Music and Dance, School of

MM - Music Graduate Programs

The Master of Music graduate program in the School of Music and Dance offers training for careers in performance, conducting, composition, research, and teaching. We also provide preparation for further advanced study in ten distinct areas:

  • Composition
  • Choral conducting
  • Instrumental conducting
  • Instrumental performance
  • Jazz studies
  • Keyboard studies
  • Music education
  • Music history
  • Music systems/theory
  • Vocal performance

Our MM, Music degree program is a 30-unit course of study, typically taken in four semesters over two years, and consists of graduate seminars, one-on-one private lessons, performance ensembles, and area specialization coursework. The program culminates with the master's exam and the completion of a graduate recital, project, thesis, or music composition.

Additional information is available in the School of Music & Dance Office and at the department website:

Admission Requirements

University Admissions

Applicants must submit a complete graduate application by applying through the CSU Cal State Apply system at and meet all the university admission requirements. Applicants apply separately to the department to obtain admission into the MM, Music program. See the GAPE Graduate Admissions website and this Catalog for general information about graduate admissions at SJSU.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirements webpage at GAPE. For TOEFL Requirements, see the Policies and Procedures section, Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Information in this Catalog.

Requirements for Admission to the Program

You will need to apply separately to the university to obtain approval for university-level admission and to the department to obtain admission into the Master of Music Program. The School of Music and Dance graduate program requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree in Music from a regionally accredited institution and to be in good academic standing at the last college or university attended. The School of Music and Dance requires a minimum GPA of 3.00 in the last 60 units of undergraduate coursework. All required transcripts and supporting documents should be sent directly to the university.

Students from a country where the official language is not English are required to submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), PTE (Pearson Test of English), or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. The minimum entrance score for the TOEFL is 590 (paper based), 243 (computer based), or 96 (internet based), with a score of 5 in the Writing Section. The minimum score for the PTE is 68; for the IELTS, the minimum score is 7.0. All test scores must be less than 2 years old. Test scores must be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service office (institution code 4687), Pearson Office, or IELTS office directly to SJSU.

The School of Music and Dance does not require the GRE (Graduate Record Exam).

Audition, Portfolio, Interview

Conducting and Performance: a live (preferred) or unedited recorded audition is required for conducting and performance specializations. Please see the School of Music and Dance website for specific requirements of individual performance areas.

Composition, Education, History, Systems/Theory: the submission of a portfolio of work is required for all academic specializations. Please see the School of Music and Dance website for specific requirements of individual academic areas.

Individual areas may also require an interview.

Letters of Recommendation

The School of Music and Dance requires three letters of recommendation addressing the applicant's potential for graduate-level work in music to be sent to the appropriate performance area advisor.

Admission to Classified Standing

Graduate students admitted to the School of Music and Dance are usually admitted in "conditionally classified" status. This status is normal for all entering graduate students, who must demonstrate a bachelor's level competence in music history and music theory by passing the Graduate Entrance Evaluations given during Pre-Instruction before the start of the fall semester. Students who pass their Entrance Evaluations may then become "graduate classified" and are eligible to take all 200-level graduate seminars after completing MUSC 200. Students who fail one or more portions of the Evaluation will remain conditionally classified and will be required to remediate with the appropriate coursework before taking graduate seminars beyond MUSC 200. Coursework taken as remediation is not applied to the Master's degree requirement units.

Students who fail the entire Entrance Evaluation will not be admitted into the program.

Please see the "Graduate Program Test Requirements" for more information

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy

Candidacy denotes that the student is fully qualified to complete the final stages of the MM. In order to achieve candidacy, students must meet the university requirements for candidacy. General university requirements for advancement to candidacy for the Master's degree are detailed in the Graduate Policies and Procedures section of this catalog. Advancement to candidacy requires that the student be in good standing with a 3.0 GPA or better in a minimum of 9 units of letter-graded coursework as a graduate student in 100- or 200-level courses in the degree program as indicated by all courses on the Petition for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy form. These courses must conform to university and departmental requirements, and the area and graduate advisors must approve the proposed program. The proposed program must list a total of 30 semester units, including the appropriate number of "core" courses, area specialization courses, required ensembles, and supervised graduate study.

