PhD in Music Education-Admissions Requirements

Admissions Expectations

A Bachelors and/or Masters degree in music education or related field (A Bachelors or Masters Degree in another field of study will be considered.)

We prefer that you have at least three years successful school music teaching experience and that you are certified to teach music in the United States or another country.

We strongly recommend that prospective students visit campus prior to applying so that they may meet our faculty and students and visit classes. To set up a visit please contact Dr. Steven Demorest.

Application Process

Application materials for PhD programs in Music at Northwestern are accepted through the on-line application system administered by the Graduate School.

In addition to completing the online application form, candidates should submit/upload the following electronically with their application:

  • CV  detailing your academic and professional work history, which should be uploaded within your online application to The Graduate School.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Official GRE scores are required for applicants to all PhD programs in the Department of Music Studies. Official scores must be taken no more than five years before the intended quarter of entry and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Personal copies are not considered official, nor are attested or notarized copies. Please instruct ETS to send scores electronically to the Northwestern University Graduate School, code 1565.
  • Official transcripts. Submit official transcripts from each post-secondary institution you have attended. The transcript must record all courses taken, all grades received, and all degrees earned. These must be scanned into your application—The Graduate School will not accept mailed copies of your transcript(s) during the admission process. Official mailed copies will be requested should you gain acceptance to the PhD program.
  • Letters of recommendation. Three total letters of recommendation are required that address your teaching experience, musicianship, and suitability for graduate study.
  • Essay.  An essay on the following prompt:
    Of the issues, problems, and trends in the field of music education,

    • Which do you think are the most important issues for the future?
    • How do you envision becoming involved in leadership activities which address these issues?
    • How will your study here enhance your ability to meet your goals?

      (Essay paper requirements: Maximum 2000 words (not including references); one-inch margins; double-spaced; twelve-point font; Times New Roman preferred)

  • Teaching video.  Submit a link to a video that demonstrates the best of your teaching ability and musicianship. You may choose to submit a sample of several representative clips of your teaching, totaling no more than 30 minutes. During at least one of these teaching episodes, demonstrate your musicianship by using your primary instrument or voice to model for students. This musical example should be lengthy and demonstrate the quality of your musicianship. Please attach a brief description of the setting and your goals for each teaching episode with the link.
  • Example of scholarly writing. This could be something from a previous writing project (e.g. previous publication, MA thesis or research paper).
  • IF NEEDED – Certifying English Proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS). Much of your success in graduate study will rely on your ability to understand, read, write, and speak English. If your native language is not English, you must certify your proficiency in the English language in one of the following three ways: 
    • Provide official scores electronically for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. For example, to be considered valid for Fall 2014 admission, TOEFL scores must be no older than September 2012. For the TOEFL, you must score 577 or higher on the paper-based test, or 90 or higher on the internet-based test. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher. You will be asked to scan and upload a copy of your score report (if available) while submitting your online application. This uploaded version is not considered “official” and will be used only for preliminary review purposes until your official scores have been received from ETS or IELTS.
    • Provide official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited fouryear institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.
    • Provide official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

You should upload these materials to the online application via The Graduate School. However, if you are unable to upload the materials to the application due to a large file size or an unconventional format, you should upload these supplemental materials to the Bienen School of Music Graduate Application. When uploading to the Application, be sure to select “PhD” as your intended degree of study. This Application will accept very large files, media files, and a wide variety of document and media formats.

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