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School of Fine ArtsMusic Department

Requirements & Standards

Full Time Status

Registration as a full-time student is necessary in order to be eligible for most types of financial aid. Full-time status is defined as 9 credits of course work per semester, or 6 credits for students who hold graduate assistantships. There are, in addition, two special course numbers for students who have completed their course work and are in the final stages of earning the degree: GRAD 5960 (Full-time Master’s Research) and GRAD 6960 (Full-time Doctoral Research). Students who register for these 3-credit courses are considered to be full time; however, they may not hold graduate assistantships during the semester they are enrolled in these courses.

Students registered for 5-8 credits without an assistantship are considered half-time. Students registered for less than 5 credits are considered part-time.

Registration Deadlines

Graduate students must register by the tenth day of the semester. Failure to do so will result in termination of status. Students who wish to continue following termination will be required to pay a substantial reinstatement fee and a late registration fee.

Transfer Credits, Course Exemptions, and Remediation

A graduate student may transfer a maximum of six credits of graduate-level work from another institution, provided that those credits are determined by the Major Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies to be applicable to the specific requirements for the student’s degree program, and only if those credits have not been applied to another degree earned at UConn or elsewhere. Similarly, up to six credits of work taken on a non-degree basis may be applied to a graduate degree. Credits taken several years prior should normally not be transferred, since it may affect the time limit allowed for the degree (see “Time Limits” below).

It is the policy of the Music Department to exempt graduate students from taking certain courses if they can demonstrate that they already have the knowledge that would normally be acquired in those courses. If you have taken courses elsewhere that correspond to credits required for your course of study (see the detailed degree outlines in the next chapter), you may discuss with your Major Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies the possibility of reducing the number of credits required for your degree. (This option is not available for Performer’s Certificate students, and D.M.A. students may not reduce their number of credits, although they may be able to substitute different courses for those that appear in the outline.) In some instances, you may be tested to determine whether an exemption is appropriate. In other cases, successful completion of an applicable course may be sufficient. However, it remains your responsibility to be certain that you are adequately prepared to pass the General Examination for doctoral degrees or the Final Examination for master’s degrees. This includes any courses for which you receive transfer credits or an exemption.

Students are examined before they are admitted to determine if remediation is needed. In some cases, students are admitted with the stipulation that they must take certain courses for remediation; examples include Theory Review, Diction, or other remedial courses based on the needs of the individual student. Such courses do not fulfill degree requirements and may not be included on the Plan of Study (see below). Additionally, remediation must normally be completed during the first year of study in order for a student to continue in the program. Any exceptions to this time limit must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Time Limits

Graduate students are expected to make regular and continuous progress toward completion of their program of study, and should be familiar with recent developments in their field. Therefore the Graduate School has set time limits for completion of degrees. For master’s students the time limit is six years, and for doctoral students seven years. Performer’s Certificate students are expected to complete their requirements in two consecutive semesters of study. The time allowed is measured from the date of the earliest course listed on the Plan of Study (see below). Therefore any credits you may wish to transfer from prior work should be considered carefully, because they may significantly shorten the time allotted for you to complete the degree.

Students who fail to complete all requirements for their program within the time allowed will have their status and their progress reevaluated, and they may be terminated. Extensions of the terminal date are considered only for students who have made regular and consistent progress toward completion of degree requirements. Students who discontinue their studies for a period of time will generally not receive an extension, except for circumstances beyond their control. The Graduate School will consider an extension only if it is requested in writing by the student’s Major Advisor; the request should be submitted to the Graduate Records Office.


Students in the Ph.D. or D.M.A. program in Music are required to spend at least two contiguous semesters of study in residence. Being in residence requires registering as a full-time student at the Storrs campus, as well as actually devoting your full time to doctoral-level study without undue distraction from outside employment. The amount of outside employment allowed is determined by your Advisory Committee, and must be noted on the Plan of Study (see below). Master’s students are not required to have a period of residency.


