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College of Arts and Sciences School of Music

Graduate Studies

The Program

Washington State University offers a two-year Master of Arts in Music degree. The Graduate Music Program, consisting of about twenty students per year, is an extremely effective program, fully accredited by NASM, and placing nearly all of its graduates in employment in the field of music or in outstanding music doctoral programs.

To receive primary consideration for matriculation in the fall semester, applicants should complete the online application by January 10 and the interview/audition by the end of February. Applicants are welcome to interview and audition in the fall preceding the intended year of matriculation.

Assistantships are available that cover tuition and health insurance and provide a living stipend. In order to be considered for an assistantship, the application must be complete (online application, statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, audition and interview). We recommend your application be complete by the end of February for earliest consideration for an assistantship. Assistantship positions are offered to applicants starting in early March and continue to be offered until all positions are filled. If your application is not complete by the end of February and you wish to be considered for an assistantship, please contact Dr. Shannon Scott (shannonscott@wsu.edu) for an update on the status of our assistantship offers.

Click Here For More Information About Graduate Assistantships in Music.

Research Assistantships for Diverse Scholars and Campus Visitation Program (https://gradschool.wsu.edu/research-assistantship-for-diverse-scholars/). The Graduate School RADS program assists graduate students who are “U.S. students from underrepresented/underserved communities and to increase graduate student diversity in our degree programs and Washington State University.”  If you meet the eligibility requirements found on the Graduate School page, please contact Dr. Shannon Scott immediately (shannonscott@wsu.edu), as the deadlines for this program are earlier than deadlines for admittance to the School of Music.

International Applicants must have a TOEFL score of 80 or higher to enroll in the Master of Arts in Music program. International students can apply to the Master of Arts in Music program and complete the audition and interview, but will not receive an acceptance from the Graduate School until the TOEFL requirement is met. The requirements specific to international students are found here: https://gradschool.wsu.edu/international-requirements/.

The Curriculum

Masters students take core courses in graduate-level music theory, music history, and research and bibliography. Students choose elective courses that support their artistic, creative and professional goals, such as applied lessons, recitals, composition seminar, conducting seminar, literature, languages, and special topics courses. The 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 collaboration with the appropriate WSU department.

Students can opt for the Master of Arts in Music with no emphasis or can opt to pursue an emphasis in composition, music education, jazz or performance (including conducting). An emphasis indicates the student’s elective coursework is concentrated on composition, conducting, education, jazz or performance. Note that an emphasis in music education does not lead to certification to teach in secondary schools in Washington State. Students pursuing a degree with an emphasis are either admitted to the program with an emphasis or receive permission to declare an emphasis no later than the second semester of study. Students who do not wish to pursue an emphasis still take both core and elective courses, but are not expected to concentrate on a single area.

Fifth Year Master of Arts in Music

If you are currently an undergraduate in the School of Music at WSU in the Bachelor of Music Education degree, you may be eligible to complete the Master of Arts in Music degree in one year by beginning graduate coursework in your senior year as an undergraduate. If you are considering this path, contact Dr. Shannon Scott (shannonscott@wsu.edu) as soon as possible and no later than the second semester of your junior year to discuss the application process and the course plan.

Entrance Requirements

Successful applicants satisfy the entrance criteria set forth by both the Graduate School and the School of Music. Graduate School domestic student requirements are found here: https://gradschool.wsu.edu/domestic-requirements/.
Graduate School international student requirements are found here: https://gradschool.wsu.edu/international-requirements/.

Please note that the applicant must have an overall undergraduate G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher in order to be admitted to the Graduate School.

