In addition to the Purposes and Philosophies stated in the University Graduate Catalog, the following are considered basic to the Department of Music's educational program leading to the Master of Music Degree:

  • To develop individual talents, interests, and philosophies that can be used creatively to preserve and expand our cultural heritage
  • To nurture and develop professional competence in the chosen area of emphasis and in areas demonstrably relevant to the area of emphasis, such as performance, analysis, research, historical studies, composition, conducting, and pedagogy
  • To develop competence in the interpretation, organization, evaluation, communication, and dissemination of knowledge
  • To develop the ability in solving contemporary problems in all aspects of music and an understanding of the role of music in general and of the specialized area of emphasis as each functions in the broader perspective of human society—past, present, and, to whatever extent possible, future.

To these ends, degree programs should incorporate not only studies within the chosen area of emphasis, but also other musical studies supportive of, and relevant to, the major studies. Wherever appropriate, students (with approval of advisor) may elect courses outside of music that have a demonstrable relevance to the chosen area of emphasis or that provide skills necessary to conducting successful thesis research. Degree programs should provide sufficient flexibility to allow individual programs of study to reflect the student's particular needs.

In addition to satisfying the University-wide admission requirements, applicants are expected to hold the Bachelor of Music degree or Bachelor of Music Education degree with a major in their intended area of graduate emphasis or the equivalent, submit three recommendations from established professionals commenting on the appropriateness of graduate study in music for the applicant, and successfully complete one of the following:

Instrumental and Choral Conducting: Audition in person or provide a recent digital video (CD or DVD format preferred, VHS videotape accepted) demonstrating the level of mastery in a rehearsal or performance situation.

Vocal and Instrumental Performance: Audition in person (or with acceptable justification approved by the auditioning committee provide a recent digital recording) demonstrating the level of mastery in the proposed performance medium.

Music Education: Submit a digital video of teaching skills (CD or DVD format preferred, VHS videotape accepted), a curriculum vitae or portfolio, document two years of successful elementary or secondary level teaching, and complete a written entrance exam.

Piano Pedagogy and Performance or Vocal Pedagogy and Performance: Audition in person or provide a recent digital recording or video (CD or DVD format preferred, VHS videotape accepted) demonstrating the level of mastery in the proposed pedagogy and performance medium.

The music theory and history placement exams are required of all incoming Master of Music students. The vocal pedagogy placement exam is required of all students with an emphasis in voice performance and vocal pedagogy and performance. At the discretion of the admission committee, it may also be required of students with an emphasis in choral conducting. The exams are scheduled on the Saturday preceding the Fall semester. All students must notify the GAR, Dr. Drew Stephen, of their intent to take the exam no later than one week prior to the exam date. Students who do not take these exams or who do not achieve a passing grade (70%) are required to complete the appropriate review courses (MUS 5002, Graduate Music Theory Review; MUS 5013, Graduate Music History Review; MUS 5023, Graduate Vocal Pedagogy Review). Students may attempt the placement exams only once. Students must successfully complete the placement exams or review classes in order to enroll in the corresponding graduate history, theory, and vocal pedagogy courses.

Voice principals must take diagnostic examinations in French, German, Italian, and English lyric diction. If the student is found deficient in any one of the languages, the appropriate course(s) will be required. The student’s advisor will counsel the student in correcting deficiencies and selecting courses for the student’s degree program.

Additional details and placement exam dates can be found on the Graduate Placement Exams page on the music department's website.

Proper advising is one of the keys to your success as a student. You are strongly urged to work closely with your assigned advisor as you progress through your degree plan.

The Graduate Advisor of Record is Dr. J. Drew Stephen (AR 3.02.10). He will assign you to a program advisor with whom you should meet no less than once per semester in order to plan your class schedule for the following semester. Your advisor can also be helpful in evaluating your general degree progress, counseling on future career or further graduate study plans, and working with you on specific problems encountered in classes, with instructors, or with the University.

As a general guideline, program advisors will be assigned as follows:

Degree Emphasis Advisor
Piano/Organ Performance
Piano Pedagogy and Performance
Dr. Kasandra Keeling
Voice Performance
Voice Pedagogy and Performance
Professor John Nix
Instrumental Performance: Winds, Brass, and Percussion
Instrumental Performance: Strings
Instrumental Performance: Guitar
Choral Conducting
Instrumental Conducting Dr. Ron Ellis
Music Education Dr. Si Millican

Because many graduate courses are offered in a specific rotation, please consult with your advisor before planning your classes for the next semester. A tentative schedule of course rotations can also be found on the music department's graduate website.

