Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education

Leadership Through Scholarship

It’s the questions that drive you: What kinds of music do students listen to at home? Why are some students motivated to practice when others are not? In what ways can you use music to open the world to them? How can new technology improve the classroom experience? More broadly, how can you and other music education professionals effect change in our government’s arts and education policies?

Despite successful outcomes, you’re not satisfied with yesterday’s successes. For you, the classroom or studio is a laboratory. You seek new and better techniques to encourage students to improve as musicians and succeed as well-rounded people. When you find something that works, you want to share it with other music professionals. Perhaps you have participated in a teacher research group in your school district, presented a clinic on best practices at a music conference, or have been invited to teach a course at a local college. It was a satisfying professional experience.

Now, you’re ready for more. You’re eager to develop your scholarship, keep your musicianship sharp, and continue your teaching career. This is where online learning comes in. We’ve designed this program for you to be an important member of a small, academically rigorous doctoral program without uprooting your family or leaving the work that fulfills you.

You will prepare for advancement in the field of music education by developing and honing research skills, sharpening proficiency in theory and history, developing a specialization, and producing a dissertation of publishable quality that adds new knowledge, moving the field of music education forward. Your dissertation can become the basis for a scholarly article, series of articles, or book.

Along the way, you’ll develop close relationships with our expert faculty and benefit from their guidance. Many of our doctoral students have collaborated with faculty mentors on music education research and have presented alongside faculty at international conferences.

Music education needs new leaders. Join the ranks of scholars redefining music education for the 21st century.

Let’s get started.

Awards & Accreditations

NASM Accredited: Boston University holds accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with 615 accredited institutional members.

Why Choose BU’s Doctorate of Music Education?

  • The rigor of a top-notch program designed to fit your busy schedule.
  • Tradition and innovation: employ the latest technology from a school that practically invented music education.
  • Work with a diverse faculty of accomplished musicians, scholars, researchers, and educators.
  • Immerse yourself in subjects that offer the potential to transform music education for you and your students.
  • Study the history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and technology of music education.
  • Engage with fellow music educators from around the world who will become contacts.
  • Advance quickly through an accelerated curriculum with competitive cost.
  • Access Boston University’s extensive, world-class resources.


Boston University  offers competitive tuition rates that meet the needs of part-time students seeking an affordable education. These rates are substantially lower than those of the traditional, full-time residential programs yet provide access to the same high-quality BU education. To learn more about current tuition rates, visit the Tuition & Fees page.


The Boston University online Doctor in Music Arts in Music Education (MusAD) consists of 11 courses (44 credits) in the coursework phase of the degree, which can be completed continuously within 24 months. In addition to the 11 courses and qualifying examinations, students will attend an on-campus residency requirement of approximately one week (1 credit). Students then continue on to write their dissertation with the support of a supervisor (3 credits). The entire program is geared to be completed in an average of seven years and is comprised of 48 credits total. In addition, students travel to the Boston University campus for a culminating experience near the end of the program.

CFAME541 Introduction to Music Technology

The course will include activities designed to introduce students to significant technologies that can support music teaching and learning. These technologies will include music sequencing/production, recording, audio and MIDI editing, computer-based notation, graphic-based web authoring, social media for music distribution, and computer-assisted instruction software. The majority of learning activities will begin with a teacher demonstration of a set of skills in music software. Each demonstration will be followed by an assignment designed for students to practice those skills and demonstrate mastery of techniques. Information on applying for Level I TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators) certification will be provided at the end of the course. [4 credits] [4 credits]

CFAME542 Music Technology Pedagogy

This course serves to expand the knowledge that many teachers have about uses of technology for teaching music. Students explore music technology pedagogy; that is, the practice of teaching music in a technologically enhanced environment and the special kinds of teaching skills required to do so effectively. Students examine theoretical foundations of the uses of technology for music teaching, including theories of student interaction with technology, multimedia principles, and technology-infused music curricula. Students will design a technology based curricular unit of music study and implement that unit in a real-world scenario such as their own classroom or studio. [4 credits]

