Master of Music in Music Education

Tarleton State University

Coordinator:  Dr. Vicky V. Johnson   254/968-9245


Administrative Assistant:  Heather Chaney  254/968-9617

Frequently Asked Questions

Please bookmark this page.

Information is frequently added and these are the most complete answers to all of your questions!

Choose the links below for FAQs:

Basics      Comprehensive Exam      Courses      Cost, Scholarships, and Financial Aid      Degree Tracks      Faculty      Grade Requirements       Graduation       Technology      Textbooks      Transfer Credit    



How do I apply for the program?

Follow this link for all admission info:

Submit all undergraduate transcripts directly to Wendy Weiss ( You can send unofficial transcripts right away to speed the process.  Go ahead and request official transcripts from the institutions you have attended, but meanwhile, you can be admitted to our program.  As soon as she receives your transcripts and the application gets to her, she will figure your GPA.  See Grade Requirements below for GPA information.  Admission can be granted in a week or less if the process is followed as indicated above. Those who apply for the program must be able to demonstrate at least baccalaureate-level competence in music theory and music history/literature. After admission, students will be given a preliminary test to determine if any leveling work is necessary.

Is the GRE Exam required?


How long will it take me to finish the degree?

The degree requires 36 hours (12 3-hour credit courses).  Six courses are offered each year (2 in the fall, 2 in the spring, and 2 in the summer).  If you go straight through without skipping any courses, you can complete the degree in 2 years.  If you choose to skip a course or courses, it will take longer.  If you are planning to take the degree a little slower, be aware of two factors:

  1. There is a time limit on finishing the degree.  No credit hours that are over 6 years old can be counted towards graduation.

  2. Make sure that the required courses are included in your plan. There is a Program Checklist below under Courses.  Print that out and sketch in your plan. 

If you transfer in acceptable credits, take two courses at a time, or take elective education courses concurrent to the music rotation, you may be able to graduate sooner.  If there are extenuating circumstances in your case, contact Dr. Johnson for advising. 

Is there a contact person?  Who can answer my questions?

Heather Chaney ( is our Administrative Assistant and can answer your questions.  Those who elect to do a thesis or curriculum project at the end of their coursework will work with Dr. Johnson to choose a faculty member to be the advisor through the thesis or curriculum project.  This choice will be based upon matching the student's thesis or curriculum project topic with a faculty member's expertise, interests, and availability.  Until that time, all questions outside those specific to an individual course can be directed to Heather Chaney.

How can I keep up with my degree progress?

DegreeWorks is your best friend and can be accessed as soon as you are admitted to the program.  From the Tarleton homepage, log in to MyGateway.  There you will find the link to DegreeWorks.  Log in with your student ID and you will be able to see your current degree audit. The audit will show you all of the courses required for your degree and there will be a green check beside those you have completed.  Here is a Program Checklist for you to mark your own progress and to keep up with dates and deadlines.

How do I register for classes?

Here is a YouTube video:  Note that for each course, you will see two sections.  One will say "Stephenville Students Only" and the other will say "SW Metroplex, Waco, Midlothian and Distance Learner Students Only."  You always choose the one that includes "Distance Learner Students" unless you actually live in Stephenville.

When can I register?

Registration dates are posted here:   You will be able to register from 6:00am on the date assigned to graduate students.

How can I find out other things I need to know?

Here is an A to Z directory for Tarleton:  You can find what you are looking for by entering a keyword in the search blank.  Another very handy tool is the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the Tarleton home page (


Comprehensive exam

When do I take my comprehensive exam?

You will take your exam after completing 30 hours of coursework.  Students electing to do a thesis or curricular project must pass the comprehensive exam before beginning those 6 hours.  It is not uncommon for a student to have to repeat a question or two.  For that reason, students should take the exam immediately after completing 30 hours.  If any questions must be repeated (and you only get to try one more time!), then there is still time before the intended graduation date and plenty of time to apply for graduation.  Comprehensive exam results are due to the graduate office on November 15 (for December graduation), April 15 (for May graduation), and July 15 (for August graduation). Here is the timeline for the process:

  1. During the course that will complete your 30 hours, you should make an appointment at a testing center (see "Where will I take the exam?" below) to take the exam. Make the appointment for a date after you have completed the course that brings you to 30 hours, but at least one month from making the call to the testing center.

  2. Let Dr. Johnson know the date you have chosen so she can send you the questions one month in advance.

You are responsible for this process, so be aware in order to avoid a delay in completing your degree.

What kind of questions will I be asked?

