May 19, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Master of Music Programs

Colleges  > Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts  > Moores School of Music  > Master of Music Programs



Prospective Master of Music students must audition before a faculty committee; a live audition is an integral part of the application process and should be arranged as early as possible with both the Graduate Office and the appropriate area coordinator. An acceptable graduate-level performance is required at the audition. The audition will ideally be arranged within the published scholarship audition dates (available online at, or contact the Graduate Office at gradmusic at; a recorded audition may be arranged only under extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, as well as the appropriate area faculty.

Auditions will be conducted by a committee of at least three faculty members. In all cases, auditions should consist of three (four for voice auditions) representative works in different styles, with at least one work performed from memory. For voice and piano applicants, all works must be memorized. If an accompanist is needed, the applicant should supply scores well in advance. Prospective Master of Music students in voice must perform selections in four languages, including English, and must demonstrate proficiency in the four major singing languages: English, Italian, German, and French.

Specific audition requirements by area of study are available on the auditions section of the website. If you have additional questions, please contact the appropriate area coordinator, or the graduate office.

Diagnostic Exams

  • All students entering MM programs must take Moores School of Music diagnostic exams in music history and music theory prior to the start of their first term.
    • Students who complete an MM degree at the Moores School of Music and who are immediately accepted - in their first term after completion of their previous degree - to another MM program or a DMA program may be exempt from the diagnostic exams.)
    • Students who do not take diagnostic exams prior to the start of their first term will automatically be enrolled in the appropriate remedial course(s) (MUSI 6340  and/or MUSI 6341  ).
  • Scheduling
    • Diagnostic exams in music theory are given on scheduled audition days.
    • diagnostic exams in music theory and musicology are given on the Thursday before the first week of classes in fall and spring terms.
    • More information on diagnostic exam scheduling, as well as information on registering for appropriate history and theory review courses, is available from the Moores School of Music Graduate Advisor.
      See below for specific information on what students can expect with regard to diagnostic exam content.
  • Exams are evaluated by the musicology and music theory faculty.
  • All students are allowed one opportunity to take the diagnostic exams
    • the full exam must be completed to be considered (i.e., students may not elect to take portions of exams).
  • If remedial coursework is required after the exam (as determined by the exam results), students must enroll in these courses in the earliest term such courses are available (in most cases this will be during the first term of graduate study, and in all cases this will be during the first year of graduate study).
  • Passing scores on the diagnostic exams, or passing grades in the appropriate history or theory review courses (where a passing grade is C- or better for MM students) will be required before students may enroll in graduate-level history and theory courses (including MUSI 6300 : Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology).
  • Credit for review courses will not be applied toward the degree.
  • Voice majors at the graduate level are required to take a diagnostic exam in diction.
    • The exam includes:
      • oral recitation of selected prosaic and poetic passages in English, Italian, German, and French, as well as
      • a written test that will include International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol recognition and transliteration of passages of songs in each language.
    • This exam is administered shortly before the start of classes every term and evaluated by the voice faculty.
    • Students who do not receive a passing score on the exam must take Advanced Lyric Diction ( MUSI 6103 ) at their earliest opportunity (their first term, unless granted special dispensation by the Voice Division Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies).
    • Those students required to take Advanced Lyric Diction must successfully complete the course before they will be permitted to perform their degree recital.

Specific information regarding diagnostic exam content:

Diagnostic exam in music history and literature:

The diagnostic exam in music history and literature comprises three sections:

  1. Short answer identification of terms and names. This section involves important terms and names in Western music, from early medieval times to the present (e.g., organum, fauxbourdon, basso continuo, the Art of the Fugue, Modeste Mussorgsky, tone cluster, Louis Armstrong, metric modulation, Peter Grimes). Students can prepare for this by studying the glossary and marginalia in such texts as J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Grout, and Claude Palisca, A History of Western Music.
  2. Short essays. This section largely involves questions about some of the prominent genres of music history, such as motet, mass, art song, symphony, opera, or ballet; or some prominent movement in music, such as Ars Nova, Romanticism, Neoclassicism, modern jazz, or minimalism. Students can prepare for this by consulting either a history of music as mentioned above, or a shorter handbook that gives an overview of Western music.
  3. Listening examples. This section asks students to attempt to identify the composer and approximate year of various musical examples from the Middle Ages to the present. The readers of this portion are not so concerned with the student’s ability to actually identify such pieces as to make educated guesses as to the likely composer and century of composition. The student can prepare for this by consulting the recorded examples for one of the major textbooks on Western music history, such as the Burkholder-Grout-Palisca-Burkholder text.

