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Graduate Studies

Graduate Degrees and Programs

Master of Music

Available majors:


Collaborative piano
Music Education
Music Theory 

Performance and Pedagogy (piano, strings, and voice)
Sacred Music (choral conducting and organ)

Doctor of Musical Arts

Available majors:


Collaborative piano

Music Education

Certificate in Music Performance

Available majors:



Collaborative piano


Moores School of Music Office of Graduate Studies

Jeffrey Sposato, Director of Graduate Studies

Stacia Morgan Dunn, Graduate Advisor

Other contacts

(area code for all numbers below is 713)

University of Houston contacts (click to open):
Admissions 743 1010
Cashier 743 1010
Campus police and security (non-emergency) 743 0600
Operator 743 1000
Parking and transportation services 743 1097
Scholarships and financial aid (for all non-music financial awards) 743 1010
Moores School of Music contacts (click to open):
Main office (for information on music lockers, lost and found, Tuesday recitals, recital scheduling, and other concerns) 743 3009
Main office fax 743 3166
Graduate Advisor & Scholarship Coordinator (Stacia Morgan Dunn) 
Undergraduate advisor (Carrie Young)
Moores School of Music division chairs (click to open):
Athletic Bands: 
Brass: Mark Barton
Collaborative Piano: Timothy Hester
Composition: Rob Smith
Conducting (choral): Betsy Weber
Conducting (orchestral): Franz Krager
Conducting (wind): David Clemmer
Musicology: Paul Bertagnolli
Music Education: Julie Kastner
Music Theory: Tim Koozin
Percussion: Blake Wilkins
Piano: Nancy Weems
Strings: Kirsten Yon
Voice: Joseph Evans
Woodwinds: Mark Barton

General Information for Graduate Students


The information on this web page guides graduate students in the Moores School of Music as they make progress toward their degrees and assists faculty as they advise graduate students. Substantial parts of it clarify important issues and procedures with which graduate students and faculty must deal on a daily basis. This page should not be thought of as an official document but rather as an advising tool, and it does not substitute for the University of Houston Graduate Catalog (available online at ).

Students should refer to this information for the duration of their degree programs and log progress toward their degrees on the appropriate degree plan forms, available under the appropriate degree program descriptions (Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Music, Certificate in Music Performance; choose one of the links on the left side of the page). Every student is responsible for knowing and satisfying their degree requirements as outlined here and in the University of Houston Graduate Catalog.


Students must schedule an advising appointment with the Graduate Advisor (gradmusic at before registering for courses in every semester in which they are enrolled for graduate study. Students must come prepared for advising appointments: students should carefully review their degree requirements, courses they have completed, progress toward their degree, and course offerings in the upcoming semester.

Continuous Enrollment and Leaves of Absence

All students enrolled in Doctor of Musical Arts degrees are required to be enrolled in consecutive Fall and Spring semesters until they complete their degree program and their degree is awarded. Generally graduate students must be enrolled for at least three credits, unless other regulations apply (as with international students or those with scholarship or assistantship awards, for example). DMA students not in continuous enrollment will not remain in good academic standing and will be required to petition for readmission to the degree program. The petition requires the endorsement of the department and the dean of the college, and the student will be required to meet all the criteria for admission to the program in place at the time the petition for readmission is submitted.

In some cases DMA students may apply for a leave of absence, which would allow a student to maintain good academic standing while not enrolled. Leaves will be granted within these general guidelines: (1) reasons for a leave cannot be academic (students cannot request a leave to allow time to study for comprehensive exams, for example); (2) leaves may be granted for financial reasons, but in these cases there must be evidence of severe financial hardship (i.e., leaves cannot be granted in order to save students the cost of enrolling continuously); (3) leaves may be granted for medical emergencies, family emergencies, or significant changes in family circumstances that clearly interfere with a student’s ability to make progress toward their degrees; and (4) leaves may be granted to students who need to be away from campus or the city of Houston for professional or other reasons.

