Jun 24, 2018  
2015-2016 CSU East Bay Catalog 
2015-2016 CSU East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Music, M.A.

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Program Description

The Master of Arts degree in Music is designed for those individuals pursuing careers as public or private school teachers for professional performers and composers, for school and college music teachers who wish to increase their professional effectiveness, and for those who plan further music study at the doctoral level. Courses emphasize scholarly performance and include in-depth work and research in the student’s major field of interest. The ultimate goal of the Department of Music is to develop well-informed performers, independent scholars, and inspired teachers.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.A. in Music from Cal State East Bay will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate mastery within their primary area of emphasis, i.e. performance, composition, research, conducting, or teaching;
  2. Apply critical and creative thinking and analytical reasoning to address complex challenges in music theory, music history, and world music;
  3. Work collaboratively and respectfully with other musicians in a performance context; and
  4. Integrate musical ideas, methods, theory, and practice, and communicate them to others clearly and persuasively, in classroom and performance settings.


The Department of Music faculty have achieved an enviable reputation for their high degree of academic, professional, and classroom expertise. Faculty, students, and alumni are proud of the program and its success in graduating well-prepared students who have continued to work in the music field locally, nationally, and internationally. The programs of the Department of Music are fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Areas of Emphasis

Within the M.A. degree program, students will concentrate their study in one of six areas of emphasis: 

Choral Music

The Choral Music emphasis is designed for the conductor and singer with a desire to improve their skills as a leader and contributor to the choral profession. The program is based on two pillars of effective musical leadership, repertoire and communication, and the numbers of students in the program are limited so that accepted students receive ample podium time to refine conducting and rehearsal skills. Students learn the vast canon of the choral repertoire through classes, seminars, ensembles, guest artists, private lessons, analysis and performance. Students conduct music from all eras and develop vital communication skills including rehearsal techniques, vocal techniques, program planning, and an emphasis is placed on conducting. The performance of a Graduate Choral Recital is a major goal of this program.


This area of emphasis is designed for the student who wishes to continue developing toward a professional level as a composer and who wishes to continue further study of music theory. Most students in this program aim toward careers as professional composers and teachers. Some continue into doctoral programs at other universities. Composition students are given a sixty-minute lesson each week. The successful completion of a substantial original composition, accompanied by a written analysis, is required for students in this area.

Jazz Studies

The Jazz Studies emphasis is designed to teach advanced jazz improvisational and stylistic techniques in preparation for a career in Jazz performance and education.  The program is intended to create well-rounded musicians and educators that will disseminate the art and history of Jazz music.  Performance of a Graduate Recital is a major goal of this program.  Graduate Jazz Studies students will receive a sixty-minute lesson in their jazz applied instrumental area each week of the regular quarter.

Music Education

The Music Education emphasis is designed for experienced music educators who seek to develop as leaders and scholars in the field of music education. It is also designed for students with an interest in pursuing doctoral study and/or teaching at the collegiate level. Emphasis is placed on both the practical and academic aspects of contemporary music education. This program typically culminates in a research thesis. Prospective students for this emphasis must possess a California Single Subject (music) teaching credential and at least two years of full-time K-12 music teaching experience. 

Music History and Literature

This area of emphasis is designed to give sufficient academic work and background to those students who wish to continue graduate study at the doctoral level or for students wishing to teach in the areas of history, literature, and music appreciation. Classes offered by the Department of Music cover all the major historical periods and specific historical studies are offered as seminars. A student who pursues this option is expected to be able to do independent research and will complete a standard thesis.


The performance emphasis is designed to prepare the student as a professional performer or teacher through the advancement of instrumental or vocal skills and the study of selected historical, stylistic, and theoretical courses. An audition is required before a student is accepted into this area of emphasis. Performance of a Graduate Recital is a major goal of this program. Graduate performance students will receive a sixty-minute lesson each week of the regular quarter.


Scholarships, including the Graduate Equity Fellowships, are available for new and continuing graduate students. Contact the Department of Music office at (510) 885-3135 for more information.

Admission Requirements

Upon making application to the program, a candidate may be admitted for graduate study in the Department of Music as a “Conditionally Classified Graduate” student if: (1) the general requirements for graduate standing have been met, and (2) the student holds a baccalaureate degree with a major in music and an upper division grade point average of at least 3.0 (“B”) in music.

Students wishing to enroll in the graduate program who do not have a major in music must first complete an equivalency of the Cal State East Bay B.A. degree major in Music. When the equivalency has been completed, the student will then be eligible for entrance into the graduate program, subject to the entrance requirements stated below.

All Areas

All graduate candidates must submit a Statement of Purpose and a resume or curriculum vitae. The Statement of Purpose should be no more than three pages in length (typed, double-spaced) and should describe the candidate’s professional goals and aspirations. In addition, candidates are asked to submit two letters of recommendation, on letterhead, mailed directly by individuals familiar with his or her work or performance abilities.

Choral Music

Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in Choral Music must submit a video recording (DVD or online link) of at least 15 minutes of a rehearsal with a choral ensemble. You may optionally include a video of a concert performance in addition to the rehearsal video. Final candidates will be invited to campus to audition with one of the CSUEB choral ensembles. Preference will be given to candidates who apply to the Music Department by March 1.

