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Graduate Comprehensive Examination in Music

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

The Fall 2014 Comprehensive Examinations will be held Saturday, October 11 at 9 a.m. in room 202 of the Music Building.

The Spring 2015 Comprehensive Examinations are tentatively scheduled for Saturday, February 28 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).  The exam 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 134 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 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., MUHL 320, MUTC 402) 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.  The Coordinator of Graduate Studies will provide more information when the student registers for the exam.

All students must answer a question in their major area of study (for example, music education students answer a question in music education; violin students answer a question on violin).

All students in the music education and performance specializations who take the test must complete a general question in music history. Students who tested well on the school’s history diagnostic exams, or who successfully completed MUHL 320 Graduate History Review 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 history question. In such cases, appropriate substitutions will be made.

The second part of the exam consists of essay questions pertaining to courses 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. 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.

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.

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.

Students will be allowed a second attempt to pass portions of the exam in which they were not successful. Only one second attempt 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.