Master of Music in Music Education (Autism Concentration)


Program Description

Berklee’s Master of Music in music education (autism concentration), part of the Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education (BIAAE), is the first and only program of its kind. Designed for music educators who wish to gain specialized knowledge, skills, and experience in teaching music to students with autism and other disabilities, this program features innovative training, cutting-edge research activities, and a community of educators and scholars committed to providing quality music education to all students.

Students will be guided in their studies by leaders in the field who are committed to including all people in musical and learning experiences. Berklee is a pioneer in the field of music education for students with disabilities. In addition to Boston Conservatory at Berklee being the first conservatory to offer specialized educator training programs in this area, Berklee was the first higher education institution to launch an institute devoted to this area. 

The BIAAE includes three main areas of work:

Students in this program will have the opportunity to teach in and observe the work of BIAAE's arts education programs, gaining valuable hands-on experience. They will also participate in a wide range of professional development offerings, including an annual conference. Additionally, they have the opportunity to engage with distinguished guest scholars and practitioners within courses and other program-related activities. 

There are several key features of this program that distinguish it from other master’s degree programs in music education. Its contemporary content and approach give unique attention to teaching students with autism and other disabilities, culturally responsive pedagogy, critical theory (including critical race theory, critical gender theory, and critical disability studies), cutting-edge technology, independent research and pedagogical projects, and multiple dimensions of assessment in music education.

It is also designed with a working teacher's schedule in mind, allowing maximum flexibility in class times, remote work, and starting semesters. While students can complete the program at their own pace, most students complete this program in five or six semesters, including two Summer Semesters, and a combination of 1-2 fall and 1-2 spring semesters. This schedule is designed to accommodate music educators who may be on a K–12 teaching calendar by offering evening courses in the fall and spring semesters and two full-time summer sessions.

Entrance Requirements
  • A bachelor’s degree in music, music education, or music pedagogy
  • An audition on a musical instrument or voice
  • An admissions interview with Music Education Department representatives
Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • construct music education curricular modifications that meet the needs of students with autism and other disabilities;
  • execute adaptive pedagogical strategies in music education that meet the needs of students with autism and other disabilities; 
  • integrate evidence-based pedagogical strategies from special education into their music education pedagogy;
  • analyze issues in the field of music education from multiple perspectives;
  • evaluate teaching practices in music education from multiple perspectives; 
  • assess their teaching practice from a culturally responsive perspective;
  • employ technology to promote student learning in music education settings;
  • design assessments that provide valuable information about student learning and progress in music education settings;
  • execute original research in the field of music education for students with disabilities; and
  • develop educational materials that promote student learning in music education settings.


Curriculum and Courses

Current and entering students, please review detailed semester registration information (login required). 

The highlight of the Master of Music in music education (autism concentration) is the specialized curriculum in accessible arts education and autism.

The culminating experience provides students with the opportunity to conduct and report original research in a master’s degree thesis or to create original educational materials in a range of formats (two courses, each 3 credits). 

Independent student projects in research and practice are a key component of this program. During the fall and spring semesters, students have the opportunity to create a meaningful bridge between their graduate studies and their teaching practice. The academic year courses consist of practicum courses in which students apply what they are learning to the classroom through observations and action research. 

Core Courses (6 credits)

  • ME-500 Foundations and Contemporary Issues in Music Education (3 credits)
  • ME-565 Research Methodologies and Procedures in Music Education (3 credits)

Autism Core Courses (15 credits)

  • ME-590 Research to Practice in Music Education and Autism 1 (3 credits)
  • ME-595 Research to Practice in Music Education and Autism 2 (3 credits)
  • ME-560 Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders (3 credits)
  • ME-570 Special Education Foundations and Practices (3 credits)
  • ME-580 Autism, Music, and Behavioral Teaching Methods (3 credits)

Music Courses (6 credits; choose two)

  • ME-545 Advanced Composition and Arranging for School-Based Ensembles (3 credits)
  • ME-555 Advanced History and Analysis of U.S. Contemporary, Non-Classical Music (3 credits)
  • ME-620 Advanced Conducting, Choral (3 credits)
  • ME-630 Advanced Conducting, Instrumental (3 credits)
  • Private lessons on students' principal instrument (1 credit; approval of program chair required)

Thesis or Research/Teaching Project (6 credits; selected course is taken twice)

  • ME-696 Master’s Thesis (3 credits)
  • ME-697 Research/Teaching Project (3 credits)

33 total credits required