Composition and Theory

Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in composition and theory must submit a compositional portfolio that includes at least two samples of their work written for different media, preferably with an accompanying audio or video recording. Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in music theory must submit a sample of their academic writing, preferably a thesis, term paper, or published article on a subject in music theory.

Jazz Studies

Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in jazz studies must complete an in-person audition or submit audition recordings (audio or video), preferably of a recent performance or recital.

Music Education

Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in music education must submit a copy of their California Teaching Credential and evidence of a minimum of two years fulltime teaching at the K-12th grade levels. In addition to the statement of purpose, they must also submit a video recording (DVD or online link) of at least 20 minutes of a class or rehearsal in a K-12 school.

Music History and Literature

Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in music history must submit a sample of their academic writing, preferably a thesis, term paper, or published article on a subject in musicology or ethnomusicology that demonstrate their research and writing skills and their abilities to think critically;


Those wishing to pursue an emphasis in performance must complete an in-person audition or submit audition recordings (audio or video), preferably of a recent performance or recital.

Graduate Music Advisory Examinations

The Graduate Music Advisory Examinations, given by the Department of Music, must be taken prior to the beginning of the student’s first quarter in residence. These examinations include dictation, theory, history and literature, and piano proficiency. Contact the department for the date of these examinations.

Classification in the Program

A student may be a “Classified Graduate” student if (s)he:

  1. Has completed all undergraduate deficiencies;
  2. Has completed at least 12 quarter units in residence at the 6000-level applicable toward the master’s degree, including Music 6000, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0;
  3. Has passed the Graduate Advisory Examinations in basic piano proficiency, ear training, music history and literature, and music theory. The Graduate Advisory Examinations must be passed by the time the student has completed 20 units applicable to the degree or the student will be dropped from the program;
  4. As a graduate student pursuing the history-literature area of emphasis, has demonstrated reading ability in French, German, or Italian; other languages may be substituted by approval of the department;
  5. Has fulfilled the University Writing Skills Requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at www.csueastbay.edu/testing or call 510.885.3661.

Advancement to Candidacy

A student who holds “Classified Graduate” standing may be considered for Advancement to Candidacy when (s)he:

  1. Has filed a study program for the completion of the degree which has been approved by the departmental Graduate Studies Committee;
  2. If electing the performance emphasis, has successfully demonstrated a graduate standard of excellence before an auditions committee.

Degree Requirements

To be eligible for the Master of Arts degree a student must:

  1. Be Advanced to Candidacy;
  2. Complete 45 units of approved courses of which:
    1. 32 must be completed in residence;
    2. 24 must be at the 6000 level;
    3. A minimum of 9 units must be in one of the four possible areas of emphasis: composition-theory, history-literature, music education, or performance;
    4. Not more than 12 units of applied music will be counted in the performance area of emphasis;
    5. Up to, but no more than 3 units of applied music, when approved by an advisor, may be applied toward degree requirements by candidates outside the performance area of emphasis;
    6. At least 3 units in addition to those in the area of emphasis must be completed in each of the following areas: composition-theory, history-literature, and music education;
    7. Up to, but no more than 9 units of study outside of music may be counted toward the degree (these units must be approved by a graduate advisor and must be at the 3000 level or above);
    8. Performance emphasis candidates must complete 3 units of performance activities (large and/or chamber ensembles).
  3. Present a thesis or project in one of the following forms:
    1. In the history-literature area, a standard research thesis (University Thesis, MUS 6910);
    2. In the composition-theory area, an original composition;
    3. In the music education area, either a standard research thesis (University Thesis, MUS 6910) or a project (Project, MUS 6899);
    4. In the performance area, a final graduate recital;
  4. Pass both written and oral examinations upon completion of all coursework.

The candidate must observe the specific departmental requirements stated here and in the Handbook for Music Majors.

Curricular Requirements (45 units)

I. Core Classes (12-15 units)

II. Other Required Studies in Music (9-18 units)

  • Emphasis area classes Units: 9-12
  • University Thesis or Project Units: 0-6

III. Electives (12-21 units)

  • In Music Units: 6-12
  • In Music, or, with approval, outside of Music Units: 9
  • Pass written and oral examinations Units: 0

Performance Activities

Graduate students with a performance emphasis are required to take a minimum of 3 units of in performance activities during their time in residency in the program. These students may apply a maximum of 6 units toward the 45 quarter units required for the M.A. degree in Music. Graduate students in other areas of emphasis are allowed, with prior approval of the Graduate Coordinator, to apply up to 3 units of credit in performance toward the 45 quarter units required for the M.A. degree in Music.

Upper Division Music Courses Acceptable for Master's Degree

Before enrolling in any undergraduate course the graduate student should be aware of the minimum requirement of 6000-level units and should consult his or her advisor in the department.

Other Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the university requirements for graduation which are described in the Graduate Degree Information chapter in this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 grade point average, and the University Writing Skills Requirement. The candidate is responsible for seeing an advisor and planning a tentative program, for completing the prerequisites to program approval, and for taking the Graduate Advisory Examinations.

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