Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Dr. Russ Marion

Committee Member

Dr. Leslie Gonzales

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Goodstein

Committee Member

Dr. James Satterfield


Music has been an integral component of higher education dating back to the Middle Ages. As higher education developed in American institutions a traditional degree program began to emerge. Students in American higher education music programs focused on either performance or music education. However, a review of the literature has shown that these traditional programs are rife with limitations, and in many cases are not properly preparing students. As a result, Performing Arts style undergraduate degree programs are gaining popularity. These Performing Arts programs seek to offer a more comprehensive music and arts experience that more adequately prepares graduates for careers in fields other than performance or teaching. Much of the literature concerning these new types of programs is focused on either theatre or technology. To begin to fill this gap in the literature, this study focused on one primary research question: How do senior, undergraduate students in the Clemson University Performing Arts music major describe their lived experiences in the program?

As a phenomenological study, this study utilized the methodological structure of van Manen (1990). Chosen through purposive sampling, five senior music students from the Performing Arts music program at Clemson University served as the research participants. While the primary data source was in-depth interviews, observation and document analysis were also used. The interview data was analyzed using both a holistic and line-by-line approach. Through this process the themes of Expectations, College Choice, "It's Kind of Like Pros and Cons," Opportunities, and Results emerged as essential themes. A data display was used to illustrate the relationship between these themes.

While many limitations, issues, and difficulties remained, this study found that this Performing Arts music program had largely succeeded. The senior participants felt prepared for a life in the arts in terms of skills, connections, and marketability. Lastly, this study offered recommendations for practice and future research that could serve to help preserve the essential role of music as a discipline in higher education