Imagining Futures, Facing Realities:

A Panel Discussion for Music Education Graduate Students and Mentors


Josef Hanson, University of Massachusetts Boston

Matthew Doiron, Eastman School of Music/University of Rochester

Betty Anne Younker, Don Wright Faculty of Music/University of Western Ontario

Keitha Lucas Hamann, University of Minnesota


The purpose of this panel discussion is to provide music education graduate students and their mentors with a diversity of perspectives on the opportunities and challenges shaping the future of academia. Three broad questions will shape the discussion: (a) What key understandings best facilitate the professional transition from music teacher to music teacher educator?; (b) How can doctoral students (and their mentors) improve the odds of securing tenure-stream employment in the competitive reality of current and future job markets?; and (c) How can the doctoral enterprise in music education be improved to better reflect the reality of the job market, lessen student and mentor distress, and promote overall well-being?


According to the National Science Foundation's "Survey of Earned Doctorates" (2015), after an average of nearly 10 years of doctoral studies, one-quarter of newly-minted Ph.D.s in education enter the job market with over $70,000 of debt. Over 35% of these new scholars reported no job commitment at the time of graduation, and the ones who did secure employment often accepted temporary adjunct jobs as a last resort. Within music education, researchers have investigated the effects of these and other realities on the role identities, motivational factors, and mentor relationships of doctoral students as they transition to professional life (Bond & Koops, 2014; Draves & Koops, 2011; Teachout, 2008). However, few if any music education-specific resources exist that focus on the realities of job scarcity and the oversaturation of job candidates holding doctoral degrees. Thus, the need for an honest conversation is clear, especially given the significant graduate student population attending the SMTE Symposium on Music Teacher Education. This session is for them, and the mentors who support them. It will increase understanding of today's higher education landscape and enable graduates to determine their best career pathway in light of their needs, expectations, and aspirations.


Dr. Josef Hanson will serve as facilitator of the panel discussion. He is in his second year as an Assistant Professor of Music Education in the Performing Arts Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Previously, he worked at several universities in administrative and adjunct positions. In addition, three panelists will participate in this session. The first is Matthew Doiron, a Ph.D. candidate in music education at the Eastman School of Music who recently secured a tenure-track position in music education at Western Connecticut State University. The second panelist is Dr. Betty Anne Younker, Dean and Professor of Music Education of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Her previous experience includes appointments at the University of Michigan and University of Prince Edward Island, and she is Past President of the College Music Society. The third panelist is Dr. Keitha Lucas Hamann, Division Head of Music Education and Music Therapy and Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota. Over the course of 25 years, she has advised doctoral students at three different universities.




Bond, V. L. & Koops, L. H. (2014). Together through transitions: A narrative inquiry of emergent identity as music teacher educators. Journal of Research in Music Education, 24(1), 38-50.

Draves, T. J. & Koops, L. H. (2011). Peer mentoring: Key to new music teacher educator success. Journal of Research in Music Education, 20(2), 67-77.

National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. 2015. Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014. Special Report NSF 16-300. Arlington, VA. Available at

Teachout, D. J. (2008). Incentives and barriers for completing music teacher education doctoral programs. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 178, 7-20.