For a sample exam see,–musicology.pdf

Diagnostic exam in music theory:

The diagnostic exam in music theory comprises four sections:

  1. Exercises in common-practice chromatic voice-leading, i.e., 4-part SATB writing with chromatic harmony and/or modulations. Students should be able to realize a figured bass and/or harmonize a melody line (given no bass line and no other harmonic indicators), using in both cases standard procedures of common-practice voice leading (logical harmonic progressions, avoidance of motion in prohibited parallel intervals, and the like). Any and all of the exercises may require the use of standard elements of chromatic harmony, including modulations, augmented sixth chords, and Neapolitan chords. Students should be able to demonstrate understanding of how such elements function in harmonic progressions and how to employ them in a voice-leading exercised.
  2. 18th-century counterpoint analysis. This will involve analysis of a fugue, in which students are expected to know the names of, and be able to identify in score, the major components of standard Baroque fugues.Relevant terms may include: subject, countersubject, answer (real or tonal), exposition, bridge, episode, middle entry, etc.
  3. Formal analysis of a large common-practice movement or portion thereof. This will involve score analysis in which students are expected to identify sections and characteristics of a standard sonata form. This will include analysis of the exposition and its constituent theme groups, transition, and coda sections, and may include analysis of a development (or portion thereof) and/or recapitulation. Harmonic analysis (i.e., Roman-numeral and figured bass analysis) of any section of the piece may be required.
  4. Analysis of post-common-practice, 20th-century materials. This will require students to recognize, given scores or score excerpts, compositional procedures such as 12-tone serialism; polymeter, metric shifts, or other metric procedures; harmonic resources such as extended tertian harmony or non-tertian harmony; and scalar and collectional resources such as diatonic modes, non-diatonic scales, pandiatonicism, or others.

Other information: Students will not be permitted to use a piano for assistance on any part of the exam. In preparing for the exam, students may use for study and reference the latest editions of these widely-available theory texts: Benjamin, Horvit, Koozin and Nelson, Techniques and Materials of Music: From the Common Practice through the Twentieth Century, (on voice-leading theory and practice and twentieth-century materials); Aldwell and Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading (on voice leading theory and practice); Robert Gauldin, A Practical Approach to 18th-Century Counterpoint; Douglass Green, Form in Tonal Music; Stefan Kostka, Materials and Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music. For more information and a sample exam, see

Standardized Testing Requirements

  • GRE
    • Only applicants with specializations in Music Education, Musicology, and Music Theory are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (General Exam) as part of their applications for admission.
    • The GRE is a prerequisite for admission in these majors and may not be taken after a student has been admitted for graduate study.
    • International applicants for graduate admission may submit passing scores from the International English Language Testing System as a substitute for TOEFL scores.
    • The minimum acceptable IELTS score for graduate admission at the University of Houston is 6.5, including a minimum writing score of 6.5.
  • LCC
    • International applicants for graduate admission may submit, in lieu of the minimum passing scores on the TOEFL or IELTS, a passing grade in Level 6 of the intensive English program at the Language and Culture Center (LCC) at the University of Houston (administered by the University of Houston Department of English).

Foreign Language Proficiency

MM students with majors in Music Theory and Musicology must demonstrate reading proficiency in French or German before completion of their degree program. Proficiency may be demonstrated in one of the following ways:

  1. Satisfactory completion of fourth-term level undergraduate French or German.
  2. Satisfactory completion of the second-term level of the graduate reading courses in French or German.
  3. Satisfactory completion of a departmental translation exam in French or German. Translation exams are administered by the musicology faculty toward the ends of the fall and spring terms; specific dates will be published during each term (contact the Graduate Office for more information).

Postbaccalaureate Status

Applicants holding a baccalaureate degree who do not meet the specific standards for admission to a graduate program in music but who are otherwise qualified for graduate study may be permitted to correct deficiencies while enrolled as postbaccalaureate (PB) students. PB students will be admitted at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, and PB admissions will be granted according to University of Houston admissions policies and procedures as specified in the university’s undergraduate catalog.

Conditional Versus Unconditional Admission

If there are impediments to a graduate student’s normal (unconditional) admission (a low grade point average, GRE scores slightly below the minimum, etc.), in certain circumstances it may be possible for a student to be admitted conditionally before being granted full, non-probationary academic standing. Conditions on such admissions may include, but are not limited to:

  1. the student must enroll in 9-12 credit hours in the first term of enrollment and include among those credit hours at least two graduate-level academic music courses worth 3 credits each; and
  2. earn a grade of B- or better in all academic courses in the first term of enrollment.

