Skip to main content

Master of Music

Master of Music Program Information


Prospective Master of Music students must audition before a faculty committee; a live audition is an integral part of the application process and should be arranged as early as possible with both the Graduate Office and the appropriate area coordinator. An acceptable graduate-level performance is required at the audition. The audition will ideally be arranged within the published scholarship audition dates (available online at, or contact the Graduate Office at gradmusic at; a recorded audition may be arranged only under extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies as well as the appropriate area faculty.

Auditions will be conducted by a committee of at least three faculty members. In all cases auditions should consist of three (four for voice auditions) representative works in different styles, with at least one work performed from memory. For voice and piano applicants, all works must be memorized. If an accompanist is needed, the applicant should supply scores well in advance. Prospective Master of Music students in voice must perform selections in four languages, including English, and must demonstrate proficiency in the four major singing languages: English, Italian, German, and French.

Specific audition requirements by area of study are available on the auditions section of the website. If you have additional questions, please contact the appropriate area coordinator, or the graduate office.

Conditional Versus Unconditional Admission

If there are impediments to a graduate student's normal (unconditional) admission (a low grade point average, GRE scores slightly below the minmum, etc.), in certain circumstances it may be possible for a student to be admitted conditionally before being granted full, non-probationary academic standing. Conditions on such admissions may include, but are not limited to: (1) the student must enroll in 9–12 credit hours in the first semester of enrollment and include among those credit hours at least two graduate-level academic music courses worth 3 credits each; and (2) earn a grade of B- or better in all academic courses in the first semester of enrollment. Conditional status will be lifted upon satisfaction of the conditions and the student will be granted non-probationary academic standing. Failure to satisfy the conditions of the admission will result in dismissal from the graduate program.

International students (those holding either F-1 or J-1 visas) are not eligible for conditional admission.

Credit Toward a Second University of Houston Master's Degree

With the approval of the Dean of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, a maximum of six credit hours from an earned University of Houston master's degree may be applied for credit toward another University of Houston master's degree.

Degree plans

Collaborative Piano Performance--Instrumental
Performance & Pedagogy--Voice
Composition Performance--Organ Sacred Music--Choral Conducting
Conducting Performance--Piano Sacred Music--Composition
Music Education Performance--Voice Sacred Music--Organ
Music Theory Performance & Pedagogy--Piano
Musicology Performance & Pedagogy--Strings


Some MM degree programs allow for electives. Electives may be satisfied with graduate-level (6000-level or above) music courses or, pending approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, other courses in a different university department that may be considered an enhancement of a student’s degree objective. Only one credit hour of any ensemble will satisfy a free elective requirement; additional hours of applied study in the major area will not satisfy a free elective requirement or any other degree requirement.

Foreign Language Proficiency

MM students with majors in Music Theory and Musicology must demonstrate reading proficiency in French or German before completion of their degree program. Proficiency may be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  1. Satisfactory completion of fourth-semester level undergraduate French or German.
  2. Satisfactory completion of the second-semester level of the graduate reading courses in French or German.
  3. Satisfactory completion of a departmental translation exam in French or German. Translation exams are administered by the musicology faculty toward the ends of the fall and spring semesters; specific dates will be published during each semester (contact the Graduate Office for more information).


Unless a student performs a major recital during a semester, that student is expected to perform a semester jury.

Master's Comprehensive Examination

All Master of Music students must take a written comprehensive examination covering their major field of study, musicology, music theory, and score identification. Exam topics will derive from coursework completed during the degree program as well as from information pertinent to the student’s field of study; the score identification portion is independent of specific coursework. Comprehensive exams take place at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters, and students should take the exam in or after their final semester of coursework; specific dates for the exam will be published by the graduate office during each semester (contact the Graduate Office for more information). Students wishing to take the comprehensive exam must submit an application form (available in the Graduate Office) and a completed degree plan (available on this web site) to the graduate office by the published deadline in the semester in which they wish to take the comprehensive exam.

Students will appoint a comprehensive exam committee to administer their exam. This committee will comprise three faculty members, as follows: (1) the student’s major professor, (2) one music theory faculty member, and (3) one musicology faculty member. Because the comprehensive exam at the master’s level covers coursework completed for the degree as well as information pertinent to the student’s field of study, students generally are advised to appoint theory and musicology faculty with whom they have previously studied. In exceptional cases, such as those in which a student has not studied with any member of the theory or musicology faculty or the faculty with whom the student studied is on leave or otherwise unavailable to sit on the committee, the student may either choose another faculty member from that area (perhaps after consulting with them personally) or allow the Graduate Office to make that committee appointment for them. These faculty members then write their portion of the comprehensive exam in consultation with other members of the student’s committee.

Committee members will submit comprehensive exam questions, including scores if necessary, to the Graduate Office at least two weeks prior to the examination. The Graduate Office will notify committee members of the date of the exam and the deadline for submitting questions.

