Dec 05, 2021  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin

Music (History and Literature) MM

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There are two master's degrees available in the School of Music: one with a major in music leading to the Master of Music degree, and the other with a major in music education leading to the Master of Music Education degree.  Emphasis areas in the Master of Music are Conducting, Music History & Literature, Music Theory, Performance, Collaborative Piano, and Woodwind Performance & Pedagogy.  The Master of Music in History and Literature prepares the candidate for doctoral studies in musicology.


Admission Requirements

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.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

  1. Baccalaureate degree with a major in music AND
  2. At least one course in each of the following: counterpoint and orchestration .

Regular Admission

Students seeking regular admission to master's degree in Music History & Literature 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 (GRE).
  • submit at least three strong letters of recommendation and/or undergo a successful personal interview.
  • A Special Examination process is required for candidates in music history and literature.  See below.

Conditional Admission 

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 ," Graduate Bulletin, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Please note: The Graduate Record Examination is required for both conditional and regular admission.  

Program Requirements and Academic Policies


Diagnostic Examinations  

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 unless the grade of "B-" or better is earned in the required prerequisite course(s).  

Special Examinations for Music History & Literature

Demonstrate for the music history faculty the ability to translate excerpts in at least one foreign language (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) before completing nine (9) hours of graduate course work.  Prior to the first registration, demonstrate writing ability by submitting a research paper, preferably in music.

Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive Examinations 

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.

Advisory committee

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 (for the Master of Music degree), and prepare and grade his/her comprehensive exam.   


Continuous Enrollment: 
Master's students are expected to enroll continuously after they have taken all 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 (an "I")) 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 697/698 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.

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

Petitions must be submitted to the Coordinator 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 Music Office / Coordinator for this purpose.


Plagiarism is scholarly theft, and it is defined as the unacknowledged use of secondary sources. More specifically, any written or oral presentation in which the writer or speaker does not distinguish clearly between original and borrowed material constitutes plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offense. An act of plagiarism may lead to a failing grade on the work involved, in the course, as well as sanctions that may be imposed by the department, the Graduate School, and the University.  See the Graduate Bulletin for a more detailed definition of plagiarism or contact your major professor, Coordinator of Graduate Studies, School of Music Director or Graduate School Dean if you have any questions.

Ensemble Participation 

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.

Course Requirements (34 hours)


At least 18 hours of coursework must be at the 600 level or higher.  A 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.  To meet graduation requirements, no grade below a "C" is acceptable in any coursework attempted.  No more than two (2) grades of "C+" or "C" across six (6) credit hours is allowable in any coursework attempted.

Research courses:

In addition to requirements above, the major professor and the advisory committee may specify that the student pass REF 601 - Educational Research: Interpretation and Applications (3).

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