Music Education

Jump to info for: Undergraduate Program | Master's Program | PhD Program

Degrees Available

Bachelor of Music • Bachelor of Science (non-admitting degree) • Master of Music Education • Master of Music Education and Piano Pedagogy • Doctor of Philosophy

  • For more information on music degrees, ensembles, study abroad, and complete curricular handbooks, visit our Academics Page.
  • To apply to the Bienen School of Music, visit our Admission Page.

Music Education at the Bienen School of Music

Northwestern University has been in the forefront of music education for decades, producing literally thousands of teachers that can be found throughout the world. Flexible programs offer a wide array of coursework as well as options for double majors, added certification, and many opportunities for independent study.

Classes are small so that students receive individual attention from faculty who are vitally interested in issues of creative and critical thinking, philosophically based education, student-centered learning, issues of social context, and music technology. The Doctoral Research Center CSEME (Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience) engages graduate students in creative study side by side with faculty, a feature that makes this program especially innovative. All students in the PhD program receive full tuition and a living stipend so that they may fully devote themselves to research and study.

Undergraduate Program

Northwestern's undergraduate program offers distinct advantages. Not only does its high standards far exceed state and national requirements, but the quarter system allows for more courses and experiences in four years than are generally found in other programs. Students frequently elect to double major in music education and performance, and can complete the double major in four years. Collaborations with over 60 schools in the Chicago area provide many opportunities for practice teaching, Every methods-based course includes weekly experiences in area K-12 schools. Job placement each year is 100%. 

Undergraduate music education majors are required to complete a music education interview and a performance audition. For more information, see the Audition and Program Requirements Booklet.

For more information, contact Maud Hickey at

Important Note

The Music Education Program is closely aligned with the School of Education and Social Policy teacher education unit. Students receive their K-12 certification from the SESP certification office. As part of that unit, the program has adopted the Conceptual Framework philosophy, created by the teacher education unit.


Graduate Programs

Graduate study in music education offers the flexibility to tailor your studies to your professional interests. After completing master’s study, many Northwestern graduates pursue advanced degrees or professional roles in research, conducting, pedagogy, or administration. Doctoral graduates are placed in prestigious colleges and universities worldwide to contribute to teaching, research, and professional leadership.

The Master of Music in Music Education

The master’s degree program provides a strong foundation in philosophy, research, and curriculum design. In planning an appropriate course of study, students may draw upon the resources of the Bienen School of Music as well as the entire University to meet individual professional interests and needs. Competitive applicants will typically receive an offer of scholarship support and/or a graduate work stipend.

There are two options for individuals interested in the MM in Music Education:

For currently certified music teachers:

  • A one-year program open to individuals who hold teaching certification in music. This program can be completed within an academic year of three quarters. A typical load is four graduate courses per quarter with required participation in ensembles.

For those seeking certification with the Master’s degree.

  • A two-year program for individuals with a completed bachelor’s degree in music but who do not have teaching certification. Program requirements include the core graduate courses as well as methods classes, field experiences, and at least a quarter of full-time student teaching. (Northwestern does not offer a certification-only program.)

Additional information about this program can be found on our Music Education Master's Program FAQ Page.

For information on applying or to visit classes, please contact Steven Demorest, the graduate program advisor for music education.

Double Major

Students may combine the music education master’s degree with a master’s program in another area within the Bienen School of Music (such as conducting or performance) to pursue a degree with two majors. Students must meet the requirements for admission of both programs. For more information, contact the Office of Music Admission at

Piano Pedagogy

The Bienen School offers a Master of Music Education and Piano Pedagogy. Learn more on the Piano Program page. 

The PhD Program

The PhD program in music education is considered one of the finest anywhere. Graduates can be found in prestigious positions at colleges and universities both here and abroad. Interdisciplinary in nature, it combines coursework within the Bienen School of Music with programs located in many other parts of the university. The Doctoral Research Center CSEME (Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience) engages graduate students in creative study side by side with faculty, a feature that makes this program especially innovative. All students accepted in the PhD program receive a fellowship that includes a full tuition waiver and stipend guaranteed for up to 5 years.

For questions about applying to the PhD in music education or to arrange a visit to campus, please contact Dr. Steven Demorest at (music education graduate program advisor)

General Admissions Questions?

Request information from the Bienen School of Music.