What is an Ed.D. in Music Education?
An Ed.D. in Music Education is designed to prepare graduates for mid- to high-level music teaching & leadership positions in PreK-12 settings, private schools & studios, colleges & universities, and interdisciplinary arenas.
You may wish to pursue a music education doctoral program in order to:
- Learn about advanced theories & practice of music education
- Explore principles of musicology and music theory
- Become versed in applied research techniques & tools
- Develop innovative music programs & educational interventions
Types of Doctorate in Music Education Programs
Ed.D. in Music Education
You won’t find many doctorates that are entirely devoted to music education in our listings. The rare example is Columbia’s Ed. in Music Education, which is designed to train music educators for high-level teaching roles and district & administrative positions.
Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Music Education
You’re more likely to find music education being offered as a concentration within an Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction. Our music education listings contain a number of these options. As the name implies, these doctorates help teachers become instructional leaders and curriculum specialists in their chosen field (e.g. music). We dig into the details in our guide to Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction Programs.
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership: Music Education
If you’re interested in leadership positions, you could also consider an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in music education. You’ll find one or two examples in our listings. Doctoral programs in educational leadership often cover areas such as continuous improvement, effective management, systematic & institutional reform, and social justice. See our guide to Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Programs for more details.
DMA vs. Ed.D. in Music Education
Instead of an Ed.D. in Music Education, you might want to consider earning a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA).
- DMA programs combine advanced coursework in practical specializations (e.g. composition, conducting, performance, or music education) with graduate credits in music history, theory, and pedagogy.
- The DMA can be very similar to an Ed.D. For example, BU’s DMA in Music Education covers almost all of the same bases as an education doctorate.
Ph.D. vs. Ed.D. in Music Education
Generally speaking, an Ed.D. in Music Education is a practice-oriented doctorate that focuses on applied research & theory and workplace challenges (e.g. designing music programs). A Ph.D. in Music Education is a research-heavy degree that prepares graduates for high-level research jobs and university positions.
But the line is pretty fuzzy. When we looked at job listings for Assistant or Associate Professors of Music Education, employers were asking for a doctorate in a relevant field (e.g. music education, conducting, etc.). This could be a Ph.D., DMA, or Ed.D. Hiring committees may be much more interested in your work experience!
Earning an Ed.D. in Music Education
Music Education Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: Check the admissions requirements. A school that offers a specialist degree in music education (e.g. Columbia) may want to see an MA or Master of Music degree. But a doctoral program that involves curriculum & instruction or leadership may simply ask for a relevant master’s degree.
- Minimum GPA: GPA requirements will vary. The standard minimum for Ed.D. programs is 3.0, but prestigious Colleges of Education may have a higher threshold (e.g. 3.25-3.5).
- Work Experience: Universities may or may not specify work experience in the admissions section, but it will be a factor in their decision-making process. The standard is 3+ years of teaching/professional experience. Some schools will also want you to hold a valid educator’s certificate or the equivalent in your concentration.
- Additional Requirements: GRE or MAT scores may or may not be required—it varies from school to school. You may also be asked to supply an admissions essay, résumé, academic writing sample, and 2-4 letters of recommendation.
Music Education Coursework
Columbia’s Ed. in Music Education is a good test case for coursework. It divides the curriculum into 4 major areas: Music Education, Music Content, Research in Music Education (including dissertation prep), and Out of Program research courses & electives.
Sample courses in the music education & content sections include:
- Foundations of Music Education
- Approaches to Teaching Musical Instruments
- Vocal Pedagogy
- Comprehensive Musicianship
- Applied Conducting, Instrumental, Voice, or Composition
- Applications of New Technology in Music Education
- Children’s Musical Development
- Teaching Applied Music in College
- Teaching and Administration of Music in College
Music Education Internship & Fieldwork
In our listings, you may occasionally run into an Ed.D. in Music Education or the equivalent that includes a professional internship or field experiences. If you don’t see them listed, ask the Ed.D. program coordinator if these options are available.
We tend to favor internships, since they will give you access to a mentor and expose you to new practices. But we recognize that they’ll cut into your work time!
Music Education Dissertation or Capstone Project
All Ed.D. programs—including specialist doctorates in music education—will culminate in a traditional 5-chapter dissertation, a Dissertation in Practice (DiP), or a practical capstone project. We discuss the key differences between these three options in our guide to No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs.
Online Ed.D. in Music Education Programs
Are Ed.D. Programs in Music Education Offered Online?
Occasionally. Our program database contains a couple of online doctorates in music education. We’ve flagged them with an “Offered Online” marker.
Do Online Ed.D. in Music Education Programs Contain Residencies?
Yes. For example:
- St. Thomas University’s cohort-based Online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning is almost entirely online, but it does contain face-to-face summer residencies.
- Valdosta’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: P-12 Disciplinary Concentration – Music Education includes one-day doctoral seminars at the beginning of years one & two.
Music Education Careers
Ed.D. in Music Education Jobs
An Ed.D. in Music Education will qualify you for PreK-12 educational leadership positions, college & university teaching roles, and music education jobs in the private sector.
Sample job titles for Ed.D. graduates include:
- Music Director
- Director of Music Therapy
- District Supervisor of Music
- Early Childhood Music Specialist
- Assistant Professor of Music
- Assistant Professor of Music Therapy
- Assistant Professor of Music Education
- Music Technology Professor
Ed.D. in Music Education Salary
Music education is a niche field to begin with, so it’s tricky to find hard data. Having said that:
- Common salary sites (e.g. Glassdoor, Indeed, Salary.com, Payscale, etc.) can supply you with numbers for popular job titles (e.g. Music Supervisor).
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes occupational employment & wage data for Postsecondary Art, Drama, and Music Teachers.
- Some universities will also quote proposed salaries in their job descriptions.
Is an Ed.D. in Music Education Worth it?
Talk to your mentors and recent alumni before you make a decision. A doctorate in music education is a no-brainer if you want to qualify for high-level faculty positions at universities, but it will involve a whole lot of time and money. If you’re interested in PreK-12 and district-level positions, you may not need one at all.
Music Education Resources and Organizations
- American Music Therapy Association (AMTA): AMTA is committed to the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings.
- International Society for Music Education (ISME): ISME is one of the largest societies for music educators in the world. It seeks to build an international community of music educators, foster a global intercultural understanding among the world’s music educators, and promote music education for people of all ages.
- Music Teachers National Association (MTNA): MTNA has 20,000+ members in 50 states. It aims to advance the value of music study and music-making to society and support the careers and professionalism of those who teach music.
- National Association for Music Education (NAfME): NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels for music education; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and organizes a variety of opportunities for students and music education teachers.
- Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE): SMTE membership is open to all NAfME members with an interest in music teacher education. It hosts a biennial Symposium on Music Teacher Education.
- Society for Research in Music Education (SRME): SRME was created to foster and improve the quality of scholarship and research within the music education profession. It publishes the Journal of Research in Music Education (JRME).