A minimum GPA of 3.0 (B) is required for graduate students. Students who fall below this standard will not be permitted to graduate, and are subject to termination. A grade of D or F is not acceptable for any course listed on the Plan of Study (see below), and will necessitate a full review of the student’s status, with the likelihood of termination. A grade of C+ or lower on any course in the student’s concentration normally requires that the course (or an equivalent course) be re-taken and passed with an acceptable grade. Courses graded as S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory) are not calculated in the cumulative GPA. Grades of I (Incomplete) may be received in courses where the student was doing satisfactory work but, for some reason acceptable to the instructor, was unable to complete the requirements by the end of the semester. However, students are expected to complete the requirements for any such course within a reasonable period of time. Accumulation of I grades is monitored by the Graduate School and may result in a suspension of financial aid (including the revocation of an assistantship), or even termination. See the Graduate Catalog for explanations of other grades.

Plan of Study

A Plan of Study lists all the courses applied to a degree or certificate program. Once it is signed by the full Advisory Committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, and accepted by the Graduate School, it serves as a contract between the student and the University that sets out the specific ways in which the degree requirements will be met. The Plan of Study includes the names of the Major and Associate Advisors (including Co-Major Advisors for D.M.A. students, described under “Change of Advisors” below) how a foreign language requirement (where applicable) is to be fulfilled, and other relevant information. You should fill out a Plan of Study as soon as you know all the exact course numbers and titles you will take for your degree, and when you will take each course.

Plan of Study forms are available in the Music Office. Once the form is filled out, you must make two additional copies, obtain approval signatures from each member of your Advisory Committee, and submit all three copies to the Music Office. The Plan of Study is reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies to ensure that all departmental requirements have been met, then filed with the Graduate School.

The Plan of Study for master’s degrees also lists courses taken as preparatory or remedial work. These courses should be listed “above the line” on the form and are not included in the total number of credits entered at the bottom of the form.

Transfer credits, and research credits taken as GRAD 5950 or GRAD 6950 (see below) should be included on the Plan of Study, but not course exemptions. Most courses are specified in the degree outlines given in the following chapter, and these are all graduate-level courses (i.e., those with course numbers of 5000 or higher). However, with the approval of the Advisory Committee, a student may use up to 6 credits of electives at the 3000-4000 level, provided those courses are not open to sophomores.

Revisions to the Plan of Study must also be filed in triplicate on separate forms available from the Music Office, and must bear the signatures of the Advisory Committee as for the original plan.

Research Credits

Programs with a substantial research component (i.e., the M.A. in Music History or Theory, the D.M.A. and the Ph.D., but not the M.M. or Performer’s Certificate) require a number of research credits for which the student must register under GRAD 5950 (master’s) or GRAD 6950 (doctoral). These courses may carry from 1 to 9 credits per semester. M.A. students must complete a total of 9 credits and doctoral students a total of 15 credits, which may be taken at any time beginning with the second semester of study. The courses are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis (S/U), and have no specific requirements other than work which may be assigned by the Major Advisor. Research credits are the University’s way of accounting for the faculty, library and laboratory resources used by graduate students in their research. Whereas the actual research done on a thesis or dissertation may come later in the course of study, it is often advantageous to sign up for these credits earlier, especially in cases where the fees for the credits may be covered by a tuition waiver (such as the one that is included with an assistantship), or where they can be added to a full-time course load of 9 or more credits without a student incurring additional tuition expense.

Ensemble Participation

Participation in a large ensemble (Music 5305) is required of master’s students enrolled in Music 5323 (Applied Music) during the same semester. This participation may be non-credit or for elective credit. Students with an emphasis in keyboard or guitar will normally participate instead in a chamber ensemble (Music 5324). After two semesters of participation in a choral ensemble, students with an emphasis in voice may elect to participate in Opera Theatre (Music 5325) in lieu of a choral ensemble.

Students in the D.M.A. degree must complete a minimum of 4 credits (4 semesters at 1 credit each) of ensemble courses chosen from Music 5305 (Large Ensemble), Music 5324 (Chamber Ensemble) and 5325 (Opera Theater). Additional ensemble credits may be taken on an elective basis.

In addition to the 4 credits of ensemble noted above, all full-time D.M.A. students are expected to participate in an appropriate major ensemble each semester (Music 5305 for most instrumental emphases, Music 5324 for keyboard emphasis, and Music 5305 or 5325 for vocal emphasis). Participation may be on a credit or non-credit basis.

Performer’s Certificate students are required to take ensemble credits as part of their course of study. The chart below indicates the number of courses required for each emphasis. All courses are 1 credit per semester.

