MA in Music Education

Aspects of the Program

The MA in Music Education is for individuals with an undergraduate degree in music education, a teaching certificate/license, and at least 1 year of music classroom teaching experience, who wish to pursue further academic study as a means to develop professionally. Coursework combines the study of philosophical, research-based, and theoretical positions of teaching and learning music with pragmatic approaches to improving music learning. The MA in Music Education helps prepare students for music leadership positions at a time when music teaching and learning – both in and out of the schools – is undergoing great change. Preparing informed music teachers who are at the forefront of this trend is central.

Program highlights include a supportive, collegial community of scholars that helps provide personalized attention to students, as well as practical experience gained by working alongside faculty who are internationally recognized as teachers, conductors, researchers, and authors. Graduate assistants work closely with faculty in the areas of research, teaching, and ensemble conducting. Part-time and full-time students receive substantial funding for tuition waivers and graduate assistantships.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the MA in Music Education must have (a) at least a 3.0 GPA from a completed undergraduate degree program in music education, (b) a minimum of 1 year of successful school music teaching experience in group settings, and (c) evidence of strong written and spoken English skills. In addition to completing the online application to the university, prospective students should also provide the following materials: (a) a current resume, (b) a copy (PDF) of a teaching license/certificate, and (c) a writing sample. The writing sample should demonstrate strong scholarly potential in the area of music education. Possible samples could include a major paper from an undergraduate degree program or a statement of philosophy of music education. After an initial review of applicants, prospective students may be invited to campus for an interview. There are no vocal or instrumental auditions associated with the MA application process.

Graduate Application Procedures

Coursework Overview

The MA in Music Education is formulated to suit the needs of individual students with consent from their academic advisor. MA students may take 300-level classes, if approved by the music education faculty, provided that they have at least 18 credits of 400-level courses. The MA in Music Education has two strands for the final project:

  1. a thesis and oral defense (known as Plan A), or
  2. a comprehensive written examination and oral defense (known as Plan B).

A minimum of 30 hours of coursework is required for either Plan A or Plan B, including the Graduate Music Education Core (12-15 hours of research-based coursework in music education); the Graduate Music Core (9-12 hours of music theory, musicology, applied lessons, or ensemble performance); Electives (6-9 hours, Plan B only); and either the Thesis (6 hours) or Comprehensive Exam.

Students meet with their academic advisor each semester to select the most appropriate trajectory for advancing through the program. Full-time students can expect to complete the MA degree in 2 years (9 credits per semester). Part-time students can expect to take one class (3 credits) per semester, completing the degree over the course of 5 years.

Thesis and Comprehensive Exam

Each of the graduate programs in Music Education requires a final written project and subsequent oral examination of the materials. Preparation for this exam begins with the first class and extends through the entire course sequence. Coursework will provide students with a background in many topics as they relate to music, education, and other disciplines. The final written project offers an opportunity for students to explore topics more thoroughly and to demonstrate mastery of the degree content by transferring this cumulative knowledge to other music education and/or research environments.

In the MA thesis option (Plan A), students conduct research, write a thesis, and then orally defend the thesis document to the music education faculty. Students’ research advisors provide guidance throughout this process.

In the MA comprehensive exam option (Plan B), students complete an examination that consists of two portions: (a) a take-home portion, which includes the creation of an application research paper based on existing literature in the field, as well as a music materials project that involves an analysis of choral or instrumental repertoire that would be used with a school ensemble; and (b) an in-house portion, which includes critical analyses of two research articles. A subsequent oral defense of these materials allows students to think critically on the spot and to apply degree content information to other areas by responding to questions and scenarios posed by the faculty.

Students should contact their academic advisor or the Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Music Education for more information.