Music Education: Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree program in music education and can prepare you for a postsecondary teaching or educational leadership job in music. This article looks at the requirements for entering a program, along with the music courses you will find at the doctoral level. Schools offering Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Music Education Doctoral Degree Program?

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Music Education (D.M.E.) or Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) with a focus on music education prepares you to take on leadership roles in music pedagogy practice or research. Music education doctoral programs combine graduate-level coursework and extensive research in music education practices and principles of musicology and music theory. You may be able to find some online or blended programs; however, these are rare. In many cases, classroom study and writing the dissertation for your doctorate in music education is a full-time pursuit that takes 3-4 years. Internships for both research and teaching music students are often part of the program.

A music-related bachelor's degree is usually sufficient formal education for enrollment into a music education doctoral degree program, but many schools require you to hold a teaching certificate, and some may require a master's degree in music education. Certain specializations may require you to audition or provide video of your conducting, teaching or performance ability.

Degree LevelsDoctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Music Education, Doctor of Musical Arts
Course OfferingsHistory, philosophy, psychology, education research
Important RequirementsDissertation, oral exam
Program FormatOnline or on campus, depending on degree type

What Will I Study?

The exact courses you take and the research you conduct are often tailored to whether your career goals are in higher education, music administration or music education research. Most doctoral programs require you to take some core courses covering the history, philosophy and psychology of music education. To prepare for writing your dissertation, you also take courses in research, bibliography and musicology.

What Is the Dissertation Requirement?

Many music education doctoral degree programs require you to complete a book-length work of original scholarly research that must contribute to the body of music education knowledge and show that you've thoroughly absorbed the information presented in your academic career. A committee usually approves your dissertation topic, which drives your program courses and research. You must defend your dissertation to a committee, present it in a public forum and pass an oral exam.

How Does Online Learning Work?

There aren't many fully online music education doctoral programs, but a few DMA and Ph.D. programs allow for blended learning that requires you to make only occasional trips to campus and complete classes online. Other programs allow you to conduct your studies and research off campus for part of your degree program, after completing seminars and classes on campus.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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