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. 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 a Statement of Purpose which includes your area of specialization and your reasons for seeking an advanced degree;
- submit at least three strong letters of recommendation and/or undergo a successful personal interview;
- pass a candidacy audition (M. M. Conducting and Performance only).
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.
All students must audition for the appropriate area faculty (generally, taped auditions are not acceptable). This audition must be deemed satisfactory before one can be accepted into the School of Music. Early auditions are encouraged, and a high level of performance proficiency is expected. Students must demonstrate a high level of musicianship with great potential as a conductor.
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.
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 purpose of these examinations is 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 unless the grade of "B-" or better is earned in the required prerequisite course(s).
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.
Recital Requirements for the MM in Conducting is Area specific. Candidates should consult the MM Handbook published by the School of Music, as well as the major professor of their area.
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 Graduate Coordinator 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). 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. 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.
Knowledge of musical terms in French, Italian, and German must be demonstrated.