The graduate faculty will give you 5 questions one month in advance of the exam.  You must prepare answers to all 5 questions.  The questions will be related to the courses you have taken, but will not necessarily have been thoroughly explored in those courses.  In other words, the faculty members will be looking for what you learned in your coursework + the research that you can do on the question topics on your own + how all of this information can be practically applied in your career as a music educator.  Here is the rubric that will be used to grade your exam. Print it out and follow it carefully when preparing your answers. 

How do I study for the exam?

First, look over the rubric to see how the graduate faculty will be grading you.  Write out the answers to your questions as if you could turn in that paper.  Include at least three important references for each question.  More would be better in case you forget one.  Do not limit your references to your textbooks. You may use in-text citations when taking your exam.  References should refer to the author (researcher), date, and the reference material (study, book, etc.) in the context of your answer.  Make sure you completely answer the question, including all parts and make sure your answers are structured in a logical form.  Also include how you could apply your knowledge in a real-world situation.  Then look over the rubric again to ensure that your answers would receive the maximum points.  Remember that writing mechanics count, so you might want someone else to proofread for you.  After you have thoroughly answered the questions, then study your own answers.  Read them through multiple times until you have internalized both the essence and the details.  Then practice writing the answers with no notes.  You will have three hours to answer four questions (one question will be randomly excluded from the exam when forwarded to the proctor).  One student recorded himself reading his answers and then played the recording while he was driving.  Don't skimp on this preparation.

Where will I take the exam?

The Comprehensive Exam must be proctored. To find a testing center, visit the NCTA website. There is a Proctor Locator link where you can find a testing location near you (just enter your zip code only). Testing centers may charge a fee to administer examinations. These fees vary from center to center. You are responsible for this fee, so make inquiries directly to the site when scheduling. As soon as you have made arrangements with the testing center, send the contact information for the testing center to Dr. Johnson so she can make arrangements to send your exam questions and to give the proctor instructions for the exam.  If you cannot find a suitable site, or if there are extenuating circumstances, please contact Dr. Johnson ( Of course, if you wish to come to the Tarleton campus (in Stephenville or in Ft. Worth) to take the exam, you may do so free of charge.  You can schedule your exam online through this link:

What can I expect on the day of the exam?

At the testing center, the proctor will have your exam questions ready at your scheduled time.  One question will have been eliminated at random, so you will only have to answer 4 of the 5 questions.  Note that the graduate faculty will choose which 4 questions you will answer - you do not get to choose which 4 to answer.  Of the 4 questions that you have to answer on the day of the exam, you must pass all 4. You will be directed to a computer to enter your answers.  You will not be allowed to take any notes or your phone into the testing center area.  You will have three hours to finish your exam.  The proctor will be timing you.  When you are finished, the proctor will be responsible for sending the document with your answers to Dr. Johnson.  If you plan to take the exam at Tarleton, the procedure will be the same.

What format is required when I take the exam?

The exam will be given to you in the form of a Word document.  There is no need for a cover sheet or formal reference page at the end.  It is expected that you include references in the body of your answers.  For example:  "Jones (2015) stated in Historical Music Education that . . . "  Double space your paper and use Times New Roman 12-point font.

How long should my answers be?

Long enough to thoroughly answer the question ;-)!  Seriously, most comprehensive exams questions take about 5,000 words to answer thoroughly. However, that's just a ballpark answer.  One question may take more and some may take less.  When in doubt, err on the side of more information, rather than less.  It would be rare that a question could be answered thoroughly in one page.

How is the exam graded?

Each question is graded separately according to the comprehensive exam rubric.  In order to pass a question, you must achieve a 3-point average in the 5 criteria for each question, with no score for any criteria at the "1" level.  For example, if you give a stellar answer, but omit citations, your score might be 5  5  5  1  5 (average of 4.2) but you would still have to redo that question because of the "1."

What does "Integration of theory and practice" mean?

Applying in the classroom and sharing with students what is learned through experience and scholarship in order to improve instruction.

How long will it take to get the results of the exam?

Alas, the graduate faculty are busy bees!  And, it depends upon when you take the exam.  A good guess is two weeks, but the time varies. 

What if I don't pass all of the questions?

You are required to pass all four questions of the exam to qualify for graduation.  If you do not pass all four questions, you will be asked to repeat those that were not deemed by the graduate faculty to be satisfactory.  Dr. Johnson will advise you on strategies to improve your answers based upon feedback from the entire graduate faculty.  Students who do not pass the second time will not be allowed to graduate.


Cost, Scholarships, and Financial Aid

How much will the degree cost?

