Master of Music

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Master of Music

The Master of Music program provides graduate study for the superior performer and allows for maximum development of specialized skills in the candidate's particular area of documented achievement. Students may emphasize classical solo performance, chamber music, or conducting. This degree is particularly appropriate for students intending to perform or conduct music professionally, to teach applied performance in college/university settings or private studio, or to pursue doctoral studies in performance. The program culminates in a formal graduate recital.

All students must complete a 9 unit core requirement and complete an emphasis as designated below. Participation in a large conducted classical ensemble in the area of study is required of all graduate students (orchestral instruments and voice) enrolled in applied lessons. Enrollment is required during the semester of graduation.

Admission to Program

Students should apply by April 1 for the following fall or October 1 for the following spring. Applicants are required to file two applications, one with the University and one with the School of Music. Admission to conditionally classified status requires acceptance by both the University and the School of Music. A departmental application form may be obtained by writing to the School of Music, or by calling 415-338-1431. University applications may be requested from the graduate admissions office or online at

Requirements for admission to conditionally classified status in music are as follows.

  1. A baccalaureate degree, with a major in music or equivalent musical experience.
  2. A minimum 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units of undergraduate study.
  3. A completed Application form for graduate study in music.
  4. A 200-500 word narrative statement of purpose. This statement should include a description of the applicant's previous accomplishments.
  5. An official copy of the applicant's undergraduate transcripts, and graduate transcripts if the student has been previously enrolled in a program of graduate study.
  6. Two letters of recommendation from current or former teachers or professionals who are familiar with the applicant's qualifications.
  7. Completion of Graduate Classification Examinations in Music History, Theory, Aural Skills and, for music education candidates, the Music Education Master's Advisory Exam. These examinations must be taken prior to entry into the program. Students who demonstrate deficiencies in one or more areas may be accepted into the program contingent upon remediation of all deficiencies within one academic year of entry into the program. Undergraduate course work taken to remove deficiencies may not be used as part of the 30 units required for the master's degree in music.
  8. Additional requirements:
    1. For applicants to the Master of Music program: a live audition before members of the Music faculty or, for applicants unable to travel to San Francisco, a CD, videotape or DVD 30-45 minutes in duration demonstrating the student's current level of accomplishment. A repertoire list is also required, including an indication of those works on the list which have been performed in recital. (Please contact the School of Music to schedule an audition.)

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

Applicants to the MM program are required to submit writing samples, demonstrating graduate level, discipline-specific proficiency in music research. Samples may include writing assignments submitted to satisfy requirements in undergraduate history courses. Applicants with substandard writing may be considered not admissible. Students who have recently earned an undergraduate degree from SF State may be exempted from this requirement.

Level Two

Level Two is satisfied with satisfactory completion of the Music History seminar from the 750 series.

Advancement to Candidacy

Advancement to candidacy occurs when an Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form has been completed by the student and approved by the major advisor, college graduate coordinator, and the dean of the Graduate Division. Prior to completion of the ATC form, the student must have been granted fully classified status (see #7 above); have satisfactorily completed both Written English Proficiency Requirements; have completed at least 12 semester units applicable to the degree with a B average or above; and have successfully completed review of the student's program with the faculty advisor.

Master’s Examination

All candidates for Master of Arts in Music degree must pass a comprehensive examination that demonstrates their ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, their command of music theory, history, research and analytical skills, and musical repertoire. (This examination must be taken during the semester in which the student completes all course work.)

Master of Music — 30 units

Core Requirements (9 units)

MUS 700Introduction to Graduate Study3
MUS 710Advanced Analysis3
Select one graduate seminar in Music History (selected from MUS 750-755)3

Solo Classical Performance Emphasis (21 units)

MUS 776Directed Projects in Performance (Piano, Voice, or Instrumental Major - Maximum of 6 units allowed)4
MUS 780Graduate Major Repertoire (Maximum of 6 units allowed)4
MUS 894Creative Work Project3
Music electives on advisement10

Chamber Music Emphasis (21 units)

MUS 701Graduate Seminar in Music3
MUS 776Directed Projects in Performance (Piano, Voice, or Instrumental Major - Maximum of 6 units allowed)4
MUS 780Graduate Major Repertoire (Maximum of 6 units allowed)4
Music electives on advisment7
Must include 1 unit each of MUS 778, Chamber Music Performance; advanced score reading and transposition (MUS 852); and keyboard instruction. Performance ability in another instrument or voice is strongly encouraged.

Conducting Emphasis (21 units)

MUS 701Graduate Seminar in Music3
MUS 781Choral Conducting8
or MUS 782 Instrumental Conducting
MUS 894Creative Work Project3
Concurrent enrollment in major ensembles is required each semester. Students will normally elect four semesters of their particular emphasis (instrumental or choral).
Music electives on advisement. (Must include graduate/undergraduate major instruction as appropriate)7