School of Music

Graduate Studies

The Program

WSU offers a two-year Master of Arts in Music degree. To receive primary consideration for matriculation in the fall semester, applicants should complete the online application by January 10, 2017 and the interview/audition no later than February 21, 2017. Applicants are welcome to interview and audition in the fall preceding the intended year of matriculation.

Teaching Assistantships are available that cover tuition and health insurance and provide a living stipend. In order to be considered for a TA position, the application must be complete (online application, statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, audition and interview.) We recommend your application be complete by the end of February for earliest consideration for a TA position. 

TA positions are offered to applicants starting in early March and continue to be offered until all positions are filled. If your application is not complete by the end of February and you wish to be considered for a TA position, please contact Dr. Shannon Scott ( for an update on the status of our TA offers.

International applicants must have a TOEFL score of 80 or higher to enroll in the Master of Arts in Music program. International students can apply to the Master of Arts in Music program and complete the audition and interview, but will not receive an acceptance from the Graduate School until the TOEFL requirement is met.

Masters students take core courses in graduate-level music theory, music history, and research and bibliography. Students choose elective courses that support their artistic, creative and professional goals, such as applied lessons, recitals, composition seminar, conducting seminar, literature, languages, and special topics courses. The written project under the guidance of a faculty committee allows students to research, compose, arrange, perform or conduct as part of the project. Interdisciplinary projects are dependent on the student’s interests and available collaboration with the appropriate WSU department.

Students can opt for the Master of Arts in Music with no emphasis or can opt to pursue an emphasis in composition, music education, jazz or performance (including conducting). An emphasis indicates the student’s elective coursework is concentrated on composition, conducting, education, jazz or performance. Note that an emphasis in music education does not lead to certification to teach in secondary schools in Washington State. Students pursuing a degree with an emphasis are either admitted to the program with an emphasis or receive permission to declare an emphasis no later than the second semester of study. Students who do not wish to pursue an emphasis still take both core and elective courses, but do not concentrate on a single area.

If you are currently an undergraduate in the School of Music at WSU in the Bachelor of Music Education degree, there is a blended fourth and fifth year option in which you concurrently complete the Bachelor of Music Education and earn the Master of Arts in Music degree, finishing the necessary course work for certification in your fifth year. If you are considering this path, contact Dr. Shannon Scott, K 342, as soon as possible and no later than the second semester of your junior year to discuss the application process and the course plan.

Entrance Requirements

Successful applicants satisfy the entrance criteria set forth by both the Graduate School and the School of Music. Graduate School domestic student requirements are found here:  Graduate School international student requirements are found here:

The School of Music Requirements (in addition to the Graduate School requirements)

To be admitted with or without an emphasis:

1. The applicant has earned or is in the process of earning a baccalaureate degree in music from an accredited college or university.

2. The applicant’s G.P.A. in all undergraduate music courses is 3.00 or higher. (This is in addition to the minimum 3.00 GPA required by the Graduate School).

3. The applicant’s GPA in Music History and Music Theory courses is 3.00 or higher.

4. The applicant interviews and auditions for the appropriate applied faculty and ensemble directors demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level. All applicants, including conductors and composers, perform an audition for the appropriate faculty and ensemble directors to prove adequate proficiency vocally or instrumentally to participate in large ensembles or, in the case of pianists, accompanying class.

5. To be admitted with an emphasis the additional requirements are:

  1. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a composition emphasis submit representative scores and recordings demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  2. Applicants wishing to be admitted with an education emphasis submit a statement of educational philosophy demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  3. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a jazz emphasis perform an audition and, if appropriate, submit scores of compositions and arrangements demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.
  4. Applicants wishing to enter with a performance emphasis perform an audition demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level. Consult the appropriate School of Music faculty about the audition repertoire.
  5. Applicants wishing to be admitted with a conducting emphasis submit videos of conducting performances and/or rehearsals demonstrating readiness to study at the graduate level.

6. International students must earn a TOEFL score of 80 or higher before they can be admitted to the program.


How to Apply

An application for the Master of Arts in Music degree is a combination of the application to the Graduate School and additional information submitted directly to the School of Music.

Applying to the Graduate School

Start by reading the information from the Graduate School about the online application. They provide a list of information you will need to to have on hand. The School of Music does not require applicants to submit the GRE exam scores.

The Statement of Purpose (as part of the graduate school application) required on the online application describes your professional goals, artistic and professional experience and reasons for pursuing the Master of Arts in Music degree. If there are other aspects of your life you would like the faculty to know of, this is the place to describe them. You can write this offline and paste it into the text box. Please do not use the hard return at ends of lines, as this shows up as editing graphics.

Interview/Audition at the School of Music

Applicants arrange to interview and audition for the appropriate School of Music faculty. When possible, the applicant auditions and interviews on the WSU campus. A recorded audition may be submitted in lieu of a personal audition, and interviews can be conducted via live video if the candidate cannot travel to campus.

Click here to download the graduate music program policies and procedures.

Graduate Assistantships

Information regarding Graduate Assistantships may be found at GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIPS.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Master of Arts in Music degree include at least 30 credit hours of approved graduate work. Fourteen of these hours constitute a required core; in addition, 4 credits of MUS 700 or MUS 702 are required. The remaining 12 hours are electives. Core curriculum requirements for all graduate students include MUS 560 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Music; two graduate courses in music theory, fulfilled by taking MUS 550 Seminar in Analysis and MUS 553 Seminar in Music Theory, or by taking two semesters of MUS 550; two graduate music history courses, fulfilled by taking MUS 561 Seminar in Literature of 20th Century Music and MUS 566 Seminar in Music History, or by taking two semesters of MUS 566; and 4 credits of performance (lessons and/or ensembles). Performance emphasis (includes conducting) requires Graduate Recital MUS 522. The structure and design of the master's program normally require 2 years (4 semesters) of study. The thesis option requires completion of an approved thesis (MUS 700) for credit, while the non-thesis option requires completion of an approved project or special problem (MUS 702) for credit. Graduate students may complete portions of their degree programs during summer sessions. All degree options culminate in a final oral examination during which time candidates are expected to demonstrate the ability to integrate and interpret material in the major field with emphasis on the work presented in the thesis, the project, or the special problem.


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School of Music, PO Box 645300, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5300, 509-335-3898, Contact Us