Masters Level Entry Considerations

Masters Level Entry Press Release

July 12, 2018 09:12 AM

Bachelor’s Degree Affirmed as Entry into the Music Therapy Profession

After exhaustive examination by the Master’s Level Entry (MLE) Subcommittee of the Board of Directors, significant community feedback, and intense deliberation by the AMTA Board of Directors, the Board cited inconclusive direction and fiduciary concern as the primary reasons to not support the Subcommittee recommendation of moving to a master’s level entry by 2030.  However, the Board overwhelmingly supports investigation into music therapy education and clinical training as recommended by the Subcommittee, in order to produce more consistently competent music therapists, resulting in quality music therapy services per the AMTA mission. 

During the six and one half years dedicated to the topic of master’s level entry, the Board exercised due diligence and yet a clear direction is elusive.   Concerns of financial risk tolerance and organizational sustainability repeatedly appeared, also discouraging support of Master’s Level Entry by 2030.

Sincere appreciation goes to the MLE Subcommittee for the productive work and focus since 2012.  Formally begun with the work of the Education and Training Advisory Board in 2010, general discussions on the topic have been ongoing for decades. The 2012-2013 Board of Directors established a subcommittee of the Board, making a commitment to explore the feasibility of a move to Master’s Level Entry.

In those years, town hall- type meetings were held at each of the national and regional conferences annually to facilitate communication on the topic; additional information was received from National Association of Schools of Music and the Certification Board for Music Therapists; two in-person retreats were held; and two comprehensive surveys on the topic were conducted and analyzed. Communication was facilitated with multiple levels of leadership involvement: the Board, the Subcommittee, the Assembly of Delegates, and the membership. Multiple and regular opportunities for input was sought from both professionals and students, members and non-members. Earlier this year, the Final Report of the MLE Subcommittee was posted on the public section of the AMTA website, and additional feedback was sought.  This information was analyzed, and additional information was received by the Board on the legislative impact of such a move.

Future steps will be made by the Annual meeting in November towards the creation of a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists with the purpose of identifying inconsistences and recommending changes. The motion unanimously passed by the Board of Directors states:

Whereas, there is lack of consensus (e.g., among Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Members and the membership) for a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the evidence is inconclusive (e.g., Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Final Report, two Master’s Level Entry surveys, feedback and analyses from Regional Town Hall/Concurrent Session Meetings, and Master’s Level Entry and State Recognition document) to support a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the Board has considered its fiduciary responsibilities and financial risk tolerance for the organization’s sustainability regarding a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the overall path (e.g., academic preparation, clinical training, and administrative support) is not sufficiently articulated for a move to Master’s Level Entry; and
Whereas, the Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee has identified academic, clinical, and administrative recommendations;
The Board of Directors moves to create a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists to: identify inconsistencies within degree programs to support clinical practice in a changing world; identify inconsistencies among and between National Roster and University Affiliated Internship programs; recommend changes to enhance current education and clinical training practices; support the ongoing efforts to increase state recognition of the MT-BC credential; and support efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Please direct any questions or comments to Amber Weldon-Stephens, AMTA President,

For more information on the MLE process, see the menu item under Education & Careers>Education and Clinical Training Information>MLE Considerations.

July 17, 2018

Additional Message from the AMTA Board of Directors:

Thank you to members and music therapists for your comments and thoughts. At the Mid-Year meeting in June, the agenda included the review of the MLE Subcommittee recommendations to the AMTA Board of Directors. Upon careful examination of all the materials publicly available, the analysis of feedback post-spring regional conferences (resulting in 30 pages of comments), and a document regarding State Recognition (linked above), the Board realized that between the inconclusive evidence, fiduciary concerns, and lack of consensus by the MLE Subcommittee, it would be irresponsible to support the recommendation at this time. In accordance with the Bylaws and following parliamentary procedure, the Board voted unanimously to not accept the MLE Subcommittee’s recommendation for a move to MLE by 2030, leaving no policy changes to forward to the Assembly.

The MLE Subcommittee was formed by the Board of Directors and charged with exploring a proposed move to masters level entry into the profession of music therapy, thus the recommendation was sent to the Board and it was the purview of the Board to determine what to do with the recommendation.

The Assembly is represented on the Board of Directors with four of nine voting members of the Board. The Assembly is the policy making body of AMTA, yet there is not a policy change to be considered.

Please stay turned for more information; the Board has read and considered each and every communication that has been received through multiple venues and is preparing a document that answers specific questions and concerns. This will be made public soon.

Updates concerning the Commission on Education and Clinical Training for 21st Century Music Therapists will be posted once they are available on

July 24, 2018

Message from AMTA President Regarding MLE Decision

Hello, I’m Amber Weldon-Stephens, President of AMTA and I would like to share information regarding the Master’s Level Entry decision by the Board of Directors.

