Music Teaching and Learning

Doctor of Musical Arts – Music Teaching and Learning

  • The program details described below are subject to change. Actual degree requirements for a given academic year may differ from what is listed here.
  • Refer to the 2015-2016 USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements.
  • See the Thornton Admission page for specific application information.
  • Current students should refer to the specific requirements list for their major, which is available through the Thornton Student Affairs office.


The DMA in Music Teaching and Learning requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major, an academic field and two elective fields.

The DMA curriculum has been designed to extend beyond the public school setting and prepare students for collegiate teaching in both traditional and alternative settings (such as community-based and on-line programs). Further, the degree offers innovative courses on teaching at the college level. Students have the opportunity to intern with university professors in music education methodology classes. The program also includes core scholarly subjects, such as research, sociology, philosophy, psychology and history of music education. The focus goes beyond the traditional band/orchestra/choir model and extends to additional areas especially relevant to the current diverse and technologically proficient student population.

The professional degree stresses teaching with cutting-edge technological tools while developing core knowledge and expertise in pedagogical skills and scholarship. 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 advanced creative work that will enable them to lead our profession to new heights. USC is one of the few universities that equally values students being able to declare elective fields in areas outside of music education, while also achieving rigorous scholarship, writing and multimedia design skills, and gaining pedagogical experience that prepares them for collegiate teaching in a rapidly changing society.

Sample Summary of Program of Study

Basic DMA Curriculum (20 units)

MUCD 441 Choral Conducting II (2 units)
MUCD 443 Instrumental Conducting II (2 units)
MUCO 501 Introduction to the Analysis of Tonal Music (2 units)
MUCO 502 Introduction to the Analysis of Post-Tonal Music (2 units)
MUED 505 Teaching and Learning Music (2 units)
MUHL 570 Research Materials and Techniques (2 units)
MUHL 500-695 Music History electives (6 units)
MUEN 5__ Ensemble electives (two 1-unit courses)

Program Intensive Courses (18 units)

MUED 605 College Teaching in Music Education (3 units)
MUED 606 Internship in Collegiate Music Education (3 units)
MUED 607 Alternative Models in Music Education (3 units)
MUED 791 Pedagogical Writing and Media in Music Education (3 units)
Two of the following courses:
MUED 501 Historical Foundations of Music Education (3 units)
MUED 502 Sociological Foundations of Music (3 units)
MUED 503 Philosophical Foundations of Music Education (3 units)
MUED 504 Psychological Foundations of Music (3 units)

Research Courses (7 units)

MUED 500 Research Foundations in Music Education (3 units)
MUED 790 Research (1 unit)
One of the following courses:
MUED 792 Quantitative Research in Music Education (3 units)
MUED 793 Qualitative Research in Music Education (3 units)

Academic Field (8-10 units)

Choose one from:

  • Musicology
  • Analysis
  • Music Teaching and Learning
  • Choral Music
  • Sacred Music

You must apply to your chosen field. An individualized program of study will be created for you in this field in consultation with a faculty advisor in this area.

Elective Fields I and II (12-16 units)

Choose two fields from among over 50 possible areas in topics within Composition, Performance, Early Music, Jazz Studies, Music Teaching and Learning, Choral Music, Sacred Music, Conducting, Pedagogy, Electroacoustic Media, Music Industry, as well as areas outside of music.

You must apply to your chosen fields. Individualized programs of study will be created for you in each field in consultation with your faculty advisors in these two areas.

Including your major field, no more than two of the four fields may be under the guidance of the same department within the School of Music.

Electives (units will depend on Academic and Elective Field units taken)

Music or non-music courses at the 400-level or above

Capstone Projects (4 units)

Qualifying Exams which include the major area, one academic field and two elective fields
MUED 794ab Doctoral Dissertation (4 units)

All curricular requirements are evaluated on an annual basis and are subject to change. Students follow the curricular requirements as published in the USC Catalogue for their year of matriculation. A typical graduate credit load is eight units per semester.

A maximum of 30 units from the Masters Degree may be applied toward the 65 units beyond a Bachelors Degree required for the DMA.  Petitions must be prepared with the Thornton academic advisor, all of which must be signed and approved by the appropriate faculty.

A language examination to demonstrate reading knowledge in one foreign language (French, German, Italian or Spanish) must be passed before the qualifying exams are taken.

Music Graduate Entrance Exams (MGEE) are administered during Orientation Week just prior to the start of your program. See the MGEE page for more information.