In all cases, leaves of absence are temporary: they will be granted for a period of one semester and extended, once, for an additional semester if the situation requiring the leave persists. Because leaves are meant to be temporary solutions to temporary problems, there must be clear evidence that the circumstances requiring the leave are temporary; more permanent situations in which change is not foreseeable do not warrant leaves of absence.

To request a leave of absence, students must submit a formal letter of request to the Director of Graduate Studies (email to gradmusic at The request will require approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and from the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Students already on a leave of absence who wish to request an extension must also submit a formal letter of request; these requests will be treated as new requests and are subject to reapproval.

Diagnostic Exams

All students entering MM and DMA programs must take Moores School of Music diagnostic exams in music history and music theory prior to the start of their first semester. (Students who complete an MM degree at the Moores School of Music and who are immediately accepted—in their first semester after completion of their previous degree—to another MM program or a DMA program may be exempt from the diagnostic exams.) Students who do not take diagnostic exams prior to the start of their first semester will automatically be enrolled in the appropriate remedial course(s) (Survey of Music History, Music Theory Review I, or Music Theory Review II). Diagnostic exams in music theory are given on scheduled audition days; diagnostic exams in music theory and musicology are given on the Thursday before the first week of classes in fall and spring semesters. More information on diagnostic exam scheduling, as well as information on registering for appropriate history and theory review courses, is available from the graduate office. See below for specific information on what students can expect with regard to diagnostic exam content.

Exams are evaluated by the musicology and music theory faculty. All students are allowed one opportunity to take the diagnostic exams, and the full exam must be completed to be considered (i.e., students may not elect to take portions of exams). If remedial coursework is required after the exam (as determined by the exam results), students must enroll for these courses in the earliest semester such courses are available (in most cases this will be during the first semester of graduate study, and in all cases this will be during the first year of graduate study), and, in the case of the two remedial courses in music theory, students must enroll for the courses in sequence if both remedial courses are required—i.e., students assigned to both theory reviews courses must take Graduate Music Theory Review I before taking Graduate Music Theory Review II.

Passing scores on the diagnostic exams, or passing grades in the appropriate history or theory review courses (where a passing grade is C- or better for MM students and B- or better for DMA students) will be required before students may enroll in graduate-level history and theory courses (including MUSI 6300: Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology). Credit for review courses will not be applied toward the degree.

Voice majors at the graduate level are required to take a diagnostic exam in diction that will include oral recitation of selected prosaic and poetic passages in English, Italian, German, and French, as well as a written test that will include International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol recognition and transliteration of passages of songs in each language. This exam is administered shortly before the start of classes every semester and evaluated by the voice faculty. Students who do not receive a passing score on the exam must take Advanced Lyric Diction (MUSI  6103) at their earliest opportunity (their first semester, unless granted special dispensation by the Voice Division Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies). Those students required to take Advanced Lyric Diction must successfully complete the course before they will be permitted to perform their degree recital.

Specific information regarding diagnostic exam content:

Diagnostic exam in music history and literature:

The diagnostic exam in music history and literature comprises three sections:

1) Short answer identification of terms and names. THis section involves important terms and names in Western music, from early medieval times to the present (e.g., organum, fauxbourdon, basso continuo, the Art of the Fugue, Modeste Mussorgsky, tone cluster, Louis Armstrong, metric modulation, Peter Grimes). Students can prepare for this by studying the glossary and marginalia in such texts as Grout-Palisca-Burkholder's A History of Western Music.

2) Short essays. This section largely involves questions about some of the prominent genres of music history, such as motet, mass, art song, symphony, opera, or ballet; or some prominent movement in music, such as Ars Nova, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, modern jazz, or minimalism. Students can prepare for this by consulting either a history of music as mentioned above, or a shorter handbook that gives an overview of Western music.

