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Ph.D. in Music Education—The Penn State Difference

At Penn State, we are committed to giving each doctoral student the personal interaction with our world-class faculty that allows us to maintain a 100% job placement success rate for those who seek collegiate employment.  We accomplish this by keeping our program deliberately small (15% acceptance rate) and maintaining a 1:2 faculty/student ratio in addition to providing our students multiple outlets for developing their research and teaching persona.


We are committed to encouraging our doctoral students to be active as musicians and researchers. Over 80% of our doctoral students present work the National Association for Music Education bi-annual research conference. Additionally, many of our doctoral students are invited presenters at a variety of state MEA conferences and are active internationally, including China and Honduras. Several of our doctoral students work with our faculty on book publications. We also encourage our doctoral students to develop publishable research on a yearly basis.


We are proud that our faculty go on to do great things in the greater music education community. Our alumni have be appointed to tenure track positions at many prestigious universities including, the University of Southern California, the Pennsylvania State University, University of Rhode Island, Syracuse University, the Crane School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Grand Valley, the National Taichung University (Taiwan), University of Arkansas, Temple University, Ithaca College, Oregon State University, and University of North Carolina-Wilmington.


Our faculty have held leadership positions in major national and international organizations including the Society for Music Teacher Education, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American String Teachers Association, the National Association for Music Education, the Mountain Lake Colloquium, the MayDay Group, the American Choral Directors Association, the Symposium for Research in Choral Singing, the Society for Research in Music Education, the International Society for Music Education and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. Our faculty are also active in publication. Our faculty have book and book chapters with leading publishers including Routledge and Oxford Press. 


We are unique in that we provide many performance opportunities, leadership opportunities, and three dissertation approaches: the traditional one study approach as well as a two-study and three-study approach that allows our students to develop their dissertation over the entire time they are studying at Penn State. Doctoral students normally spend three full-time academic years on campus for this program in order to fully participate in the community of scholars comprising fellow students and faculty. 


Faculty and Students of the Penn State Music Education Department


Apply to the Ph.D. program at Penn State


A great place to live, work, and grow!


Sharing with the music education community


Ways to fund your journey!


Where you can go…

The Pennsylvania State University School of Music is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusion that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive. We value inclusion as a core strength and an essential element of our public service mission.


  • We will foster and maintain a safe environment of respect and inclusion for faculty, staff, students, and members of the communities we serve.
  • We will educate our faculty, staff, and students to be social justice advocates, creatively providing curricula, programs, and environments that reflect the diversity of our communities, and elevate cultural awareness.
  • We will ensure fair and inclusive access to our facilities, programs, resources, and services, and ensure that all of our policies and practices are inclusive and equitable.
  • We will advance and build our workforce by assessing hiring practices and performance review procedures to attract, retain, and develop talented faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.
  • We will address intergroup disparities in areas such as representation, retention, learning outcomes, and graduation rates.


Additionally, The Bunton-Waller Fellows program attracts students from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds who have demonstrated academic potential and are eligible to attend Penn State. The scholarship offers full in-state tuition, room, and board to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania residents, and out-of-state tuition to non-resident first-year students, resulting in a student body that more closely reflects the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity in Pennsylvania and the nation.


Visit the College of Arts & Architecture diversity resources here.




“I was able to pursue my interests and felt very supported by the faculty and my peers throughout the process.”

Mara Culp, Ph.D.

Graduation Year: 2017

“It gave me new insights into music education, and helped me to answer nagging questions that I never knew I had.”

Robert Docker, Ph.D.

Graduation Year: 2011

My mentors at Penn State helped me find my scholarly voice and prepared me well to contribute to the field as a researcher, presenter, and writer.

Dan Shevok, Ph.D.

Graduation Year: 2015

“The program challenged my critical thinking, expanded my musicianship and pedagogical skills, and opened up so many doors for my career.

Beth Guerriero, Ph.D.

Graduation Year: 2011

Relationships were one of the most meaningful things to come from my time at Penn State. From my cohort, to my professors and mentors, to the vast network of colleagues that I was introduced to through my PSU connections, these relationships lasted far beyond my years in Happy Valley (and without a doubt helped me earn jobs!).

Lindsay Fulcher, Ph.D.

Graduation Year: 2017

Questions? Contact us here!

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