Music Education

Master of Arts in Teaching Music (MAT) or Master of Music (MM)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Master of Arts in Teaching

All applicants to the MAT, MM and DMA in Music Education are required to submit 3 letters of recommendation (see the USC online application for instructions on how to submit. Please note that admission for the MAT in Teaching Music is managed by the USC Rossier School of Education. Please refer to the Rossier School website for application requirements.

In the USC Thornton Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Music program, the Thornton School of Music and the Rossier School of Education have developed an intensive plan that prepares outstanding musicians to become exceptional music educators through an immersive 13-month, 39-unit program. The program accommodates students of all musical backgrounds, including jazz, piano, studio guitar, voice, band, and orchestral instruments

“The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Music program is an intensive 13-month course of study that combines music education method courses from the Thornton School of Music with teacher credentialing classes from the Rossier School of Education. This unique and innovative program represents an advanced, state-of-the-art approach to music teacher preparation. Each year a select cohort of students makes the transition from outstanding musician to exceptional music educator. MAT Music program graduates enter the job market armed with a California Teaching Credential and a Master’s degree, highly qualified and fully prepared to take on the challenges of today’s schools.”

- Dr. John L. Whitener

Distinctive Features:

  • Students earn both a Master’s degree and teaching credential in 13 months
  • Students can choose between two tracks: Instrumental and Choral/General
  • Graduates will be in high demand and can enter the salary scale at a higher level in most school districts
  • The program is approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Prerequisites: Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree in music (BA, BM) from a WASC- and NASM-accredited institution, as well as the successful completion of an interview with the music education faculty. Accepted students enter the program in mid-May. Financial aid and scholarships are available. There are no teaching assistantships in the program.

The USC Thornton School of Music and the USC Rossier School of Education jointly administer the MAT, with the degree being conferred by the Rossier School.

Admitted students begin classes in early summer and must enroll as full-time students through the following summer, which includes a 14-week student teaching experience. There is an alternative January start date. For applications and further information, see the USC Rossier School of Education Web site or call (213) 740-3471.

Master Of Music, Doctor Of Musical Arts

The Master of Music program provides music educators with courses that will rigorously improve their scholarship, research, and practice in the field. We welcome applications from national and international students. In addition, we aim to accommodate local students who wish to maintain their full-time teaching jobs, offering alternative schedules, such as classes in the evenings and summers. The degree offers a seamless transition into the DMA in Music Education, with credit being applied for most courses taken at the Master level. For further information on applications, contact Thornton Admissions at uscmusic@usc.edu or (213) 740-8986 or (800) 872-2213. For additional information on the program, contact Dr. Susan Helfter, Chair of Music Education, at helfter@usc.edu or (213) 740-3129.

The Doctor of Musical Arts in music education at USC equips future college and university professors to train music teachers who can meet the challenges of increasingly diverse and technologically-proficient communities, while being able to rigorously participate in the public debate on the value and roles of music and music education. Students have the opportunity to intern with university professors in music education methodology classes, including and going beyond traditional models and formal public school education. Scholarship skills are rigorously developed through studies in music education research, history, philosophy, sociology and psychology. Students will acquire writing and design skills for a wide range of multimedia publications, while being able to pursue a choice of research activities or cutting-edge creative work that will enable them to lead our profession to new heights. In addition, students have the opportunity to minor in two additional fields within or outside of music. We welcome applications from national and international students. In addition, we aim to accommodate local students who wish to maintain their full-time teaching jobs, offering alternative schedules, such as classes in the evenings and summers. For further information on applications, contact Thornton Admissions at uscmusic@usc.edu or (213) 740-8986 or (800) 872-2213. For additional information on the program, contact Dr. Susan Helfter, Chair of Music Education, at helfter@usc.edu.

Applicants to the MM or DMA in Music Education will include a statement of objectives, curriculum vitae and writing sample (which should consist of a literature review, essay, or research report in the Music Education field) as part of the USC graduate application. The curriculum vitae should list musical, professional and academic experience, including job descriptions regarding 2 years of teaching experience for MM applicants or 3 years of teaching experience for DMA applicants (whether private, public or studio teaching) and particulars of a Bachelor and/or Master of Music in Music Education or equivalent.

Music Education applicants also will upload a video recording of the applicant teaching for the purpose of evaluating the applicant’s teaching skills and level of experience. The video recording should be approximately 15 minutes in length. Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program. Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall DecisionDesk portal” by the December 1st deadline. (Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by November 1 to allow greater time for faculty review.) Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

To access the Fall portal to submit your recording click on the following link:

USC Thornton Fall Portal (Available Sept 1)

Please Note: GRE scores are required for both the MM in Music Education and the DMA in Music Education.