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Comprehensive Examinations

During their final semester, all graduate students must complete the Comprehensive Examination, which consists of Part I, a written General Knowledge Exam, and Part II, an oral Recital/Thesis Exam.

Part I: General Knowledge Exam Students are tested in Music Theory and Music History/Literature, with additional questions from their individual areas of specialty. Each of the three segments (theory, history, and specialty) is graded on a pass/fail basis, and students must pass all three. If a student fails any of the segments, he or she is given the opportunity to retake those segments in an equivalent exam with different questions. In case of a second failure, the student must wait until the next semester to re-take failed portions.

Part II: Recital or Thesis Exam MAM and MAM Worship students choose either the Recital Track or the Thesis Track. MM Conducting, MM Piano Performance & Pedagogy, and MM Instrumental Performance, and MM Vocal Performance & Pedagogy students choose the Recital Track. MM Music Education students submit a thesis or a research-based action project.

Recital Track The student’s applied professor appoints a committee of three faculty members: the applied professor (who serves as chair), the student’s academic advisor, and a third faculty member familiar with the student’s work. Should the applied professor also be the student’s academic advisor, another faculty member familiar with the student’s work is added.

  • The student and applied professor select the graduate recital program.
  • The student writes a program-note analysis of the graduate recital, including footnotes and bibliography. Scope and length are determined by the applied professor.
  • A copy of the program-note analysis is distributed to the committee two weeks prior to the recital hearing.
  • The recital hearing takes place four weeks prior to the recital, with the committee members in attendance. Additional faculty may be requested for the hearing if deemed appropriate. The student makes a brief oral presentation based on the program notes prior to each selection. The committee may ask questions. Committee members each grade the recital hearing on a pass/fail basis.

Thesis Track Full details are provided in Guidelines for Writing Master’s Theses, which can be found at the School of Music website under “Current Students.”

Action-Based Research Project The student and advisor will work together to devise and implement the project. Breadth and scope will be determined case-by-case.

Evaluation The chairman determines an overall letter grade for the recital or thesis experience.