3) Listening examples. This section asks students to attempt to identify the composer and approximate year of various musical examples from the Middle Ages to the present. The readers of this portion are not so concerned with the student's ability to actually identify such pieces as to make educated guesses as to the likely composer and century of composition. The student can prepare for this by consulting the recorded examples for one of the major textbooks on Western music history, such as the Grout-Palisca-Burkholder text.

A sample diagnostic exam in music history and literature is available at this link.

Diagnostic exam in music theory:

The diagnostic exam in music theory comprises four sections:

1) Exercises in common-practice chromatic voice-leading, i.e., 4-part SATB writing with chromatic harmony and/or modulations. Students should be able to realize a figured bass and/or harmonize a melody line (given no bass line and no other harmonic indicators), using in both cases standard procedures of common-practice voice leading (logical harmonic progressions, avoidance of motion in prohibited parallel intervals, and the like). Any and all of the exercises may require the use of standard elements of chromatic harmony, including modulations, augmented sixth chords, and Neapolitan chords. Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of how such elements function in harmonic progressions and how to employ them in a voice-leading exercised.

2) 18th-century counterpoint analysis. This will involve analysis of a fugue, in which students are expected to know the names of, and be able to identify in score, the major components of standard Baroque fugues. Relevant terms may include: subject, countersubject, answer (real or tonal), exposition, bridge, episode, middle entry, etc.

3) Formal analysis of a large common-practice movement or portion thereof. This will involve score analysis in which students are expected to identify sections and characteristics of a standard sonata form. This will include analysis of the exposition and its constituent theme groups, transition, and coda sections, and may include analysis of a development (or portion thereof) and/or recapitulation. Harmonic analysis (i.e., Roman-numeral and figured bass analysis) of any section of the piece may be required.

4) Analysis of post-common-practice, 20th-century materials. This will require students to recognize, given scores or score excerpts, compositional procedures such as 12-tone serialism; polymeter, metric shifts, or other metric procedures; harmonic resources such as extended tertian harmony or non-tertian harmony; and scalar and collectional resources such as diatonic modes, non-diatonic scales, pandiatonicism, or others.

Other information: Students will not be permitted to use a piano for assistance on any part of the exam. In preparing for the exam, students may use for study and reference the latest editions of these widely-available theory texts: Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson, Techniques and Materials of Music: From the Common Practice through the Twentieth Century, 6th ed. (on voice-leading theory and practice and twentieth-century materials); Aldwell and Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading (on voice leading theory and practice); Robert Gauldin, A Practical Approach to 18th-Century Counterpoint; Douglass Green, Form in Tonal Music; Stefan Kostka, Materials and Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music.

 A sample diagnostic exam in music theory is available at this link.

Low Grade Policy

A student who receives a grade of C+ or lower in 12 semester hours of credit attempted at the University of Houston for graduate credit or for application toward the graduate degree, regardless of the student's classification and whether or not in repeated courses, is ineligible for any advanced degree at the University of Houston and will not be permitted to re-enroll for graduate study. The Termination of Enrollment section of the University of Houston Graduate Catalog specifies other regulations.

Grades and Grade Point Average

No course in which an MM student earns a grade of D+ or lower will be accepted for credit toward the degree. No course in which a DMA student earns a grade of C+ or lower will be accepted for credit toward the degree. (All graduate students should see also the Low Grade Policy above). All graduate students must maintain a minimum semester and cumulative grade point average of 3.00 for all graduate courses attempted. Failure to do so may result in a warning, probation, suspension, loss of financial support, or dismissal from the program.


Graduation is not automatic upon completion of degree requirements. Students must apply for graduation by the deadline listed in the University of Houston Academic Calendar (available online here). Payment of a $25.00 fee ($50 if filed late) is required; students also must be enrolled in the semester in which they plan to graduate.

If a student is unable to graduate in the semester during which application for graduation is made, the student will be required to complete another application for graduation and pay another fee in order to graduate in a subsequent semester.

