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Graduate Student Handbook

Graduate Studies | Admissions | Graduate Office | Assistantships


The Graduate Student Handbook has been prepared as a reference tool for students pursuing graduate degree programs in the CWU Department of Music. Information is included about the department, its degree programs, major concentrations, cognate areas of study, degree deadlines, student responsibilities and any music office procedures. Further information, which applies to all music students, can be found in the Undergraduate Student Handbook. Areas covered there include: user/course fees, .use of department resources, recital scheduling, policies, procedures and fees etc

Music Graduate Admissions process

The Master of Music curriculum is designed to provide opportunity for depth of study in an area of specialization, to increase professional competence in teaching and performance, and to prepare for continued self-directed study or advanced graduate study.

Entrance Tests and Evaluations
Students may elect to take the diagnostic exams in Theory and/or History. If the student earns a grade of “Pass” in either test, general program requirements will be reduced by 3 credits in the respective area. These exams must be taken by the end of the first week of residency.

Diagnostic Tests in Music- Theory and History for Incoming Graduate Students
The Music History Diagnostic Exam is offered once a year, prior to the beginning of the academic year.  As with the theory exam, dates and times will be posted as early as possible. A score of 80% or better on the exam is considered passing. A score of less than 80% will require the student to take MUS 380 at the next opportunity, which is included as a remedial course on the Course of Study, but does not count toward the degree.

Dates and times for the Music Theory Diagnostic Exam will be advertised as early as possible, but students should expect it to take place during registration days immediately preceding the beginning of the academic year or within the first day or two of classes.


All candidates shall complete at least 45 credits as delineated in an approved Course Of Study filed with the Office of Graduate Studies, Research and Continuing Education. The major fields are

  • composition
  • conducting
  • performance
  • pedagogy
  • music education

At least one-third of the total credit requirements must be in the major field, including six credits of thesis, one-third in other music courses, including three credits of MUS 521 (Methods of Musical Research), six credits of music history, six credits of music theory, and three ensemble credits; and one-third may be elective courses in supportive areas from any discipline. At least 25 credits applied toward the degree must be at the 500 level or above. No more than 20 credits applied toward the degree may be at the 400 (senior undergraduate) level. No 300 level credits may be applied toward the degree. Students are expected to plan their program with a graduate advisor and committee.

Graduate Student Course of Study

Purpose and Procedures 
Each student must develop, in consultation with his/her advisor, a plan of the courses that will satisfy the requirements of the chosen degree. These courses must be entered on a Course of Study form. This and all other graduate forms are available in the Graduate Studies office and online. The Course Of Study must have the signatures of the committee chair and the department chair/Graduate Coordinator before being submitted to the Graduate Office. It is strongly recommended that an initial Course of Study, showing the degree plan for the incoming student, be completed and submitted in the first quarter of enrollment. (See Example)

The Graduate Office requires that students have approved Course Of Study forms on file before they have taken 25 credits. Also, the Office of Financial Aid has made it a requirement that students collecting financial aid must have an approved Course Of Study on file in both the Graduate Office and the Financial Aid office. If there isn't an approved copy on file before the end of the add/drop period of the quarter in which the student enrolls for his/her 25th credit, the student's financial aid award may be canceled.

Over the time of the degree, if there are three or more changes to the original Course of Study, a Revised Course of Study form, reflecting the courses actually taken and chosen to fulfill specific degree requirements, will need to be filed with or just before the Application To Graduate. Any changes in individual courses can be made only with the submission of a Course Substitution form.

