LSU Launches Bachelor of Music Therapy Degree Program

By Cullen Sadler

April 24, 2024

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU is now accepting students for a new Bachelor of Music Therapy degree program, the first of its kind at a public university in Louisiana, the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts announced last Wednesday.

The announcement follows a multi-year development process for the new degree program, which culminated in Louisiana Board of Regents approval on March 27. Housed within the LSU School of Music, the new Bachelor of Music Therapy program is led by Associate Professor Kamile Geist, the inaugural Ava & Cordell Haymon Chair of Music Therapy and a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC). The degree also incorporates curricula from the LSU College of Science and LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

"This is a momentous occasion for our college, our university, and the state of Louisiana," said Eric Lau, Dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. "It is so exciting that after years of effort, we will soon be admitting our first class of Music Therapy students at LSU. I look forward to seeing the impacts of this revolutionary field on our state."

dr. joanne loewy presenting at the music therapy celebration event

Dr. Joanne Loewy, Director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System, presents a guest lecture on the field of music therapy at new degree program's launch event. April 17, 2024 in the Huey P. Long Fieldhouse Ballroom.

The new program prepares student musicians to become board-certified music therapists through an innovative academic curriculum mixing musical studies, clinical techniques, and research with hands-on practicum experiences across diverse settings, including developmental disabilities, medical care, behavioral health, and end-of-life care.

After completing four years of coursework and pre-internship supervised clinical practicum hours, students will then complete an internship at a site that has an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)-approved training plan. Once they complete their internship, students are eligible to graduate from LSU and are well-prepared to pass the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) certification exam.

provost roy haggerty delivering remarks at the music therapy celebration event

Roy Haggerty, LSU Executive Vice President and Provost, delivers remarks on music therapy at new degree program's launch event. April 17, 2024 in the Huey P. Long Fieldhouse Ballroom.

“Since arriving at LSU in the fall of 2022, I’ve come to realize that the Baton Rouge community's faith in the university is strong,” Geist said. “Thanks to the support of partners such as Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge General, plus the university’s academic leadership, we are well-positioned to provide a sustainable and much-needed workforce of music therapists across Louisiana.”

The Bachelor of Music Therapy program was jumpstarted by a $1.2 million donation by LSU alumni Ava Leavell Haymon and Cordell Haymon in 2019, creating the Ava & Cordell Haymon Endowed Chair in Music Therapy. This funding, which has been supplemented by a $400,000 match from the Louisiana Board of Regents, provided LSU with the resources necessary to conduct a nationwide search for new faculty and develop the extensive course materials and infrastructure required to support a new degree program.

"[Music Therapy] creates another career opportunity for people with wonderful music training to deploy that training in support of a very beneficial cause," Cordell Haymon said in 2019. "We have a strong belief in art therapies of all kinds, and we’re hoping that this will spread to other departments at LSU and benefit the entire university and also the state."

Prior to the establishment of the full Bachelor of Music Therapy program, the School of Music's Music Education area had conducted research on the effectiveness of music therapy in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) environments. This research was spearheaded by Jane Cassidy, Gianelloni Professor of Music Education and now LSU Senior Vice Provost.

"Thanks to the visionary generosity of Ava and Cordell Haymon, LSU is upholding the highest standard of knowledge and innovation," said Roy Haggerty, LSU Executive Vice President and Provost. "Through programs like this one, the next generation of leaders will be ready to harness the power of music to create a brighter tomorrow for all."