The College of Arts and Architecture

Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education

Program Goals

Penn State’s Ph.D. program in Music Education is designed to provide opportunities for a high level of scholarly study in the processes of teaching and learning music. Candidates will be expected to develop and test new knowledge in the field of music education while preparing themselves for positions in higher education or other leadership roles within the profession.

Program Description

The Ph.D. program offers advanced study of the process of teaching and learning music with a research-based perspective for individuals seeking greater breadth and depth in the music education profession and/or careers in higher education and music administration.  The Ph.D. program consists of courses, internships and other experiences designed to prepare individuals for specific leadership roles in music education.  Course work is distributed through the areas of music, theories and practices in teaching, learning and assessment, and research.  The exact number of credits required in the program will vary according to a student’s previous experience and degrees.  A minimum of 47 credits is required.  The program culminates with a major research project and thesis that is not included in the minimum credit requirement.  At least one academic year of full-time residency is required.  However, 2 or more years of full-time study are advantageous.  A portion of the course work can be completed through summer study.  Some of the courses required in Educational Psychology may be taken at other Penn State campuses or at other universities.  Knowledge of the history and theory of Western art music must be demonstrated by satisfactory completion of competency examinations or completion of specified remedial courses in addition to the curricular requirements listed here.

Sequence to the Degree

  • Acceptance by graduate program in music education
  • Completion of 12 hours of graduate credit
  • Candidacy examination
  • Designing program of course and other experiences
  • Acceptance as a Ph.D. candidate
  • Completion of course work and submission of manuscript
  • Completion of residency
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Approval of research project
  • Completion of research project
  • Defense of thesis
  • Awarding of degree

Student Aid

For an overview of current tuition and fees as well as the financial assistance programs available to graduate students at Penn State, see Graduate Financial Aid.

Admission Requirements and Procedures

Applicants for the Ph.D. in music education should have completed recognized bachelor's and master's degrees in music or music education. Applicants whose master's degree did not include a research project with a formal report will be expected to complete such a project or produce a publishable manuscript prior to scheduling the candidacy examination at the end of your first year of study.

This program accepts rolling admission with first priority for funding to applicants who apply prior to January 15. The final deadline for the submission of applications is April 15 or by permission of the graduate program chair for music education. To be considered for the competitive University Graduate Fellow funding, applications must be submitted by December 1. Ph.D. applicants are the only applicants eligible for a University Graduate Fellowship nomination by the School of Music.

The Graduate Record Exam general test (GRE) is required for admission to the Ph.D. degree in Music Education. For  information regarding GRE testing centers, fees, and test scheduling, please see the GRE Website.

Please click on Application Process for directions concerning the completion of our online application. Please note that ALL application materials are to be uploaded to the online application. Upload the following materials:

  • an official transcript - NOT an advising or unofficial transcript - (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction). Chinese applicants must also submit an official graduation certificate and official diploma, in Chinese and translated English, if the applicant has already earned the previous degree(s).
  • names of three references and their email addresses (Penn State will contact your references directly)
  • A 500 word or less statement that includes a description of your career goals and the contribution that doctoral study will make toward the attainment of those goals.
  • brief résumé of teaching/conducting experience
  • application for School of Music Graduate Assistantship (optional), see Graduate Financial Aid

After the application process is complete you may be asked for additional materials including: video of teaching and/or conducting, writing samples and other teaching materials.

The following should be submitted to Penn State by the testing agencies at your request.  Select "Penn State University" as the destination for your TOEFL or IELTS scores by selecting the correct school code below.  IELTS scores are currently only available in hard copy, so those score should be sent by postal mail directly from the IELTS testing agency to Penn State by March 1st.

IELTS and GRE scores should be mailed from the testing agency to:

The Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA  16802

  • TOEFL and IELTS scores (international applicants only) - School Code 2660
  • GRE scores (general test) - School Code 2660

After the application file is complete, the applicant's materials will be reviewed by the music education faculty. If the applicant is considered to be a viable candidate, additional materials may be solicited and he/she may be invited for an interview.

For more information on the PhD Music Education program, please click here


Phone: 814-865-5568
Fax: 814-865-6785