PhD/EdD/DMA: which to get and how it goes

Many people have asked about which terminal degree to get; they want to teach music in college, and asked about funding.  Here are some FAQs that I hope to answer for anyone who is interested.  Hope this helps!

Musically Yours,
Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes, PhD.

Should I get a PhD or EdD (for those in Education)?

At the end of the day, they are both terminal degrees.  You aren’t going to get $20,000 more if you get a PhD over the EdD.

So what is the difference?

The difference is the coursework you take.  In general, you will have more applicable pedagogical classes in the EdD than the PhD.  You will have way more, research, theoretical and philosophical in your PhD study, hence it being a Doctor of Philosophy.  In most cases, PhD also has a foreign language requirement.

Let’s look at two programs so you can see the difference.

Here’s a PhD and EdD program at Kansas State University

As you see, there are more PSYCH classes in the PhD course.  There are, of course, class overlap.  So which one to get?  Your decision.

So which one do I get if I want to be a superintendent?

Once again, I have yet to see a job listing that said PhD only.  Just get ONE of them. One could argue the PhD is more “prestigious.”  That’s just like saying UCBerk is more prestigious than San Jose State. Maybe it is.  Maybe Harvard is more prestigious than said State University.  At the end of the day, did you graduate? Did you get the terminal degree?   Make sure your vita/resume impeccable, completed degree, and be ready with your printed vision in this interview so you can get your dream job. 

So I want to be a band director in college?

So the underlying rule to get a college job is a least a Masters including 18 graduate credits in the subject area.  Translation = you have a Masters in Education as long as somehow you have 18 graduate hours in music.  This actually goes for ALL disciplines.  Events like Midwest Music Conference one can earn two credits. You can earn grad credits by even taking lessons. As long as that course number is 500 (some schools use 5000) and above, it’s a GRAD class.  Most places though still want the terminal degree in subject area.

But (enter name here) doesn’t have a master in music and he’s teaching college?

There are exceptions but exceptions are few and far between (and I do mean FEW).

More than likely, that person is considered staff and not FACULTY.  Plus, don’t try to get in through the back; get your credentials and you can keep you head up high. Also, said person, I promise you a) won’t get a job as a DOB and b) couldn’t get a job anywhere else and even c) is probably getting paid pennies because of lack of credentials.

But I have PhD in Higher Ed?

You still need 18 credits

But I have twenty years experience teaching band?

You still need 18 credits

But …..?

Aren’t you a teacher? Stop complaining and get your 18 credits

Okay, that makes sense.  What about scholarships so I can get this PhD/DMA/EdD in music

If you go full time, there are plenty of assistantships/fellowships for this.

Fulltime? I want to; however, I need to keep my job.

 Boston University and Teachers College at Columbia University are the ONLY online doctorate programs in Music. BOTH in Music Education.  BU is a DMA in Music Education:

Columbia University is a EdD in Music Education

It is true Kansas State and Auburn University have PhD Music Ed programs; HOWVER, only parts of them are online.  It is NOT a fully online program.  They require a residency there.  Also, as a K-State alum, I can tell you the Music Ed PhD program there is through the College of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. It lies HEAVY on the non-music side. Excellent teachers, just heavy non-music. (Fred Burrack is one of the best teachers on the planet)

I don’t want it in Education.  I want it in conducting, composition, or performance.

You are going to have to go full-time.

I can’t go full-time.  I have a job, mortgage, car note….

I understand; however, these specialty programs aren’t made to cater to you.  If you want it in conducting, composition, or performance, you are going to have to go full-time if you want funding.  That’s the sacrifice of getting in to those programs.  And even if you can pay for it yourself, most places want you in residency at least for a year.  Therefore, you may be able to take a sabbatical to accomplish this dream.

Residency? Why do I have to go full-time?

Because they are specialty degrees, they don’t offer them “after-hours” like your education programs.  Therefore, there is no practical way for you to get the degree while working.  How are you going to get to theory at 11:00am and you have band at the same time? Music History at 1pm, applied at 3? And you’re a marching band director! Not going to happen!

So then you might ask why don’t they offer them after hours?  Because school is from 8-5. J  A lot of those programs are thought by adjuncts who are making extra money.   Not so much in music.  Final note: it is really hard to fulfill this degree in seven years part-time.  That’s the timeline for a doctorate. (your clock starts as soon as you start your first class as an accepted-enrolled student)



I really want this conducting degree.  This is crazy.

Welcome to adulthood, again!

So...what is this DMA?
The Doctorate of Musical Arts (A.MusD or D.M.A/some schools have DM) is a terminal degree that typical is awarded in performance areas i.e. Composition, music performance, and conducting.  They might not have as much stringent research as PhD but encompass a huge amount of work in said areas.  If there is a research side, it isn't typically as arduous as the PhD (but still difficult).  For example, you may have to do a 40 page monograph/dissertation along side three huge conducting/performance recitals.

My masters degree in music.  It's just easier if I get a PhD degree in Education. Can I still be a band director on the college level.

The short answer is "yes."  It is usually preferred that the terminal degree is in said discipline; however, you still have the "credential" to teach on the college level.   Just know that you'll be competing with people with Music Ed or Conducting doctorates who probably have some FIRE conducting tapes.

So why did you get yours in Music?

A degree is to help you grow.  I wanted to grow musically.  The time I spent in master's and doctorate program, I practiced and wrote more music than anytime I was working.  Those four years were some of the best in my life musically.  I wouldn't have had that experience being in an Education Leadership program.  It's not my M.O.  I promise you in an Ed Leadership program, you're not going to be talking about Maurice Ravel.  Because I was in composition and conducting, I learned the Ring Cycle, Beethoven symphonies (3,4,5,7,8,9), Dvorak 8 and 9, Daphnis and Chloe, Mother Goose, Danzon No. 2 and countless others as a CONDUCTOR.  This wasn't going to happen otherwise.
It was the first time in my life I could really focus on orchestra. Specifically as a composer, I wrote more (classical pieces) in school than NOT in school.

So let's say I do go ahead and quit my job and get this DMA in conducting.  Why do I have to go two
hours away to get to school?  Why doesn't "enter any school here" have the doctorate program in music?
In order for a university to offer a DMA/PhD, you have to have a large constituency that needs it. This is usually already served by the flagship or designated schools of the state. In order to have said program, the university 
  1. has to offer a Masters program in music 
  2. provide research funding for students and faculty
  3. provide assistantship funding and/or fellowships
  4. have a fully-supported staff, faculty, and ensembles.
Also, most states have rules that say you can't have certain programs next to an adjacent school. OR like I said earlier, certain schools have designations.  UNC-Chapel Hill is the flagship school of North Carolina but it doesn't even offer a PhD/DMA in Music.  That designation belongs to UNCG!  Same with UT-Knoxville.  They don't even have PhD music programs. The TN designation belongs to the University of Memphis.

Now coincidently, some these programs are not fully comprehensive, meaning they don't offer everything. Once again, Auburn's doctorate program is Music Education only.  They don't offer Performance.   T-Town Alabama is the state-designated comprehensive music program.  You can't even major in music at Texas A&M University; you can at UT-Austin.  Some states don't even have doctorate programs in music.   

So that goes back to why you generally have to go full-time to said music program.  If you live in Wilmington, NC, you have to drive three hours to get to Greensboro.   

You gave me a lot to think about!
You're so welcome! Just trying to help!  Now to play angels advocate, if you're trying to be a principal/music supervisor, get it in Education or apply to the online programs at Columbia/Boston.  You can keep your job while you get those letters!