Master of Music

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 nine-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


  1. Review graduate admission requirements for SF State
  2. Apply to Division of Graduate Studies
    Domestic Application Info
    International Application Info

All application material will be submitted through the Cal State Apply Graduate Studies Application.

School of Music application requirements include:

  • Undergraduate degree with a major in music, or equivalent experience. 
  • Minimum 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units of undergraduate study.

The following materials should be submitted as part of the application:

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all college work
  • Writing samples demonstrating graduate level, discipline-specific proficiency in music research
  • Statement of purpose
Additional Materials for Music Education
  • A written description of the nature and extent of teaching experience.
  • Applicants must also provide evidence of at least two years of school music teaching and/or a valid teaching credential.
Additional Materials for Music History
  • Representative examples of music research papers, such as those written for undergraduate music history classes.
Additional Materials for Composition
  • A minimum of two representative scores and, if possible, recordings of recent musical compositions.
Audition Information for Classical Instrumental/Vocal Performance, or Chamber Music
  • Auditions are completed in up to two rounds. Applicants will need to schedule a live audition before members of the Music faculty using the School of Music Audition Form. For applicants unable to travel to San Francisco, submit a high quality Vimeo video link as part of the application. The video should be 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.
Emphasis in Orchestra or Wind Ensemble

Conducting Auditions are completed in two rounds. After video review, selected candidates may be invited for a live audition with the SF State Orchestra. Details will be forwarded when appropriate.

  • First Round: A streaming video, posted on Vimeo, of a rehearsal or concert. Camera should show a front view of the conductor (camera placed at rear of ensemble) from a reasonable distance, and ideally demonstrate a varied selection of repertoire. Links can be submitted to Dr. Cyrus Ginwala ( via email.
  • Please include your name, a repertoire list (with timing numbers), and the performance date.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

Applicants to the M.M. 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 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.)

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate and apply advanced knowledge in music analysis and music history
  2. Demonstrate well developed technique and interpretie ability through performance on selected instrument (instrumental, vocal, conducting)
  3. Demonstrate the ability to analyze new works and understand the compositional techniques utilized
  4. Demonstrate the ability to aurally identify, write about and discuss comparative compositional techniques and styles of music and place them in historical context
  5. Demonstrate the abiity to discuss, rehearse and perform contemporary music.
  6. Demonstrate advanced skill in score reading

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 advisement. Up to nine units of electives may be satisfied by MUS courses above 299. At least one unit of electives should be in MUS courses above 699.10

Chamber Music Emphasis (21 Units)

MUS 7013
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 7013
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