The Music Education, PhD is a research-intensive degree focusing on the gathering, processing, and interpretation of information. Students in this 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.


Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified on the Graduate Admissions policy page. Specific graduate admissions requirements can be found on the College of Visual and Performing Arts Graduate Admissions requirements page.


For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

500- to 800-level music courses may be counted as electives except for the following classes: MUSI 501, MUSI 502, MUSI 516, MUSI 532, MUSI 533. These are review courses that cover undergraduate-level material and they may not be counted toward the MM, DMA, or Ph.D.

Transfer of Prior Earned Credit

Students must have a master's degree before being admitted. Most students can receive a transfer of credit for up to 30 credits based on their previous master's degree. See AP.6.5 for more information.

Banner Code: AR-PHD-MUE

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 90

The following degree plan is based on a student who receives a transfer of 30 credits based on their previous master's degree.  Students who do not receive the 30 credits 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.

800-level EDEP/EDRS/EDUC Research Courses from CEHD, selected in consultation with the Director of Music Education9
Select six credits in music theory6
Topics in Music Theory
Advanced Topics in Music Theory
Doctoral Seminar in Analysis
MUSI 630Topics in Music History and Literature3
or MUSI 730 Advanced Topics in Music History
or MUSI 830 Doctoral Seminar in Music History
MUSI 640Topics in World Musics3
MUSI 660Topics in Music Education3
MUSI 810Doctoral Seminar in Analysis3
or MUSI 830 Doctoral Seminar in Music History
MUSI 860Doctoral Seminar in Music Education12
Select 9 credits of MUSI 500 - 800 level electives as approved by advisor.9
Total Credits48

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 coursework 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.