Ensemble Requirements for Performer’s Certificate Students

Strings, Winds, Percussion 2 semesters of Music 5305 and 2 semesters of Music 5324
Piano 2 semesters of Music 5324
Voice 2 semesters of Music 5305 or Music 5325
Conducting 2 semesters of Music 5305

Only the Music Department Head may grant exceptions to any of the ensemble requirements described above.

Curricular Practical Training

As part of their training as performers, all students for performance degrees should, in consultation with their major advisors, seek and accept professional performance opportunities. These activities should never supersede or negatively impact academic work in the Department of Music, but they are valuable, practical experiences that are part of a student’s training as a performer. A student’s failure to discuss such opportunities with his or her major advisor could result in a review of a student’s academic standing and assistantship status by the Graduate Studies Committee.


Public recitals are required in all graduate programs with a performance concentration. Performer’s Certificate students are required to present one recital, which carries no credit. All others register for Music 5397 (1 credit) during the semester they present a recital. One recital is required for the M.M., and three are required for the D.M.A., with the exception of the conducting emphasis. D.M.A. students in conducting present one full-length conducting recital, plus two additional appearances (half-programs) as conductor of a large ensemble. The following procedures for preparing and presenting a recital must be followed precisely:

  1. The student, in consultation with the Major Advisor (and applied instructor) will enroll in Music 5397 (Recital) during the semester the performance is to take place.
  2. Before scheduling the recital, the student must ensure that all members of the Advisory Committee will be able to attend the performance on the date chosen. In the case of the D.M.A. qualifying recital, the Major Advisor will arrange for a minimum of three members of the performance faculty to attend the recital, which will be scheduled on one of a number of designated dates at the end of the spring semester.
  3. All graduate degree recitals must be recorded. Audio recordings are required; video recordings are preferable. It is the student’s responsibility to pay for the service in the Music Office and to make the necessary scheduling arrangements with the staff of von der Mehden Recital Hall. Recitals for which these arrangements have not been made at least ONE MONTH in advance will be canceled and must be rescheduled for a later date.
  4. A pre-recital hearing is required for all applied master’s degree recitals, and for the D.M.A. qualifying recital. Pre-recital hearings for subsequent D.M.A. recitals are optional, and may be held at the discretion of the Major Advisor or the applied instructor. All hearings for D.M.A. qualifying recitals take place on a specified date during the spring semester (around mid-April), and are evaluated by the full-time applied and conducting faculty. All other pre-recital hearings must take place at least 14 DAYS before the recital date, and all members of the committee must be present (see item 7 below); it is therefore the student’s responsibility to select a time when the entire committee can attend. (Conducting students are exempt from the pre-recital hearing requirement; instead, permission to proceed with the performance must be obtained from the Major Advisor.)
  5. If the pre-recital hearing is approved (by majority vote), the recital may take place as scheduled. If the hearing is not approved, a second attempt may be scheduled, but only at the discretion of the applied instructor. A student who does not give an acceptable performance on a second hearing may not continue in the degree program.D.M.A. students are expected to pass the pre-recital hearing and the qualifying recital during the spring semester of their first full year in the program. Those who do not present a qualifying recital at that time will be considered “on leave” for purposes of residency and will be ineligible for financial aid (including assistantships) until this requirement has been met. The remaining D.M.A. recitals may be given only with prior approval of the applied instructor or, where applicable, the Advisory Committee.
  6. Each member of the faculty committee must submit a grade for the recital. In the case of the D.M.A. qualifying recital, the committee will consist of a minimum of three members of the performance faculty; all other recitals are graded by the Advisory Committee. The Major Advisor will distribute, collect, and place in the student’s permanent file the grade slips (available in the Music Office). The Director of Graduate Studies will assign the grade for Music 5397 based on the strict average of the grades submitted by the members of the committee. The Major Advisor will confirm that a recording of the recital is on file as a part of the student’s permanent record.
  7. Because all members of the faculty committee are expected to attend both the recital and, where required, the pre-recital hearing (see item 4 above), no committee member should agree to a recital date for which a scheduling conflict is anticipated. In the event of unforeseeable conflicts that arise after the date has been set, however, a member of the committee may arrange for a colleague to attend and submit a grade by proxy. In the event that no substitute is available, the committee member may arrange to have the performance videotaped and assign a grade later.
  8. A student who does not earn an acceptable grade (B or better) on the recital may not continue in the degree program. If, however, the members of the Advisory Committee should decide that the recital is unsatisfactory for reasons that could not have been anticipated at the pre-recital hearing, they may enter a grade of “I” (Incomplete) for Music 5397. In that event, the student would normally be expected to present another pre-recital hearing before performing the recital a second time, but the grade of Incomplete may not be entered more than once. The student will also be considered “on leave” for purposes of residency and financial aid (including assistantships) until the recital has been successfully completed.
Research Plan and Advising for D.M.A. Students

