May 27, 2024  
2020-2021 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2020-2021 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Music, M.A.

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Music, M.A. Program

Program Description

The Master of Arts degree in Music is an intensive program that provides advanced study for students with highly developed interests and accomplishments in music. Students are given the opportunity to improve their musicianship skills, critical skills, and professional insights in preparation for furthering their careers in performing, teaching, composing and arranging, administration, and research. It also offers opportunities for current school and college music teachers to increase their professional effectiveness and provides prospective doctoral aspirants with a sound foundation for advanced graduate study.

Students take core courses in graduate-level music theory and music history, and construct an individual course of study in an area of emphasis that supports their artistic, creative and professional goals. Areas of emphasis include: conducting studies, composition, music theory, jazz studies, music education, music history and world music, and performance. 

Students in our program have opportunities to study with leading performers, composers, and scholars, and to partake in the musical and cultural richness of the San Francisco Bay Area. Emphasis is placed upon maintaining small class sizes and close student-to-teacher interactions. The program also provides flexibility for students to explore further study in areas relevant to their career goals and aspirations. Beyond the classroom, the Department of Music boasts a thriving music program that includes numerous classical, electronic and jazz ensembles. Many of our students are actively engaged in performing, teaching, and other musical pursuits while simultaneously completing their degrees.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with an MA in music go on to pursue careers in a variety of musical areas and genres. These include musical performance, technology and electronic music, conducting and directing, composing and arranging for a wide variety of media, arts administration, publishing, teaching in the schools, and maintaining private studios. Many graduates go on to doctoral study and, later, become community college and university faculty members.

Admission Requirements

  • Apply to Cal State East Bay via Cal State Apply. 
  • During the application process, you will be required to submit:
    • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Résumé
    • Two (2) letters of recommendation. These references should be teachers or colleagues who can assess your readiness to undertake graduate study. 
    • A Statement of Purpose (three to four pages in length) describing your objectives for pursuing a graduate degree in music, as well as your short and long term goals.
    • Evidence of your abilities in the area of emphasis you wish to pursue as a graduate student. See below for more information.

Evidence of Abilities 

Areas of Emphasis that require in-person auditions:
  • Instrumentalists: Prepare an audition that includes at least two representative works from the applicant’s Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Music senior recital or comparable repertory. Three or four pieces drawn from multiple style periods are expected. 
  • Pianists: Representative works from the applicant’s Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Music senior recital or comparable repertory. Three or four pieces drawn from multiple style periods are expected, including a complete sonata by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, or contemporaries. Memorization is required. Sight-reading will also be evaluated.
  • Vocalists: Prepare an audition that includes each of the following: a Baroque aria (sacred or secular); a song by a German Romantic composer; a song by Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Poulenc, Duparc, or Chausson; a song composed after 1950; and an operatic aria in Italian. The audition will last a maximum of twenty minutes and all of the music is expected to be performed from memory.
  • Jazz Studies: Prepare an audition that includes: (a) a blues melody and solo on 3-5 choruses; and (b) the melody and solo on 1-2 choruses of either a song from the Great American Songbook (e.g. “Stella,” “All The Things You Are,” “Like Some In Love,” etc.) or a jazz standard (e.g. “Moments Notice,” “Stablemates,” “Along Came Betty,” etc.).
Areas of Emphasis that require online submission of materials:
  • Conducting Studies (Choral and Instrumental): Submit a video recording (or link) featuring at least 15 minutes of a rehearsal with an 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 Cal State East Bay ensembles.
  • Music Education: Submit a teaching video recording (or link) featuring at least 15 minutes of music teaching at the K-12 level in a school classroom or ensemble setting. An on-campus interview may be required.    
  • Composition: Submit scores (PDF format) of 3-4 representative compositions for various combinations of instruments and voices, preferably with an audio recording of the works. In the case of electronic music, submit a PDF page in which you list the titles of the pieces, software used, and a brief description of the composition process.
  • Music Theory: Submit a research paper on a topic of music theory or an analysis, with commentary, of a substantial musical composition. Your submission should display your ability to clearly discuss analytical or theoretical issues.
  • Music History and World Music: Submit a research paper on a topic of music history or world music. Your submission should display your ability to write thoughtfully and with clarity about issues in music.

