Degree Requirements: Master of Arts in Music (MA)

The following list of requirements is excerpted from the Graduate Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This information has been reformatted and annotated for increased legibility.

A minimum of 32 credits is required for the degree of Master of Arts.

The Master of Arts in Music is for students who are working toward entrance to a PhD program, performing students with academic interests, and students preparing for positions in the music industry or library science. To enter students normally possess an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent. The MA in Music is offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) in close collaboration with the College of Fine Arts (CFA) School of Music. Students accepted for the program may be required by the faculty to take prerequisite courses if their undergraduate degree was not in music.

Placement Exams

All incoming students must take proficiency exams in music history and music theory. These exams are administered just before the start of the fall semester and the results are used to inform course selections. Students who are found to be deficient in either area may be assigned remedial coursework as determined by their advisor. This remedial coursework will not count towards the requirements of the degree.

Fields of Specialization and Coursework

Candidates choose one of the following fields of specialization:

Historical Musicology Students should take the Pro-Seminar in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MH 820) in their first semester and Research and Bibliography (CFA MH 711) in their first year. There are no further specific course requirements for the MA in Historical Musicology, but students should customize their program in consultation with their advisor according to the following distribution:

  1. 16 credits from among graduate-level courses in musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory;
  2. 4 credits in approved non-music electives;
  3. 4 credits in Master’s Thesis (CFA MH 799).
  4. Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  5. Have no more than 2 failing grades (lower than B or an incomplete grade older than 12 months).
  6. Pass qualifying exams and other milestones on the schedule specified (and published) by the program.

Ethnomusicology: Requirements are as follows:

  • CFA MH 820: Pro-Seminar in Musicology and Ethnomusicology (taken in first semester)
  • CFA MH 860: Research Methods in Ethnomusicology
  • CFA MH 861: Contemplating Ethnomusicology
  • CFA MH 336/436: Musical Cultures of the World, either as auditor or teaching fellow
  • 4 credits in CFA MH 799: Master’s Thesis
  • At least two semesters of CFA MH 561: World Music Ensemble, either as student, auditor, or instructor (worth 0 to 1 credit)
  • 16 credits of approved electives from areas such as anthropology, musicology, music education, history, or specific area studies

In addition, students must

  1. Maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  2. Have no more than 2 failing grades (lower than B or an incomplete grade older than 12 months).
  3. Pass qualifying exams and other milestones on the schedule specified (and published) by the program.

Language Requirements

MA candidates in Historical Musicology must demonstrate a reading knowledge of German and one other foreign language. MA candidates in Ethnomusicology must demonstrate a speaking knowledge of one foreign language relevant to their studies.

Students who choose to fulfill a language requirement through a GRS Reading Seminar (e.g., GRS LF 621, LG 621, LI 621, etc.) should obtain a copy of the Report of Examinations form from the department’s administrative coordinator to be signed by the Chair and then submitted to the GRS Records Office. Students who fulfill a language requirement by examination will have this form submitted on their behalf.

Comprehensive Exams

MA candidates in Historical Musicology must pass a Comprehensive Exam. This oral exam is usually  taken at the beginning of the fourth semester of course work and consists of a 30-minute round of questions from members of the faculty on some of the  fundamental repertories of Western music, as all as on the work of important scholars in the field. Candidates must display a general knowledge of and familiarity with this repertory and its history. A study guide for the exam can be requested at the beginning of the third semester.

MA candidates in Ethnomusicology must pass a Comprehensive Exam. This exam must be taken at the beginning of the fourth semester of course work. The exam will be oral and will consist of a one-half hour round of questions from members of the faculty on the theory, history, and practice of ethnomusicology. Candidates must display a general knowledge of the field and its history.

Terminal Project

Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology candidates must write a thesis. Students should discuss and formulate a topic with their advisor by the end of their second semester. The student will first submit to the Chair of the Department a proposal of approximately 10 pages in length, consisting of:

  1. a description of the subject to be addressed and the methods of research involved,
  2. a chapter outline, and
  3. a bibliography.

Spring graduates should submit their proposals to the chair no later than November 15 of their third semester. After the proposal has been approved, the candidate may enroll in Master’s Thesis (CFA MU 795). Please note that a separate thesis title approval form must be submitted to the GRS Graduate School Office. For further information about this form, see the GRS Graduation Information page.

The final draft of the completed thesis must be submitted to the Chair two weeks before the university deadline for submission.  This copy must already have been approved and signed by the readers. Failure to adhere to these dates will mean that the date of graduation will be delayed. After approval by the Chair, one hard copy of the final document must be submitted to the Chair.

Research with Human Subjects

Students doing research or field work with living human subjects, or with data from living human subjects, are required to comply with IRB regulations. For further information and to begin the process of obtaining IRB compliance, see the Institutional Review Board website.