CFAME543 Special Topics in Music Education Technology: Notation with Sibelius

ME543: Special Topics in Music Education Technology: Notation with Sibelius will focus on skill development with notation software. Students will develop advanced skills with techniques in notation software including multi-voice staves, part creation, custom styles, and page formatting. No prior experience with Sibelius or other notation software is expected. Students will be required to have access to their own installation of the latest version of Sibelius. [4 credits]

CFAME545 Power, Marginalization, and Privilege in Music Education

This course is designed to expand awareness of the intersections between music, education, and society as they relate to issues of power, privilege, and marginalization within US, educational, and global contexts. Students will participate in group discussions, individual reflection, and student-designed projects to increase awareness of their own biases and assumptions and deepen reflective practice in music making and teaching. Upon completion of the course, students should be better prepared to engage in acts of social justice, transform structural biases, build coalitions to effect change, and advocate for marginalized students in their own care. [4 credits]

CFAME740 Introduction to Music Education Research

In this course, students become acquainted with a variety of research that informs music education, learn both to critique and apply that research, and develop their scholarly writing skills. [4 credits]

CFAME741 History and Philosophy in Music Education: Perspectives and Practice

The purpose of this course is to examine and discuss historical and contemporary philosophical ideas and problems in music and music education. A goal is for students to develop a sharpened sensitivity to past and present thought (primarily, but not limited to historical and philosophical thought) in the field of music education in order to better inform their own curricular and instructional choices. [4 credits]

CFAME742 History and Philosophy in Music Education: Perspectives and Practice

The purpose of this course is to critically examine psychological and sociological concepts as they relate to music and education. Topics include key issues and concepts in psychology and sociology; psychology as related to music education processes; problems encountered in the sociology of music education; and cultural influences that affect both the psychology of the individual and the sociological aspects of group dynamics. [4 credits]

CFAME751 Community Music Perspectives

Drawing upon the social, cultural, political, and economic milieu including movements in music education, music therapy and ethnomusicology, this course first examines reasons for the growth and development of community music. Students will be asked to trace an aspect of community music that may be considered as part of its heritage and also to evaluate and critique a contemporary community music project through fieldwork. Students will then be in a position to articulate their own vision for community music both as a practicum and as a scholarly pursuit. [4 credits]

CFAME753 Introduction to Early Childhood Music Education

ME 753 will provide an overview of early childhood development and education. Students will then investigate the musical development of very young children, and explore the components of research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music education. Special attention will be paid to the role of play in childhood and designing and implementing play-based musical experiences. [4 credits]

CFAME840 Contemporary Issues in Music Education

Study of current issues influencing the state of music education in schools. Focus on the interpretation, implementation, and development of policy. Topics include public policy, politics, advocacy, diversity, evaluation, and curriculum. [4 credits]

CFAME841 Quantitative Research Methods

Quantitative research methods and their application to educational research contexts; quantitative research design, sampling techniques, reliability and validity, descriptive and inferential statistics, quantitative studies in music education, and using software to conduct statistical analysis. [4 credits]

CFAME842 Qualitative Research Methods

This course introduces graduate students to key issues and concepts in qualitative research. Students develop skills in conducting interviews, and observations; they gain experience with ethnographic and narrative techniques including transcribing, coding, interpreting data and presenting results of analysis. [4 credits]

CFAME859 Problems, Theories, and Literature: Making a Contribution to the Field

This course normally serves as the final course in the DMA sequence. It brings theoretical and conceptual understandings from prior courses together with a range of research strategies, so that students can consider a possible research path. [4 credits]

CFAME921 Research and Directed Study in Music Education

All other courses must be completed prior to enrollment in ME921. A week-long residency on campus with faculty where students define a need for research, develop a research problem, think critically about theoretical frameworks, and discuss appropriate research strategies. [1 credits]

