Concordia Adds Graduate Degree Program in Music Education

Dr. Shauna Pickens, program director

The music department is delighted to announce approval from the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Music to begin offering a Master of Music in Music Education degree beginning in Summer 2022.

“This has been a dream for a long time. So many of our undergraduate music education majors graduate, go out into the profession, and just a few years later are looking for graduate credits or even a degree and there aren’t that many programs that fit their needs in the state,” said Dr. Nat Dickey, chair of the music department and professor of low brass. “We just kept hearing from students that ‘if you guys started a master’s program, I would totally do it.’”

Dickey said his predecessor, Dr. John Roberts, put in the hours of work to start the process years ago and Dr. Shauna Pickens, assistant professor of music education, was tasked with successfully bringing it to fruition. Pickens will be the program’s director.

Dickey said that such programs are somewhat rare because offering a graduate program in music education can be resource intensive. There are a few graduate programs already in the region. The two that Concordia alumni seem to have chosen most often recently are the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities and North Dakota State University in Fargo. Concordia will provide an attractive additional option for those seeking such a program.

“Students are looking for a program that can be accomplished without taking time off from teaching and it really needs to be robust in terms of the level of instruction and diverse in the sense of the various experiences the students can have while also being affordable,” Dickey said. “Concordia’s program fits those needs.”

Pickens added that people were requesting that we add the program not just because options were limited, but due to the reputation of Concordia’s music department and the strong reputation of the teachers that have graduated from Concordia and become music educators.

“It’s such a specialized degree that not everyone is able to or has the desire to put together a master’s program for music education," Pickens said. “Though we’re still in the early stages, we’re hoping to utilize as much of our faculty as possible. We’re offering a lot of different electives so we’ll also want to get the best faculty by reaching out to reputable people from across the country to cover some of those.”

The program will take place mostly in the summer with the option to take some core music ed classes online during the school year if they wish. Students could choose to take those classes three summers in a row or a summer, fall, spring, and one additional summer, with a final project to follow in either case.

“I think the biggest thing about it for us and the people that we’ve talked to is that we’re able to cater the degree for individual students,” Pickens said. “A music education isn’t one size fits all. We have high school choir directors, elementary music teachers, middle school band directors, and more. Everybody is going to be looking for something a little bit different. We’ve designed it in a way that will allow graduate students to take the courses they want, provide opportunities to explore new or less familiar areas of the profession, and develop skills that they can immediately transfer into their own teaching."

Pickens said if there is a scenario where a student comes in and wants something not currently offered and there is enough interest, they could make it work for them and design it that way.

“We’re really excited about the flexibility,” she added.

This is the second master’s program Concordia has added this year. The Master of Education with a concentration in teaching and learning was approved this spring, bringing the total number of master’s programs offered by the college to four. The Master of Education in world language instruction program is in its 15th year and Concordia began offering the Master of Science in Nutrition in Fall 2017.

The new program is a culmination of years of work, a dream realized, and the passion of music faculty to continue preparing their students to become great teachers and leaders in the music education field.