Music Education

Discipline Coordinator

Joseph Parisi, (816) 235-2919,

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 an acceptable on-campus interview with doctoral faculty members from this discipline.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive musicianship by providing a video link which should include a rehearsal, performance, and classroom teaching. Each video should be between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Minimum of 3 years K-12 teaching experience.
  • In most cases, students entering the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program will have earned at least one degree in Music Education.

Alternate Admission Criteria

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

  • Have an acceptable off-campus interview with at least two UMKC music education/therapy doctoral faculty.
  • Have two written recommendations from UMKC doctoral faculty.
  • Demonstrated competence in alternative teaching experiences.
  • Comprehensive musicianship evidenced by videotaped or live demonstrations in solo performance, ensemble performance/conducting, classroom teaching, or clinical applications.

Suggested Compatible Co-disciplines

Curriculum and instruction is the leading 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 Curriculum and Instruction as a co-discipline are developing research skills and increasing awareness of extant research literature. Students will become acquainted with research techniques, problems and literature in music education through introductory coursework. Additional research courses in the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences and other academic units will provide advanced instruction 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 included in each student's program of study will be determined by the student's background, goals and interests in consultation with their mentor and supervisory committee.

Teaching Techniques and Philosophies

Students may have varied career goals, ranging from training undergraduate music students or being a college professor/conductor to becoming a district music supervisor in a K-12 program, but all will be actively involved in the education process in some form. Ph.D. students will develop a comprehensive acquaintance with education at all levels by enrolling in methods classes, observing and teaching undergraduate classes at UMKC, and supervising student teaching in K-12 schools. Courses in the Conservatory, the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences and other academic units will help students interpret and apply the techniques and philosophies they observe in the classroom. Building on this foundation, they will determine their own goals, philosophies, and teaching approaches as they become better teachers.

Seminars and Core Courses

In addition to the important areas of research and teaching, most students will need theoretical information to structure these teaching and research endeavors. Courses in theories of learning and seminars presenting contemporary research-based teaching techniques and methodologies will provide a knowledge base to facilitate their own teaching. Particular attention will be given to cultivating each student's critical thinking skills and nurturing multicultural values.

Program Requirements

It is anticipated that most students selecting Music Education and Curriculum and Instruction 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 most likely be required. Primary discipline course requirements will be designed to meet the student's specific academic and professional needs. The co-discipline of Curriculum and Instruction requires specified credits as designated here. Each student's previous work is considered, and a customized program of study is designed in consultation with a supervisory committee.

Co-discipline Requirements

Curriculum and Instruction is the most common co-discipline for Music Education in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, though other co-disciplines are possible. The flexible nature of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program allows students to enroll in varied fields of study such as history and non-music education/therapy Conservatory classes. The co-discipline coursework will constitute 15 to 50 percent of the pre-dissertation hours in the planned program of study.

Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. students will complete three research projects previously approved by the Supervisory Committee. In addition, an oral exam pertaining to these research projects will take place with the Supervisory Committee. Two weeks prior to the oral presentation, students will prepare a single document that serves as an overview of the three projects (in consultation with the Committee Chair or primary discipline Coordinator). This overview should include: (1) an introduction that explains the three projects and where/when they took place (part of a class, independent study, etc.); (2) the title of each project; (3) completion date; (4) any formal or informal presentations; (5) publication if applicable; (6) benefits to self; and (7) benefits to the profession.