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Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education

The Doctor of Philosophy curriculum in music education prepares students for careers as teachers in higher education. A main purpose of the program is to develop skilled and knowledgeable professionals who will challenge the present and enrich the future with significant contributions to the field through teaching, research, and service. Acceptance into the doctoral program is competitive. A prospective doctoral student in music education is required to have completed appropriate undergraduate and master’s degrees in music or the equivalent at institutions of recognized standing.

Also, an applicant must provide evidence of excellence in teaching and musicianship demonstrated during at least three years of successful, full-time contractual K-12 music teaching. Applicants to the program leading to the doctor of philosophy must present necessary credentials for evaluation of previous training and experience to the School of Music. These include transcripts showing at least a 3.0 grade point average in a minimum of 28 hours in liberal arts studies, submitted through the WVU Office of Admissions and Records. 

How to Apply

Application deadline for the most advantageous consideration is March 1. To pursue admission to our graduate degree programs, the following steps should be completed as early as possible:

  1. Submit your completed admission application with the application fee to the WVU Office of Graduate Admissions. Please complete the SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS portion of this application by uploading a personal statement/letter of intent and a resume/vitae, as directed. The WVU School of Music also requires three letters of recommendation. The WVU application has a prompt for recommendations just below the main application menu.
  2. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended to be sent directly to
    Office of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment
    PO BOX 6510
    Morgantown WV  26506
  3. Submit the School of Music Application for Graduate Admission.
    Fill out our Graduate Application Online.
  4. Please provide 3 letters of recommendation by forwarding the following link to 3 recommenders. Alternatively, recommenders can send a letter of recommendation on letterhead directly to the School of Music at the following email address:

The following items must be submitted directly to the Director of Graduate Studies in music:

  1. An essay describing and discussing your training, experiences, present interests, and career aspirations in the field of music education.
  2. A current résumé.
  3. A video-recording (or internet links to videos) of teaching, preferably a K-12 music class or rehearsal. Please submit a detailed lesson plan for each class or rehearsal presented in your teaching video. The video-recording container should clearly indicate your name, instrument, and degree program for which you are applying. Recordings should have been made within the six months prior to the submission of the application. Video-recordings must be of high quality. The preferable format is internet link.  Applicants should review the video-recording in its entirety to ensure audio, visual, and technical clarity before submitting.

When the application for music education is complete, it will be reviewed by the music education faculty. If this review is favorable, a representative of the music education faculty will contact the applicant to schedule an entrance interview and possible audition.

Applicants who do not meet all of the criteria for regular admission to the Ph.D. degree program may be granted a provisional admission subject to the satisfactory completion of certain specified courses or the attainment of a specified grade point average within a semester’s work.


Written Qualifying

Each student must demonstrate the following areas of knowledge:

Oral Qualifying

The student’s doctoral committee will administer a comprehensive oral examination integral with the written examinations; passage of all is the basis for formal admission to candidacy.


Upon completion of the requirements of the School of Music and the general WVU graduate studies requirements, the student will be recommended for admission to candidacy for the degree. These requirements are (in order of occurrence):

1. Complete all coursework

2. Complete a major project from a graduate music education seminar. This project should be appropriately refined and presented publicly under the supervision of a member of the graduate music education faculty. A concise written proposal articulating the scope and context of the project and the nature of its intended forum must be submitted to the graduate music education faculty for consensus approval.

3. Pass written qualifying examinations to show:

  • Broad knowledge in theory and in music history and literature.
  • Appropriate knowledge in the cognate field (usually integrated into the music education exam).
  • In-depth knowledge in the field of music education.

4. Pass a comprehensive oral qualifying examination.

The qualifying examinations shall be considered as one integral examination consisting of the written and oral parts. If the first attempt is unsuccessful, the student is allowed to try the entire examination a second time. The second attempt will be considered final. The applicant’s committee may elect to discourage a second attempt if the first does not indicate probable success upon repetition.

Dissertation Prospectus

  1. The requirement for doctoral seminars must be completed before the presentation of the dissertation prospectus.
  2. The prospectus must include the following: table of contents, introduction, statement of purpose, research hypothesis, summary of related literature, specifics of methodology, research design, data collection process, analysis procedures, appendices, comprehensive bibliography.


The candidate must submit a dissertation produced at WVU under the direction of a major professor that demonstrates a high order of independent scholarship, originality, and competence in research and that makes an original contribution to the field of specialization.

After the dissertation has been approved and all other requirements have been fulfilled, the candidate’s Doctoral Committee will administer the final oral examination. However, a final examination will not be given in the same semester as the qualifying examination. At the option of the student’s committee, a final written examination may also be required. The final examination(s) shall be concerned with the dissertation, its contribution to knowledge, its relation to other fields, and the candidate’s grasp of the field of specialization.

Residence Requirements 

Completion of the requirements for this degree normally requires at least three years of full-time graduate work. A minimum of two consecutive semesters must be spent in residence in full-time graduate study at WVU beyond the master’s degree or its equivalent.

Time Limitation

Following admission to candidacy, Ph.D. students are allowed five years to complete all remaining degree requirements. An extension of time may be permitted only upon repetition of the qualifying examination and completion of any other requirements specified by the student’s doctoral committee.