Ph.D. in Music Education

The Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in either music education or music therapy focuses on research and scholarship. It is often sought by those who aspire to careers in research and graduate-level teaching. The requirements help the student develop broad and profound understanding of musical behavior, sophisticated skill and extensive experience in pursuing new knowledge of such behavior, and a rational system for evaluating the relationships between the specialty and other areas of human understanding. The program culminates with completion of a substantial piece of original research.

Detailed information about admission processes in Music Education and Music Therapy can be found online in the MEMT Graduate Application Procedure document.

Ph.D. in Music Education Admission

Requirements for Regular Admission

  1. Master's grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Appropriate baccalaureate and master’s degrees to support the individual’s goals for doctoral study.
  3. Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing).
  4. 3 letters of recommendation estimating the applicant’s potential for success in doctoral study.
  5. Documentation of at least 3 years successful full time experience, or its equivalent, as a professional music educator if seeking a concentration in music education, or at least 5 years successful full-time experience as a professional music therapist, or its equivalent, if seeking a concentration in music therapy.
  6. Submission of a video recording appropriate to the degree emphasis.
  7. A reasoned statement of professional goals and research interests.
  8. An interview with the appropriate faculty for area of emphasis.
  9. Other supporting materials may be required.
  10. Passing score on the music education and music therapy division diagnostic examination  to be taken at the end of the first semester.

Additional detailed admission requirements and information are found online in the MEMT Graduate Application Procedure document.

Graduate Admission to the School of Music

Application procedures and program requirements can change. Please visit the School of Music Admissions webpage for current information.

Graduate programs in the School of Music are open to students with acceptable baccalaureate degrees, as specified by the admitting areas, whose academic records indicate that they can do successful work at the graduate level. Regular admission requires a bachelor's degree and a grade-point average of at least a B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale), from KU or from another regionally accredited institution or foreign university with substantially equivalent bachelor's degree requirements.

Programs of study leading to the Master of Music (M.M.), Master of Music Education (M.M.E.), Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) are offered through the School of Music. Specific admission procedures and degree requirements for the M.M. and M.M.E. programs are described under division headings. Specific admission procedures and degree requirements for the D.M.A., Ph.D. (musicology/music theory), and Ph.D. (music education/music therapy) are listed in the appropriate sections.

Program Areas

Graduate study in the School of Music is organized into program areas within 2 units:

  • Music includes programs in composition, conducting, musicology, music theory, and areas of performance.
  • Music Education and Music Therapy (MEMT) includes programs in music education or music therapy.

At least a 3.0 grade-point average, overall and in the major area, is required for all course work counted toward any graduate degree in the School of Music. If the overall grade-point average falls below 3.0, the student is placed on probation for one semester; if the cumulative average is not 3.0 or higher after the next semester, the student is dismissed from the program. Students must also achieve at least a grade of B in thesis, lecture-recital, document or dissertation, and on each recital for satisfactory completion of degree requirements.

Diagnostic Examinations

All entering graduate students (except music education, music therapy, and opera performance majors) must take written diagnostic examinations in musicology and music theory. These are given the week before the start of classes in the Fall and Spring semesters to determine whether a need exists for remedial work in those areas prior to enrolling in graduate coursework. Students who show the need for remediation must complete the prescribed review courses or show mastery of the material by re-examination. Graduate students entering programs in piano must take additional tests in piano literature given before the start of classes. A student is exempt from all diagnostic exams if he or she received a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music from the University of Kansas within the previous 4 years.

Ph.D. in Music Education Degree Requirements

Research Skills

Doctoral students in music education and music therapy at KU must demonstrate research skills by completing 3 research projects suitable for publication. These may be developed and completed independently or in consultation with appropriate doctoral faculty members. There must be a project for three different types of research methodology, usually representing methods of descriptive, experimental, and historical (including the history and logic of ideas) research. If those methods are chosen the descriptive and experimental research articles should be presented in APA style. The historical research article may be presented in Turabian, MLA, or APA style. The student may propose other divergent methodologies if those fit his/her program of study more adequately.  It is up to the doctoral program planning committee to approve the methodologies each student utilizes.

Each completed project is reviewed by the student’s doctoral planning committee, which rules in the majority whether the project is of sufficient quality for publication in a national, refereed research journal in music education or music therapy. The committee chair will determine if the projects will be reviewed by additional faculty not a part of the program planning committee.  Single-author studies that have been published or accepted for publication in such journals may be used to demonstrate these skills.

Completion of each of the 3 research projects must be certified by the student’s mentor/advisor in music education or music therapy on the MEMT Doctoral Check list in the student’s file in the MEMT office. The mentor/advisor must submit an appropriate MEMT Do-All form after the completion of each project.

Responsible scholarship requirements are met by satisfactory completion of courses MEMT 812 Research in Music Education and Music Therapy and MEMT 920 Doctoral Seminar in Music Education and Music Therapy.

Preliminary and Comprehensive Examinations

The student must pass a series of examinations, culminating with the comprehensive oral examination.

The music education and music therapy Ph.D. handbook is available online and in the MEMT office, and includes information about patterns of course work, the Ph.D. minor, examinations, and the dissertation.

Plan of Study

Course requirements for the doctoral degree are flexible. The Ph.D. program requires a minor. Each student’s program is planned specifically in light of his or her background and to meet the needs of the anticipated academic and professional career. However, each student is expected to achieve a broad understanding of human musical behavior and to become skilled in research. Professional competence, not hours of credit per se, is the underlying requisite for conferring the degree.

The student works with her or his faculty advisor to complete a Degree Requirement Program Plan. The advisor submits the completed program plan with the MEMT Do-All form.