Academic Programs Catalog

College of Music

Graduate Study

College of Music Requirements for the Master of Arts and Master of Music Degrees

Master of Music degree programs are offered in the following areas: Collaborative Piano, Jazz Studies, Music Performance, Music Composition, Music Conducting, Music Education, Music Performance, Music Theory, and Piano Pedagogy. The Master of Arts degree program is offered in the area of Musicology.


To be admitted to a master's degree program in the college on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A minimum cumulative grade–point average of 2.80 for the undergraduate program of study, as well as have met the College requirements for admission to a master's degree program.
  2. Received the approval of the faculty in the applicant's area of specialization.
  3. A baccalaureate degree from a recognized educational institution.

Master's Orientation Examinations

Every student admitted to a master's degree program in the College of Music, with the exception of master’s students in jazz studies, must take the College's graduate orientation examination in music theory, a two-part examination covering written music theory and aural skills.  Both parts of this examination must be taken before the first day of classes of the student's first semester of enrollment in the degree.  The examination is given before the first day of classes in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.  The lowest passing score for each part is 70%.

Master's students who score below 70% on the written music theory orientation examination must take MUS 200 Introduction to Music Theory. Master’s students who score below 70% on the aural skills examination must take MUS 201 Aural Skills.  MUS 200 and MUS 201 may not be used to meet the course or credit requirements of any College of Music degree program.
Students who are required to take MUS 200 must complete the course with a grade of 2.0 or higher before enrolling in any 400-, 800-, or 900-level music theory course.  Students who are required to take MUS 201 must take it either prior to or concurrently with their first music theory course at the 400-, 800-, or 900-level and must complete it with a grade of 2.0 or higher.

Oral Final Certifying Examination

All students in master's degree programs in the college are required to pass an oral final certifying examination.  Oral final certifying examinations are given during fall and spring semesters, and may be given during a summer session with the approval of the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and every member of the student's examining committee. 

Academic Standards

A master’s student in the College of Music must:

  1. maintain a cumulative grade–point average of at least 3.00.
  2. not accumulate deferred grades (identified by the DF–Deferred marker) in more than 8 credits in courses (excluding courses numbered 896, 897, 898, 899 or 996, 997, 998, 999).

If at the end of a semester a graduate student fails to meet one or both of the requirements specified above, the student shall receive a deficiency warning.  If the deficiency is not removed within one year, the graduate student will not be allowed to continue in the degree program.

A student may accumulate no more than 6 credits with a grade below 3.0 in courses that are to be counted toward the degree.
All deficiencies with regard to orientation examinations or entrance requirements, whether stated in terms of credits, courses, or performance standards, must be removed before the oral final certifying examination that is required for the master's degree is scheduled.
If the student fails the oral final certifying examination, the student shall be allowed to retake the examination only once, during the next Fall or Spring semester.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits must have been completed within the time limit for the degree. As many as 9 semester credits of graduate course work (excluding research and thesis credits) may be transferred into a master’s degree program from other postsecondary accredited institutions of comparable academic quality, if they are appropriate to a student’s program and provided they were completed within the time limits approved for the earning of the degree desired at Michigan State University. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies must grant approval. Only courses in which at least a 3.0 grade or its equivalent was received will be considered for transfer.

With the approval of the student’s academic advisor and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, these transfer credits may fulfill specific MSU degree requirements; but not all transfer credits will necessarily fulfill specific MSU degree requirements.