The four-hour exam is administered by the Graduate Office in one sitting. Students are required to take the exam on campus, on the designated day, at the scheduled time. At the conclusion of the exam, the Graduate Office circulates the entire exam as a package to each committee member for evaluation. Each committee member will evaluate the exam within three working days and forward it to the next member. Committee members grade each portion of the exam independently and have four grade options for each section: pass, fail, oral exam required, or abstain.

If one or more committee members chooses a grade of “fail” on one or more portions of the exam, the full committee will meet to consider the exam. If the committee then determines by majority vote that the student has failed any portion of the exam, the student may retake (in written form) that particular portion of the exam within six months. The committee will then evaluate the student's rewritten exam according to the same procedures and criteria as the first exam. A second failure will result in the student's dismissal from the graduate program.

In evaluating the exams, committee members also have the option of requiring—before issuing a pass or fail grade—the student to submit to an oral follow-up exam if aspects of the written exam remain in need of clarification. The oral exam will take place if one or more committee members chooses a grade of “oral exam required” on one or more portions of the exam. The oral exam will take place within three weeks of the written exam and will be graded pass or fail by a majority vote of the committee. If the student fails the oral exam, a second oral exam may be scheduled within six months, or the student may complete another course of action at the committee’s discretion (another written exam, for example). A second failure will result in the student's dismissal from the graduate program.

Music Education Final Project

A final project is required of MM students with a major in music education. The project generally emerges from coursework in MUED 7335, 6310, or 6301, and should focus on one topic that has practical significance for the music classroom. The project will take one of the following forms (subject to approval by the Music Education Coordinator):

  1. A 15–20 page discussion of recent (within the last 20 years) research with an emphasis on how this research may be applied to music education.
  2. A video, with accompanying handouts, including a PowerPoint presentation, of a conference session or in-service presentation that addresses a current trend or pedagogically important issue in music teaching.
  3. A teaching portfolio, including video. The format of the portfolio is that which is required for National Board Certification and includes contextual information, lesson plans, self assessments, and reflections on teaching.

Musicology and Music Theory Theses

MM students with majors in Music Theory and Musicology must submit a master’s thesis exhibiting original research in an area of music theory or musicology. Students will appoint a committee to oversee the writing and evaluation of the thesis. The committee will comprise three faculty members: the student’s major professor and two other appropriate faculty members from the School of Music (or another discipline, if appropriate) chosen in consultation with the major professor and the Director of Graduate Studies. The student should form the thesis committee as early as possible in the degree program. The full committee must approve both the thesis topic and the final copy of the thesis. Thesis guidelines are available from the music theory and musicology faculties.

Deadlines for submitting the final copy of the thesis to the office of the Dean of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts correspond to the published deadlines for doctoral dissertation submissions and are available on the Thesis and Dissertation page of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences web site.

Postbaccalaureate Status

Applicants holding a baccalaureate degree who do not meet the specific standards for admission to a graduate program in music but who are otherwise qualified for graduate study may be permitted to correct deficiencies while enrolled as postbaccalaureate (PB) students. PB students will be admitted at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, and PB admissions will be granted according to University of Houston admissions policies and procedures as specified in the university’s graduate catalog.

Postbaccalaureate students later admitted to a graduate program must petition the Director of Graduate Studies to accept for graduate credit coursework completed while on PB status. Acceptance of such coursework for credit toward a graduate degree is not automatic. A maximum of twelve credit hours earned in PB status will be accepted for graduate credit—any additional credit hours earned will be forfeited.


Recitals are scheduled during Fall and Spring semesters, only between the first and last day of classes. Students must be enrolled for private applied study during the semester in which the recital occurs. MM students required to perform a recital must appoint a three-member recital committee comprising at least two faculty from their major area of study, including their major professor; if not from the student's major area, the third committee member may be an academic faculty member. Recital committees should be chosen in consultation with the student’s major professor, the coordinator of the student’s major area, and the Director of Graduate Studies. Programs for degree recitals must be approved by, and students must present a pre-recital jury to, the full recital committee at least two weeks prior to the recital. The committee has the option to not permit the recital to proceed as scheduled on the basis of either the program or the student’s performance at the pre-recital jury. For the purposes of degree plans, a “full recital” is generally defined as 60 minutes of music. Recitals must fulfill all area-specific requirements specific to the student’s degree plan or area of study, including requirements for memorization (voice and piano, for example, are required to perform recitals entirely from memory).

Committee members should submit recital grades to the Graduate Office within 24 hours after the recital (or within 10 days if viewing a recorded recital). Graduate Recital Evaluation Forms are available from the Graduate Office of from the front office in the School of Music; committee chairs should distribute a copy of the form to each committee member individually at the time of the recital. Committees may meet at the conclusion of the recital to discuss the student’s performance and grade, but in any case each committee member should submit their own confidential grade form. The student’s final recital grade will be the average of the grades submitted by each committee member (including the committee chair).

Residency Requirement and Time Limitation

Master’s degree programs must be completed in residence and within five years of the date a student enrolled with the objective of obtaining the degree (computed according to the “ORD,” or “Official Reporting Date” for degree objective, as explained in the University of Houston Graduate Catalog). No credit (including transfer credit) older than five years at the time of commencement will be included for credit toward the degree.