Music Education FAQ

Certification Programs

What teacher certifications are available?

The University of Washington offers several ways to achieve teacher certification. Each of the programs listed leads to a teaching license in the State of Washington.

    The BM in Music Education is a 4-year undergraduate program fulfilling all requirements for Washington State Teacher Certification. Students may choose between an emphasis in vocal or instrumental music. Regardless of emphasis, coursework is designed to prepare majors for teaching positions in all areas--instrumental, vocal and classroom.
    The Post-Baccalaureate program is intended for individuals who have already completed at least one degree in music and who wish to pursue additional study leading to Washington State Teacher Certification. Completion of this 2-year program leads to a second Bachelor of Music degree and qualifies majors for certification in all K-12 music areas including instrumental, vocal and elementary classroom. The exact program content may vary depending on previously completed courses, but typically the Post-Bac program can be completed in 6 quarters (4 quarters of coursework and 2 quarters of student teaching).
    The MA+certification program is an academically challenging course of study in which students concurrently engage in advanced graduate study as well as teacher preparation coursework. Students interested in this program must submit application materials for the MA as well as complete an entrance audition for the certification program.

How can I become a music education major?

Entrance to the music education major is by audition for the music education faculty. Students seeking entrance into the BM, Post-baccalaureate and MA + Certification programs should complete an entrance audition. Auditions are held several times a year, prior to the beginning of Autumn quarter in September and during Winter quarter. Audition dates are available on the School of Music website.

What happens during the music education entrance audition?

All prospective Music Education majors will be asked to demonstrate abilities in two areas:

  •     performance of a prepared accompanied piece on a principal instrument or voice;
  •     verbal responses to questions relevant to your interests in music teaching and learning among children and adolescents.

You will also be asked to:

  •     perform a familiar melody by ear;
  •     sight-sing unfamiliar melodies;
  •     perform a simple song on piano (prior piano performance experience is not expected for entering freshmen).

NOTE: The last two items are simply diagnostic to help determine coursework. Students less experienced in piano or sight-singing skills will have ample opportunity to develop competencies in these areas during the course of the program.

Is the job market good for music teachers?

While the situation varies from year to year, the UW Music Education program is proud of a very high placement rate. By participating in hands-on experiences and gaining licensure in each of the three music teaching areas--instrumental, vocal and classroom--graduates place themselves in the best possible position for the variety of music teaching vacancies.

Graduate Study

Graduate study at the University of Washington emphasizes collaboration, creativity and scholarship. Both masters and doctoral programs are individualized to match each student’s professional goals. Along with course options that include opportunities to study across the entire UW campus, graduate students work closely with faculty members and fellow graduate students on projects as diverse as research, community partnerships and music performance. Graduate students in Music Education may be teaching children one day, conducting at a concert the next and presenting a project at an international conference the day after that. 

What graduate programs are available in Music Education?

    The MA in Music Education offers students the opportunity to advance their teaching skills, investigate current issues in music education, contribute to ongoing research and re-immerse themselves into a university music community. Programs are individualized to reflect students’ professional goals and interests. Teachers enrolled in University of Washington programs supporting Professional Certification or National Board Certification can usually apply these credits toward MA requirements.
    The Ph.D. is the highest academic degree awarded by the University of Washington. The program takes a research-based approach to issues relating to music teaching and learning. Similar to other Ph.D. programs offered across the campus, the doctoral degree in music education and its culminating dissertation focuses on the creation of new knowledge and its real-world application to the music teaching profession. Each student’s doctoral program is individually designed and includes the opportunity for extensive work in supporting areas such as instrumental or choral conducting, ethnomusicology or cognition.

Is teaching experience required for applicants to the graduate programs?

For students seeking admission to the MA, in most cases at least one year of successful teaching experience is desired. For students interested in the MA+certification no prior experience is required. However, many applicants do have experience in such teaching settings as private instruction, community music, music camps, paraprofessional assistance, or church music. Applicants to the Ph.D. must document a high level of achievement in music teaching regardless of context.

Is it possible to move directly from the MA program into the PhD program?

Yes. For students whose ultimate goal is completion of the doctoral degree, it is possible to build MA study into the full PhD program. Application can be made toward the end of the MA program and admission is contingent on demonstrated achievement in all graduate work to that point.

I’m interested in the Ph.D. program but want to work with ensembles. Is that possible?

Yes. Each doctoral student’s program is tailored to her or his unique goals and interests. Students interested in conducting opportunities can build in a major component of study in literature and rehearsal techniques as well as formal conducting study. Graduate students in music education often work closely with UW choral and instrumental ensembles.

How long does a graduate degree take?

There are several possible configurations for completing the MA degree:

  1. Students may attend full-time during the traditional 3-quarter academic year. In this case, the MA may be completed in two years.

  2. Students may attend on a less than full-time basis while continuing their own teaching position. Depending on schedule flexibility, the program may be completed in three years.
  3. For students enrolled in the MA+certification, the program may be completed in as little as 6 or as many as 9 consecutive quarters depending on the amount of coursework transferable from previous degree programs.

For the Ph.D., while the amount of time taken to complete the doctorate often differs for each student, we expect that students will set aside three full years. This includes two years of coursework and one year dedicated to completion of the dissertation.

Is financial assistance available?

Support in the form of scholarships, assistantships and fellowships is available. However, awarding of financial support is highly competitive. Please consult the University of Washington School of Music website for information about application procedures and deadlines.

Can I visit the UW campus?

The on-campus interview can be one of the most important components of the application process. We realize that graduate study is a significant personal investment on the part of both students and faculty. By visiting the UW campus prospective graduate students can learn about the program, meet the faculty and students, sit in on classes and rehearsals, and get a general feel for the UW community.