UMKC Catalog


Music Education
Discipline Coordinator
Lindsey Williams, (816) 235-2354,

Click here to see Music Education faculty who are members of the doctoral faculty. 

Music Education is a discipline in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program administered by the School of Graduate Studies.

Note: The discipline-specific requirements listed here are in addition to the requirements listed in Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application Procedure and Minimum Criteria for Admission and Minimum Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements.

Discipline-Specific Admission Requirements

In addition to the general criteria, applicants selecting music education as a discipline must: 

  • Have an aggregate minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and graduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Submit a thesis or equivalent evidence of written scholarship.
  • Have minimum scores of 143 on the verbal, 138 on the quantitative and 3.0 on the writing portion of the GRE.
  • Have an acceptable on-campus interview with doctoral faculty members from this discipline.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive musicianship through videotape, performance, classroom teaching, audition or jury.
  • Have a minimum of three years K-12 teaching or music therapy clinical experience or the equivalent.
  • Perform an applied audition.

Alternate Admission Criteria

Applicants may ask to be considered under the following alternate admission criteria: 

  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or a graduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Submit a thesis or equivalent evidence of written scholarship.
  • Score 900 or above on the SAT with both the verbal and math scores above 400; or score 21 or above on the ACT.
  • Have an acceptable off-campus interview with at least two UMKC music education/therapy doctoral faculty or have two written recommendations from UMKC doctoral faculty.
  • Have a minimum of three years K-12 teaching/clinical experience or the equivalent.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive musicianship through a cassette tape or videotape.
  • Perform an applied audition.

Qualifying Requirements for Full Admission

  • Have a GPA of at least 3.5 in courses to be counted for the degree.
  • Have an acceptable interview with members of the student's supervisory committee.
  • Have acceptable scores on designated tests covering music history, music theory and music education/therapy.

Suggested Compatible Co-disciplines

Curriculum and instruction is the primary co-discipline. Other potential co-disciplines can be considered by students in consultation with primary discipline coordinator and faculty.


Core Program Requirements

Music education will function only as a primary discipline in the UMKC Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. Because of this, the following minimum standards apply only to students with music education as their primary discipline.


Two important goals for students with music education as their primary discipline and education as a co-discipline will be to develop research skills and increase their awareness of important research literature. Through introductory courses at the Conservatory, students will become acquainted with research techniques, problems and literature in music education/therapy. Additional research courses in the School of Education and other academic units will provide more tools for structuring research designs and analyzing data. Students in the program will assist their faculty mentors in research while developing a research agenda of their own. The number and nature of research classes placed on each student's program of study will be determined by the background, goals and interests of the student.

Teaching Techniques and Philosophies

While students may have widely divergent career goals, ranging from becoming a district music supervisor in a K-12 program, training undergraduate music therapists or being a college choral conductor, all will be actively involved in the education process in some form. To develop a comprehensive acquaintance with education at all levels, Ph.D. students will enroll in methods classes, will be assigned to observe and teach undergraduate classes at UMKC and will observe and help supervise student teachers in local K-12 schools. Courses in the Conservatory, the School of Education and other academic units will help students efficiently interpret the techniques and philosophies they observe in the classroom, determine their own goals and philosophies, and consequently, become better teachers.

Because faculty members from the Conservatory and the School of Education strongly believe that theories, philosophies and techniques associated with teaching carry more meaning for those who have experienced the teaching environment, the Ph.D. requires three years of K-12 teaching experience, music therapy clinical practice or the equivalent for admission to the program.

Seminars and Core Courses

While research and teaching are areas of great importance, it is anticipated that most students will need theoretical information to structure their teaching and research endeavors. Courses in theories of learning in general and in music, as well as seminars on the latest teaching techniques and methodologies, will give students a knowledge base to better facilitate their own teaching and to prepare future students to teach. Particular attention will be given to cultivating critical thinking skills in students and nurturing multicultural values.

Program Requirements

It is anticipated that most students selecting music education and education as their disciplines will have completed a master's degree in music education or a related field. Students with backgrounds in music therapy are also encouraged to apply.

While total degree-hour requirements for the Ph.D. will vary depending on each student's career goals, previous experience and training, it is anticipated that for most students, course requirements will include 35 to 45 pre-dissertation hours. If a student has completed a bachelor's or master's degree in some area other than music education/therapy, additional work beyond this approximate range will probably be required. No specific course requirements are designated. Depending on the previous work of the individual and the career direction sought, each program of study, including foreign language requirements, will be considered on an individual basis.

Co-discipline Requirements

Curriculum and instruction is the primary co-discipline for music education in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. It is anticipated there will be many permutations which are a product of this combination. A student's interests in School of Education classes may gravitate toward research, administration, counseling, philosophical and historical foundations or an infinite number of additional possibilities. Within the spirit of flexibility, which is the essence of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, students are allowed to enroll in other fields of study such as history, philosophy, psychology, art and non-music education/therapy Conservatory classes. The primary area of study outside music education and/or music therapy will constitute from 15 to 50 percent of pre-dissertation hours in the planned program of study.


Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

Written and oral comprehensive exams will be taken during the semester when the student completes all, or (in some special cases) nearly all, of the classes outlined in the planned program of study or the semester immediately following the completion of classes. This could include the summer term, depending on the availability of supervisory committee members. The exams must be scheduled with the supervisory committee no later than four weeks before they are to occur. No particular period is designated specifically for comprehensive exams; however, the oral exam should be taken the week following the written portion. The comprehensive exam will include a total of 18-24 hours of written and oral questions. The hours will be divided between the primary discipline of music education (not to exceed 60 percent of the total number of hours on the exam) and the co-discipline of education (15-40 percent of the hours) so as to reflect the student's planned program. Exams in the primary discipline area of music education will include 12-18 hours of written questions in the student's major area (e.g., choral music education, general music education, instrumental music education). A Ph.D. student may elect to substitute written research projects previously approved by the supervisory committee for this portion of the exam. Examples of such projects would include, but are not limited to, preliminary research distinct from the dissertation or the development of a curriculum project for a designated level and subject matter. In addition, a two-hour oral exam pertaining to research projects and courses completed by the student, a three-hour written exam relating to general knowledge of music research techniques and procedures, and a one-hour written exam pertaining to music education or music therapy history and philosophy will be required.