Music Therapy at Wartburg College

Love music? Love helping people? Did you know that with a career in music therapy you can combine those interests?

Music therapists work with people who have physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. They use music — including singing, playing instruments, composing, or listening — in therapy and rehabilitation. For example, listening to music can encourage a child with autism to make eye contact; singing along with an old song can help Alzheimer’s patients trigger memories from the past; and composing can aid chemical dependency patients in their recoveries.

The Music Department at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, offers a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy. The degree requires classes in music (including instruments, voice, conducting, and theory) and psychology. Students also gain experience working with therapy clients in two 30-hour practicums.Professor-graphics-MusicTherapy

After completing the program, graduates participate in a six-month internship program. They can then sit for the board certification exam to become certified music therapists. They work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, psychiatric facilities, schools, prisons, community centers, nursing homes, preschools, hospice programs, universities, and private practices.

Wartburg is a Lutheran liberal arts college with about 1,775 students and an average class size of 19. It’s lauded for being a place of active civic engagement and student volunteerism. There’s a strong emphasis on leadership and being a “learning community.” Graduates keep the service ethic alive with a tightly networked alumni community.

Wartburg’s admissions are selective. According to the Admissions Department, applicants are considered “on the basis of their probable success.”

The Professor took a look around Wartburg’s environs and found that Waverly is a quiet Midwestern city of about 10,000, nestled against the Cedar River and dotted with historic brick buildings.

Even though The Professor didn’t encounter a lot of boastful types around here, he discovered that the Music Department certainly has some things to boast about. Over a quarter of Wartburg’s students — including majors in business, education, and dozens of other programs — are involved in the college’s 15 music ensembles, including six choirs, two bands, two orchestras, and several small ensembles. Some of the more prominent ensembles tour nationally and abroad. One has even performed at the White House. And, after graduation, Wartburg’s music graduates don’t trend into the “starving artist” demographic. The Music Department claims a job/graduate school placement rate of 100 percent.

The college also claims several national rankings for academics, including Barron’s Best Buys in College Education. The athletics department has quite a claim to fame as well: In spring of 2012, the Wartburg Knights became the only school in NCAA history to win two national team championships on the same day, in wrestling and women’s track and field.

To learn more about Wartburg College’s application requirements and deadlines for Music Therapy and other programs, please visit

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