The Catholic University of America

This text is excerpted from the 2013-2014 CUA Announcements. Please refer to the Announcements for further information on academic policies and programs.

Master's Degree Programs

The school of music offers the degree Master of Arts with program in Musicology and a joint degree in Music Librarianship: Master of Arts with program in Musicology and the Master of Science in Library Science.

The school of music offers the degree Master of Music with programs in Composition (with emphasis in concert or stage music); Piano Pedagogy; Vocal Pedagogy; Chamber Music, Orchestral Instruments*; Piano Performance; Vocal Accompanying; Vocal Performance; Orchestral Conducting.

The school of music offers the degree Master of Music in Sacred Music (see Institute of Sacred Music).

The school of music offers a Graduate Artist Diploma Program (cello, orchestral conducting, piano, violin or voice) and a Music Teacher Certification Program (nondegree).

* Violin, viola, cello, string bass, orchestral woodwind and brass, percussion, harp, and classical guitar.

Admission: The following are required for admission to the master's degree programs:

1. A bachelor's degree with a major in music from an accredited institution. A student with a Bachelor of Arts degree may be accepted only after meeting the equivalent requirement for the Bachelor of Music degree at The Catholic University of America, either by taking advanced standing examinations or by completing the additional undergraduate courses.

2. Submission of an application, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Also to be included is a statement of purpose, a 500-700 word essay stating one's purpose for undertaking graduate study in music, one's academic objective, research interests and career plans, as well as related qualifications, such as collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishment not already mentioned on the application form.

3. At least a B average in all undergraduate music courses.

4. A 10-minute demonstration of performance proficiency with classical repertoire in contrasting styles in the applicant's major medium, either by personal audition or recording. Some degree programs also require an entrance recital (see individual programs). Students applying to the Master of Arts program should submit an original research paper on any topic in lieu of a proficiency audition. The paper should demonstrate facility with scholarly sources, the ability to formulate an original argument, and solid writing skills. Students applying to the composition program should submit original compositions in lieu of a proficiency audition.

Placement Examinations: Incoming graduate students are required to take a Music History Placement Examination and Theory Placement Examination (which has two parts, a harmony section and an aural skills section) before initial registration is completed. These examinations are taken only once. If the results indicate areas of deficiency, the student must remove these deficiencies by taking specified graduate review courses (see below) or undergraduate courses. These courses do not count toward degree requirements. The applicant is expected to take the placement examinations at the beginning of the semester in which he/she has been admitted to the music school. For serious reasons, the adviser may grant permission to postpone to the second semester of residency, but normally not beyond. Placement examinations are given during the fall and spring semester registration periods.

Several master's degree programs have additional admission requirements; these are listed below under the individual degree programs. Where additional requirements are not listed, admission to the degree program is granted upon successful completion of the general admission requirements listed above.

Graduate Review courses: As explained above, incoming graduate students must take the Music History Placement Examination and Theory Placement Examination before their first semester of classes. If the results of the Music Theory Placement Exam warrant placement into the Graduate Harmony Review course (MUS 491) and/or the Graduate Aural Skills Review course (MUS 492) or the results of the Music History Placement Exam warrant placement into the Graduate Music History Review course (MUS 490), the student must fulfill these courses within a year of having taken the exams. 

Handbook for students in the school of music: Students are to consult the online Handbook found at for music school forms and procedures not detailed in these Announcements.

Incompletes and Extensions of Incomplete: The School of Music follows university policy with regard to Incompletes and Extensions of Incomplete, with this clarification: only one Extension of Incomplete will be granted for a given course, requiring dean's permission and documentation supporting the reason for the request. Further extensions will be considered only in extreme cases and with the approval of the instructor, the division head, and the dean.

Performance juries: Degree requirements for many of the master's degree programs include performance juries (major, principal and secondary) and a degree recital. Composition juries: All students enrolled in applied composition are required to submit samples of their work to a jury of the composition faculty for evaluation at the end of the semester.

Private instruction and degree recital: Students must be registered for private instruction during the semester in which the degree recital is performed.

Master of Music degree programs requiring concerto, chamber music, and/or vocal accompanying performances: The student must register for the appropriate MUS numbers according to the student's degree program.  The student must consult the curriculum for the specific MUS numbers.  If there will be no faculty member, private instructor, or advser present at the above performances, for evaluation purposes, the student must submit to his/her adviser within 24 hours of the performance a video recording with sound of the entire performance along with the official printed program.

Location of degree recital: Master's recitals and related required performances must normally be performed on campus. Exceptions require consultation with advisor and dean's permission. Polices and procedures pertaining to degree recitals, whether on or off campus, may be found in the school of music handbook

Independent Study: Other than students in the Professional Studies track or in cases approved by the dean, graduate students should take no more than one-sixth of the total credit hours in their program of graduate studies as Independent Study. (This refers to graduate level courses, not undergraduate prerequisites that may have to be fulfilled.)

GPA minimum required for graduation and degree progress: For students in graduate programs, an average of B (3.0 cumulative GPA) or better is required for graduation. A graduate student who has received a grade of C or F in a graduate course is permitted to repeat the course one time. The calculation of the grade point average will include only the grade earned in the repeated course. In keeping with university policy that a graduate student who earns two failing grades is subject to dismissal, a master's student who fails a required hearing, recital, or performance a second time is no longer considered eligible to receive the master's degree.

Part-time faculty and private instruction: Part-time faculty members teaching private instruction are appointed at an hourly rate by the university. Study with part-time applied faculty is subject to their availability, and some part-time applied faculty teach off campus. Students studying with a part-time faculty member may be required to pay an additional studio rate.

For the Master of Music programs in Performance, please note: In particular circumstances where the candidate is actively engaged in a recognized performance career and either represented by artist management or affiliated with a professional organization of acceptable status, the Master of Music degree programs that follow may be offered with special and individualized study options by permission of the dean and the cognizant performance area head/committee.

Addition to general university policies regarding full-time study: The master's degrees in the school of music are subject to university policies regarding full-time study, as outlined under the heading Enrollment in the General Information section of the Graduate Announcements, with the following addition:  1. enrollment for master's graduate recital and at least one credit of private instruction (limit four semesters).

Overelection: The normal maximum course load for a full-time graduate student in the school of music is 15 credit hours per semester. Overelection is not allowed except in extraordinary circumstances and only with permission of the dean. Unless approved by the dean of the school of music, teaching or research assistants may not enroll for more than nine semester hours per semester, depending upon the number of hours of teaching or research per week required by their appointments.

Comprehensive Examinations: In keeping with university policy, a student may retake comprehensive examinations only once.  If the student fails comprehensive examinations a second time, the student is no longer considered eligible to receive the degree Master of Arts, Master of Arts/Master of Science in Library Science, Master of Music in Sacred Music, or applicable Master of Music programs.

Participation in productions: Music students derive benefit from participation in many aspects of the management and production of performances. Students may, as part of their educational experience, be assigned various duties in the production of operas, musical theater productions and orchestral, choral and chamber music concerts.