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Master of Arts in Music (+Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Option)

If historical inquiry and musical analysis are your passion, this is your program.

The Penn State School of Music offers the Master of Arts in Music with tracks in Musicology, Music Theory, and Integrative Music Theory and History. Students benefit from a distinguished faculty, individualized attention, small class sizes, and all the resources of a Research 1 university. Graduates of our two-year program are prepared to enter top doctoral programs in the field or to pursue a range of professional careers.


Program Application Deadline
Applications received by February 15 will be given full consideration for admission and graduate assistantship funding. A limited number of teaching assistantships (including a full tuition waiver and stipend) are available each year. 


Earn a Master of Arts in Music at Penn State

Take your passion for music study to the next level.

When you pursue an Master of Arts in Music at Penn State, you have the opportunity to work with leading scholars whose teaching and research are recognized across the University, the country, and beyond. The Musicology track (32 credits) emphasizes the development of a broad knowledge of music of all periods and at the same time cultivates one or more areas of specialization. The Music Theory track (32 credits) offers preparation in current modes of research and analysis from a music theoretical perspective. The Music Theory and History track (34 credits) is designed to integrate theoretical, analytical, and historical approaches to musical styles and works. All tracks include special topics courses and electives, allowing you to delve further into a particular area of interest or take classes in different subject areas that complement your primary focus. A thesis is required for graduation.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

The School of Music requires the completion of a recognized baccalaureate degree in music or music education, with a junior/senior grade-point average of 2.80 or higher (on a 4.00 scale).

Admission to the M.Mus. program requires an audition, or the submission of compositions, or a list of works studied in preparation for conducting (depending on the specific degree).

Admission to the M.A. program requires scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE General Test), and evidence of scholarly writing on a musical topic.

Additional requirements include an interview in person or by interactive video to assess language skills.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

MASTER OF MUSIC (M.MUS)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

In the Master of Music degree program, at least 18 credits must be at the 500 or 800 level, with at least 6 credits at the 500 level, and a comprehensive examination is required.The Master of Music degree (36 credits) offers four majors:

  • Performance,
  • Composition/Theory,
  • Conducting,
  • Pedagogy and Performance (piano and voice tracks).

The M.Mus. in Performance offers three separate curricula with areas of emphasis in: Voice, Keyboard, or Orchestral Instruments. Depending on the area of emphasis, a recital, a composition project, or a conducting project is required. For the M.Mus. in Performance with emphasis in voice or keyboard, a master’s recital is required, in addition to either a master’s paper or lecture-recital. For the M.Mus. in Performance (orchestral instruments), a master’s recital is required.

For the M.Mus. in Composition/Theory, a composition project and a master’s paper are required.

The M.Mus. in Conducting offers three areas of emphasis: Orchestral, Choral, or Band/Wind Ensemble. A performance project and a master’s paper are required.

For the M.Mus. in Pedagogy and Performance, a master’s recital is required, in addition to either a master’s paper or lecture-recital.

The School of Music sponsors many musical ensembles, and candidates for performance degrees are required to participate in positions of responsibility. All candidates for degrees are expected to be in residence for a minimum of two semesters.

MASTER OF ARTS (M.A)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

In the Master of Arts degree program, at least 18 credits must be at the 500 level or higher, and a comprehensive examination is required. The Master of Arts in Music offers three tracks, in:

  • Music Theory (32 credits),
  • Musicology (32 credits), and
  • Music Theory and History (34 credits).

All three tracks provide an interdisciplinary approach to the field of music scholarship, a hallmark of our program, and all tracks require a thesis. The track in Music Theory offers preparation in current modes of research and analysis from a music theoretical perspective. The track in Musicology emphasizes the development of a broad knowledge of music of all periods and, at the same time, cultivates one or more areas of specialization. The track in Music Theory and History provides greater breadth by integrating theoretical, analytical, and historical approaches to musical styles and works. A reading knowledge of German or another appropriate language must be demonstrated before thesis credits may be scheduled.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Music (MUSIC) Course List

Funding

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

Apply Now

Questions?

Dr. Rachel E. Copeland

School of Music, Associate Director

Graduate Studies DirectorAssociate Professor of VoicePhone: 814-865-6765Email: rec311@psu.edu

Program Descriptions

+ MA in Music with Track in Musicology

The MA in Music with Track in Musicology emphasizes the development of a broad knowledge of music of all periods while cultivating one or more areas of specialization. Students in the program benefit from coursework in music history and theory as well as in an area outside of music (known as a “cognate area”) which relates to their particular musicological interest. The program culminates in the writing of a thesis in an area of specialization. 

+ MA in Music with Track in Music Theory

The MA with Track in Music Theory is designed as a specialized degree in theoretical and analytical approaches to musical styles and works.  The program offers students a thorough and efficient orientation to current modes of research and analysis from a music theoretical perspective. As a post-baccalaureate degree, it has the advantage of breadth in preparing the student to teach the two-year course sequence in the undergraduate theory curriculum at small liberal arts colleges and at community colleges. For the scholar who plans to go on to doctoral studies, this program has the advantage of depth (seminars and thesis work) as well as a broad base of courses required by most doctoral programs. 

