Acceptance into the master's degree programs of the School of Music requires expectations beyond those in the Graduate Bulletin. Admission to graduate study does not imply admission to candidacy for a master's degree. A maximum of nine (9) hours of graduate work earned before one has gained admission to the School of Music can be applied toward a master's degree. Members of all under-represented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
Students seeking regular admission to master's level programs at The University of Southern Mississippi must:
- Have a "B" average or better on music courses in the undergraduate degree
- Have a grade point average of at least 2.75 (A = 4.0) on the last two years of undergraduate study
- Submit test scores of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination. (Music Theory M.M., Music History & Literature M.M., and Music Education M.M.E. programs only); (Not required for Conducting and Performance)
- Statement of Purpose which includes your area of specialization and your reasons for seeking an advanced degree.
- Three Letters of Recommendation
- Pass a candidacy audition (M. M. Conducting and Performance only). A Special Examination process is required for candidates in Music History and Literature. See below.
- Submit at least three strong letters of recommendation and/or undergo a successful personal interview.
- Students who are unable to meet regular admission standards may be considered for conditional admission. For details concerning conditional admission, see Admission Requirements and Procedures .
Please note: The Graduate Record Examination is required for both conditional and regular admission. Students who are admitted conditionally must pass a candidacy audition (if required) before completing 9 hours of coursework.
Candidacy Audition for Music Performance degrees:
All students must audition for the appropriate area faculty (generally, recordings are not acceptable.) This audition must be deemed Satisfactory before one can be accepted into the School of Music (i.e., before completing nine (9) hours of graduate work). Early auditions are encouraged, and a high level of performance proficiency is expected.
The audition/interview process will consist of a rehearsal with a university performing ensemble and an interview with the appropriate faculty. Applicants should request specific audition repertoire by communicating with the band, orchestra, or choral office. Considerable experience as a member of a performing ensemble is expected.
Brass Performance: For those majoring in brass performance, the candidacy audition must be a full recital for the USM brass faculty.
Percussion Performance: For those majoring in percussion performance, the applicant should demonstrate proficiency on timpani, on mallet keyboards, and should perform a multiple-percussion performance.
Piano Performance: For those majoring in piano performance, the audition must be memorized, be at least thirty minutes in length, and be performed before the piano faculty; it must include works from at least three different periods in music (e.g., Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist, or Contemporary). The faculty may select portions from the repertoire submitted. The piano area highly recommends you check your repertoire with any members of the piano faculty.
String Performance: For those majoring in string performance, the candidacy audition must be at least thirty minutes in length and must include three works of contrasting style, preferably representing three different periods in music.
Voice Performance: For International (those outside of the contiguous U.S.) applicants only, the voice faculty accepts auditions via "live" Skype or current YouTube upload. Domestic applicants must audition on site for voice faculty and fulfill the following requirements: Voice performance majors must demonstrate, by audition, (1) advanced vocal technique; (2) good diction in Italian, French, German, and English; and (3) good vocal quality and musicianship. The repertoire must be memorized and include (1) an aria from opera or oratorio; (2) an Italian song or aria; (3) a German Lied; (4) a French Mélodie; and (5) a song in English.
Woodwind Performance: For those majoring in woodwind performance, the candidacy audition must be at least thirty minutes in length and must include three works of contrasting style, preferably representing three different periods in music.
Specific areas in which this degree may be earned are:
Special Requirement for Voice Performance
The student's transcript(s) must show grades of B- or better in two years of foreign language (any combination of two of the following: German, French, and Italian) and at least one course in diction for singers. Students lacking these will be required to pass these courses in addition to the requirements for the degree. In lieu of course work, satisfactory performance on language exams, administered by the USM School of Social Science and Global Studies, is acceptable.
Program Requirements and Academic Policies
All entering master's students are required to take a Diagnostic Entrance Examination in music theory and in music history & literature. The purposes of this examination are 1) to determine whether the student has foundation-level deficiencies that need to be addressed in order for her/him to be successful in graduate courses and on the comprehensive examination; and 2) to provide information that will guide the student and his/her advisor in selecting useful and appropriate academic courses.
Diagnostic Examinations are administered on campus in fall, spring, and summer each Thursday and/or Friday preceding the first day of classes or as announced by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Newly admitted students should always see the Coordinator for the most up-to-date information.
Students who do not pass the history diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 630. Students who do not pass the theory diagnostic exam must enroll in MUS 620. These courses must be included within the first two semesters of graduate work. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted for the summer semester only and will be considered on an individual basis.
Undergraduate music theory and/or history courses may be required as prerequisites to further study in graduate music theory or history. Students who do not pass the music theory review, or the history review (or required undergraduate courses) will not be allowed to enroll in further study in music history or music theory until the grade of "B-" or better is earned in the required course(s).
NOTE: Only the MME (Online) students may enroll in MUS 620X and MUS 630X for graduate credit. Resident students must enroll in MUS 620 and MUS 630.
