Music Therapy Student Research

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Music therapy students in all four degree programs have the opportunity to engage in research activity. All students take courses in research methods and statistics that focus on locating, reading, and understanding appropriate research literature. Additionally, students develop their own research questions, design research methods, and learn how to analyze data. Overall, student research development is designed to empower critical thinking, depth and integration of knowledge, and curiosity.

At the graduate level, all students are required to complete an independent research project. Masters degree students develop independent research skills by completing either a thesis or clinical project. At the doctoral level, students complete a series of research projects, including a dissertation in which they develop and explore an original research idea. Undergraduate students who are accepted into the Honor 

Completed undergraduate and graduate research projects can be presented at a variety of professional music therapy conferences in state, regional, national, and international venues. When appropriate, student research can also be submitted for publication in research or clinical journals.

Click here for a list of some of the research projects completed by Frost School music therapy students.

Music Therapy Student Research

Research activity is critical to the advancement of the music therapy profession as it enhances the understanding of music as a unique human behavior, and provides best practice guidelines for clinicians. Frost School music therapy students at the undergraduate and graduate levels are trained to read, understand, and critically analyze research, and graduate music therapy students develop independent research skills. In addition to mentoring student research activity, music therapy faculty are leading scholars and authors in the profession.

What Kinds of Research are Music Therapy Students Required to Conduct?

At the graduate level, all students are required to complete an independent research project. Masters degree students develop independent research skills by completing either a thesis or clinical project. At the doctoral level, students complete a series of research projects, including a dissertation in which they develop and explore an original research idea. The dissertation may be a multi-year process that delves deeply into a particular subtopic that no one may have extensively researched before. Undergraduate students who are accepted into the Honors Program may also conduct research. If you’re interested in research, academia is the right place to be.

What Kinds of Research Methods Do Music Therapy Students Use?

Music therapy students in all four degree programs have the opportunity to engage in research activity. All students take courses in research methods and statistics that focus on locating, reading, and understanding appropriate research literature. Additionally, students develop their own research questions, design research methods, and learn how to analyze data. Overall, student research development is designed to empower critical thinking, depth and integration of knowledge, and curiosity.

All students who conduct research learn about the IRB process and research ethics. It’s important to absorb these guidelines not only for the research itself, but because the IRB process is something a scholar will continue to encounter throughout his or her career. Some students conduct pilot projects as undergraduates that they will continue as graduate students. Many students have found that some of their first applied projects spark research interests that will continue to deepen in their academic lives for years to come.

What are Some of the Current Music Therapy Research Projects at the Frost School?

Click here for a list of some of the research projects completed by Frost School music therapy students. These projects include graduate and undergraduate samples such as Perception of Music-Emotion in Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Music Therapy Assessment of Attention for Traumatic Brain Injury, The Role of Musical Triggers in Substance Use Disorder, and Joint Attention Responses to Simple versus Complex Music of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each student research works closely with faculty mentors to ensure that their research is scientifically sound, and that their ideas are communicated effectively. Research is a multi-semester process that results in a polished, complete written product.

What Kinds of Publication and Conference Opportunities are Available to Student Researchers?

Completed undergraduate and graduate research projects can be presented at a variety of professional music therapy conferences in state, regional, national, and international venues. When appropriate, student research can also be submitted for publication in research or clinical journals.

Research is an excellent complement to clinical internships, volunteer or service work in the field, and assisting professorial researchers. The more experience you have in research, the better equipped you will be to design future research projects that work and produce data that will be useful to the field. Remember: research is all about advancing our collective understanding of the field so that music therapists can do our work more effectively.

What Do Music Therapy Students Need to Know About Research?

Some of the research-related areas you may learn about during your research journey include the following:

  • Compiling and writing a literature review.
  • Using library databases as well as print and electronic resources.
  • Working collaboratively with other researchers on your team.
  • Building upon the work of other master’s and doctoral students.
  • Collecting and coding data.
  • Learning how to write about research.

Conducting original research may feel very different that writing papers for previous classes with a narrower scope. One of the things researchers like doing best is delving into the unknown. What does our field already know about this subject? Where are the gaps? Researchers are comfortable lingers in the questions and reckoning with potential answers.

What Can I Do With My Research After It Is Complete?

Because research is a long and involved process, it’s important to share your results with others after you are done. In addition to presenting a poster or paper at a professional conference, some students decide that they want to try and publish their work. Readership depends on where the scholar decides they want to publish. Scholarly journals are known as the gold standard in the field, but each article that is published in such venues goes through a peer-review process of the research methods and results. Your professor and other mentors can help you prepare for the peer review process so that no curveballs are thrown your way. Most researchers—especially new researchers—do have to perform some revisions on their work before publishing their articles; the good news is that revision always tends to improve writing for the long-term.

Where Can I Learn More About Music Therapy Student Research?

The music therapy faculty are excited by the idea of student research and eagerly want to work with students to develop new research projects or build upon prior student work. Talking to your advisor and other mentors early about the kinds of music therapy research you may want to conduct is a good idea. You may get to work with community partners or other stakeholders. That being said, the more parties involved in your research, the more organized you will need to be. Your research journey awaits! All you need to do is begin.