The student must be "graduate classified" and have met and cleared their conditions for admission to the program indicated by their results in the Graduate Entrance Evaluation in music history and music systems/theory. Candidacy also includes successful completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR), which in the School of Music & Dance is MUSC 200, Methods of Music Research & Writing.

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures.

Course Requirements for the Master's Degree

The Music master's degree is based on 12 units of four "core" graduate seminars, beginning with MUSC 200: Methods of Music Research & Writing, and 12 units of area courses and ensembles. Students with the academic specializations (Plan A), 6 units of thesis/composition supervision are taken in preparation for completing a thesis or composition. Students in performance specializations (Plan B), 6 units of private lessons with an individual teacher are taken in preparation for their master's recital or project. All required prerequisite course work must be passed with a grade of "B" or better and a minimum 3.0 GPA must be maintained in order to continue with the graduate program. To complete the program, students take their Written Culminating Exams (WCE) in their final semester.

Culminating Experience

Students choose a Plan A (Thesis), Plan B (Project), or Plan C (Creative Project - Composition or Recital) option as their program culminating experience. All students must also successfully complete the Written Culminating Exams (WCE)

Plan A (Thesis)

In Plan A (Thesis), six units of MUSC 299, Thesis are devoted to the preparation and writing of an advisor-approved thesis on a topic approved by the candidate's major professor. Students choosing the thesis option must secure the commitment of three faculty members of the university, two of whom must be members of the permanent faculty, to serve as members of the student's Plan A (thesis) committee, with one permanent faculty member agreeing to serve as chair. After final approval by the major advisor and thesis committee members, the thesis is submitted to Graduate Studies. The thesis must meet university requirements as stipulated in this catalog and in the SJSU Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Guidelines.

Plan B (Project)

In Plan B (Project), six units are devoted to the preparation and production of a written project.

Plan C (Creative Project - Composition or Recital)

In Plan C (Creative Project), six units are devoted to the preparation of a music composition approved by the candidate's major professor, or the preparation and performance of one or more master's recitals. Performance candidates will perform one or two recitals (by advisement) of repertoire approved by the candidate's advisor. These performances are recorded, and the recording and a hard copy of the recital program are submitted to the School of Music and Dance. Students must be in "graduate classified" status to perform their recital.

Written Culminating Exam (WCE)

At the end of their studies, all MM, Music students must demonstrate their thorough grasp of their field of specialization, music history, and music theory through the Written Culminating Exams (WCE). Students must pass all sections of the examination to be awarded their master's degrees. The examination consists of three essay questions, which will concern subjects in (1) the student's major field (piano, composition, etc.), (2) the information covered in the student's Music 201 history class; and (3) the information covered in the student's MUSC 202 theory class. The essay questions will be written by the major instructor and by the professors who taught the student Music 201 and 202. The examination will be given in the middle of the semester. If students are enrolled in MUSC 201 and/or 202 during their last semester, the essay question(s) will cover the material covered in class to that date. Students have two weeks to complete the examination, which is open book. Students are required to research their topics but cannot work with other students or any other persons on their examination. Each essay must represent only the student's work, and students must sign a declaration on the cover sheet that the essays represent only their own research and writing. Each essay must be 4-6 pp. in length, typed, and double-spaced. Either footnotes or endnotes must be used in correct format to identify all sources. Failure to demonstrate knowledge of correct bibliographic citation will result in a failure in the examination. Students will be notified two weeks after the examinations are turned in if they have passed or failed. If the student fails, the examination may be retaken one time upon consultation with the Graduate Advisor. The examinations will be filed in the student's School file.

It is the student's responsibility to inform the Graduate Advisor at the beginning of his or her last semester that he or she needs to take the WCE that semester. The Graduate Advisor will ask for the names of the three professors who will be writing the examination questions, and will assign the dates for the examination. The Graduate Advisor will request the essay questions from your professors and give you the examination on the appointed date.