Large Ensemble and Other Co-Enrollment Requirements

All students enrolled in applied music must enroll concurrently in an appropriate large ensemble, even if all degree requirements have been met. The new-music ensemble (AURA) may count for large-ensemble credit for a limited number of semesters (one semester for master’s students and two semesters for doctoral students).

Piano majors enrolled in applied music are assigned two hours per week of studio accompanying. (Piano majors with scholarship support must either [1] schedule an additional two hours per week of accompanying, or [2] enroll in an appropriate large ensemble during each semester of enrollment in applied study.) Organ majors will have other concurrent enrollment requirements, as determined by the department. For other co-enrollment requirements specific to their major area of study, students should contact their division head.

Music 6300: Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology

Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology is a prerequisite for graduate-level music history and literature courses. (Note that the prerequisite for MUSI 6300 is satisfaction of deficiencies in music history, either by successfully completing the diagnostic exam in music history or by passing the graduate-level Survey of Music History review course; see above, under "Diagnostic Exams.") MM students must complete MUSI 6300 at the first available opportunity; MM students are required to complete MUSI 6300 before enrolling in graduate-level coursework in music history. DMA students are also required to take MUSI 6300 unless the requirement is waived on the basis of materials submitted as part of their application to the school of music (including but not limited two transcripts, GRE scores, and evlaution of submitted writing sample). DMA students will be required to take MUSI 6300 at their first available opporuntity (which in most cases will be in their first semester of study).


An orientation and information session for all new Moores School of Music students occurs during the week prior to the start of classes.  There is a general meeting of all students on the Tuesday of the first week of classes in the Fall semester, at 1:00pm. Contact the graduate office more specific information.

An orientation session for graduate students with Teaching Assistantship positions occurs on the Friday before the start of the Fall semester. Contact the graduate office for more specific information.

Posting of Previous Degrees Earned

Each student who enters a graduate degree program at the University of Houston must be certain that their transcript on file reflects the posting of any previous degrees earned. Students may be accepted for admission to the MM or DMA program with the submission of a transcript showing a degree in progress, but once that degree has been completed the student must submit to the Graduate Office an updated transcript that reflects that degree's completion.

Scholarships and Teaching Assistantships

Students with scholarship or teaching assistantship support are responsible for meeting the terms of their Acceptance Agreement—including enrollment at the appropriate credit-hour load and any other stipulations—and must renew their support each spring following initial acceptance of the award. Students will be notified of the renewal requirement as appropriate.

Semester Credit Hours

The Moores School of Music further defines a credit hour as representing at least 15 not more than 30 minutes of private music instruction per week per 15-week semester.

Standardized Testing Requirements

GRE: All DMA-level applicants and MM applicants in composition, music education, music theory, and musicology, are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (General Exam) as part of their applications for admission. The GRE is a prerequisite for admission and may not be taken after a student has been admitted for graduate study.

TOEFL: Applicants for whom English is not the primary language are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The TOEFL is a prerequisite for admission and may not be taken after a student has been admitted for graduate study. The University of Houston accepts the internet-based TOEFL, or iBT, with a minimum acceptable score of 79; the minimum standard is strictly enforced at the university level. The University of Houston does not accept the institutiional TOEFL, or iTOEFL, for graduate admission.

IELTS: Applicants for graduate admission may submit passing scores from the International English Language Testing System as a substitute for TOEFL scores. The minimum acceptable IELTS score for graduate admission at the University of Houston is 6.5.

LCC: Applicants for graduate admission may submit, in lieu of the minimum passing scores on the TOEFL or IELTS, a passing grade in Level 6 of the intensive English program at the Language and Culture Center (LCC) at the University of Houston (administered by the University of Houston Department of English).

Transfer Credit

No more than nine hours of transfer credit from another institution may be applied toward the MM or DMA degrees. The minimum grade for all transferred credit hours is a B.