School of Music student teacher helping elementary students during rehearsal.

Music Education, Instructional I Certification

Music Education, PA Instructional I Certification

Students earn Pennsylvania Instructional I Music teacher PK-12 certification.

Completion of the program fulfills requirements for the State of Pennsylvania’s Instructional I Certification in Music K-12. Although certification requirements vary among states, Pennsylvania certification requirements meet those of at least 45 other states.

About the Program

This program is designed for students holding a baccalaureate degree in some field of music other than music education but who desire to qualify for the PA Instructional I Certification in Music program. Students with an undergraduate degree in fields other than music but with extensive musical experience may also be considered. All students must meet University requirements for entrance into a teacher certification program (these must be completed prior to student teaching).

Completion of the program fulfills requirements for the State of Pennsylvania’s Instructional I Certification in Music K-12. Although certification requirements vary among states, Pennsylvania certification requirements meet those of at least 45 other states. It is usually possible to obtain temporary certification in other states while preparing to meet their additional requirements. A teacher in Pennsylvania holding an Instructional I Certificate may teach up to six years in Pennsylvania on that certificate regardless of the time he or she starts teaching or the number of interruptions. After six years of teaching, the teacher must apply for an Instructional II Certificate. This requires the teacher to complete 24 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree, to have three to six years of successful teaching in Pennsylvania, and to have the recommendation of his or her immediate supervisor.

Visit the Music Education Website

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree
  • Undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above
  • 40 hours of work with children, ages 5-18
  • Audition in an applied music area
  • Interview, including a voice and keyboard assessment
  • Criminal and child abuse clearances

Required Clearances

Admission Process

The admission process begins with completion of the online graduate admission application and payment of the application fee. The application fee is non-refundable. If the application fee is not paid, the application will NOT be reviewed.

All application materials are to be UPLOADED to the online application.

Completed applications are reviewed by faculty in the Music Education area. If the applicant is a good fit for the program, s/he is invited for an audition/interview. The audition/interview includes a performance of a prepared piece on your major instrument as well as memorized a cappella performance of 5 children’s songs. The children’s songs will be sent at least a month before the interview.

For the audition/interview, you will be asked to:

  1. Perform at least 10 minutes of music in your applied area (representative of at least two different time periods/styles). You must demonstrate the technical and musicianship skills equivalent to a first-semester junior in Music Education.
  2. Demonstrate your vocal and keyboard skills.
  3. Meet with at least two music education faculty members to discuss your plans and interest in the program.

Applicants are typically notified of admission status within a month of the audition/interview.

Completion of Program

1. Prior to registering for classes, you must take the graduate competency exams in theory and history. Sections not passed must be rectified with the appropriate course work.

2. Meet with your adviser to plan your course work.

3. In order to enter the Emphasis Course (Music 44_W), you must have passed MUSIC 115 (unless your undergraduate performance major was voice), keyboard proficiency, and Praxis I tests.

4. The program typically takes three semesters of on-campus work. Music course requirements are only offered fall and spring semesters. Some of the non-music course requirements are often offered in the summer, at other Penn State campuses, or on-line via PSU World Campus. One semester of off-campus full-time student teaching is required the last semester. For students whose undergraduate degree is not in music, or for those with deficiencies in voice, piano, theory, and/or music history, completion of the program usually requires more than three semesters of course work.


Piano proficiency is required of all students. Instrumental techniques courses (guitar, brass, percussion, string, and woodwind), or proficiency in these areas, is also required. In addition, students must have completed the following undergraduate courses: music theory and music history (verified by competency exams) and seven semesters of applied lessons on a major instrument (verified by an audition at time of interview).

Required Undergraduate Courses

Credit for approved equivalent courses at other institutions may be transferred. Additional course work may be required depending upon student’s previous course work, experiences, and results of placement exams.

All courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or better. However, a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 that includes all the courses below must be maintained.

All teacher education candidates must have Act 34, Act 151, and FBI clearances for any Music Education course work. Information about obtaining these clearances is available in the Office of Certification and Education Services, 228 Chambers Building or in the Music Education Office, 233A Music Building I.

In addition to Praxis tests and clearances, Pennsylvania certification requires that students have a 3.0 GPA.

Admission Procedure Summary

Access Application Process for directions.

Please note that ALL application materials are to be uploaded to the online application.

Upload the following materials:

  • an official transcript – NOT an advising or unofficial transcript – (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction)
    Chinese applicants must also submit an official graduation certificate and official diploma, in Chinese and translated English, if the applicant has already earned the previous degree(s).
  • names of two references and their email addresses (Penn State will contact your references directly)
  • statement of purpose/previous experience and resume (statement indicating why you want to become a music teacher and discussing your previous experience with school-aged children and a resume; maximum of 4 pages) to be uploaded as ONE document.
  • copy of each of the following clearances: Act 151: PA Child Abuse History Clearance, FBI Clearance, and Act 34: Request for Criminal Record Check; uploaded as ONE document.

Direct inquiries to:

Penn State shield logo featuring a stylized mountain lion in white and light blue on a blue to green gradient background.

Penn State School of Music - Graduate Admissions

223 Music Building
University Park PA 16802-1901

814-865-6785 (fax)