Music Education


The Bachelor of Arts Degree
This is a liberal arts degree.  It includes requirements in such areas as Mathematics, History, Literature, Science and Human Behavior.  It aims to provide a strong background in music together with a broad, well-rounded education.  This degree helps prepare future teachers for the interdisciplinary nature of education.  Students earning this degree graduate with a general Music Major and gain certification credentials to teach public school music.

The Bachelor of Music Degree
This is a professional music degree.  It entails fewer courses outside of music and more music courses and performance requirements. It aims to provide greater depth in the study of music and refinement of performing skills. Students earning this degree graduate with a Music Education Major.

Both Degrees
Both degrees lead to a license to teach music in Minnesota public schools.  The licensure-related courses are exactly the same in either degree program. A Minnesota teaching license will enable the holder to get a teaching license in another state with little or no additional coursework. For details, see Rosie Pfarr-Baker, Education Department.

Minnesota offers two kinds of music teaching licenses:  Music K-12 with specialization in Instrumental/General Music and Music K-12 with specialization in Vocal/General Music.  (Candidates for licensure must demonstrate keyboard proficiency and guitar proficiency, and meet other program requirements.) See the St. Olaf College catalog for detailed requirements.

Completing both vocal and instrumental licensure necessitates a very rigorous schedule. The music faculty discourages this path and recommends that students specialize in one area of strength.  In the event that a student has faculty support to pursue double licensure, summer school and/or a ninth semester is usually necessary.

If you think you might like to teach students with special needs, urban students or at-risk students, look for opportunities to do volunteer work with these young students.

You will need to complete and document through the Education Department the required field experience hours during your pre-student teaching years. Field experiences are also very important as you determine your fit with particular school environments or age groups. See Rosie Pfarr-Baker in the Education Department for more information about using that department’s goal sheets and evaluation forms for all field experience hours.

You will also need to complete an urban education experience prior to student teaching.  Plan to take one of the January courses that place you in an urban school, and talk with Dr. Berger about choosing an age level for this student teaching experience.

You should meet with Dr. Berger and she will conference with you one year prior to student teaching to discuss student teaching placement possibilities.  Excellent mentor teachers are available in a variety of settings to meet your needs.

Field Experience ProgramField Experience Ladder


If you pursue music education at St. Olaf, you will be licensed to teach in Minnesota schools.  If you choose to stay in Minnesota schools, you will need only to obtain periodic clock hour renewal units to stay licensed.  These are relatively easy to acquire through summer school, workshops, and in-service training provided by school districts.
As soon as you qualify, apply for a Minnesota teaching license — even if you think you don’t want one.  Should you decide in later years to apply for your first license, you will then need to complete whatever requirements have been added in the meantime, which can often make licensure more difficult.

Study abroad or off-campus: The music education coursework makes the scheduling of study abroad (other than in January term) a significant challenge. Plan for this option as early as possible with Dr. Berger.

Senior recitals:  These should be scheduled prior to student teaching.

The Music Education Degree is one of the most complex and intensive programs offered at St. Olaf College.  Ask for help in planning your program from:

Dr. Linda Berger
Room 235, Christiansen Hall of Music

Music education planning forms are available from Dr. Berger or at