General Requirements for all graduate music degrees

  • Courses in major field, including MUS 700, Thesis - Credits: (15-21)
  • Other studies in music including below: Credits: (12-15)
  • MUS 521 - Methods of Musical Research Credits: (3)
  • 6 credits of music history
  • 6 credits of music theory (Composition majors may substitute a non-theory course in this category)
  • 3 credits in ensemble courses (course substitution for ensemble requirements for summer MM Education degree program)
  • Elective courses in supportive areas - Credits: (6-15)

Total Credits: 45

Composition and Music TheoryMusic History

422 Orchestration
423 Advanced Orchestration
440 Analytical Techniques II
485 Choral Arranging
486 Jazz Band Arranging
520 Methods of Teaching Theory 
522 Advanced Orchestration
523 Advanced Composition
547 Electronic Music
613 Graduate Seminar in Music: Music Theory/Composition 

558 Survey of Solo Vocal Literature 
571 History of Orchestra Music 
572 Music in the Twentieth Century 
573 History of Opera 
575 History of Chamber Music 
576 History of Choral Music 
579 Aesthetics of Music 
610 Seminar: Composer 
612 Seminar: History and Literature
Music EducationConducting

425 Studio Pedagogy 
424 Jazz Music Education 
520 Methods of Teaching Music Theory 
611 Graduate Seminar in Music: Music Education
441 Conducting III 
541 Advanced Conducting 
615 Graduate Seminar in Music: Conducting 
(MUS 440 is also applicable to major field)
425 Studio Pedagogy 
426 Studio Literature
524 Advanced Applied Pedagogy
536 Diction in Singing Foreign languages 
558 Survey of Solo Vocal Literature 
564 Elective Applied Study 
592 Accompanying Practicum 
614 Graduate Seminar in Music: Performance Studies 
616Graduate Seminar in
Music: Pedagogy
664 Major Performance Area (Applied Instruction)

510 Vocal Jazz Choir 
514 Brass Choir 
515 Chamber Orchestra 
513 Flute Choir 
517 Chamber Music Ensemble 
529 Percussion Ensemble 
532 Stage Band 
535 Lab Choir 
561 Opera Workshop 
562 Opera Production 
566 Wind Ensemble 
567 University Choir 
568 Chamber Choir 
577 Symphony Orchestra 
587 Marching and Concert Band
Graduate Cognate in Music

A Graduate Cognate in music is a secondary specialization that lends more coherence to the courses students complete beyond those required for the masters degree in their primary area of study. Available Cognate subject areas are composition, conducting, performance, performance pedagogy, music education, music theory, music history, and jazz pedagogy. Students must take a minimum of 13 credits beyond the 45 credits required for the Masters degree – totaling a minimum of 58 credits for the degree with a major and cognate. Detailed information can be found in the Graduate Catalog listing under "Master of Music", also available online.

The Graduate Committee and Option Approval Form

The Graduate Committee and Option Approval Form has two functions: to indicate the members of the student’s Graduate Committee (with the chair of the committee duly noted) and selection of the type of culminating project that will be completed.

All graduate students must select a Graduate Committee to help guide their studies, also acting as mentors. The chair of this committee is usually the program advisor in the student’s major field of study. The student should seek advice from this advisor in choosing other members of the committee, based on areas of expertise related to the student's project. Usually committee members must be approved Graduate Faculty. A non-approved faculty member may receive permission to serve as a committee member upon application, but normally are not permitted to act as committee chairs. Students may learn which music faculty are members of the Graduate Faculty by inquiring in the Music Department Office. The committee should be formed as early as possible in the student's graduate career, usually during the first term on campus.

The other part of this form is for selecting the type of thesis or non-thesis project that will be appropriate as a culminating experience for the degree. Once a topic has been chosen the student then secures agreement of the student’s Graduate Committee with their signatures on the form. Once this form has been submitted to and approved by the Office of Graduate Studies, changes of committee members can be made only via resubmission of the form.

Thesis Requirements
An important consideration for all music Masters students is that most final projects are not in the form of a thesis. This is contrary to most of the information found on the forms from the Office of Graduate Studies which is due to the fact that most other disciplines do in fact complete final projects in thesis form. However, in music most theses are considered “projects”. Consultation between the candidate and his/her graduate advisor is essential at all stages of thesis/project activity. In addition, the candidate should be aware of and follow the directions given in the Music Department Thesis Guidelines. The following information presents some basic considerations regarding the several types of theses stipulated for the Master of Music degree. Copies of previous theses, projects, and covering papers are available for perusal in the Music Department Office. In addition, downloadable PDF's of Thesis Procedures and Thesis Timetable are available to help you understand expectations of the department.

