The Role of Stand-Alone Music Minor Programs at Colleges and Universities in the United States

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The Role of Stand-Alone Music Minor Programs at Colleges and Universities in the United States

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There are many reasons why many colleges and universities include a music department, with the most obvious one being that offering a music major is a part of the mission of the institution. As an example, at the University of Minnesota, the campuses of the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Morris offer a music major, with the Twin Cities cam-pus offering music degrees that range from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. Only the campuses at Rochester and Crookston do not offer a music major, with the Rochester campus offering no music classes. Those University of Minnesota music departments that offer the music major would not do so if there were not employment opportunities, and indeed, these opportunities do exist. Most public schools, from elementary to high school, offer musical opportunities in the form of general music, vocal, and instrumental music and there is a demand for teachers in the area of music education. Professional musicians are frequently, although not always, the product of a college education that includes the major in music, and School of Music at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, is a good example of a comprehensive music department that has resulted in graduates who have found satisfying and lucrative careers in the field of music. However, active collegiate music programs are not limited to departments that offer a music major. This study focuses on those programs that do not offer a music major, but rather only offer a music minor, and the Crookston Campus of the University of Minnesota is one of those programs. Naturally, it can be assumed that the music curriculum at the “music-minor only school” will be more limited than at the school that offers the major. Furthermore, students might choose a college because they are pursuing the music major, but are unlikely to choose a college because of any minor that might be offered. Indeed, at the Crookston campus, the number of music courses offered are relatively few in number, and students generally do not choose to embark on a college education on that campus because of the music program. ii Unfortunately, there is almost no research focused on collegiate minors, and no research could be found on the more specialized stand-alone music minor. In order to proceed, it was determined that this research would be in the form of what is frequently referred to as a mixed-methods study. Data were collected from the 47 known institutions that offer the stand-alone music minor and this information is presented in the form of charts, graphs, and narrative. An example of the type of data collected and compared is the number of music theory credits that are required to complete the minor from each of the surveyed music departments, and the results showed that the credit re-quirements range from 0 to 8. Also a part of this research were faculty interviews from 15 of the surveyed institutions. These were conducted over the telephone and a summary from each of these interviews is included. The results from these interviews show many of the similarities and differences between each of these stand-alone music minors. An example of what is revealed is the range of circumstances that result in institutions offering a music minor without the accompanying music major. Surveys were also sent to students and graduates from the University of Minnesota, Crookston who had completed the stand-alone music minor. The questions asked included several that focus on reasons why the stand-alone music minor was chosen as a secondary area of study. Not surprising to this author was the finding that, by and large, students chose that area of study simply for the enjoyment of music with little regard for what they might “do” with the minor after graduation. A total of 47 collegiate music programs have been identified in the United States that offer a stand-alone music minor. In summary, by comparing those programs, con-ducting faculty interviews, and collecting student surveys, these programs were ana-lyzed and the results of this study is presented in the form of statistics and narrative. There was no attempt to compare these music departments in terms of quality and con-tent, but rather the focus was to gather data to show the diversity of these programs that are generally offered outside of the restrictions of accrediting agencies.


University of Minnesota D.Ed. dissertation.December 2018. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Darwin Hendel. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 283 pages.

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French, George. (2018). The Role of Stand-Alone Music Minor Programs at Colleges and Universities in the United States. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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