Tarleton is very affordable.  You can click on the Tuition and Fees Calculator to estimate the cost. [Note: although this is a totally online program, choose "Stephenville" for the campus in order to complete the student information and get your total]

How can I get financial aid?

Tuition assistance for MM students is available. Go to the Student Financial Aid page to learn about the types of aid that Tarleton has to offer and how to apply.

What are my payment options?

Here is a link to Business Services with lots of information.  There is also a phone number at the bottom of the page if you want to speak to someone directly.

What about scholarships?

There is a list of scholarships available to our graduate students in the Graduate Handbook.  For students already admitted to Tarleton, here is an easy link to apply for scholarships:  Every student should fill out this general application so that when scholarships become available, or when additional funds are added to existing scholarships, your application will be available to be considered.

Are there graduate assistantships available?

The department may periodically have openings for graduate assistants.  However, most of these assistantships require residency; that is, the graduate assistant must be able to be on campus at least a certain number of hours per week.  Scheduled hours may be quite flexible, so if you are in close proximity to the Tarleton campus and are interested in one of these positions, contact Dr. Johnson.



Do I have to take the courses in any order?

No, you can begin the program at any time.  There are 6 start times per year: August, October, January, March, May, and June 

What if there are no courses offered that I haven't already taken or I need another course for financial aid?

Students are allowed to take up to 9 hours of coursework outside the discipline of music.  There are several graduate education courses that you can take.  Go to the current Schedule, choose the correct semester > Submit > and choose Education, Education Administration, or Educational Technology.  Limit your search by choosing "Distance Learner" for Campus  and "Graduate" for Course Level.  Then click "Class Search" at the bottom left.  Click on the course titles to check availability (they may be at capacity).  For course descriptions, follow this link: and scroll down to the 5000 level music courses.

When I register, there are two sections of each course.  Which one do I choose?

One section will state "Stephenville Students Only."  The other one is "SW Metroplex, Waco, Midlothian & Distance Learner Students Only."  That's you (unless you happen to live in Stephenville)!

When will the courses be available in Canvas?

All courses will be available by 10:00am on the first day of the 8-week session (see the catalog for dates).  Sometimes instructors will open them early.  They will usually notify students by email in that case.

Can I take two courses at the same time?

Normally, students take one course in the 1st 8 weeks and one course in the 2nd 8 weeks. However, it is definitely possible to take two at a time.  Once you have taken a couple of courses in the program and are familiar with the difficulty and the amount of time required, you can probably make a better decision.  If you have a fulltime job and a family, I wouldn't recommend it.  However, if you have time off from teaching in the summer, it is more doable.  But you know your capacity/tolerance/initiative/self-discipline better than I do, so the decision is yours!

What are the next courses that will be taught?

 Please print out this Program Checklist and pencil in a preliminary schedule.  This will give you a timeline toward graduation. The required courses are indicated by an asterisk.


May be subject to change, depending upon faculty availability.

These courses will be capped at 16. If you can't take the one you want, you can take it the following rotation.


FALL 2020

1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5343:  Advanced Elementary Music Pedagogy**


MUSI 5330:  Analytical Techniques*


2nd 8 weeks

MUSI 5344:  Advanced Secondary Pedagogy**


Technology in the Music Classroom


1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5341:  Research in Music Education I*


MUSI 5354 Topics in Musicology**

"Race and Forbidden Love in Musical Theater"


2nd 8 weeks

MUSI 5342:  Research in Music Education II*


MUSI 5351:  Music Theory Pedagogy K12 

SUMMER 2021 Note that the 2 summer sessions overlap by 2 weeks***

1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5331:  Advanced Scoring and Arranging*


MUSI 5346:  Marching Band Methods


2nd 8 weeks

MUSI 5340:  Foundations of Music Education*


MUSI 5357:  Music in the United States**

FALL 2021

1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5343:  Advanced Elementary Music Pedagogy**


MUSI 5330:  Analytical Techniques*


2nd 8 weeks

MUSI 5344:  Advanced Secondary Pedagogy**


MUSI 5363:  Audio Production


1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5341:  Research in Music Education I*


MUSI 5353: Ethnomusicology**


2nd 8 weeks M

MUSI 5342:  Research in Music Education II*


MUSI 5351:  Music Theory Pedagogy for K12 

SUMMER 2022 Note that the 2 summer sessions overlap by 2 weeks***

1st 8 weeks

MUSI 5331:  Advanced Scoring and Arranging*


MUSI 5391:  Music Administration


2nd 8 weeks

MUSI 5340:  Foundations of Music Education*




*indicates required courses

**You must have Advanced Elementary Music Pedagogy OR Advanced Secondary Pedagogy (the other one counts as an elective if you take both of them)

**You must have Ethnomusicology OR Music in the United States OR Topics in Musicology (the others can count as electives after you take one of them); these courses will be periodically rotated

*** Check here for specific semester dates


How do I know which course to choose?