CFAMH750 Toward a 21st-Century Aesthetic of Musicking

This course will work toward a 21st-century aesthetic of musicking. Expanding on Christopher Small's reevaluation of performing and listening, students will investigate what it means for individuals and collectives "to musick" in the 21st century through notions of sound, (dis)place(ment), disability, ecology, media, ethnocentrism, morality, empathy, and provocation. After conceptualizing these frameworks, students will apply them to their communities to ground this understanding in the diverse worlds in which they live, teach, and work. [4 credits]

CFAMH835 American Music

Early music in the colonies. Various attempts to create an individual American musical style. Diversity of influences: European, African American, Indian, Spanish-Mexican, religious, jazz, folk song, minstrel, etc. Music of Billings, Lowell, Mason, Gottschalk, MacDowell, Ives, Gershwin, Copland, and others. [4 credits]

CFAMH837 Crossroads: Cultural and Musical Perspectives on the Blues

Examination of the blues in its musical and cultural dimensions. Focuses on defining the blues as a place where cultures and styles meet. Chord structure, cultural background, characteristics, major themes, different regional styles and dialects, and its place in history will be examined along with the cultural idea of "crossroads." [4 credits]

CFAMH862 An Ethnographic Exploration of African Musical Cultures

This course explores a selection of musics from sub-Saharan Africa in ethnographic context, with a particular focus on their practical application in the Western classroom or ensemble. This course is an intensive introduction to vastly diverse and contradictory music from a variety of African cultures. Rather than attempting a cursory regional overview, we will be exploring specific musics thematically. The course aims to provide you with a sense of the intensity of African musical creativity, its global ubiquitous influence, and an appreciation of how important music is to individual lived experiences. Students will find a variety of source material throughout this course. It includes scholarly writing, online sources, videos, sound recordings, musical exercises, journalistic material, as well as material drawn from the personal experiences of the instructor. Additional resources on African music and culture are included in the bibliography. Students are always encouraged to research additional material in this vast subject area. Upon successful completion of this course, students will have gained the knowledge and skill required to bring African music into their own classroom or ensemble. [4 credits]

CFAMT400 Graduate Theory Review

This course is dependent on a student's theory proficiency exam results. Review of fundamental music theory and analysis through the study of chord grammar, voice leading principles, figured bass, four-part chorale harmonizations and form. Materials are approached through listening, writing, and analytical work. Pre-requisite for MT600, unless placed out via theory proficiency exam. [2 credits]

CFAMT600 Analytical Techniques

Systematic and empirical investigations into formal and compositional procedures of selected masterworks from the tonal repetoire. Lectures leading to individual analytical projects. [4 credits]

CFAMT630 Orchestration

Orchestration I Contemporary orchestral techniques, focusing on scoring for modern winds, brass, strings and mixed ensembles, including full orchestra. Concepts include chord spacing, melodic projection, layering and delineation of material, and extended instrumental techniques. Materials are approached through readings, listening, writing and analytical work. [4 credits]

CFAMT781 Jazz and Popular Arranging

Standard notational methods; chord vocabulary; arrangements of popular melodies in a variety of styles; development of materials from lead sheets; class performance of arrangements. [4 credits]


Attention Arkansas Residents, please note: Enrollment in the MM in Music Education program offered by Boston University does not lead to public school (P–12) teacher licensure or a subject field endorsement (for public P–12 schools) in Arkansas.


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Summer Session

Some online DMA in Music Education degree students take advantage of our summer session, completing course work on campus, while enjoying Boston’s cultural offerings and summer sea breezes. Residence hall accommodations are usually available. More information including session dates, optional on-campus residence hall availability, financial aid, and tuition rates is communicated to students during the academic year.


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Getting Started

Admission to the DMA in Music Education happens once per year for the Fall term. Please complete our inquiry form to receive more information. For assistance with your application or to ask questions, please contact our Manager of Online Admissions at 1-855-884-5636, email, or visit the CFA program website.