+ MA in Music with Integrative Track

The MA with Integrative Track in Music Theory and History is designed to integrate historical, theoretical, and analytical approaches to musical styles and practices. The program provides a comprehensive introduction to current modes of research and analysis from both music theoretical and music historical perspectives. Students benefit from integrative graduate seminars led by both musicology and music theory faculty, advanced coursework in music pedagogy, and an integrated thesis experience.  

 

Requirements

Curriculum 

The specific course requirements differ among the three degree tracks (see below), but each requires the completion of a six-credit thesis. For all three tracks, at least 18 credits (including the thesis) must be at the 500 level or higher. Additional Graduate Council policies are found under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies. 

Language Proficiency 

A reading examination in a language other than English appropriate to the student’s thesis research, as determined by the student’s thesis adviser, must be passed prior to the completion of the degree. 

Comprehensive Examination 

An oral examination focusing on the student’s thesis research area and coursework must be successfully completed in the final semester. The examination may also require the student to prepare an analysis of a musical work in advance. 

+ MA in Music with Track in Music Theory

M.A. in Music Theory sequence (32 credits)

 

Music 500 |Introduction to Music Reference and Research Materials| 2 credits

Music 532 |Schenkerian Analysis| 3 credits

Music 472 |Eighteenth-Century Counterpoint| 2 credits

Music 574 |Seminar in Music Theory| 3 credits

Music History*  3 credits

Music Theory**  5 credits

Music Electives (in consultation with adviser)  3 credits

Electives (in consultation with adviser) 3 credits

Music 533 |Pedagogy of Undergraduate Music Theory and History| 2 credits

Music 600 |Thesis Research| 6 credits

TOTAL: 32 credits

 

* Chosen from Music 461W (Studies in Music History: Antiquity to 1600), Music 462W (Studies in Music History: 1550 to 1750), Music 463W (Studies in Music History: 1700 to 1900), Music 464W (Studies in Music History: 1850 to present), Music 572 (Seminar in Musicology), or Music 573 (Integrative Seminar).

** Chosen from 431 (Advanced Tonal Analysis – variable credit), 433 (Special Topics in 20th-Century Theory – variable credit), Music 435 (Score Reading), Music 471 (Structural and Sixteenth-Century Counterpoint), Music 531 (Analytical Techniques), Music 573 (Integrative Seminar in Music Theory and History), or Music 574 (Seminar in Music Theory).

+ MA in Music with Track in Musicology

M.A. in Musicology sequence (32 credits)

Music 500 |Introduction to Music Reference and Research Materials| 2 credits

Music 572 |Seminar in Musicology| 3 credits

Music 573 |Integrative Seminar in Music Theory and History| 3 credits

Music 600 |Thesis Research| 6 credits

Music History* 6-9 credits

Music Theory** 3-6 credits

Cognate Area*** 6 credits

TOTAL: 32 credits

* Chosen from Music 461W (Studies in Music History: Antiquity to 1600), Music 462W (Studies in Music History: 1550 to 1750), Music 463W (Studies in Music History: 1700 to 1900), or Music 464W (Studies in Music History: 1850 to present).

 

** Chosen from Music 431 (Advanced Tonal Analysis – variable credit), Music 433 (Advanced Analysis of Twentieth-Century Music – variable credit), Music 531 (Analytical Techniques), or Music 532 (Schenkerian Analysis).

 

*** The Musicology M.A. requires that students take 6 credits in an area outside of music (known as a “cognate area”).  These courses are selected in consultation with the student’s academic adviser and should preferably be related to the student’s particular musicological interest and thesis topic.

+ M.A. in Music Theory and History sequence

M.A. in Music Theory and History sequence (34 credits)

 

Music 500 |Introduction to Music Reference and Research Materials| 2 credits

Music 573 |Integrative Seminar in Music Theory and History| 6 credits

Music 533 |Pedagogy of Undergraduate Music Theory and History| 2 credits

Music 600 |Thesis Research| 6 credits

Music History* 6 credits

Music Theory** 6 credits

Electives (in consultation with adviser) 6 credits

TOTAL: 34 credits

 

* Chosen from Music 461W (Studies in Music History: Antiquity to 1600), Music 462W (Studies in Music History: 1550 to 1750), Music 463W (Studies in Music History: 1700 to 1900), Music 464W (Studies in Music History: 1850 to present), or Music 572 (Seminar in Musicology).

** Chosen from Music 431 (Advanced Tonal Analysis – variable credit), Music 433 (Special Topics in 20th-Century Theory – variable credit), Music 531 (Analytical Techniques), or Music 532 (Schenkerian Analysis).


