Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Colin McKenzie

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Amanda Schlegel

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Lilian Hill

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Melody Causby

Committee Member 4 School



Transfer students in music fields face challenges that are different from other fields of study. Research has shown that transfer students in music are expected to acclimate and operate as upperclassmen with minimal onboarding while also potentially having to retake courses they received credit for at the community college level. This study examines the experiences of five transfer students in music education through the lens of Schlossberg’s transition theory and Dewey’s model of transaction. Building on existing transfer student research, it asks: what do transfer students experience in terms of acceptance and self-integration, and how do these experiences affect transfer students’ self-awareness of the same? In this context, transfer students are defined as students who have completed an associate degree of the arts at a community college holding an articulation agreement with the receiving four-year institution.

Based on a review of the literature on transfer student issues and theories of transition and transaction, five transfer students in music education were selected to participate in open-ended interviews and asked questions related to their experiences before, during, and after their transition to the receiving institution. Analysis of the responses indicated that while each participant experienced parts of the transfer process differently, there were several experiences and interpretations common to the group. The results indicate that transfer students in music education are acutely self-aware of their integration into the academic and cultural environments of the receiving institution, and that they rely most on their applied instrument teachers and other transfer students in their instrument studios and ensembles for information related to scheduling, coursework, and cues leading to social integration. On this basis, it is recommended that departments and schools of music regularly review the effectiveness of their transfer student policies and programs through direct communication with transfer students. Further research is needed to create an instrument that can be effectively implemented across a wide range of departments and schools of music for this purpose.