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Graduate Comprehensive Examination in Music

The Spring 2014 Comprehensive Examinations will be held Saturday, March 1, at 9 a.m. in room 202 of the Music Building.

The Summer 2014 Comprehensive Examinations will be held Saturday, June 21, at 9 a.m. in room 202 of the Music Building.

Contact the Coordinator of Graduate Studies at least two weeks in advance to confirm your eligibility (see below) and to schedule your test, which usually takes about four hours to complete.


All master of music candidates in the School of Music must successfully complete the graduate comprehensive examination, normally taken during the final term before graduation. The exam is offered once each fall and spring term and also during the summer session. Exam dates are posted on the graduate bulletin board next to room 140 in the Music Building and broadcast announcements are made via e-mail to all current music graduate students who have provided e-mail addresses. You must register to take the examination by contacting the Coordinator of Graduate Studies at least two weeks before your chosen exam date. You must be registered for at least one hour of graduate credit during the term you take the exam.

Students who begin graduate music study in or after Fall, 2010 may not take the comprehensive examination until they have completed all of the graduate core course work (other than the final recital/project): MUSC 633 or MUSC 684, the required history elective, and the required theory elective must be successfully completed. All remedial and/or review course work (e.g., MUSC 601, MUSC 621, MUSC 622) must all be successfully completed. Students seeking exceptions to this policy will have to petition the Coordinator of Graduate Studies well in advance of the test date.

The examination consists of four written questions, selected from a packet prepared specifically for the individual student:

All students in the music education and performance specializations who take the test must complete a general question in music theory, usually including a harmonic and formal analysis of a piece from the common-practice period. Students who tested well on the school’s theory diagnostic exam at the beginning of their matriculation, or who successfully completed MUSC 601, Graduate Theory Review, should have no problems.

All students in the music education and performance specializations who take the test must also complete a general question in music history. Students who tested well on the school’s history diagnostic exams, or who successfully completed MUSC 621, Graduate History Review I and MUSC 622, Graduate History Review II, should have no problem--though adequate time to review and receive any needed assistance is strongly recommended.

Students in some Individualized specializations may not be required to take the theory and/or history questions. In such cases, appropriate substitutions will be made.

The second part of the exam consists of essay questions pertaining to courses (including applied instrumental or vocal study) that individual students have completed as part of their programs of study. Questions will not be provided for courses a student is taking at the time of the exam. Questions are not provided for core bibliography/introduction to research courses, ensembles, and independent studies, and are not usually provided for seminar or special topics courses.

TWO questions must be selected from this portion of the exam, and must be from DIFFERENT courses. Any exceptions will be noted in the individual exam packets. At least one of these must be directly related to your specific major area of study (e.g., piano, clarinet, music education, etc.).

Students who plan take the exam are encouraged review all notes, handouts, tests, etc., from courses they have completed, and to prepare detailed study guides for review. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO BRING STUDY GUIDES OR ANY OUTSIDE MATERIALS TO THE EXAM.

To pass the examination, students must successfully complete three of the four questions on which they write.

[Effective Summer, 2009] Students will be allowed a second attempt to pass portions of the exam in which they were not successful. Only one retake will be granted, and will consist of new questions on the subject(s). A second attempt in the same term must be completed and graded in time to meet Graduate School reporting deadlines; otherwise, the student will have to wait until the exams are scheduled in a later semester, which may delay graduation.