Also, before registering for any Music Performance-Private Instruction course, you must receive approval from the instructor. No student may register for MUS 5554 until he/she has auditioned for the faculty in their area and has been accepted as a performance major. All other private instruction registrations must be for MUS 5542 or MUS 5511 and may also require an audition.

For purposes of fulfilling the Special Degree Requirement in ensembles, some graduate students must enroll in two semesters of MUS 5711 (Graduate Ensemble). Please refer to the Department of Music degree plan for your degree and catalog year to see if this requirement pertains to you. Degree plans can be found on the graduate website. Degree plans from previous catalog years are kept on file in the music office.

This requirement may be satisfied by participation in any University, credit-bearing ensemble (major, minor, or chamber). Selection of an appropriate ensemble is made by the program advisor in consultation with the student. For students with keyboard skills, this requirement may also be met by accompanying activities.

Nothing in the above should be interpreted as prohibitive to the student’s registering for additional ensembles beyond fulfillment of the Special Degree Requirement of two semesters. Such additional ensemble registrations may be elected by the student either in the same semesters during which he or she is fulfilling the two-semester Special Degree Requirement or in subsequent semesters.

Please note that most ensembles require an audition. Further specific requirements regarding each ensemble, including audition times, may be obtained from the appropriate ensemble director. Normally, auditions are held during the week of registration.

The candidate's committee consists of three members. The chair must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track professor. Adjunct faculty may not serve as the chair of the committee but may serve as a co-chair along with a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. When possible, the student's major professor will serve as the chair or co-chair of the committee. One member of the committee must be from outside the student's major area. Faculty members who are not tenured or tenure-track may need to apply for Special Membership of the Graduate Faculty. It is the student's responsibility to verify that all proposed members of the committee are eligible to serve on graduate committees. The committee is normally selected by the candidate in consultation with the chair of the committee. Since graduate faculty members have numerous time constraints, candidates are encouraged to discuss committee membership as early as possible, ideally in the semester before the exams will take place. The committee must be approved by the GAR no later than the beginning of the semester in which the recital and comprehensive exams take place.

The committee members–where applicable based on the degree requirements of the emphasis–will develop, administer, and score the recital, recital document, comprehensive examination, and special project. The committee is responsible for the quality, depth, and balance of the comprehensive examination. The exact nature and extent of each committee member's participation are to be determined by the candidate and the individual committee member beforehand. Apart from the makeup of the recital, which is normally determined by the candidate in consultation with his or her major instructor, the committee members should be aware of the contents and approaches to be taken in all written and oral presentations of materials.

Due to scheduling issues with the recital hall, candidates are required to procure a recital date no later than September 15 for Fall recitals and December 15 for Spring recitals. Summer Recitals will be considered only on an individual basis. Recitals cannot be scheduled during the last week of classes or during dead days. Candidates will be able to schedule a recital date only upon approval from the committee that the document is in an acceptable draft format. Available recital dates are Monday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Please contact Cynthia Solis at 210-458-5685 or for booking details.

A comprehensive examination is required of all degree candidates. The exam must normally take place no later than October 25 for Fall graduates, March 23 for Spring graduates, and July 14 for Summer graduates. Precise dates are made available at the beginning of each semester.

The comprehensive examination covers the entire scope of the candidate's course of study, thus allowing a student to demonstrate (1) his or her mastery of the material covered in the degree emphasis, (2) the ability to think critically and synthesize materials, and (3) an objective knowledge of essential factual material pertaining to the study of music.

Performance, Conducting, and Performance and Pedagogy Emphases: The format is an oral examination lasting approximately one hour and covering the material in the completed recital document or special project as well as the full scope of the candidate's course of study. A final draft of the recital document or special project must be submitted to the candidate's committee no later than two weeks before the scheduled comprehensive examination. If this deadline is not met or if the committee determines that the recital document or special project is in an unacceptable format at this point, the comprehensive examination will be canceled and rescheduled for a subsequent semester. Comprehensive examinations will not be held for candidates whose final recital documents or projects are not in an acceptable format.

Music Education Emphasis: The format is a written two-hour examination covering general Music Education and the candidate's specialization in that field.