Conditional status will be lifted upon satisfaction of the conditions and the student will be granted non-probationary academic standing. Failure to satisfy the conditions of the admission will result in dismissal from the graduate program.

International students (those holding either F-1 or J-1 visas) are not eligible for conditional admission.

Academic Policies

University Academic Regulations and Requirements

Students must satisfy all the university academic regulations and degree requirements. See the Policies  and Degree Requirements sections of the Graduate Catalog.


An orientation and information session for all new Moores School of Music students occurs during the week prior to the start of classes. There is a general meeting of all students on the Tuesday of the first week of classes in the Fall term, at 1:00 p.m. Contact the graduate office for more specific information.

An orientation session for graduate students with Teaching Assistantship positions occurs on the Friday before the start of the Fall term. Contact the graduate office for more specific information.


Students must schedule an advising appointment with the Graduate Advisor ( before registering for courses in every term in which they are enrolled for graduate study. Students must come prepared for advising appointments: Students should carefully review their degree requirements, courses they have completed, progress toward their degree, and course offerings in the upcoming term.

Posting of Previous Degrees Earned

Each student who enters a graduate degree program at the University of Houston must be certain that their transcript on file reflects the posting of any previous degrees earned. Students may be accepted for admission to the MM program with the submission of a transcript showing a degree in progress, but once that degree has been completed, the student must submit to the Graduate Office an updated transcript that reflects that degree’s completion.

Scholarships and Teaching Assistantships

Students with scholarship or teaching assistantship support are responsible for meeting the terms of their Acceptance Agreement-including enrollment at the appropriate credit-hour load and any other stipulations-and must renew their support each spring following initial acceptance of the award. Students will be notified of the renewal requirement as appropriate.

Semester Credit Hours

The Moores School of Music further defines a credit hour as representing at least 15 not more than 30 minutes of private music instruction per week per 15-week term.

Grades and Point Average (GPA)

No course in which an MM student earns a grade of D+ or lower will be accepted for credit toward the degree. All graduate students must maintain a minimum term and cumulative grade point average of 3.00 for all graduate courses attempted. Failure to do so may result in a warning, probation, suspension, loss of financial support, or dismissal from the program.


Graduation is not automatic upon completion of degree requirements. Students must apply for graduation by the deadline listed in the University of Houston Academic Calendar . Payment of a $25.00 fee ($50 if filed late) is required; students also must be enrolled in the term in which they plan to graduate. Contact the Office of the University Registrar (128 Welcome Center; 713-743-1010; for more information.

If a student is unable to graduate in the term during which application for graduation is made, the student will be required to complete another application for graduation and pay another fee in order to graduate in a subsequent term.

Academic Requirements

Master’s Comprehensive Examination

All Master of Music students must take a written comprehensive examination covering their major field of study, musicology, music theory, and score identification. Exam topics will derive from coursework completed during the degree program as well as from information pertinent to the student’s field of study; the score identification portion is independent of specific coursework. Comprehensive exams take place at the end of the Fall and Spring terms, and students should take the exam in or after their final term of coursework; specific dates for the exam will be published by the graduate office during each term (contact the Graduate Office for more information). Students wishing to take the comprehensive exam must submit an application form (available in the Graduate Office) and a completed degree plan (available on this web site) to the graduate office by the published deadline in the term in which they wish to take the comprehensive exam.

Students will appoint a comprehensive exam committee to administer their exam. This committee will comprise three faculty members, as follows:

  1. the student’s major professor,
  2. one music theory faculty member, and
  3. one musicology faculty member.

Because the comprehensive exam at the master’s level covers coursework completed for the degree as well as information pertinent to the student’s field of study, students generally are advised to appoint theory and musicology faculty with whom they have previously studied. In exceptional cases, such as those in which a student has not studied with any member of the theory or musicology faculty or the faculty with whom the student studied is on leave or otherwise unavailable to sit on the committee, the student may either choose another faculty member from that area (perhaps after consulting with them personally) or allow the Graduate Office to make that committee appointment for them. These faculty members then write their portion of the comprehensive exam in consultation with other members of the student’s committee.

Committee members will submit comprehensive exam questions, including scores if necessary, to the Graduate Office at least two weeks prior to the examination. The Graduate Office will notify committee members of the date of the exam and the deadline for submitting questions.

The four-hour exam is administered by the Graduate Office in one sitting. Students are required to take the exam on campus, on the designated day, at the scheduled time. At the conclusion of the exam, the Graduate Office circulates the entire exam as a package to each committee member for evaluation. Each committee member will evaluate the exam within three working days and forward it to the next member. Committee members grade each portion of the exam independently and have four grade options for each section: pass, fail, oral exam required, or abstain.

