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Graduate Admissions

Click here for the Graduate Music Student Handbook (pdf file)
Click here for the 2016-17 Annotated Graduate Course Guide (pdf)
Click here for the 2017 Grad Teaching Assistantship Application (pdf)

Click on one of the following to skip to that section of the page (or scroll down):
General Admission Requirements
Graduate Degree Programs/Areas of Concentration
Professional Performance Certificate
Supporting Materials
Audition Dates
Music Audition Request Forms
Departmental Contacts
Audition Requirements
Diagnostic Exams in Theory & History
Come and Visit Us
Scholarships & Financial Aid, including Grad Teaching Assistantships

General Admission Requirements

Acceptance into a Music Department Graduate program requires academic acceptance by the University as well as acceptance by the Music Department. The Music Department part of the application process includes an audition (for degrees with a performance component) or submission of appropriate scores and documents (for degrees which have no performance component). Please see below (Graduate Degree Programs) for clarification.

Application to the M.M. with a concentration in Music Education, Music History or Music Theory, or the Ph.D. with a concentration in either Music Education or Music Theory requires the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Please note: Admission to the Ph.D. program in Music Theory is currently suspended.

Click or scroll down for information on Diagnostic Exams in Music Theory & Music History.

Academic application forms for admission to graduate study are available from the UMass Amherst Graduate School web page or from the Graduate Admissions Office:

University of Massachusetts Amherst
530 Goodell Building
140 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9333
(413) 545-0722

APPLICATION DEADLINES: For fall admission, the application deadline for all graduate programs in Music, except Music Theory, is February 1. The application deadline for graduate study in the Music Theory programs (MM, PhD) is January 15. Applications must be submitted by October 1 for spring admission.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, national origin, mental or physical disability, or veteran status, in any aspect of the admission or treatment of students or in employment.

Dance: The Music & Dance Department does not offer graduate degrees in Dance. See for descriptions of the undergraduate degrees offered. For information about graduate dance programs in the area, see the Five College Dance Department site or the Smith College MFA in Dance site.


Graduate Degree Programs

As well as applying through the UMass Amherst Graduate School, graduate applicants in Music may wish to contact the appropriate area-of-concentration program director (see below for list) if more specific information about the degree program and its requirements is desired. DEGREE SUBPLANS (required & optional courses) for all Masters and PhD programs are also available in the Music Programs & Degrees-Graduate page of this website and the Graduate Handbook (pdf file).

Jazz & African-American Music Studies webpage
Music Theory webpage
Click or scroll down for information on Diagnostic Exams in Music Theory & Music History.

Not all graduate music degree programs require an audition for acceptance.

Graduate programs which DO require an audition (before March 1st):

    Masters in Music:
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Music Education / Applied (Performance)
  • Music Education / Conducting (Choral or Instrumental) (see Supporting Materials section below)
  • Performance (all instruments/voice)

          Professional Performance Certificate (Graduate non-degree program; see above for description)

Click for Graduate Audition Requirements

Graduate programs which DO NOT require an audition (see Supporting Materials section below):

If your degree program does not require an audition, you may elect to perform an audition if you would like to be considered for a Teaching Assistantship (TA) that includes performing. Ensemble auditions are always required for placement in ensembles. You must submit any required scores or other documents to the Graduate Program Director, Prof. Brent Auerbach. Click for Graduate String Quartet program info.


The Professional Performance Certificate

Administered by the Department of Music & Dance through Continuing & Professional Education, the PPC offers performing musicians in the early stages of their careers the opportunity for private instruction with the faculty members of the UMass Music Department and for participation in the many small and large ensembles of the Department. The pre-requisite for participation in this program is an undergraduate degree in music or demonstrated equivalent musical training. The purpose of the Certificate program is to provide a concentrated year of artistic development, career preparation, and work experience for aspiring professional musicians.

Link to details of the Professional Performance Certificate program
Link to the Application/Audition Request Form (to apply for the program) (Sample form, 2017-18 form coming soon)
Contact with questions: Elizabeth Chang, Professor of Violin, at


Supporting Materials

Some graduate programs require additional support materials as part of the application process. The degree and support material requirements are:

Master of Music in Composition: examples of original compositions in varied styles or genres.

Master of Music in Jazz Composition & Arranging: samples of completed arrangements and original compositions, on CDs, with copies of scores. Please note your performance contributions to CD tracks if applicable. An on-campus performance audition/interview may also be scheduled, preferably on, but not limited to, departmental audition dates.

Master of Music in Choral Conducting: a 20 minute DVD of rehearsal and performance footage; a comprehensive list of repertoire conducted; a current resume. For more information, visit

Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting: a 20 minute DVD of rehearsal and performance footage (camera to face of conductor); a comprehensive list of repertoire conducted; a one-page philosophy of music education; a current professional CV.
Please note: As of September 2015, admission to the Orchestral Conducting Masters program has been suspended until further notice.

Master of Music in Wind Conducting: a 20 minute DVD of rehearsal and performance footage (camera to face of conductor); a comprehensive list of repertoire conducted; a one-page philosophy of music education; a current professional CV.

Master of Music in Music Education with a Research Emphasis: one scholarly paper (thesis, term paper, journal article, etc.) at least ten pages in length that demonstrates writing ability, understanding of the connection between theory and practice, critical analysis and synthesis, and appropriate use of sources and citations.

Master of Music in Music History: senior thesis or extended term paper; at least 10 pages in length, that demonstrates writing ability, analytic reasoning, and appropriate use of sources and citations.

Ph.D. in Music Education: two contrasting scholarly papers (thesis, term paper, journal article, research study, etc.) each at least ten pages in length that demonstrate writing ability, understanding of the connection between theory and practice, critical analysis and synthesis, research skills, and appropriate use of sources and citations.