Early in the first term of full-time residence or before nine (9) hours of graduate credit have been earned, the student and the major professor select those faculty who will serve as the student's Advisory Committee. Master's committees must include three members: 1) the major professor, 2) another professor from the major area, 3) a representative from Music Theory or Music History. Changes to this formula must be pre-approved in writing by the School of Music Director. These faculty members will help the student plan his/her program of study, attend and grade his/her recital, and prepare and grade his/her comprehensive exam.
Special Problems Courses (MUS 692, 792, MED 692, 792)
Students cannot enroll in special problems courses without appropriate approval. Petitions requesting permission to enroll are available on the School of Music website at https://www.usm.edu/music/forms-0
Petitions must be submitted to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies by the end of SOAR open registration. Special Problems courses demand a minimum of 45 hours work for each hour of credit earned. It is expected that the result of any problem undertaken be available for faculty examination; copies of term papers, examinations, or compositions must be turned in to the Coordinator for this purpose.
A written comprehensive exam is required. The test will be prepared and graded by the student's Graduate Advisory Committee; it will cover the area of the major field. Master's comprehensive exams dates will be posted by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies in the summer of the ensuing Academic Year. Announcements are made approximately two (2) months prior to the exams. The dates will be in October (fall dates may vary), April, and July. The exact dates of the examinations are determined by the Coordinator of Graduate Studies and are publicized as soon as the University's Academic Calendar is available. Students must register for the exam two months in advance with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
The Coordinator of Graduate Studies must receive the results of the comprehensive examination in time to notify the University Registrar and the Graduate Office (i.e., no later than the last day of general exams for presenting signed theses to the Graduate Office).
A student who fails the Comprehensive Examination may repeat the exam once; the test must be repeated within one year of the first comprehensive examination.
Master's students are expected to enroll continuously after they have taken required coursework until they complete their degree using the guidelines listed below.
- Students must register for at least one (1) hour of independent study and research (697) or thesis (698) in the Fall and Spring semesters if they:
a. Have incomplete grades (Is) in one or more courses
b. Have completed all coursework but must take comprehensive exams
c. Have not completed their thesis
d. Have not completed their project
- Students must enroll for one (1) hour in the Summer semester if they are using university services, e.g., library and/or technology services.
- Students must register for one (1) hour of 698 during the semester they expect to defend and complete the thesis or project. All required coursework must be completed before the semester in which the student defends the thesis. The thesis must be deposited in the Graduate School or the final project given to the major professor.
- Students must register for one (1) hour of 697 the next semester if they have not deposited the thesis in the Graduate School or submitted the final project to their school.
Failure to enroll for the appropriate hours will result in the student being discontinued from USM and require that the student reapply for admission to the program.
Before scheduling a recital, the student must contact all members of the Advisory Committee and work to find a date that all can attend. In order for the recital to be given, a majority of the Advisory Committee (at least 2 of 3) must be in attendance. If members of the committee are unable to attend, a quality recording must be provided. At least fourteen days before the recital, the student must issue a written or emailed invitation to each member of his or her committee. If recitals are required by the student's degree plan, the Advisory Committee will:
- Approve the repertoire in writing (students must fill out a Recital Repertoire Approval Form and return it to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies no later than one month prior to the recital date), attend the recital, and then all members must grade the recital as Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).
- At least 2 of the 3 members must judge the recital satisfactory for it to count.
- Should a recital be judged Unsatisfactory, another recital, at a date determined by the Advisory Committee, must take place.
- Should a recital be canceled or postponed until a succeeding semester, the recital will be graded "E" (course in progress) or "I" (incomplete). When the grade of "E" is given, the student must re-register for the course and receive a letter grade for that course.
- A student who receives two grades of Unsatisfactory in meeting degree recital requirements will not be allowed to continue as a candidate.
Jury Requirements/Final Examinations
Students who are enrolled in MUP (Music Performance) Private Lessons in their principal applied area and who are seeking the Master of Music degree with emphasis in performance must perform a jury for the appropriate applied faculty. All other master's students enrolled in MUP Private Lessons must perform a final examination for the applied teacher. At the finish of each semester and summer term, the applied teacher must complete a "Final Jury/Examination Form" for each student and file it with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Students enrolled in applied music who do not take a final examination or a jury will receive the grade "I" or "F." All grades of "I" must be completed by the end of the next semester (excluding summer term) or they will automatically be changed to an "F." The applied teacher must record and submit any exception to this policy to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies; signatures of all appropriate area faculty must be included on this form.
All full-time master's-level students majoring in music are required to participate in a major ensemble during each term of residence. A maximum of two (2) hours of graduate credit earned from ensemble work may be counted toward a degree. The ensemble in which one participates will be determined by the student's major applied area and area of interest. The following are considered to be appropriate major ensembles to fulfill this requirement: Orchestra, Band, Southern Chorale, Jazz Lab Band, Concert Choir, Symphonic Winds, and Opera/Music Theatre. Exceptions may be granted to master's students in residence during summer semesters.
This major ensemble policy does not apply to graduate guitar or piano majors.