The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Music Degrees & Programs: Graduate

The UMass Amherst Department of Music & Dance offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Music Degree (M.M.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree. These programs offer optimal professional training for careers as music teachers, performers, composers, arrangers, and conductors. The specific M.M. concentrations offered, as well as Departmental Contacts, are described below.

Also offered are the Professional Performance Certificate, the Music Teacher Licensure Program, and the Music Theory Pedagogy and Music History Pedagogy Certificates.

Individuals may complete up to twelve hours of academic study as an "undesignated" graduate student before being required to apply and be accepted into a specific graduate degree program.

To enter a graduate music degree program, prospective students must meet the admissions requirements of both the Graduate School and the Department of Music & Dance. The Graduate School Admissions Office is located at Room 530 in Goodell Hall, (413) 545-0722. While applications, transcripts and letters of recommendation must be submitted to the Graduate School, all supporting materials relating to music, such as CD's, scores or research papers, should be sent to the Music & Dance Department.

The Graduate Music Student Handbook (pdf) gives details about Admission, Auditions, Graduate Assistantships and other financial aid, placement exams, jury, thesis and language requirements and many other topics.  Also see below for Diagnostic Exams in Theory & History, a List of Instruments/Voice  offered, and Accreditation details.

The Annotated Graduate Course Guide 2021-22 (pdf) gives details about all grad-level courses that are slated to be offered for the current academic year. To help students plan their schedules, it includes detailed descriptions from professors about expected class content and indicates whether classes count for degree credit and/or academic curricular "core" credit. Class meeting times/places are also given, if known.

The newly updated (Aug. 2020) Guide to the M.M. Comprehensive Oral Exam offers resources for study, an overview of required basic historical, stylistic and theoretical knowledge, and analytical skills.

Master of Music Concentrations & Contacts

Graduate Program Director
Professor Erinn E. Knyt
Fine Arts Center Room 366
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9330
Phone: 413-545-1247, e-mail:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Maddy Benjamin
FAC Rm 273, 413-545-0311,

  1.   Wind Conducting: Prof. Matthew Westgate,, 413-545-6056
  2.   Orchestral Conducting: Morihiko Nakahara,
  3.   Choral Conducting: Prof. Tony Thornton,, 413-545-0437

Additional information or mailed forms may be obtained from the Music & Dance Department Director of Admissions:

Director of Music Admissions, Nathaniel Gowen
Fine Arts Center Room 263A
UMass Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-9300, (413) 545-6048

Diagnostic Examinations

All entering Masters students must take diagnostic examinations in Music History and Music Theory before they may enroll in graduate-level coursework for these subject areas. (Students enrolled in Jazz Composition/Arranging take the diagnostic exam in jazz theory instead of the general theory exam.) The exams are administered before classes begin in the fall and spring semesters or at the time of the on-campus audition/interview. Each exam takes approximately one hour to complete.

The results of the Music History exam are used to advise students into appropriate graduate-level history courses.

Students who do not pass all sections of the Diagnostic Exam in Music Theory (general or jazz) must retake and pass those sections before they may enroll in relevant graduate-level theory courses or form a comprehensive exam committee. The Department has created two general practice exams and two jazz practice exams to help incoming students prepare (see PDFs below). Students who must retake a section (or sections) of the theory exam can enroll in Graduate Theory Review (MUSIC 493A/B) in the fall, hire a tutor, or study on their own. (Note: the review course is designed primarily for students taking the general theory exam.)

Practice Diagnostic Theory Exam_General Version 1 (2016).pdf

Practice Diagnostic Theory Exam_General Version 2 (2016).pdf

Practice Diagnostic Theory Exam_Jazz Version 1 (2019).pdf

Practice Diagnostic Theory Exam_Jazz Version 2 (2019).pdf

List of Instruments/Voice

Private Lessons (as part of graduate music degree programs) are offered in:

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet
  • Bassoon
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Horn (French horn)
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba


  • Percussion
  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • String Bass
  • Piano
  • Organ
  • Voice
  • Guitar (Jazz only)

Please note: There is no graduate degree in Jazz performance, but candidates for the Masters degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging may study one of the traditional jazz instruments: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, percussion/drums, bass, piano, voice or guitar. Please contact the Jazz Program Director, Jeffrey W. Holmes,, 413-545-6046 if you have questions.


The UMass Amherst music degree programs are fully accredited by all appropriate state and national agencies such as the Massachusettes Board of Higher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).