Classification in the Program

Students who meet the minimum requirements for graduate studies are considered for admission in three categories based on CSU standards: Graduate Classified, Graduate Conditionally Classified, or Post-Baccalaureate Classified, e.g. admission to an education credential program. Students are normally admitted to the program in Music as a “Conditionally Classified Graduate” student. 

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

Advancement to Candidacy

“Advancement to Candidacy” is a status which recognizes completion of substantial progress towards a student’s graduate degree. A “Classified Graduate” student becomes eligible for “Advancement to Candidacy” within the M.A. in Music when they:

  • Have completed 15 units of 600-level coursework with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • Have successfully completed the Music Mid-Comprehensive Examination; 
  • Have designed a Formal Program of Study for the completion of the degree which has been approved by the departmental Graduate Studies Committee

Program Learning Outcomes

The goals of the Master’s program are to prepare students for professional careers in performance, conducting, composition, teaching, and scholarship, while also preparing them for further music study in doctoral programs.

  1. Demonstrate core knowledge and skills in foundational areas of music theory and history beyond the undergraduate level. 
  2. Identify and use standard digital and paper research tools in music and produce a comprehensive bibliography that shows their ability to utilize standard scholarly tools relevant to their concentration area according to standards set in a research and bibliographic rubric.
  3. Demonstrate mastery in an area of emphasis, culminating in an original creative and/or scholarly capstone project.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and respectfully with other musicians in a performance and/or scholarly context.

Music Degree Requirements (30 units)

Core Courses

All the following core courses for 9 units are required:

Area of Emphasis

A minimum of 6 units of coursework in one (1) of the following areas of emphasis is required:

  • Conducting Studies
  • Composition
  • Jazz Studies
  • Music Education
  • Music History and World Music
  • Music Theory
  • Performance

Elective Courses

Select 12 units in Music courses not taken in areas above.  Up to 6 units outside of Music may be taken with approval. Please meet with your graduate advisor to select the appropriate electives for your area of emphasis and capstone experience.

Capstone Requirement

All M.A. Music students must complete a capstone project for a minimum of 3 units:

  • Students in Conducting Studies, Jazz Studies, and Performance must complete a project consisting of a graduate recital with performance notes (MUS 693).
  • Students in Composition must complete a project consisting of an original composition and analysis of that composition (MUS 693).
  • Students in Music Education, Music History and World Music, or Music Theory may complete a university thesis (MUS 691) or a departmental thesis (MUS 699)
  • With the approval of the graduate coordinator, students in Music Education, Music Theory, Music History and World Music, may complete a comprehensive examination (MUS 692) or a project (MUS 693)

See details in program description section above.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the University requirements for graduation as described throughout this catalog. These include the 70% unit residence requirement; the five-year rule on currency of subject matter; the minimum number of units in 600-level courses; the “C” minimum grade for each graduate course; the 3.00 cumulative grade point average; and the University Writing Skills Requirement.

Note: For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see Graduate Degree Requirements & Policies  or call the Testing Office at (510) 885-3661.

Department Courses Listed by Course Type

Music Courses

Department of Music



Music: Applied Study (LD)

Music: Applied Study (UD)

Music: Chamber Ensembles

Music: Courses for Non-Music Majors

Music: Composition

Music: Jazz Studies

Music: Major Performing Ensembles

Music: Music Education

Music: Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Music: Performance

Music: Theory and Musicianship

Music: Undergraduate Research

Music: Graduate Applied Study

Music: Graduate Music Education

Music: Graduate Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Music: Graduate Performance

Music: Graduate Research

Music: Graduate Theory and Composition


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