The School of Music Requirements (in addition to the Graduate School requirements)
To be admitted with or without an emphasis:
1. The applicant has earned or is in the process of earning a baccalaureate degree in music from an accredited college or university.
2. The applicant’s G.P.A. in all undergraduate music courses is 3.00 or higher. (This is in addition to the minimum overall 3.00 G.P.A. required by the Graduate School).
3. The applicant’s G.P.A. in Music History and Music Theory courses is 3.00 or higher.
4. The applicant interviews and auditions for the appropriate applied faculty and ensemble directors demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level. All applicants, including conductors and composers, perform an audition for the appropriate faculty and ensemble directors to prove adequate proficiency vocally or instrumentally to participate in large ensembles or, in the case of pianists, accompanying class.
5. To be admitted with an emphasis the additional requirements are:

  1. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a composition emphasis submit representative scores and recordings demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  2. Applicants wishing to be admitted with an education emphasis submit a statement of educational philosophy demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  3. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a jazz emphasis perform an audition and, if appropriate, submit scores of compositions and arrangements demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  4. Applicants wishing to enter with a performance emphasis perform an audition demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level. Consult the appropriate School of Music faculty about the audition repertoire.
  5. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a conducting emphasis submit videos of conducting performances and/or rehearsals demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.

6. International students must earn a TOEFL score of 80 or higher before they can be admitted to the program.

How to Apply

An application for the Master of Arts in Music degree is a combination of the application to the Graduate School (online application, statement of purpose, three references, transcripts) and an audition and interview with the School of Music.

Apply to the Graduate School

Start by reading the information from the Graduate School about the online application. https://gradschool.wsu.edu. In order to complete the application, you will need this information on hand:
U.S. social security number (optional), Residency information, Name and location of all colleges and universities and dates of attendance, All degrees earned, or expected, and dates, Names, addresses, emails, and positions of three references (for letters of recommendation), Credit card or electronic check information needed for payment.

A prospective music graduate student must have earned or be earning a baccalaureate degree in music from an accredited college or university.  The School of Music does not require applicants to submit GRE exam scores.

The Statement of Purpose required on the online application describes your professional goals, artistic and professional experience and reasons for pursuing the Master of Arts in Music degree. If there are other aspects of your life you would like the faculty to know of, this is the place to describe them. You can write this offline and paste it into the text box. Please do not use the hard return at ends of lines, as this shows up as editing graphics.

All graduate student applicants will be required to supply transcripts and the names and emails of three references along with their application. The references are contacted electronically for their official letters by the Graduate School. Transcripts, if not attached to the online application,  are sent directly to the Graduate School.

Interview/Audition at the School of Music

Once your application is available in WSU’s imaging system, you will be put in touch with the appropriate faculty to set up your audition and interview. When possible, the applicant auditions and interviews on the WSU campus. A recorded audition may be submitted in lieu of a personal audition, and interviews can be conducted via live video if the candidate cannot travel to campus.

Degree Requirements

Entering graduate students are required to take diagnostic placement examinations in theory (including aural skills), music history and literature, and piano proficiency prior to enrolling for classes. These examinations are used to help plan the student’s course of study, including remedying deficiencies. Descriptions of these exams are here: https://music.wsu.edu/graduate-studies/orientation/.

Requirements for the Master of Arts in Music degree include at least 30 credit hours of approved graduate work. Fourteen of these hours constitute a required core; in addition, 4 credits of MUS 700 or MUS 702 are required. The remaining credit hours are electives.

Core curriculum requirements for all graduate students include MUS 560 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Music; two graduate courses in music theory, fulfilled by taking MUS 550 Seminar in Analysis and MUS 553 Seminar in Music Theory, two graduate music history courses, fulfilled by taking MUS 561 Seminar in Literature of 20th Century Music and MUS 566 Seminar in Music History (Baroque or Classic/Romantic), or by taking two semesters of MUS 566; and 4 credits of performance (lessons and/or ensembles). Students with a performance emphasis (includes conducting) must complete a Graduate Recital MUS 522.

The structure and design of the program normally require 2 years (4 semesters) of study. The thesis option requires completion of an approved thesis (MUS 700) for credit, while the non-thesis option requires completion of an approved project or special problem (MUS 702) for credit. Graduate students may complete portions of their degree programs during summer sessions, but not all courses are available. All degree options culminate in a final oral examination during which time candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to integrate and interpret material in the major field with emphasis on the work presented in the thesis, the project, or the special problem.

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