Students must inform the Graduate Advisor of Record in writing of their intent to take the examination no later than the published Census Date for the semester in which the examination is to be taken. It is strongly advised that students confirm with their committee the specific time, date, and location that will work for all committee members and that that information be included in their statement of intent to the Graduate Advisor. If a student has informed the Graduate Advisor of her or his intent to take the examination in a given semester and decides not to do so, this decision must be communicated in writing and received by the Graduate Advisor no later than ten days before the scheduled examination.

Students are allowed a maximum of two opportunities to take the Comprehensive Examinations (that is, only one retake is allowed). The Comprehensive Examination cannot be retaken in the same semester as the original attempt. A failure to appear for the Comprehensive Examinations at a scheduled time will be counted as failing the examination.

The Committee will make a written commentary that describes the student's exam, along with a recommendation to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research on the exam grade (High Pass, Pass, Fail). All of this will be forwarded to the student in an official report from the Dean's Office based on the recommendation of the Committee.

The recital document is formally written scholarly text addressing in depth the works performed on the candidate's degree recital. It is a Special Degree Requirement for all students in the performance, vocal pedagogy and performance, and conducting emphases. The function of the recital document is twofold: (1) its preparation requires students to address the historical, cultural, formal, and performative aspects of the musical works on the recital to achieve a depth of understanding that informs their performances and (2) the document serves as a model for the types of the professional writing, research, and analysis that is expected of academically trained professional musicians. The expected length is 40-60 pages although length may vary depending on the candidate's emphasis or major instrument.

The contents of the recital document must address relevant issues pertaining to the works on the candidate's degree recital including:

  1. biography
  2. socio-cultural and historical perspectives
  3. theoretical analyses
  4. performance considerations
  5. other relevant commentaries

While it is essential to touch upon all of these issues over the course of the document, they may not all be relevant or even necessary for every single musical work. For example, in the case of a well-known composer such as Beethoven or Mozart, there is no need to present familiar biographical details that would be considered general knowledge for the candidate and the committee (date and place of birth, early training, superficial traits of the composer's musical style). Instead, the candidate should focus on biographical or sociocultural aspects that go beyond the superficial and which are relevant to the specific work under discussion. Likewise, the candidate should apply analytical techniques that are appropriate to the style and era of the composition.

It is the candidate's responsibility to strike a balance of approaches that is appropriate to each individual work. He or she should discuss this balance with the appropriate committee members early in the writing process.

Although it is expected that the recital document will address the works on the recital, an alternative possibility, at the discretion of the committee, would be for the candidate to write a substantial paper (minimum 25-30 pages) focusing on a single coherent thesis and accompanied by a live presentation allowing for the contents to be demonstrated either through live performance or recorded audio-video materials with commentary.

Timeline: Please see the timeline below for details and exact dates. A first draft of the document must be presented to the candidate’s Committee for approval before a graduate recital is scheduled. A revised draft of the document must be presented to both the Graduate Advisor of Record and the candidate's Committee for approval at least two weeks prior to the recital. The final draft of the Recital Document must be presented to both the Graduate Advisor of Record and the candidate's Committee no later than one week before the candidate's comprehensive oral examination. Submittal dates for preliminary and final drafts along with formatting requirements are available on the UTSA Graduate School's Process for the Master’s Thesis/Recital Document page.

Formatting: The recital document is a formal scholarly text representing the candidate's ability to communicate at a suitable graduate academic level. It is essential that it follows established bibliographic conventions. The recital document should conform to the conventions used commonly in the discipline of musicology as outlined in the current editions of The Chicago Manual of Style and Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. All sources should be cited as footnotes (located at the bottom of the page) or endnotes (located at the end of the paper before the bibliography). Do not use parenthetical (i.e. "author-date") citations.

