Earn your PhD in Music Education

The PhD program in music education is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching, research, or administration in:

  • College positions:
    • Teachers of music education or music therapy classes
    • Band, chorus and orchestra directors
    • Administrators of music departments
  • Public school positions:
    • Music supervisors
    • Research and curriculum consultants
    • Directors of city or district school music programs

Music therapy and music education

Music therapy students may obtain the PhD in music education and apply courses from the music therapy program. Applicants whose background and career goals are focused on music therapy should contact Abbey Dvorak to discuss admission requirements and curricular options.

Dr. Cohen and Dr. Dvorak will co-advise students with a music therapy emphasis on program requirements (including curricular requirements, comprehensive examinations, research expectations, and assistantships).

View PhD in Music Education + Music Therapy program information.

How to apply to the program

Application procedures

See Graduate Admissions Process for a list of required application materials expected of all graduate applicants. Additional requirements for the PhD program are:

  • 3.50 graduate grade-point average in graduate school
  • Scores from the General Aptitude Test (Verbal/Quantitative/Analytical portions, not the Music specialty test) of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are requested but not required
  • Holding, or being qualified for, a valid teaching certificate
  • A minimum of two years of successful music teaching experience
  • Materials/documentation attesting to teaching success, academic and musical abilities, and writing ability (Master’s thesis or term papers)
  • An interview

View full requirements and apply

Transfer credit

Coursework completed at other accredited graduate institutions may be accepted toward the degree if such credit duplicates required or elective coursework at the University of Iowa.

Teaching assistantships

A limited number of teaching and research assistantships are available to students with K-12 school teaching experience. An on-campus interview is expected for applicants wishing to be considered for a teaching assistantship. Please contact the music education area head about scheduling. Students applying for assistantships should write to the music education area head for further details. Priority is given to applications received by Feb. 1. Applicants need to supply a copy of teaching certificate or documentation that a certificate can be obtained.

Requirements and program planning

The Graduate College requires that a PhD contain a minimum of 72 post-baccalaureate semester hours with at least 39 semester hours (27 coursework + 12 dissertation) earned while registered at the University of Iowa. Additionally, the music education/therapy areas require the completion of a minimum of 36 semester hours of post-master’s degree, graduate-level coursework in consultation with and approved by your advisor.

This information is intended to assist in your course planning but is not intended to serve as an official guide to graduation requirements. To confirm progress toward graduation, you should consult your advisor.

Download course checklist

  • Introduction to Research in Music (EDTL:4640), 3 semester hours
  • One of these:
    • Foundations of Music Education (EDTL:5610), 3 semester hours
    • Foundations of Music Therapy (EDTL:6690), 3 semester hours
  • Psychology of Music (EDTL:4630), 2 semester hours

Minimum of 12 semester hours required; Topics Seminars in Music Education (EDTL:7600, EDTL:7040), Music Therapy (MUS:6690), or another specialization-related area approved by your advisor.

15 semester hours total required; The music education PhD follows the College of Education PhD research requirements. Doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies: 2 quantitative, 2 qualitative, and 1 additional course agreed upon by the student and their advisor.

Intermediate statistics course

3 semester hours required; Students who have not previous completed an introductory statistics course may be required to complete Introduction to Statistical Methods (PSQF:4143) as an elective to fulfill the prerequisite for these courses.

  • Selected Applications of Statistical Methods (PSQF:6242), 3 semester hours
  • Intermediate Statistical Methods (PSQF:6243), 3 semester hours

Research methods coursework

12 semester hours required:

  • Advanced Research in Music Education–Quantitative (EDTL:7640), 3 semester hours
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research (EDTL:----), 3 semester hours
  • Qualitative
  • Additional choice

Qualitative research options

  • Qualitative Research Design and Methods (EPLS:7373)*, 3 semester hours
  • Essentials of Qualitative Inquiry (RCE:7338)*, 3 semester hours
  • Qualitative Research Methods for Teaching and Learning (EDTL:7070)*, 3 semester hours
  • Qualitative Educational Research Methods (PSQF:7331)*, 3 semester hours
  • History Theory and Interpretation (HIST:6003), 3 semester hours
  • Research in Cross-Cultural Settings (EPLS:5195), 3 semester hours
  • Introduction to Historical Research Methodologies (EPLS:5240), 3 semester hours
  • Critical Discourse Analysis (EDTL:7071), 3 semester hours
  • Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis (EDTL:7072), 3 semester hours
  • Ethnographic Methods, Theories, and Texts (EDTL:7073), 3 semester hours
  • Ethnographic Field Methods (ANTH:6115), 3 semester hours

*These are introductory courses and should only be taken if the music education qualitative research was not available during the student’s coursework plan.

Quantitative research options

  • Research Process and Design (EPLS:6206), 3 semester hours
  • Survey Research and Design (EPLS:6209), 2 semester hours
  • Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis (EPLS:6370), 3 semester hours
  • Correlation and Regression (PSQF:6244), 3 semester hours
  • Design of Experiments (PSQF:6246), 3 semester hours
  • Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models (PSQF:6249), 3 semester hours
  • Introduction to Multivariate Statistical Methods (PSQF:6252), 3 semester hours
  • Single Subject Design Research (EDTL:7953), 3 semester hours

Mixed methods research and program evaluation options

  • Mixed Methods Research (EPLS:7392), 3 semester hours
  • Mixed Methods Research (EDTL:7410), 3 semester hours
  • Program Evaluation (EPLS:6266), 3 semester hours

21 semester hours total required, including:

  • Introduction to Statistical Methods (PSQF:4143)*, 3 semester hours

*Students who have completed a similar statistics class in their master’s program may be exempt from this course.

The student must apply to complete the comprehensive written examination after finishing their required coursework.

This written examination will cover scholarly and research areas to be determined in consultation with the exam committee members.

Students will be provided with guidelines about the format and preparation for this examination after they have applied for examination and consulted with their advisor and committee members.

  • PhD Thesis (MUS:7950), 12 semester hours
  • Oral defense of the dissertation
In the final semester, PhD students may register for PhD Thesis (MUS:7950), which requires at least 1 semester hour enrollment in dissertation hours.

Create your academic path

You'll find degree overviews, requirements, course lists, academic plans, and more to help you plan your education and explore your possibilities.

View General Catalog

Current course list

The MyUI Schedule displays registered courses for a particular session and is available to enrolled students. The list view includes course instructors, time and location, and features to drop courses or change sections.

View Current Courses

Add a minor

Any student admitted to a graduate degree program in the School of Music may add a theory pedagogy minor by completing the required courses.

Music education faculty

Portrait of Mary Cohen

Mary Cohen

Music Education
Associate Professor
Portrait of Adam Harry

Adam Harry

Instrumental Music Education
Assistant Professor
headshot of Dr. Manternach

Jeremy Manternach

Choral Music Education
Associate Professor
Music Education Area Head

Practice and perform

Need to book a music room, request an accompanist, check out audition information, rent a locker, or use a recording studio? Visit the Music Callboard for all scheduling and policy information.