Master of Arts Degree

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An Important Distinction between MA and MM Degree Programs

Because the MA is a research degree, a strong emphasis is placed on writing and research skills. Full command of written English is assumed for students admitted to MA programs, and is required before students are permitted to begin a thesis or dissertation project.

Composition and music education may be undertaken within the division of graduate research studies (the MA as described in this section) or within the division of graduate professional studies (the Master of Music). These two programs have differences in emphasis and course content. As part of the application process, the master of music requires an audition on an applied instrument or voice; the MA does not. It is especially important that composition and music education applicants decide whether they should apply to the MA or MM program, based on their backgrounds and goals. Applicants to the MA must submit GRE scores.

Applied Instruction

Admission to the MA degree program does not involve an audition on an applied instrument or voice. However, all candidates for the MA degree are encouraged to avail themselves of the School’s applied music instruction. The area and extent of such study (if any) will be determined in consultation with the student’s adviser and the applied music faculty. Candidates in musicology and music theory are expected to cultivate proficiency on a keyboard instrument.

General Prerequisites for the MA Degree Program

Admission to graduate study depends upon successful completion of an undergraduate degree at a college or music school of good standing. Eastman expects that all admitted graduate students will possess basic musical skills, a knowledge and understanding of the history of Western music, and a command of the English language that will allow them to pursue graduate study. Students’ knowledge and skills will be evaluated through placement tests administered as part of their initial graduate enrollment process. If the evaluation indicates remedial courses are necessary, students must successfully complete them during the first semester in which they are offered. Credits for review courses are not counted toward the degree requirements.

Remedial Courses

Remedial courses required as a result of the placement exams or upon admission to a program must be taken above the total credits required for the degree.

Duration of Study and Residency Requirements

Requirements for the MA degree are expected to be completed within five years after the work is begun. The basic residency requirement for the degree is one year of full-time study or its equivalent, two years for musicology majors.

Majors

 

Master of Arts with a Major in Composition

Prerequisites

  • Composition: A minimum of 18 semester hours or its equivalent in undergraduate courses
  • Theory: 12 semester hours in lower-division courses
  • Counterpoint and orchestration: 12 semester hours in upper-division courses
  • Completion of at least one work in one of the larger forms

Curriculum

  • Composition study: Advanced Composition I and II; Composition Symposium; Advanced Computer Music Techniques; Compositional Practice ca. 1925-1955
  • Thesis: The thesis has two parts. Part I is an extended composition for instrumental, vocal, and/or computer-implemented media, approved by the department, and written under the guidance of a faculty member. Part II is an essay dealing with some historical, theoretical, or analytical aspect of music; it should be comparable in scope to an article of 10-15 printed pages in a scholarly journal.
  • Electives: Chosen in consultation with the adviser, depending on the background, needs, and special interests of the student. As many as six credits in applied music may be included in this elective block.
  • Lecture: A 30-minute public lecture on their own music and progress toward the degree.

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Master of Arts with a Major in Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology students will be interviewed and admitted to the musicology department via the same process as incoming musicology students, which includes the evaluation of writing samples of students’ undergraduate work, or of their graduate work in other areas. In addition to the Western music history and theory entrance exams taken by all incoming graduate students at the Eastman School, ethnomusicology students will also meet with the ethnomusicology faculty to determine their knowledge of world music traditions. Thus, a prerequisite for entrance to this program is at least one undergraduate course in world music or its equivalent. The MA in ethnomusicology requires a minimum of two years of study in residence.

Curriculum

  • Musicology and Ethnomusicology coursework: Introduction to Ethnomusicology; Approaches to Ethnography; Introduction to Musicology; one theory elective; electives in other subjects according to the student’s interests. Students may also enroll in applied lessons or other world music ensembles for elective credit for a maximum of six credits.
  • Thesis
  • Ensemble: World Music Ensemble: Gamelan, Mbira, or South Indian Drumming
  • Foreign Language Exam: in a language appropriate to the student’s area of study
  • Comprehensive Oral Exam

→ More information on Ethnomusicology curriculum

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Master of Arts with a Major in Music Education
(Professional Studies)

Prerequisites

  • A high standard of musical skill, consistent with an Eastman bachelor’s degree
  • Breadth of musical and general educational preparation
  • Skills in academic writing
  • Teaching experience is strongly recommended
  • This degree may be pursued through full-time study or through summers-only study (in four consecutive summers).

Curriculum

The curriculum for the MA degree in Music Education leading to Initial plus Professional Certification includes courses in research methods, measurement and evaluation, curriculum, and the history and philosophy of music education. Students will also take instrumental and choral methods and techniques courses, select a variety of elective courses (including theory, composition or orchestration) and will complete a culminating field project or thesis.

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Master of Arts with a Major in Music Education
(leading to New York State Initial plus Professional Certification in Music)

Prerequisites

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree in music (Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts or equivalent)
  • A high standard of musical skill, consistent with an Eastman bachelor’s degree
  • Breadth of musical and academic preparation
  • Skills in academic writing
  • This degree may be pursued through full-time study only

Curriculum

The curriculum for the MA degree in Music Education leading to Initial plus Professional Certification includes courses in research methods, measurement and evaluation, curriculum, and the history and philosophy of music education. Students will also select additional courses for a pedagogical core emphasis in General Music, Instrumental Music or Vocal Music, take a variety of elective courses (including theory, composition or orchestration) and will complete a culminating field project or thesis.

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Combined MA/PhD in Musicology

Applicants must apply for the combined MA/PhD; there is no separate application process for the MA, which is granted “in passing” as the student works toward the PhD.  Applicants are reviewed for their readiness for a doctoral level research degree. More information about the PhD in Musicology

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Combined MA/PhD in Theory

The MA with a major in music theory is not normally taken as a separate degree program. Rather, the MA is awarded to a student in the MA/PhD program in music theory after satisfying one foreign language requirement and after completing 30 credits (with at least nine credit hours of non-theory electives) in the course of study for the PhD in theory with a grade of B or higher. MA students must pass a final exam if finishing with the MA only, or pass a qualifying exam in order to move on to candidacy for the PhD.

Applicants must apply for the combined MA/PhD; there is no separate application process for the MA.  Applicants are reviewed for their readiness for a doctoral level research degree.  More information about the PhD in Theory

→ More information on Music Theory curriculum

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Master of Arts with a Major in Pedagogy of Music Theory

This major is intended either for those students who wish to focus on a teaching career in music theory (with emphasis in pedagogy, aural and keyboard skills, composition, and cognition), or for other graduate students who may wish to complete a dual degree program in performance (MM or DMA) and music theory.

Prerequisites

Candidates from a variety of musical and academic backgrounds are welcome to apply for the program, although some experience in upper-level theoretical work normally is required.

Curriculum

Theory & Theory Pedagogy courses: Pedagogy of Theory; Pedagogy of Theory: Advanced Topics; Modal or Tonal Counterpoint; Apprenticeship in Pedagogy (includes teaching recital); Intermediate Keyboard Skills; Advanced Harmony and Composition; Theory and Analysis of Tonal Music

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