Master of Music in Music Theory: two contrasting papers in music theory (senior thesis, term paper, etc), each at least ten pages in length, that demonstrate writing ability, analytical and critical reasoning, and appropriate use of sources and citations.

Send all supporting materials, such as video recordings or CDs, scores, and research papers, directly to the DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC AND DANCE Graduate Program Director. Make sure to include the concentration you are applying for (i.e.: performance/instrument, theory, etc.). Sending supporting materials to the Graduate School will delay their consideration by the appropriate music faculty.


Audition Dates

For questions:

UMass Amherst Audition dates for 2017-18: (for graduate or undergrad applicants)

All Instruments & Voice (EXCEPT Strings - violin, viola, cello, double bass):
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Saturday, March 3, 2018

Violin, viola, cello, double bass only:
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Monday, February 26, 2018

Students should schedule an audition as early as possible, and may do so even before submitting the application for academic acceptance. Auditions may take place prior to academic acceptance to the University; however, Music Department faculty cannot hear an audition unless a University application has been submitted.


Music Audition Request Form

This form is only for those graduate programs requiring an instrumental or vocal audition. See the Graduate Degree Programs section on this page to determine which programs require an audition.

The form is available online (submitted electronically). If you have questions about the form or the Music Admissions/Audition process, please contact the Admissions Director at 413-545-6048 or

To access online forms:

Audition Requirements
When an audition is required for admission to a Graduate Program (see above), applicants are expected to perform in various period styles within the repertory of their instrument/voice, before March 1st. Please visit the Graduate Audition Requirements page for specific repertory, general audition guidelines, and studio professor contact information.


Departmental Contacts

Graduate Program Director
Professor Brent Auerbach
Department of Music and Dance, Fine Arts Center Room 265
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9330
Phone: 413-545-0521

Areas of Concentration (link to website) & Coordinators:

Collaborative Piano:
Prof. Nadine Shank,, 413-545-0053
Prof. Salvatore Macchia,, 413-545-6053
Conducting: (For both MM in Conducting & MM in Music Education/Conducting Emphasis)
    Wind Conducting: Prof. Matthew Westgate,, 413-545-6056
    * Orchestral Conducting: Ng Tian Hui,, (Admissions temporarily suspended)
    Choral Conducting: Prof. Tony Thornton,, 413-545-0437
Music Education:
Prof. Lisa Lehmberg,, 413-545-0612
Music Theory: Prof. Gary Karpinski,, 413-545-4229
Music History: Prof. Ernest May,, 413-545-0624
Jazz Composition & Arranging: Prof. Jeffrey Holmes,, 413-545-6046
Performance: Contact the Professor who teaches your instrument/voice (See Music Faculty by Discipline/Instrument). For the Graduate String Quartet Program, contact Prof. Kathryn Lockwood.

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

Director of Music Admissions & Recruiting
(413) 545-6048
Fine Arts Center Room 271
UMass Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9300

* Admission to the Orchestral Conducting Masters program has been suspended until further notice.


Diagnostic Examinations

All entering Masters students must take the Diagnostic Examinations in Music Theory and Music History before they may enroll for coursework in these subject areas. Each test takes approximately one hour to complete. The exams are offered during Departmental auditions and/or at the time of the on-campus audition/interview. The exams are also administered before classes begin in the fall and spring semesters.

Applicants for a concentration in Music Theory must pass the corresponding Diagnostic Exam as an entrance test prior to acceptance. Theory applicants must pass all sections of the written theory exam.

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

Students who do not pass section(s) of the Diagnostic Exam in Music Theory must retake and pass those sections before they may take graduate-level theory courses. Students may study on their own, participate in summer music theory review online, hire a tutor, and/or take the Graduate Theory Review course in the fall to prepare for retaking the exam.

The Department has created two practice exams (pdf) for incoming students, as preparation for the Diagnostic Exam in Music Theory.
Practice Theory Exam 1     Practice Theory Exam 2

Come and Visit Us

We welcome visits by prospective students and their families and can arrange meetings with faculty and students, attendance at classes and rehearsals, and tours. Please contact the Department (, 413-545-6048) in advance to schedule an appointment.

Useful links:
Music Department Travel Directions & Map (pdf)
UMass Amherst Robsham Visitors Center
Parking Information
UMass Amherst Travel Directions
Campus Map
Area Lodging
Campus Tours



Scholarships and Financial Aid

Graduate Teaching Assistantships
All graduate students entering the Department are automatically considered for teaching assistantships (TA-ships) in their own studio/area of concentration. These are few in number, and highly competitive.

In addition, there are a number of "Gen-Ed" TA-ships that support large undergraduate General Education music classes. Duties typically include lecture support, discussion section leading, grading and tutoring. All grad students who have not received a TA-ship in their own area are strongly encouraged to appy for a Gen-Ed TA-ship. These positions are issued through the office of the Graduate Program Director and are also highly competitive. We seek intellectually curious students who are motivated, responsible, and who demonstrate excellent communication skills. Click on the link for a TA-ship Application Form (pdf), Deadline: Feb. 24, 2017 for priority consideration.

Graduate assistantship awards carry a yearly stipend of $9,264 (2015-16) in return for a 10-hour-per-week work assignment. In addition, tuition, curriculum and health fees are waived. Residual mandatory fees (See Graduate School Tuition/Fees webpage) remain the responsibility of the graduate student. Assistantships are available in a variety of undergraduate courses, applied areas, class piano, accompanying, music theory, ensembles, arts administration and marching band.

UMass Amherst Financial Aid Services
255 Whitmore Building
Box 38230
Amherst, MA 01003-8230
(413) 545-0801

Click for a full list & descriptions of Music & Dance Department Scholarships and Awards

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Dance Department