PhD in Music Education

Aspects of the Program

The PhD in Music Education is for individuals who wish to teach at the college level or obtain positions of leadership in school music programs (P-12). Students admitted to this program will have a previous degree in music education, hold a valid teaching license/certificate, and have at least 3 years of teaching experience in school music settings.

A core of studies centered on philosophy and research is supplemented by coursework in music and related fields. The focus of the program is on encouraging each doctoral student to develop to his or her fullest capacity through individual research projects, independent studies with music education faculty members, presentations at professional conferences, and publications in music education research journals. Every effort is made to plan a program based on individual students’ needs and interests while maintaining standards of musical and scholarly excellence.

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 PhD in Music Education must have (a) at least a 3.0 GPA from a completed graduate degree program in music education, (b) a minimum of 3 years of successful school teaching experience, 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 thesis or other major paper from a graduate degree program, an article, or a statement of philosophy of music education. After an initial review of applicants, prospective students may be invited to campus for an interview and a teaching demonstration. There are no vocal or instrumental auditions associated with the Ph.D. application process. View detailed application and audition information.

Coursework Overview

The PhD in Music Education is formulated to suit the needs of individual students with consent from their academic advisor. A minimum of 60 hours of coursework is required, including the Graduate Music Education Core (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); the Outside Cognate Area (6 hours of related coursework in psychology, sociology, behavioral management, or another outside disciple that interest students); Music Education Electives (9-12 hours of MUED courses, seminars, or independent studies); and the Dissertation (18 hours).

Students meet with their academic advisor each semester to select the most appropriate trajectory for advancing through the program. Students are required to spend at least 1 year in full-time residency at Case Western Reserve University, maintaining 9 credits of enrollment for two consecutive semesters. PhD students have up to 4 years from their first semester of enrollment to finish their required coursework, and one additional semester to complete their qualifying examinations and achieve candidacy.

Qualifying Exam, Candidacy, and the Dissertation

Each of the graduate programs in Music Education requires a comprehensive written and oral examination. 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 qualifying exam 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.

The qualifying exam consists of two portions: (a) a take-home portion, which includes the creation of two application research papers based on existing literature in the field; and (b) an in-house portion, which includes a manuscript review and two research design scenarios. A subsequent oral defense of this material 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. Candidacy is granted when students pass their qualifying exam. Once candidacy is granted, students may enroll in MUED 701 and begin work on their dissertation proposal.

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

Placement Objectives

The PhD program 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 teacher educators who are at the forefront of this trend is central. Graduates of the music education doctoral program consistently secure faculty positions in college and university music programs, community music schools, and K-12 settings.

The PhD program in Music Education was reviewed in 2016 as required by the Ohio Board of Regents. The next review will take place in 2024. These program goals and objectives were revised in the summer of 2016.