First of all, print out this Program Checklist.  This is the easiest way to keep up with your progress.  When choosing courses, make sure you are able to choose the required courses within the time span you intend to complete the degree.  The required courses will be repeated, but possibly not when you need them.  Also, if you have to skip a course when life happens, it is better to skip an elective.  It is also advisable to register early as some courses may fill up quickly.  Other than those considerations, all courses offered will count toward your degree and the electives can be selected according to your interest.


What can I expect for grading and feedback from the graduate faculty?


Contrary to popular belief (and particularly on the graduate level), teaching an online course takes more time than teaching a face-to-face course. The purpose of feedback is so you can improve, but don't expect a 24 hour turnaround when your instructor has 20 graduate papers to grade online in addition to his/her face-to-face classes of undergraduate students. On the other hand, we do try our very best to answer direct emails within 24 hours. Each faculty member should have grading expectations clearly outlined in the syllabus.

Degree Tracks

What is the difference in the degree tracks?

The degree requires 36 hours and there are three ways to get there:

  1. Take 12 regular courses (36 hours)

  2. Take 10 regular courses (30 hours) and do a thesis (6 hours)

  3. Take 10 regular courses (30 hours) and do a curriculum project (6 hours)

Which one should I choose?

Here are the factors to consider:

  1. 12 regular courses can be the shortest route to graduation.  If you take all courses offered without skipping any, you can complete the degree in 2 years.

  2. Choosing the thesis route can be wise if you plan to continue on to get a doctorate.  That experience will be very helpful.  On the negative side, it is almost impossible to complete a thesis in 2 8-week sessions, so it will take you longer to complete the degree.  It usually takes at least 2 long semesters to complete the thesis.  For those students who choose to do a thesis, you can register for a longer session (rather than 8 weeks) to avoid having to pay tuition for each 8 week session.  In other words, the cost would be the same even though the time is longer.

  3. If you would like to develop a new teaching method, design a new teaching unit, or even compose a significant work for a performing ensemble, you should consider a curriculum project.  Depending upon the project you choose and your self-motivation and time management, the project can be completed in two 8-week sessions, or it can take longer.

So basically, the difference is Coursework = additional music education content, Thesis = discovery of new information, Curriculum Project = creation of new pedagogical material.


Grade Requirements

What are the grade requirements for admission?


If your undergraduate GPA (overall or last 60 hours) is 3.0 or higher, you will be admitted under the category of "Admissions-Good Standing." 

If your undergraduate GPA (overall or last 60 hours ) is between 2.5 - 2.99, you will be admitted under the category of "Admissions-Warning."  That means that you must achieve a 3.0 GPA your first semester (2 8-week courses) or you will be placed on Academic Suspension.  A student placed on Academic Suspension may not continue in the program.


What happens if I make a bad grade or fail a course?


To remain in good standing in the graduate program, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale and must maintain a grade of C or above in every course that is counted toward their degree.  During any semester that the GPA falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic warning. A student placed on academic warning and failing to restore an overall 3.0 average the following semester will result in suspension for one long semester or the summer term. After a suspension, the student must re-apply (including the application fee) to the College of Graduate Studies for reinstatement. The student must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA every semester following the suspension. Students are only allowed one suspension, and if poor academic performance continues, the student will be permanently dismissed from the university.



How do I apply for graduation and when should I apply?

Go to this link for all of the info:

Be sure to watch your Tarleton email for deadline reminders.  They are very early!

Do I have to participate in commencement?  I live far away.

No, you certainly do not.  We will mail your diploma to you.  However, if you are able, it is a very satisfying experience to participate in the graduation ceremonies.  You will be hooded by a graduate faculty member and be able to experience the pride of the university in your accomplishments.

What about regalia?

For master's students, regalia includes the cap, gown, tassel, and hood.  The hood color for a music master's degree is pink. There has occasionally been a bit of confusion since the education master's hood is blue and you will be getting a Master of Music in Music Education.  Get pink!

Regalia must be reserved through Any additional regalia questions should be directed to the Tarleton Campus Store at 254-968-9007.
When ordering from Jostens, payments will not be due until pickup which is held at “Grad Night” at the Stephenville campus.
If you are unable to pickup, the bookstore will call for delivery method and payment options. Again, if there are any questions call the Tarleton Campus Store.