After the qualifying recital and an appropriate number of courses have been completed, each D.M.A. student is expected to set up a meeting with a member of the academic faculty in music history or theory to discuss prospective research topics and activities. This meeting should take place in the first semester of the second year of study, no later than November 1. Following this meeting, the student will prepare a 1-2 page description of a research plan, together with a preliminary bibliography. This plan will be reviewed by the member of the academic faculty and by the Major Advisor, and may be revised as required during the first part of the next semester. The student and the Major Advisor will then invite two additional faculty members to serve on the Advisory Committee based on their ability to evaluate and assist with the proposed research. One of these individuals will be a member of the academic faculty, who will become the Co-Major Advisor and assume principal responsibility for advising the dissertation.

In order to remain active in the D.M.A. program, the student must have a research plan on file in the Music Office and an Advisory Committee in place by the end of the second semester of the second year of study.

Foreign Language and Supporting Area

Reading knowledge of at least one foreign language is required for most of the research-oriented degree programs in music, as listed below:

M.A. in Music History or Theory 1 language
D.M.A. in Conducting or Performance 1 language
Ph.D. in Music Theory and History 1 language, plus additional work in a language or supporting area,
as may be required by the Advisory Committee

The specific language or supporting area is designated by the student’s Advisory Committee. In most cases, German is required, although a different language may be approved if it is particularly appropriate to the student’s thesis or dissertation topic.

Proficiency in a foreign language may be demonstrated in one of five ways listed in the Graduate Catalog:

  1. Passing two semesters of an approved reading course, or a course in foreign language or literature at the 200 level or higher.
  2. Passing a translation test administered by a member of the foreign language faculty, or (in exceptional cases) another faculty member who is not on the student’s Advisory Committee.
  3. A similar doctoral reading examination passed at another graduate school before enrolling at UConn, but no more than five years prior to the date the Plan of Study is submitted.
  4. Submission of an official transcript showing that the student has earned a baccalaureate or higher degree with a major in the foreign language.
  5. Documented evidence that the language is the student’s native language, learned in childhood and used through secondary school.

For more detailed explanations of these options, see the Graduate Catalog.

Students who use the third option (translation test) will normally contact the language office directly. The nature of the test varies somewhat from one language to another, and from person to person. As one example, however, the German test is usually conducted as follows:

  1. The student and a member of the German faculty set a date for the exam.
  2. About 2 weeks before the exam, the student submits 2-3 examples of German texts at an appropriate level of difficulty, choosing from scholarly articles, music reviews, liner notes, or other relevant materials.
  3. The faculty member chooses some additional examples that are similar in type and level of difficulty.
  4. On the day of the exam, the student is asked to translate selected, paragraph length passages from both the familiar and unfamiliar texts, using a bilingual German-English dictionary as an aid. The test lasts approximately two hours.
  5. The translation is evaluated by the faculty member. Awkward style in the translation is not considered in determining whether the student passes or fails, as long as comprehension is clearly demonstrated.
    A student may attempt take the exam up to three times. When the exam is passed, the faculty member sends a memo to the Graduate School for the student’s record.
Change of Advisor

Faculty retirements, resignations, sabbatic leaves, or a shift in a student’s research interests may necessitate a change in either the Major Advisor or in the membership of the Advisory Committee. For a change of Major Advisor, the student must submit a form (available in the Music Office) signed by both the original Major Advisor and the new Major Advisor. For a change of Associate Advisor, the Major Advisor sends a memo to the Graduate School as notification of the change.

Students in the D.M.A. degree program are normally advised by a member of the applied faculty during the first year of study, and work more closely with a member of the academic faculty (Music History or Theory) in preparing the dissertation (see above section on Research). The applied advisor is named at the time of admission, but when the Plan of Study is filed during the second year of study, it should list both the original advisor and the appropriate member of the academic faculty as “Co-Major Advisors.”