Below are Thesis and Project expectations for the CWU Music Department.
Research ThesisPedagogy Thesis

In preparing a research thesis, the candidate should demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Knowledge of the available literature on the subject
  • Ability to use musical analysis as a research tool when appropriate
  • Ability to present the information gathered in the research process in a well-organized and convincing form
  • Ability to use the English language in a correct, clear and direct manner.
  • Knowledge of and ability to use research tools specific to music

As a thesis, the student will present either:

  • A demonstration project with covering paper, and one-half of a public recital. OR
  • A demonstration project, and one-half of a public recital with covering paper based on the works presented on the recital  OR
  • A research paper and one-half a public recital. OR
  • A self contained research of pedagogical project.
The demonstration project will be formulated in consultation with the student's advisor and should consist of a practical application of expertise gained in the courses of the student's work in the major field of study. The covering paper may address any pedagogical problem in general, or it may be related to specific problems encountered in the preparation of the recital. The subject and scope of the paper will be decided upon in consultation with the student's advisor.
Composition ThesisConducting Thesis

The thesis (MUS 700, 6 credits) will be an original composition of a level appropriate as a final project, with a covering paper. Normally this paper will be based on the thesis composition.
As a thesis (MUS 700, 6 credits) the student will conduct a public performance and submit a covering paper. Normally this paper will be based on the works conducted.
Performance ThesisMusic Education Thesis
As a thesis (MUS 700, 6 credits) the student will present a full public recital and submit a covering paper. Normally this paper will be based on the works presented in the recital.

As a thesis (MUS 700, 6 credits), the student will present either

  • A research thesis OR
A demonstration, analytical or creative project and a covering paper based on the project.

Submission of Final Project Papers

Completed thesis and project papers must be submitted to the graduate coordinator in the format outlined here. The music department retains these papers, not the GSR office, and therefore students should submit these materials only to the Music Graduate Coordinator.


Final Examinations

All graduate students must pass a comprehensive final examination, oral, or written and oral, based on their course work and the thesis/project. The nature of the final examination will be determined in consultation with the student's graduate committee chair. Before the Final Examination can be scheduled, students must have satisfied any recommendations made to correct deficiencies revealed by the diagnostic exams and completed and submitted the written portion of the thesis/project.

In addition the Office of Graduate Studies requires a "Final Folder Check" in the quarter in which a student wishes to defend the thesis/project. To receive a Final Folder Check, the following are required:

  • Approved Course Of Study form (original or revised) on file
  • Approved Graduate Committee and Option Approval Form on file
  • The student must be registered for at least two (2) credits

If everything is cleared in the Final Folder Check, the student will receive a Permit to Schedule the orals/final examination. The application for the final examination, approved by the student's graduation committee, must be filed in the Graduate Office at least three weeks in advance of the examination. This application has several specific parts to it; early acquisition and completion of this form is strongly recommended. Consult the Graduate Office for any and all appropriate deadline dates.

Graduation Procedures for Graduate Students

It is important for students to know that the CWU Graduate Office has a separate set of forms and procedures that must be filed according to quarterly graduation deadlines. There are several deadlines that impact the scheduling of final examinations, review of transcripts, and for fees that must be paid. Please become fully aware of the Grad Office's expectations and deadlines.

Health, Safety, and Emergency Policies

University policies for Ethics, Health and Safety, and Compliance can be found by clicking the links below. Policies and procedures for emergency preparedness, along with important information about CWU's Emergency Notification System, can be found in the Campus Police portion of the University web site. (the following links will open in a new window or a new tab)

CWU Emergency Notification System (ENS)


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