and E, B, A minor).  We do not expect this to happen “in tempo;” we just want to see if you know how to transpose.
  • Change the meter of a song from a 3-beat to a 4-beat pattern or vise versa. For example, the ABC song is typically sung in a 4 beat pattern; we might ask you to sing in a waltz pattern.  Perfection is not the goal: flexibility and playfulness is.
  • Play a chord progression provided by the faculty (from this list of chords: I, ii, IV, V, V7, vi, VII) and then sing an improvised melody over it (no lyrics, just “la.”). 

Song List

Use this list to choose songs that meet the criteria listed on the audition requirements.

Songs in 3/4 or 6/8 meter

  • Rainbow Connection (major)
  • Hush-a-Bye (All the Pretty Little Horses) (minor)
  • Tennessee Waltz (major)
  • Que Sera, Sera (major)
  • What the World Needs Now (minor)
  • Breakaway (minor)
  • The Times They are A’Changing (major)
  • Morning Has Broken (major)
  • House of the Rising Sun (minor)
  • Scarborough Fair (Simon and Garfunkel) (minor)
  • My Favorite Things (minor)
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) (major)

Songs in 2/4 or 4/4 meter

  • Hakuna Matata (major)
  • You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King) (minor)
  • Blue Skies (minor)
  • I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon (major)
  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Toy Story) (minor)
  • Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong) (major)
  • Lean on Me (major)
  • Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers) (minor)
  • Rainbow (Kacey Musgraves) (major)
  • Mad World (minor)
  • Good Riddance (major)
  • This is Me (major)


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, to start the curriculum in the summer B term. (Or students can start earlier to complete prerequisites at Nazareth.)

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