How to Choose a Doctorate in Music Education + Online Option

This article describes the doctorate in music education degree program, some of the subject matters and the courses that the program covers, and why this degree could be an excellent way to significantly advance your career. It also offersan overview of an online doctorate in music education program that you may want to consider enrolling in.

What Is a Doctorate in Music Education?

The doctorate in music education is still a relatively rare degree, particularly if you want to complete it online. Nevertheless, it is becoming more popular. Different schools have various admission requirements for their degree programs, but they usually look for those with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, musical experience, and teaching experience. Furthermore, it is common for schools to require certain GRE scores as well. On average, this doctorate program will take around four years to complete and it will usually require a dissertation and a piece of independent research.

The course work has been designed to teach students more about music research methods, music history, ethnography, and different musical styles. The aim is to create a global network of educators in the music industry, ensuring the availability of qualified music researchers and that the quality of this research is improved.

Most doctorate programs, even those that are made available online, will require at least one residency on campus. After this, two to three years of studying has to be undertaken, followed by around two years of dissertation work. Additionally, because the degree is educational in nature, there is a strong emphasis on interaction with fellow students. Even in online doctorate programs, therefore, the online community is usually very active.

Each school is able to set its own curriculum. However, they tend to be made up a core, elective courses, and a dissertation. The elective courses usually focus on a certain performance style or technique. The core, however, is usually almost the same at every university and tends to include:

  • Music education critique, which usually covers a short research project
  • Music education research, where students learn to understand, interpret, and apply research
  • American music styles, usually from the present to the colonial area
  • Orchestration, whereby students learn how to write orchestral pieces of music

Why Earn a Doctorate in Music Education?

By earning a doctorate in music education, you will be able to teach music at any level of education, whether as a private tutor or as university faculty member. It is the breadth of career opportunities that become available that make this such an attractive career to many. Formal teaching positions in the field of music offer fantastic career benefits, particularly at the postsecondary level. Private tuition is too expensive for many people, and public school systems have had to make numerous cutbacks, leading to less work. In order to teach at a university, a doctorate degree is required.

The programs are usually geared towards those who already have significant experience in teaching, particularly music. They are designed to develop existing skills in areas, such as research, music education critique, orchestration, and more. Essentially, it is an opportunity to become the best you can be.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary, had a median salary of $68,650 per year as of May 2016.

Online Option for Doctorate in Music Education

University of Hartford

If you are interested in completing a doctorate in music education, then the PhD in music education program offered by the Hartt School at the University of Hartford may be of interest to you. The degree is suitable for those who want to conduct research as part of their career advancement. It teaches students to perform scientific inquiry, developing experts who can truly understand human music behavior. This includes a focus on both quantitative (investigative) and qualitative (experimental) techniques, and then learning how to apply their findings to the practice of music education.

As a research degree, the PhD assumes that students are already familiar with certain concepts in computer science, measurements, analysis and design, research, and psychology. Graduates, therefore, are highly respected for their ability to perform research and use this to grow the existing knowledge base in relation to music education.

While the degree is delivered online, students do have to complete at least two consecutive full time semesters as well. The study must be completed in full within eight years. Admission is very competitive, and requires holding a master’s degree from an institution that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Additionally, they must already have three years of teaching experience.

The degree program takes 58 credit hours to complete. The core curriculum of the program covers 37 different credits. These include:

  • Measurement and Evaluation
  • Psychology Of Music
  • Music Education Research Colloquium
  • Music Leadership And Administration
  • History And Philosophy Of Music Education
  • Research And Writing
  • Research Design In Music Education
  • Learning Theories In Music
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Dissertation Coursework

Holders of a doctorate degree in music education have a number of opportunities available to them. Broadly speaking, these are one of two options:

  1. Music education researcher, which involves developing new theories and practices to teach others about music, and also to view this from a historical perspective and how that can be used to improve music education in the modern world
  2. Faculty member at a music education school, in which graduates are responsible for the education of tomorrow’s music teachers. As a doctorate degree holder, they can move beyond the teaching abilities of those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees, moving out of private tuition and community colleges, and moving into the university school system.


As you can see, completing a doctorate in music education is a great way to really take your music education career to the next level. There is a significant lack of highly trained music teachers in terms of private tuition, the public school systems, and academics. So much so, in fact, that some fear music may become a dying art unless more people become educated in this field. By obtaining a doctorate degree, you will have the opportunity to turn this around, ensuring that the profession can continue to develop. This in itself is something that you can take a great deal of personal and professional pride in. Additionally, the knowledge that you have the top skills in the industry, and that you understand the full theories of music education, is also something to be proud of.


  • Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary. (2017, Mar. 31). Retrieved from
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from;