I’d like to address the two main concerns that have been expressed to us most frequently:

  1. The benefits and drawbacks of a move to master’s level entry

  2. The democratic process followed by the Board of Directors in making the decision about the Subcommittee’s report

There is a shared desire to see the music therapy profession elevated to its rightful place in health, medicine, education, etc. The experience of frustration with the barriers and limitations placed on music therapy for reasons that are not related to its treatment efficacy and value is common.

There are diverse solutions to ways that music therapy can assume its rightful place, not for status but, rather, so that those who can benefit from music therapy treatment will not have barriers to receiving it.

Just like we can all agree that music therapy should be elevated, we can also agree that the path toward advancement of music therapy is extremely complex.

One reason that the consideration of moving the entry point of practice from the bachelor’s to master’s level is fraught with emotion is because many believe that elevating the entry into the profession would also elevate the profession. However, in the data the Board reviewed from the MLE Subcommittee report, an analysis of regional comments, information from a government relations standpoint, and from its thorough review of the whole picture, whatever possible “elevation” of the profession that might occur from moving the educational entry point was not sufficient to offset the many risks and fiduciary concerns involved. While the primary responsibility of the Board of Directors is fiscal management, we must also look at the costs accrued to become a music therapist.

We understand that some may feel that this decision misses a logical opportunity to “elevate” music therapy; however, after careful review of all the information by the Board, including the Assembly Delegates to the Board, it was determined that the risks associated with this solution would not solve the problems it was seeking to address. Rather, it was determined that this path at this time might cause harm to our profession and possibly decrease access to services at a time when the need for services is increasing dramatically.

Throughout the time that we’ve been discussing the issue of master’s level entry, we have noted that in many of the separate groups polled, the division has been pretty evenly split between those in favor and those against. In other words, by definition it has been a divisive topic to discuss. Despite the divisive nature of this topic, our discussions have been spirited and civil. We recognize that the decision not to move to the master’s degree as the entry point is disappointing and emotional for many but also remember that this decision does not mean never, just not at this time. Please note, however, that the decision to create a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists is a decision to improve and advance music therapy. This is not a decision to remain static, nor to do nothing.

The AMTA Board of Directors operates by way of the Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation (in Michigan) and stringent requirements of 501(c)(3) organizations. Our processes are informed by Robert’s Rules of Order, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards and knowledge-based governance.

In outlining the process from the beginning when discussions first began, the democratic process was honored. The Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee was established by the Board of Directors in 2012 (and reappointed, at times with additional members, by the next two Boards). Over the next 5 years the Subcommittee released two surveys (one to academic program directors and one to internship directors, both National Roster and University Affiliated); regional and national sessions and town hall meetings were offered each year over the last 5 years; and a new section of the AMTA website was created and updated throughout the process to keep members informed ( In December of 2017, the Board received the Final Report of the MLE Subcommittee (for information sharing purposes, a draft form was shared with the 2016-2017 Assembly of Delegates and the Final Report was posted for public distribution in February 2018).

The report included a recommendation to the Board. Because of the enormity of the decision and the length of time the topic had been under discussion, the Board sought additional feedback from each of the regions for the purpose of informing its discussion at the June 2018 Board of Director’s Mid-Year meeting. Each region generously provided time at their spring conferences to seek additional feedback and input. The regions then provided the comments which were shared in their entirety with the Board.

Two of the Delegates to the Board, both experienced researchers, provided an objectivist paradigm analysis of the comments to the Board at the Board of Director’s Mid-Year meeting. Additional questions regarding state recognition arose and the National Team assembled a document in response, which was shared with the Board.

Knowing that the Assembly has been primed for a discussion on the topic of master’s level entry, we explored what needed to happen. It was the realization that nothing could move forward until the Board dealt with the Subcommittee recommendation it had made to the Board. It became apparent that the MLE Subcommittee recommendation needed to be put forth in the form of a motion to the Board. If the recommendation passed, the Assembly would then need to discuss how to make the change in policy. If the recommendation did not pass, then the Board needed to make new steps to move on the additional recommendations made by the Subcommittee.

Thus, the MLE Subcommittee recommendation to move to a master’s level entry by 2030 was brought forward in a motion. There was much discussion as we realized the historic significance of the decision about to be made. The motion was withdrawn as we continued to struggle through the processes ourselves. Again, per all processes in place, it was apparent that because this Subcommittee was of the Board, and its recommendation was to the Board, the Board needed to act on it.

It is a testament to the processes in place that discussions were held regularly and civilly on this emotionally laden topic. Six and a half years of information was discussed; the reality that even after more recent feedback and information, direction remained elusive and significant concerns remained led to the unanimous outcome of the motion.

The Board of Director’s consists of 9 elected voting members of which 4 of them are elected by the Assembly as their Assembly Delegates to the Board of Directors. Additionally, 3 appointed members to the Board are currently members of the Assembly of Delegates. This was not a top down decision, feedback was taken from MT-BCs all along the way, whether they were members or not. The Assembly members represented on the Board were fully engaged in the process and unanimously voted in favor of the decision.