If one or more committee members chooses a grade of “fail” on one or more portions of the exam, the full committee will meet to consider the exam. If the committee then determines by majority vote that the student has failed any portion of the exam, the student may retake (in written form) that particular portion of the exam within six months. The committee will then evaluate the student’s rewritten exam according to the same procedures and criteria as the first exam. A second failure will result in the student’s dismissal from the graduate program.

In evaluating the exams, committee members also have the option of requiring-before issuing a pass or fail grade-the student to submit to an oral follow-up exam if aspects of the written exam remain in need of clarification. The oral exam will take place if one or more committee members chooses a grade of “oral exam required” on one or more portions of the exam. The oral exam will take place within three weeks of the written exam and will be graded pass or fail by a majority vote of the committee. If the student fails the oral exam, a second oral exam may be scheduled within six months, or the student may complete another course of action at the committee’s discretion (another written exam, for example). A second failure will result in the student’s dismissal from the graduate program.

Large Ensemble Enrollment and other Co-Enrollment Requirements

All students enrolled in applied music must enroll concurrently in an appropriate large ensemble, even if all degree requirements have been met. The new-music ensemble (AURA, MUSI 6104 ) may count for large-ensemble credit for a limited number of terms (one termfor master’s students and two terms for doctoral students).

Piano majors enrolled in applied music are assigned two hours per week of studio accompanying. (Piano majors with scholarship support must either [1] schedule an additional two hours per week of accompanying, or [2] enroll in an appropriate large ensemble during each term of enrollment in applied study.) Organ majors will have other concurrent enrollment requirements, as determined by the department. For other co-enrollment requirements specific to their major area of study, students should contact their division head.


Recitals are scheduled during Fall and Spring terms, only between the first and last day of classes. Students must be enrolled for private applied study during the term in which the recital occurs. MM students required to perform a recital must appoint a three-member recital committee comprising at least two faculty from their major area of study, including their major professor; if not from the student’s major area, the third committee member may be an academic faculty member. Recital committees should be chosen in consultation with the student’s major professor, the coordinator of the student’s major area, and the Director of Graduate Studies. Programs for degree recitals must be approved by, and students must present a pre-recital jury to, the full recital committee at least two weeks prior to the recital. The committee has the option to not permit the recital to proceed as scheduled on the basis of either the program or the student’s performance at the pre-recital jury. For the purposes of degree plans, a “full recital” is generally defined as 60 minutes of music. Recitals must fulfill all area-specific requirements specific to the student’s degree plan or area of study, including requirements for memorization (voice and piano, for example, are required to perform recitals entirely from memory).

Committee members should submit recital grades to the Graduate Office within 24 hours after the recital (or within 10 days if viewing a recorded recital). Graduate Recital Evaluation Forms are available from the Graduate Office of from the front office in the School of Music; committee chairs should distribute a copy of the form to each committee member individually at the time of the recital. Committees may meet at the conclusion of the recital to discuss the student’s performance and grade, but in any case each committee member should submit their own confidential grade form. The student’s final recital grade will be the average of the grades submitted by each committee member (including the committee chair).


Unless a student performs a major recital during a term, that student is expected to perform a term jury.

Music 6300: Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology

Introduction to Research Methods in Musicology is a prerequisite for graduate-level music history and literature courses. (Note that the prerequisite for MUSI 6300  is satisfaction of deficiencies in music history, either by successfully completing the diagnostic exam in music history or by passing MUSI 6340 ; see above, under “Diagnostic Exams.”) MM students must complete MUSI 6300  at the first available opportunity; MM students are required to complete MUSI 6300  before enrolling in graduate-level coursework in music history.


Some MM degree programs allow for electives. Electives may be satisfied with graduate-level (6000-level or above) music courses or, pending approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, other courses in a different university department that may be considered an enhancement of a student’s degree objective. Only one credit hour of any ensemble will satisfy a free elective requirement; additional hours of applied study in the major area will not satisfy a free elective requirement or any other degree requirement.

Early Degree Completion

Students who wish to complete their Master’s degree in three term may petition to do so. This petition must be approved by the student’s applied instructor and division head, and the Director of Graduate Studies, and must be made before the start of the third term of study. If approved, the student will be required take three credits of free elective in lieu of a fourth term of applied instruction (these credits are in addition to any electives already part of the student’s degree requirements). Students may fulfill these credit hours with either an additional elective taken in the third term or with one taken in a previous term that was not already counted toward the degree requirements (see “Electives” for a description of eligible courses).