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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences School of Music

Graduate Studies

Washington State University offers a two-year Master of Arts in Music degree. The School of Music graduate program, fully accredited by NASM, consists of approximately 25 students every year. Many of the program’s graduates find employment in the music field or continue their education at outstanding doctoral programs across the country. Though selection of an emphasis is not required, four emphases are available: performance (including conducting), composition, jazz, and music education. The emphasis in music education does not lead to teacher certification in Washington state.


To receive primary consideration for matriculation in the fall semester, applicants should complete the Graduate School application by the priority deadline of January 10. An interview/audition, arranged with the appropriate faculty, occurs after that priority deadline but should happen no later than late February. Please note all applicants must have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.00 to be admitted to the Graduate School. Additionally, the School of Music expects applicants to have a 3.00 GPA in their core music courses (music theory, ear training, and music history) and hold an undergraduate degree in music from an accredited college or university.

Application Materials
  • WSU Graduate School online application
  • Statement of Purpose
    • This is a 3-4 paragraph statement in which you describe your personal and professional goals, musical experience, and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree at WSU.
    • If there are other aspects of your life you would like the faculty to know, this is the place to describe them.
  • Resume/CV
    • Your resume should outline your educational and professional experiences.
    • Here is where you can list your performances, repertoire performed and/or studied, compositions, current and former teachers, or other activities that highlight your achievements.
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • In the online Graduate School application, you will provide the names and email addresses for three references.
    • Each reference then receives a system-generated email with instructions for how to upload their letter.
  • Transcripts
    • If not attached to the online application, send them directly to the WSU Graduate School.
  • Audition and interview
    • These components are arranged with the appropriate faculty.
    • When possible, the applicant auditions and interviews on the WSU Pullman campus.
    • A recorded audition may be submitted in lieu of a personal audition.
    • Interviews can be conducted via Zoom.
  • Diagnostic exams
    • These are administered online after the priority application deadline.
    • Descriptions of these exams along with study guides are found here (
      Please note: The School of Music does not require GRE exam scores.
Supplemental Application Materials

The following are examples of supplemental application materials required by the School of Music in addition to the online Graduate School application. Any materials relevant to your application should be sent to Graduate Program Coordinator Dr. Chris Dickey ( shortly after you have submitted your online Graduate School application.

  • YouTube recording links (required of all applicants, regardless of emphasis)
    • All applicants submit YouTube recordings of their performance skills to demonstrate readiness to study at the graduate level.
    • MA applicants are proving their ability to participate in large ensembles or, in the case of pianists, accompanying class.
    • The recording should be approximately 10-15 minutes in length and visibly show you performing the music.
  • Scores (for composition applicants)
    • Submit 3-5 PDF scores (along with recordings if possible) of their compositions.
  • Teaching philosophy statement (for music education applicants)
    • Submit a teaching philosophy statement.
    • In approximately 1-2 pages, describe why you want to teach, what you want to teach, and how you want to teach.
      • Applicants are encouraged to cite specific examples and educational methods.
Diagnostic Exams

All entering graduate students (Pullman and Global campuses) are required to take diagnostic placement examinations in music theory, aural skills, and music history. These examinations, administered through Canvas, are used to help evaluate a student’s readiness for graduate-level academic courses, plan their course of study, and to identify any remedying deficiencies. Descriptions of these exams along with study guides are found here (

Funding Opportunities

Teaching assistantships are available to qualified applicants. These packages cover tuition and come with health insurance and a living stipend. To be considered for a teaching assistantship, we recommend indicating your interest in your online application’s personal statement. After the priority deadline has passed, applicants will receive a questionnaire from the Graduate Program Coordinator to gather information about an applicant’s interests and potential teaching assistantship duties. We recommend submitting your online application by January 10 (for fall admission) and completing your audition/interview by the end of February. Assistantship offers begin in early March and continue until all positions have been filled. If your application is not complete by the end of February and you wish to be considered for an assistantship, please contact Dr. Chris Dickey ( for an update on the status of our assistantship offers.

Additional Funding Sources

The Graduate School operates the Research Assistantships for Diverse Scholars and Campus Visitation Program (RADS). This program assists graduate students who are US students from underrepresented/underserved communities and aims to increase graduate student diversity in degree programs at Washington State University. If you meet the eligibility requirements found on the Graduate School RADS website, please contact Dr. Chris Dickey ( The deadlines associated with the RADS program are earlier than deadlines for admission to the School of Music.

International Applicants

International applicants must be able to provide evidence of English language proficiency. The Graduate School International Requirements website contains the most current application requirements for international applicants. If you are an international applicant, consult that page to determine how you will demonstrate English language proficiency.

Global Campus Online MA in Music Degree

The Washington State University School of Music offers a completely online Master of Arts in Music degree through the Global campus. All courses are taught by WSU faculty asynchronously to meet the needs of the students. Available emphases for the online degree include music education, composition, and jazz. The degree may also be completed without an emphasis. Currently, the performance emphasis is not available for Global campus graduate students. The online degree can be completed at your own pace. All graduate students have 6 years to complete the requirements for the degree. Teaching assistantships and scholarships are not available for students pursuing an online graduate degree.

For more detailed information, follow this link (

Five-Year Master of Arts in Music Education Degree

If you are currently an undergraduate music education student at Washington State University and would like to one day earn a graduate degree, you may be qualified to complete the Master of Arts in Music degree (music education emphasis) in one year by beginning graduate coursework in your senior year. Though not a requirement, students attending WSU who entered with a completed associate’s degree or other college-level credit may find this program particularly beneficial. Because the coordination of this degree plan is time-sensitive, interested students should contact Dr. Chris Dickey ( as soon as possible or no later than the second semester of their junior year to discuss the application process and the course plan. Please see a suggested timeline here.

Curriculum Requirements

Requirements for the Master of Arts in Music degree (Pullman and Global campuses) include at least 30 credit hours of approved graduate work. 14 of these hours constitute a required core. In addition, 4 credits of MUS 700/702 are required. The remaining credit hours are electives. Electives could include applied lessons, recitals, composition seminar, conducting seminar, literature, languages, and special topics courses.

The structure and design of the program normally require 2 years (4 semesters) of study. Graduate students may count up to 6 credits of approved 300/400-level courses for their degree. Students who choose the performance emphasis (including conducting) must complete a Graduate Recital (MUS 522). The performance emphasis is currently not available for a Global campus graduate student.

Core curriculum for all Master of Arts in Music students:

  • MUS 560—Introduction to Graduate Studies in Music (2 credits)
  • MUS 553—Seminar in Music Theory (2 credits)
  • MUS 550—Seminar in Analysis (2 credits)
  • Two graduate-level music history courses selected from the following:
    • MUS 561—Seminar in Literature of 20th and 21st Century Music (even spring semesters; 2 credits)
    • MUS 563—Seminar in Literature of the Classical/Romantic Eras (face-to-face odd spring semesters; 2 credits)
    • MUS 566—Seminar in Literature of the Baroque Era (odd fall semesters; 2 credits)
  • 4 performance-based credits (applied lessons and/or ensembles)
    • Pullman campus students enroll in 500-level applied lessons and/or ensembles
    • Global campus students enroll in MUS 597 (Performance Studies for Distance Learners)
MUS 700 and MUS 702 Projects

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Music program are provided flexibility for completing the thesis (MUS 700) or non-thesis (MUS 702) requirement. The MUS 700/702 project, under the guidance of a faculty committee, allows students to research, compose, arrange, perform, or conduct as part of the project. Interdisciplinary projects are dependent on the student’s interests and available collaborators from other appropriate academic units.

Click here to download the graduate music program policies and procedures.