Home | Graduate Program | Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Music Education
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum
The doctorate in music education, offered through the College of Education’s Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum (LTC), is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. This degree is designed to prepare students for careers in higher education as music education teacher/researchers, as ensemble conductors with a strong commitment to music education teaching and research, or as master teachers or music supervisors in the K-12 system. Applicants must be certified music teachers, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music education, or present evidence of equivalent experience. Individuals with music teaching experience in higher education but without music teaching experience in elementary or secondary schools are eligible for admission, but are required to complete field experiences in elementary and secondary schools prior to taking comprehensive examinations.
This program is “research-intensive,” and students are expected to complete four to five research courses, read past and current research, assist and eventually collaborate with faculty and peers on research projects, develop the ability to translate research findings to classroom applications, and ultimately achieve independence as a researcher.
PhD admissions are selective. Applicants submit college transcripts, GRE (general test) scores, TOEFL scores (international students only), letters of recommendation, departmental Personal Data Sheet (CV information), formal statement of purpose, writing sample, and must meet with music education faculty in person, if possible, or, if not, via phone or video conferencing. Depending on their interest and specialty areas, applicants may be required to audition for conducting or applied music faculty. Admissions decisions are based on multiple criteria, including faculty time commitments, judgment of the student’s potential for success in the program and profession, program needs, and the fit between the student and the program. Thus, not everyone who meets minimum qualifications “on paper” is admitted.
Within the general framework, the PhD program is relatively flexible and individualized for each student. The degree requires 72 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Specific coursework is planned by the doctoral student and the four- to five-member doctoral committee to meet the student’s individual needs and future goals. The committee must be chaired by a music education faculty member who is a member of the LTC Doctoral Faculty, and at least 2 members must be members of the LTC Doctoral Faculty and one must be from the School of Music. Students may choose two support areas, one comprising 12 hours and one comprising 9 (each may include 3 hours from the master’s degree work), one of which is in music and the other in either a second area of music or a related field. The support-area courses are not prescribed, but are selected in consultation with a faculty member in that area, who often serves as a doctoral committee member. In addition to the coursework requirements, students must complete one “research internship” and one “teaching internship,” which may or may not be attached to credit hours. These are faculty-supervised experiences designed to help prepare the students with skills they will need to enter the professoriate.
Students’ commitment to spending at least one academic year (fall and winter semester) as a full-time student on the MU campus is required (enrollment in a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester; may be a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant, but not hold more than a part-time position elsewhere, to be negotiated with doctoral committee). Residency is essential to the acquisition of experiences necessary for success in the program and the profession. Students are expected to complete the degree in a timely manner, meeting all Graduate School deadlines. This means a maximum of 5 years for completing coursework from first enrollment as a PhD student (coursework is generally completed in 2 years of full-time study including summers) and 5 years for completing the dissertation after passing comprehensive exams (this is a maximum—most students finish in time).
Examinations and Projects
Students complete comprehensive examinations upon the completion of their formal coursework. These include projects and essays assigned by the music education and support-area faculty, designed to demonstrate that the students have synthesized course materials at a high level, and achieved appropriate research expertise. In lieu of a written examination in a performance-based support area, students may prepare and present a public lecture-recital as a performer or conductor, according to program criteria and under the supervision of the faculty. The comprehensive examination experience concludes with an oral examination, during which committee members ask questions primarily related to the exam items, although other relevant material may be addressed. Upon successful completion of the exam, the student is considered a candidate for the degree.
The final stage of the doctoral degree is completion of a doctoral dissertation that demonstrates the candidate’s potential to become an independent scholar, and which makes a contribution to knowledge related to some aspect of music teaching and/or learning. The topic and methodology are selected by the student, in consultation with the doctoral committee. The written proposal is subject to the approval of the committee. The dissertation research is completed independently, but in close consultation with the advisor and others, as necessary. Several weeks after the complete dissertation is drafted and distributed to the committee, there is a final oral exam, composed of a public presentation and a closed question and answer “defense” with the committee. After passing the examination the student works with the advisor and sometimes members of the committee to make any final revisions required, and deposits the completed document electronically with the Graduate School.