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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 Music Teacher Licensure Program and the following graduate certificates:

While the Professional Performance Certificate is for non-matriculated students seeking a one-year graduate performance program, the other certificates are primarily offered as additional options for our MM students.  Please contact Graduate Program Director Erinn Knyt with any questions.

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 in Google drive folder) 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 2023-24 (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 Guide to the M.M. Comprehensive Oral Exam (for students who entered the program before Fall 2021) offers resources for study, an overview of required basic historical, stylistic and theoretical knowledge, and analytical skills. For students entering in Fall 2021 or later, please see the new M.M. Comprehensive Exam Guide (Word file), sample Music History & Literature exam, sample Music Theory exam with Piece A, Piece B and Theory Repertoire List (pdfs). (Jazz sample exam coming soon)

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: eknyt@music.umass.edu

Graduate Program Coordinator
Nicole Avakian, Bromery Center, Rm 273, 413-545-0311, navakian@umass.edu

Graduate Concentrations & Faculty Coordinators:

  1.   Wind Conducting: Matthew Westgate, mwestgate@music.umass.edu, 413-545-0839
  2.   Orchestral Conducting: New director to be announced
  3.   Choral Conducting: Lindsay Pope, lpope@umass.edu, 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
musicadmissions@umass.edu, (413) 545-6048

Diagnostic Examinations

All entering Master's students must take the Diagnostic Examination in Music Theory and complete a Self-Evaluation Survey in Music History. Students enrolled in the Jazz Composition/Arranging and Jazz Performance Programs take the Diagnostic Exams in Jazz Theory and Jazz History instead of the General Theory and History exam/survey. Each exam takes approximately one hour to complete. The exams are administered before classes begin in the fall semester, and may be offered during spring semester as well. Please note: any student who has a documented disability and would like special accommodations for the tests should contact the Graduate Program Director at least seven days in advance of the announced test date to make these arrangements.

Any student wishing to enroll in a graduate level theory course at the 600 level or higher must pass all portions of the applicable  Diagnostic Theory Examination. In addition, passing the Diagnostic Theory Exam in the relevant area is required for forming a comprehensive exam committee in Year 2.

Students that fail any portion of the general theory exam should enroll in the relevant module(s) of the UMass Grad Theory Review Course, Music 493, in the first fall semester of study. If this does not remedy the deficiency, students may review on their own (e.g. online study, hire a tutor) and then retake the exam in a subsequent semester. Students that fail any portion of the Jazz Composition/Arranging or Jazz Performance exams should consult with the Jazz Faculty Coordinator about pursuing remedial work independently and/or as part of a non-credit independent study class. The results of the Music History Self-Evaluation Survey, or the Jazz History Exam, are used to advise students into appropriate graduate level history courses.

Students in the M.M. in Collaborative Piano must take a diagnostic exam in diction in Italian, German and French during the first week of the semester. Collaborative pianists must contact the Voice Area Coordinator to schedule this exam. if remedial work is needed in any of these languages, the student will be required to take undergraduate diction courses.

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

Graduate Jazz History Study Guide.pdf

Sample Graduate Jazz History Diagnostic Test.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)
  • Drumset/Percussion (Jazz)
  • Bass (Jazz)

Please note: There is now a Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance. Candidates for the Masters degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging may also 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, jwholmes@music.umass.edu, 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).