This is an archived copy of the 2019-2020 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

The Music Education, PhD is a research-intensive degree, focuses on the gathering, processing, and interpretation of information. Students in the Music Education PhD program take seminars and topics courses in music education, as well as research courses through the College of Education and Human Development. Music Education, PhD graduates are expected to demonstrate the ability to communicate significant concepts of music education. The Music Education, PhD requires 90 credits, 60 beyond the master's degree in music.


Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting all admission requirements for graduate study, applicants should submit the following:

  • Master's degree in music or its equivalent from an accredited university;
  • GPA of 3.00 in master's-level music course work; 3.50 in courses related to the prospective area of doctoral study (music education, performance, composition, or conducting);
  • Three recommendations;
  • Satisfactory scores on GRE;
  • Sample of academic writing such as a graduate-level paper from a musicology or music history course taken during MM studies.
  • Students in performance and conducting must audition. Specific details of those requirements are available from the advisors.
  • Composition students must present a portfolio of recent compositions and recordings of performances.
  • Music education majors must present a dossier of their teaching experience and activities, a video of sample classroom teaching, and they must schedule an interview with music faculty including the director of graduate studies (DGS) prior to admission.

Applicants should refer to the graduate admissions page of the School of Music website for specific details on what is required and how to submit their materials. There is no "provisional" admission. Students must meet appropriate standards prior to commencing doctoral studies.


Reduction of Credit

Students must have a master's degree before being admitted. Most students receive a reduction of study of 30 credits based on their previous master's degree.

Banner Code: AR-PHD-MUE

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 90

The following degree plan is based on a student who receives a full 30 credit reduction.  Students who do not receive a full credit reduction should choose additional credits in consultation with their advisor.

Placement Examinations

Prior to the beginning of the first semester of doctoral studies, the student must complete placement examinations in music theory, music history, and musicianship (including aural skills and keyboard skills). Positive scores on the placement exams may reduce or eliminate prerequisites for courses in music history and music theory.

Doctoral Coursework

The doctoral student must maintain a minimum of 3.00 GPA in courses presented on the degree plan, which may include no more than 6 credits with a grade of C. The GPA calculation excludes all transfer courses and Mason extended studies or nondegree credits not formally approved for the degree.

Select 9 credits of research courses as approved by advisor from the following:9
Problems and Methods in Education Research
Quantitative Methods in Educational Research
Qualitative Methods in Educational Research
Evaluation Methods for Educational Programs and Curricula
Advanced Applications of Quantitative Methods
Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches
Select six credits in music theory6
Topics in Music Theory
Advanced Topics in Music Theory
MUSI 630Topics in Music History and Literature3
or MUSI 730 Advanced Topics in Music History
MUSI 640Topics in World Musics3
MUSI 660Topics in Music Education (3 credits)1-6
MUSI 810Doctoral Seminar in Analysis3
or MUSI 830 Doctoral Seminar in Music History
MUSI 860Doctoral Seminar in Music Education (12 credits)3
MUSI 880Doctoral Major Ensemble (3 credits)1
CVPA 600CVPA Graduate ProSeminar (must be taken within the student's first 2 semesters)0
Select 6 credits of MUSI 500 - 800 level electives as approved by advisor.6
Total Credits48


More than half of all credits (minimum 72) must be taken in doctoral degree status, after admission to the degree program. One year (fall and spring) of consecutive full-time study (9 credits per semester) is recommended (18 total credits). Or, the academic residency requirement may be fulfilled by earning 21 credits within 12 months (fall and spring semesters and summer term). Academic residency should be completed during the first year of study. Any necessary prerequisite courses at the 500 level can be included to meet the residency requirement. Language courses at the undergraduate level may not be included. Note: The academic residency does not imply meeting the standards of Virginia residency for tuition purposes.

Language Requirements

Reading proficiency is required in a language appropriate to the student's major area of study. Normally, this will be German, French, or Italian. Alternatively, the student may choose to demonstrate proficiency interpreting statistical findings in quantitative-based educational research. The director of graduate studies and the Graduate Committee will determine the appropriate area of study. Reading proficiency may be accomplished by completing a reading examination provided by the music faculty. The reading examination provided by the faculty will normally consist of translation (with dictionary) of appropriate technical passages relevant to the student's area of study within a two-hour period. The language reading proficiency should be completed prior to earning 12 credits of courses at the 600 level or above.

Graduate Committee

The Graduate Committee will evaluate the progress of the student annually. Continuation in the program is subject to the endorsement of this group.

Comprehensive Exams

After the completion of required courses (excluding dissertation credits) or during the semester when completion of those courses is anticipated, the student will take comprehensive examinations. The written exams may also be followed by a one-hour oral exam if needed to clarify issues included in the written exams.

Doctoral Research

Select 12 credits from the following:12
Dissertation Proposal (A minimum of 3 credits)
Dissertation (A minimum of 6 credits)
Total Credits12

Advancement to Candidacy

Before doctoral students may be advanced to candidacy by the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, they must complete all course work required by the program faculty, be certified in all relevant doctoral research skills, pass the comprehensive exams, and be recommended by the Graduate Committee, the director of graduate studies, and the director of the School of Music. Students advanced to candidacy after the add period for a given semester must wait until the following semester to register for MUSI 999 Dissertation.


The dissertation is the capstone experience of doctoral study. The dissertation will be guided by the Dissertation Committee consisting of at least three members of the music faculty. The student's major professor will chair the committee. The director of graduate studies of the School of Music may be a part of the committee; if not, he or she will serve exofficio. All Dissertation Committee members will be appointed by the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and have graduate faculty status, as approved by the university provost.

Final Defense and Graduation

When all degree requirements have been satisfied, including completion of the doctoral dissertation, the doctoral candidate may request a doctoral defense. Approval for the defense must be obtained from the Dissertation Committee, the director of graduate studies and the director of the School of Music, and the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Notice of a defense must be circulated to the university community two weeks before the defense date.

All relevant rules regarding schedule, fees, and other matters as described in the catalog must be followed. All copies of the dissertation materials and fees must be paid before the doctoral degree is awarded.