For advice on proper bibliographic formatting, please consult one or more of the following sources:

  • Chicago Manual of Style 15 ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). You can find copies at the JPL Reference Desk and in the JPL Stacks. The UTSA call number is: Z253 .U69 2003. Registered UTSA students have access to the Online Version of the Chicago Style Manual through the UTSA library. A quick guide to Chicago-style citations can be found at The Chicago Manual of Style Online.
  • For a concise version of the Chicago Manual of Style that applies specifically to students, you may wish instead to consult Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) The UTSA library call number is: LB2369 .T8 2007
  • There are several “Writing About Music” guides in the library under ML 3797. Most give bibliographic details. I recommend the following:
    • Jonathan Bellman. A Short Guide to Writing About Music. New York: Longman, 2000. ML 3797 B4 2000
    • Richard Wingell. Writing About Music: An Introductory Guide, 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2009. ML3797 .W54 2009
    • Holoman, D. Kern, ed. Writing about Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of 19th-Century Music. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988. ML3797 .W75 2008. Also available as an electronic resource
  • Another very good source is Diana Hacker, Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, 4th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006) LB2369.H33 2002. Much of this book is also available online (use the Chicago format found under "History")
  • The music library at the University of Western Ontario maintains an excellent page that provides guidelines and examples of Turabian-style citations that apply specifically to music sources. It is available here.

Although the recital document differs from the thesis in several regards (especially concerning the guidelines for original research outlined on the Graduate School's website), the format must conform to thesis requirements. Please follow the Graduate School's Formatting Requirements carefully with a single exception: On the title page, substitute the words "RECITAL DOCUMENT" for "THESIS". In order to ensure that their recital document meets the formatting requirements, candidates are strongly advised to attend one or more of the Graduate School's Thesis/Dissertation Workshops.

The project or thesis may consist of a written document only (e.g., a research study in JRME-format) or may consist of a "product" plus written documentation (e.g., a computer-assisted instruction module). The format will be determined by the consultation in consultation with the program advisor and/or supervising professor. While the project or thesis is viewed as a culminating experience, much like the recital in a performance or conducting degrees, the candidate should not wait until the semester of enrollment before investing some preliminary work. In general, the sequence of events for a successful project should be:

  1. In the semester prior to enrollment in MUS 6913/6923, the candidate should meet with his or her program advisor and committee members to explore the viability of a proposed project.
  2. With the appropriate guidance from the committee chair, the candidate should submit a proposal for Committee approval. The proposal should be at least 3–5 pages long and should present as much specific information about the proposed project as possible. The proposal should also show evidence of thorough background research.
  3. Upon Committee approval, the candidate may enroll in MUS 6913/6923.
  4. During the semester of enrollment in MUS 6913/6923, the candidate should complete the project or thesis as outlined in the proposal. The student is highly encouraged to maintain contact with the committee, and especially the advisor, throughout the semester for appropriate guidance. This may save much future revision to the document.
  5. A final copy of the project should be presented to both the Graduate Advisor of Record and the candidate's Committee no later than one week before the candidate's comprehensive oral examination. The project or thesis should conform to the Formatting Requirements outlined on the Graduate School website with one exception for candidates in the pedagogy emphases: On the title page, substitute the words “PROJECT IN MUSIC PEDAGOGY” for "THESIS."
  6. The oral examination will be scheduled when the committee has given final approval of the Project. Following a successful oral examination, the student will obtain signatures from the members of the project committee.

Task Fall Graduation Spring Graduation Summer Graduation
Beginning of semester prior to exam: select Comprehensive Exam/Recital Document chair and committee. June 3 August 29 January 13
University Census day of semester prior to exam: submit a draft of chapter outlines (one-sentence indication of the focus of each chapter) and an annotated bibliography to the chair and committee members June 18 September 13 January 29
Graduate Audit Date of semester prior to exam: submit Statement of Intent to Take the Comprehensive Exam form to the GAR. The form must include signatures from all committee members indicating their approval of the chapter outlines and annotated bibliography July 14 November 1 March 21
Four weeks prior to semester of exam: submit draft of full document to the chair of the committee August 1 December 16 May 1
University Census day of semester of exam: submit the revised draft of the full document to all committee members and schedule comprehensive exam. September 13 January 29 June 1
Apply for graduation October 1 February 15 June 1
Four weeks prior to comprehensive exam: submit revised draft of recital document to committee members September 27 February 21 June 16
Two weeks prior to comprehensive exam: submit final draft of document to committee members. If the document is deemed by the committee to be in an unacceptable format at this point, the comprehensive exam will be cancelled and rescheduled for the following semester October 11 March 7 June 30
Take comprehensive exam October 25 March 21 July 14
Submit preliminary draft of document to graduate school November 4    
Submit final draft of document to graduate school December 16    
School of Music Degree Programs

School of Music Degree Programs

See all the degrees available from the UTSA School of Music