What is hooding?

The hooding ceremony is a special recognition for graduate students during which a graduate faculty member will place an academic hood over the head of the graduate, signifying his or her success in completing the graduate program. 



How can I get Finale for $99?

Finale is the industry standard for notation software.  You will need Finale for Advanced Scoring and Arranging (MUSI 5331) and for Analytical Techniques (MUSI 5330).  As a TSU student, you are eligible to purchase Finale at the discounted price of $99. Check out the Finale website for instructions here: 

How can I take advantage of free Office 365?

Tarleton participates in the Microsoft Student Advantage Program which provides Microsoft Office 365 to you free of charge for as long as you are a registered student at Tarleton.  Here is a link for more information and how to participate:




How will I know what textbooks to get prior to the beginning of the course?

Textbooks are usually announced in the Tarleton Master of Music in Music Education Facebook group.  Be sure that you are a member of that group. Some of the textbook requirements are also listed in the table below. More will be added when available. Please be aware that the textbooks may change, so don't purchase them too far ahead. Check the Facebook group page if you need confirmation.

Do I have to get the books from the Tarleton book store?

No, just get them wherever you can get the best deal.  Many of our students get them from Amazon or Chegg.  Here is a link to a Textbook Price Comparison Search Engine.  This can also help you find the lowest price.

DISCLAIMER: Please confirm what textbook(s) will be used before purchasing. Some of these courses are taught by different faculty who use different textbooks!

Required courses

Elective courses

MUSI 5330 Analytical Techniques

  • Any standard college music theory textbook for reference

  • No additional textbook


MUSI 5331 Advanced Scoring and Arranging


MUSI 5340 Foundations of Music Education

  • Music Education: Historical Contexts and Perspectives by Joseph A. Labuta and Deborah A. Smith

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition


MUSI 5341 Research in Music Education I

  • A Short Guide to Writing About Music (2nd ed.) by J.D. Bellman

  • Exploring Research in Music Education & Music Therapy by K.H. Phillips

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition

MUSI 5342 Research in Music Education II


MUSI 5343 Advanced Elementary Music Pedagogy*

  • Music in Childhood: From Preschool Through the Elementary Grades by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Carol Scott-Kassner (4th edition)

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition


MUSI 5344 Advanced Secondary Music Pedagogy*

  • Intelligent Music Teaching: Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction by Robert A. Duke


Musicology course (MUSI 5353, 5354, or 5360)

MUEN 5121 Graduate Music Ensemble


MUAP 5231 Applied Lessons for Graduate Majors


MUSI 5343 Advanced Elementary Music Pedagogy*

  • Music in Childhood: From Preschool Through the Elementary Grades by Patricia Shehan Campbell, Carol Scott-Kassner (4th edition)

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition


MUSI 5344 Advanced Secondary Music Pedagogy*


MUSI 5346 Marching Band Methods


MUSI 5350 Technology in the Music Classroom


MUSI 5351 Music Theory Pedagogy K-12

  • AP Music Theory: with 2 Practice Tests (Barron's Test Prep) by Nancy Fuller Scoggin (ISBN-13: 978-1506264097)

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, 2020.


MUSI 5353 Ethnomusicology


MUSI 5354 Topics in Musicology (Textbook will depend upon the topic)

  • Topic: "Race and Forbidden Love in Musical Theater" - Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater by Larry Stempel


MUSI 5355 Psychology of Music


MUSI 5357 Music in the United States


MUSI 5360 Measurement for Music Researchers


MUSI 5361 Acoustics of Music


MUSI 5363 Audio Production


MUSI 5390 Selected Topics in Music Education

  • Textbook will depend upon the topic


MUSI 5390 Music Administration




*Only one of the advanced pedagogy courses (MUSI 5343 or 5344) is required. The other can be counted as an elective.


Transfer Credit

I've already taken some graduate courses.  Will those transfer?

Up to 12 hours of applicable coursework can be transferred from another accredited graduate school to count toward your degree. Transferred work must be completed with a grade of B or higher and must be in an approved discipline.  No more than 9 hours of credit outside the music discipline can be counted toward the degree.  Normally, no coursework more than six years old at the time of graduation may be used toward a master's degree at Tarleton.  Exceptions for courses with certain types of content may be considered.  Contact Dr. Johnson if you have questions about that.


Other Questions??

If you have other questions or need further clarification, contact Heather Chaney at  Other students probably have the same questions and those can be added to these FAQs!





Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson