Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Shannon K. de l'Etoile

Second Committee Member

Teresa L. Lesiuk

Third Committee Member

Shawn A. Post


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between graduates’ perceptions of undergraduate music therapy (MTY) curricula and graduation outcomes. Aspects of undergraduate curricula included practical clinical experience and functional music competency attainment. Practical clinical experience consisted of pre-practicum experiences, practicum experiences, and clinical supervision. Graduation outcomes included employment in the field of MTY and/or acceptance into a graduate degree program in MTY or a related therapeutic/helping discipline. Participants (N=303) were graduates of bachelor’s degree programs or equivalency programs in MTY. Participants completed an online survey, “The Relationship Between the Perceptions of Undergraduate MTY Curricula and Graduation Outcomes.” The results of this study showed that most MTY alumni’s perceived their practicum experiences and supervision as extremely helpful, and that most graduates felt they had attained functional music skills with moderate competency or higher, prior to beginning internship. The frequency of on-site supervision related significantly to employment in the field of MTY, indicating that those students who received supervision all of the time (i.e., on-site supervisor was present at every session) in the clinical setting were more likely to be hired within three years of completing an undergraduate or equivalency MTY program. This study did not find a relationship between functional music competency attainment and employment. The relationship between the number of different pre-practicum experiences and acceptance into a graduate degree program in MTY or a related therapeutic/helping discipline approached significance. Overall functional music competency attainment, improvisation skills, and keyboard skills were also related with graduate degree program acceptance. In addition, results revealed a significant positive relationship between improvisation skills and acceptance into a graduate degree program. A number of limitations existed for this study, including the use of an online survey, participants’ reporting of retrospective perceptions, the large number of survey items and variables, and the professional status of the sample. The findings of this research have curricular implications for colleges and universities with bachelor’s degree and equivalency programs in MTY. Based on the study’s results, MTY programs should emphasize a variety of pre-practicum experiences, on-site clinical supervision, and functional music skills, specifically improvisation and keyboard skills. A variety of different pre-practicum experience embedded in curricula can help better prepare students for graduation outcomes. Consistent on-site and academic supervision during practicum placements allows students to observe an experienced professional, receive continual and timely feedback, and develop planning and documentation skills, which can lead to beneficial practicum experiences. Successful practicum placements will help shape sound entry-level clinicians. By increasing success during practicum placements and embedding functional music skills in undergraduate and equivalency curricula, MTY programs can better prepare students for internship, thus increasing therapist competence and improving client outcomes.


music therapy; curricula; graduation outcomes; functional music; practical clinical experience; music competencies