Music therapy is the clinical use of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of patients. Music therapy has been used to help elderly patients with dementia and Parkinson’s disease, autistic children struggling with communication and hospitalized patients suffering from pain. Although there’s no national ranking for music therapy college programs, the College Board lists several schools that meet the following criteria: They are accredited by the American Music Therapy Association; they have faculty members practicing as music therapists; they offer internships in the field necessary for national certification; and they provide opportunities to perform music.

Berklee College of Music

Berklee College of Music in Boston is renowned for producing world-class musicians, but it also offers a comprehensive music therapy program for both undergraduate and graduate students. The program’s faculty shares a variety of clinical experiences. The curriculum covers music theory, history and composition, as well as principles of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. After course work, students participate in 1,040 hours of clinical internship, which prepares them for the Board Certification Examination in Music Therapy.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University’s graduate music therapy program boasts an award-winning faculty on the cutting edge of the discipline. As the founding institution of the Neurologic Music Therapy model, the school offers exceptional opportunities in clinical education, research and scholarship. The university’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music is an international leader in music and neuroscience research. Its Unkefer Academy for Neurologic Music Therapy provides an international training program for professionals in the field. Besides clinical opportunities, students also study music theory and performance.

Loyola University of New Orleans

Loyola University of New Orleans was one of the first schools to offer an undergraduate music therapy program, which was founded in 1957. Loyola now offers a master’s degree program in music therapy as well. Program faculty members include the former president of the South-Central Region of the American Music Therapy Association and three former presidents of the National Music Therapy Association. Fieldwork placements for undergraduate students include River Oaks Hospital and the Lazarasus House for HIV/AIDS patients.

University of the Pacific

University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., was a pioneer in the discipline. In 1938, the school first offered a series of courses about the connection between music and therapy. Those courses evolved into a highly respected music therapy program providing both undergraduate and graduate courses of study. The program emphasizes small class sizes and individualized mentoring. Faculty members collaborate with medical facilities and human service agencies in the community to teach students how to interact with other health care professionals.