Degree Requirements

PhD in Music: Music Education

This specialization is designed for individuals who have (1) a solid musical background, (2) successful teaching experience, (3) high levels of intellectual capacity, and (4) strong professional leadership abilities. Awarding of the degree is based not only on completion of objective requirements, but on the level of distinction attained by the candidate in the above four qualities.

Program of Study

The PhD in Music Education requires 18 courses (NU units) beyond the master’s. Full-time registration is 3 courses per quarter (a 4th course can be taken without extra tuition charge).

Coursework is divided among five categories:

  • Foundations of Music Education (philosophy and curriculum) (2 units)
  • Research (methods and types, design and implementation) (3 units)
  • Music Education Electives (e.g. psychology, creative thinking, technology, Proseminar, etc.) (3 units)
  • Cognate Area (student’s professional teaching area, related teaching areas) (3 units)
  • Electives (focused study leading to a dissertation, musical studies, special needs and interests) (6 units)

NOTE: All PhD students must register continuously for MUSIC_ED 420 Research Center Seminar (zero credit). Students have the option to take 420 one time for one unit of credit.

A typical program satisfying the 18-course requirement is outlined below.

Foundations in Music Education (2 units)

MUSIC_ED 421 Philosophical Bases of Music Education (1 unit)
MUSIC_ED 422 Curriculum Development in Music Education (1 unit)

Research in Music Education (3 units)

MUSIC_ED 423 Paradigms and Processes of Research in Music Education (1 unit)
MUSIC_ED 424 Qualitative Research in Music Education (1 unit)
MUSIC_ED 425 Quantitative Research in Music Education (1 unit)

Music Education Electives (Choose 3 units)

MUSIC_ED 401 Proseminar in Music and the Academy
MUSIC_ED 430 Seminar in General Music Education
MUSIC_ED 432 Seminar in Instrumental Music Education
MUSIC_ED 437 Psychology of Music Teaching & Learning
MUSIC_ED 438 Creative Thinking in Music
MUSIC_ED 441 Professional Practicum
MUSIC_ED 463 Teaching High School Non-Performance Cognate Field (3 units)

Additional Requirements

Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience

During the years of residence, regular participation in the weekly seminar of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience is required. Continuing participation beyond the residence years is strongly encouraged.

Teaching Competency

As a part of their graduate school fellowship, all PhD students are expected to work as both research and teaching assistants. Students must have at least one written observation of their teaching by a music education faculty member along with any student course evaluations as appropriate.

Presentation Outside the Bienen School of Music

This requirement is designed to stimulate early involvement in the presentation of original research at a regional, national, or international level meeting. This requirement is meant to help the student develop experiences that are consistent with what a professor of music education frequently does as part of professional life.

Waiver of Courses

Any course waived because the student has taken it previously, has had the same course elsewhere, or through proficiency determination, will normally be replaced by an elective course in that area of the program. The major advisor may, upon the student’s petition, exercise discretion in this matter, substituting a course outside the area of the waiver for a good cause.

Qualifying Examination and Candidacy

There are four significant steps to candidacy for the PhD in music with a concentration in music education: (1) successful completion of coursework, (2) demonstration of successful teaching at the college level, (3) peer-reviewed presentation at a professional meeting outside of NU, and (4) successful completion of the qualifying examination. At that point, the student is advanced to candidacy officially and can pursue their dissertation research. Candidacy should be achieved no later than 6 months following completion of course work.

At an appropriate time toward the end of coursework, each student will take a qualifying examination. The examination includes a written portion and an oral defense. Questions for the examination are written by the student with the approval of the examination committee. The answers are presented to the committee in written form and then defended in an oral examination

Key Milestones

Spring of Year 2
Teaching Demonstration passed
Winter of Year 3
Qualifying Exam passed and Dissertation Proposal approved
Spring of Year 3 – Winter of Year 4
Data Collection and Dissertation Writing
Spring of Year 4
Dissertation Writing Continuing and Final Submission of Dissertation with Oral Defense
Spring of Year 4
June Graduation


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