Academic Programs Catalog

College of Music

Graduate Study

Music Cognition - Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Music Cognition provides the foundation of how music theory and music cognition relate to each other and to related disciplines. Students will understand the fundamental principles and perception of music cognition and be able to read, interpret, and construct experimental studies in music cognition.  The graduate certificate is available to students currently enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University.


To be considered for admission to the Graduate Certificate in Music Cognition, an applicant must:

  1. Complete an application consisting of a personal statement, transcripts of previous college or university course work, three letters of recommendation, a scholarly writing sample, and an optional portfolio of work. 
  2. Interview, if invited, with the affiliated faculty to determine admission. 
  3. Pass the College of Music Graduate Orientation Examination in Music Theory or complete MUS 200 Music Theory Review with a grade of 2.0 or higher.
Requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Music Cognition

The student must complete 11 to 14 credits from the following: 
1. Both of the following courses (5 credits):
MUS 973 Readings in Music Theory 2
PSY 802 Basic Cognitive Processes 3
2. One of the following courses (2 or 3 credits):
MUS 868 Topics in Music Analysis 3
MUS 872 Tonal Forms 2
MUS 879 Tonal Literature and Analysis 3
3. One of the following courses (3 credits)
PSY 801 Sensation and Perception 3
PSY 803 Higher Order Cognitive Processes 3
PSY 867 Nature and Practice of Cognitive Science 3
PSY 992 Seminar in Psychology 3
4. Active participation in relevant music theory area events, including colloquia and guest lectures, and active participation in the Timing, Attention and Perception Lab (TAP lab) including relevant events in the Psychology/Cognitive Science program.
5. Research Requirement (1 to 3 credits):
A capstone research essay approximately 15-20 pages in length and a public presentation in the model of a conference presentation. The topic could emerge from the research project undertaken within MUS 973 or could come from research conducted in conjunction with the TAP lab. Alternatively, the topic could draw connections between what the student has learned in other courses undertaken as part of the student’s primary degree program. The topic will be approved by a member of the faculty of the theory area within the College of Music or from the Department of Psychology, who will advise the project and certify its completion. Students will register for 1 to 3 credits of MUS 898 Master’s Research or PSY 891 Special Topics in Psychology with the faculty advisor. An alternative independent research course may be substituted if deemed appropriate by the faculty advisor.