Application Requirements

Applicants to the MA program should plan to submit the following materials: 

  1. A statement of purpose (maximum of 2 pages) outlining long-range professional goals and how pursuing the MA in Music at Penn State will help you attain these goals  
  2. A writing sample on a musical topic such as a research paper or thesis chapter (maximum of 20 pages) showing evidence of scholarly potential
  3. Names and email addresses for two faculty references (Penn State will contact your references directly) 

Additional application requirements are found on the School of Music’s Graduate Application Process handbook.

Studio recording of a violin performance.

Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree Options

The School of Music’s integrated undergraduate/graduate (IUG) degree options enable gifted music students to streamline two degree programs as well as to pursue their research interests early in the curriculum, thus allowing them to develop a research focus in the fourth and fifth years. It’s an ideal program for high-achieving students ready to delve deeper into their music-related interests and who are potentially interested in doctoral study.

To be considered, students must have successfully completed a selection of Penn State courses in music theory, musicianship, and music history with a minimum GPA of 3.5, and overall GPA of 3.0. Students admitted to the IUG program are eligible for a graduate assistantship in their fifth year.

IUG Option: B.A. in Music + M.A.

The IUG program enables a select number of students to further their research interests at the undergraduate and graduate levels. By the end of the five-year program students receive two degrees, a B.A. in Music and an M.A. in Music.

Candidates for these Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate degrees must demonstrate a high level of aptitude and achievement in academic core courses and be highly motivated to pursue research projects with faculty.

The IUG program enables gifted music students to double count credits in two degree programs. As a result they will have developed a research focus during their fourth and fifth years, which will help them prepare for entry into doctoral programs at other institutions.

The Penn State Graduate School details IUG degree policies on its Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree Programs webpage.

IUG Option: B.M. in Performance + M.A.

The IUG program enables a select number of students to further their research interests at the undergraduate and graduate levels. By the end of the five-year program students receive two degrees, a B.M. in Performance and an M.A. in Music.

Candidates for these Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate degrees must demonstrate a high level of aptitude and achievement in academic core courses and be highly motivated to pursue research projects with faculty.

The IUG program enables gifted music students to double count credits in two degree programs. As a result they will have developed a research focus during their fourth and fifth years, which will help them prepare for entry into doctoral programs at other institutions.

The Penn State Graduate School details IUG degree policies on its Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree Programs webpage.

Considering the Master of Arts in Music? Consider this.

You have the opportunity to focus on Musicology, Music Theory, or Music Theory and History.

  • As a post-baccalaureate program, students are prepared to teach at the collegiate level.

  • Prepare for doctoral work with integrated seminars and many courses required by doctoral programs.

  • The M.A. provides an interdisciplinary approach to the field of music scholarship.

  • IUG options enable you to earn B.A./M.A. or B.M./M.A. degrees in five years.

Alumni Spotlight

Luke Nosal

Alumni Spotlight

Luke Nosal

Bachelor of Music 2018

Luke Nosal is the assistant conductor of the Queer Urban Orchestra in New York City. As a conductor and queer advocate, Nosal is known for leading ensembles with an eclectic style, dynamic interpretation, and deep passion while always using their platform to give visibility to issues in the LGBTQA community. In addition to a Bachelor of Music, Nosal earned a P.P.C. Orchestral Conducting in 2019.

Faculty Spotlight

Naomi Seidman, with flute, and three members of a quintet.
Naomi Seidman, with flute, and three members of a quintet.

Naomi Seidman

Assistant Professor of Music

Assistant Professor Naomi Seidman joined the School of Music faculty in 2012. An accomplished solo performer, she has won the Mid-South Flute Competition and the Frank Bowen Young Artist Competition, and was first runner-up in the Myrna Brown Young Artist Competition. She was also a semi-finalist in the Beijing Nicolet International Flute Competition. She has performed as a soloist with the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony, Kingsville Symphony, and Ballet Austin. She has also been an invited performer, judge, and presenter at National Flute Association (NFA) conventions and is a member of the NFA Cultural Outreach Committee.

Close-up portrait of Naomi Seidman with flute against red background.
Place holder image for Events
Jan 19

Bach’s Lunch – School of Music Voice Area Noontime Concert Voice Jury Honors

Pasquerilla/Eisenhower Chapel
Voice Jury Honors Voice students with superlative performances at their end-of-semester performance final sing a program of best songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is a

Events

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Bach’s Lunch – School of Music Voice Area Noontime Concert Copeland Studio

Pasquerilla/Eisenhower Chapel
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Jan 26

Copeland Studio Students in the voice studio of Rachel Copeland present a program of songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is a weekly Thursday afternoon concert


Bach’s Lunch – School of Music Voice Area Noontime Concert African American Music Festival

Pasquerilla/Eisenhower Chapel
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Feb 2

African American Music Festival Students present a program as part of the school-wide African American Music Festival. "Bach's Lunch" is a weekly Thursday afternoon concert


Bach’s Lunch – School of Music Voice Area Noontime Concert Spivey Studio

Pasquerilla/Eisenhower Chapel
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Feb 9

Spivey Studio Students in the voice studio of Norman Spivey present a program of songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is a weekly Thursday afternoon concert


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