Recognizing the magnitude of this decision and the divisive nature of this topic, we welcome input and discussions and we ask that our path forward is respectful and civil as we each hear our differing views and affirm our next steps. We have more that unites us than divides us.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this information. We are working towards providing additional videos over the next few weeks to continue addressing member concerns. Thank you for all you do for your clients and for the profession of music therapy.


  • Ingram, Richard T. (2015). Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Third Edition. Board Source, Washington, DC.

  • Tecker, Glenn H. & Frankel, Jean. (1997). Building a Knowledge-Based Culture: Using Twenty-First Century Work and Decision Making Systems in Associations.

Masters Level Entry (MLE) Considerations

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) has been investigating the question of Master’s Level Entry (MLE) to the profession of music therapy. The Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee, created in 2012, has completed their report and it can be found below, along with supplemental information on the topic.

We thank the work of the Subcommittee members: Ron Borczon, Jim Borling, Cynthia Briggs, Jane Creagan, Amy Furman, Michelle Hairston, Marcus Hughes, Bryan Hunter, Ed Kahler, Ronna Kaplan, Eve Montague, Christine Neugebauer, Angie Snell, and Chair, Mary Ellen Wylie.

Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Report Overview

The Master’s Level Entry (MLE) Subcommittee was formed by the AMTA Board of Directors in 2012 with a charge to “Explore a proposed move to master’s level entry into the profession of music therapy.”

Prior to the formation of the Subcommittee, The Education and Training Advisory Board (ETAB), published two papers which discussed the idea of master’s level entry. Town Hall Meetings were held at all seven regions of AMTA in the spring of 2012. Comments and questions from members attending the Town Hall Meetings and from officers of AMTA suggested the question of master’s level entry needed further exploration.

This report reviews events leading up to the formation of the Subcommittee and work done by the MLE Subcommittee since the spring of 2012.

The work of the MLE Subcommittee over the years ultimately led to the creation of several Recommendations; the first and main Recommendation concerned master’s level entry, and the remaining 11 recommendations as future considerations.

The MLE Subcommittee sent this report to the AMTA Board of Directors on November 30, 2017, with the following recommendation for their consideration:

The MLE Subcommittee recommends to the AMTA Board of Directors that we transition to Master’s Level entry into the profession by 2030. The motion passed with 8 yes votes and 6 no votes, June 29, 2017, 2:49 pm.

The report is divided into four parts which represent the work of the MLE Subcommittee. During our process, data from a variety of sources—members, organizations such as the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), other professions, MLE projects, and formal and informal surveys—was collected, reviewed, and analyzed. In this report data and/or findings from the various projects is summarized.

MLE Part I

  • Background information on the events leading to the appointment of the Subcommittee.
  • Early forms of data from which  developed a Definition of a 21st Century Music Therapist
  • Essential Components and Core Values
  • Description of MLE Subcommittee Retreat in June 2017
  • The Recommendation to the Board of Directors along with rationale for the voting
  • Summary of the presentation by the Executive Director of CBMT


  • Summary of the projects related to four charges from the Board of Directors
  • Data collected from Allied Health professions who moved to MLE
  • Education Models Evaluation and SWOT Analysis
  • Additional Questions Investigated and Answered
  • Pro Bono Decision Analysis Model Summary
  • Related Literature Annotations
  • Summaries of the Surveys of AMTA Educators and Internship Supervisors
  • Recommendations for Future Considerations


  • Timeline-progression of work over five years
  • References and Appendices
  • Appendix A-Allied Health Professions Comparison chart
  • Appendix B-Letters from CBMT and NASM
  • Appendix C-Education Models & SWOT Analysis
  • Appendix D-Charts Ranking Reasons to support or oppose MLE
  • Appendix E-Pro Bono Decision Analysis Model


Additionally, the following documents were created by the Education and Training Advisory Board, whose work was a precursor to the Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee of the Board of Directors.

The MLE Subcommittee Final Report references a presentation by CBMT Executive Director Joy Schneck during the summer 2017 MLE retreat. Below, please find links to both the presentation by Executive Director Schneck as well as the Executive Summary she prepared for the AMTA Board of Directors for the annual meeting in November 2017. In addition to the Board of Directors, the PPT presentation was provided in November 2017 during the meetings of the Assembly of Delegates and the Faculty Forum.

AMTA members are encouraged to read these documents. Regional conferences in 2018 will have opportunities for questions in person.  If you will not be at a regional conference, please jot down your questions. We are currently working on a new group or contact person to address questions, but do not have anything set yet. Please check the homepage under “Latest News” for additional updates as they become available. Thank you for your patience and for your attention to this topic.
current as of 3/19/2018