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Department of Music

Graduate Handbook

The faculty and staff of the Music Department welcome you to the Master of Arts program in Music! We hope you find graduate study at Fresno State to be a rewarding and worthwhile experience. Our faculty consists of scholars, performing artists, and teachers with national and international reputations dedicated to providing a high quality graduate education. We look forward to helping you achieve your personal and professional goals.

The Master of Arts degree program in music is designed to increase the candidate's professional competence, to increase the ability for continued self-directed study, and to provide opportunity for greater depth in the chosen area of emphasis within the field of music. The Department offers two options within the Master of Arts degree: Music Education and Performance. Emphases within the area of Performance include: choral conducting, composition, instrumental conducting, instrumental performance, and vocal performance. The Music Education Option is designed for new or experienced teachers seeking advanced study in classroom music instruction, theories of teaching and learning, and research in music education.

Please be sure to read through this Graduate Student Handbook carefully. The Handbook is intended to provide an overview of the program, its requirements, and processes. Hyperlinks have been included to allow for more detailed information. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

California State University, Fresno

California State University, Fresno is the premier regional university serving Central California's diverse and growing population. Founded as Fresno State Normal School in 1911, it became a teacher's college in 1921, and has offered advanced degrees since 1949. Fresno State is one of 23 campuses in the California State University, one of the largest systems of higher education in the world. The university is accredited by the California Board of Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It has 26 nationally accredited departmental programs, among the highest number within the CSU system.

Fresno State's 388-acre main campus and its 1,011-acre University Farm are located at the northeast edge of Fresno, at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range. The surrounding San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, and Fresno is the fifth largest city in California. The university is within an hour's drive of many mountain and lake resorts and within a three to four-hour drive of both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialogue, and discovery. In addition to Music, the College of Arts and Humanities includes the following departments and programs: Armenian Studies, Art & Design, Communication, English, Linguistics, Media Communications & Journalism, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, Philosophy, and Theater Arts. 

College of Arts and Humanities 

The Department of Music

The Department of Music has been an integral part of California State University, Fresno since its inception.  In 1935, the first Bachelor of Arts degree in Music was awarded and in 1954, the College moved to its current Cedar and Shaw location. In 1972, Fresno State College joined the California State University system. Over the years the Music Department has prepared hundreds of candidates for bachelor's and master's degrees in music, and its graduates teach and perform all over the world.

The Department of Music at Fresno State offers some of the most extensive music facilities within the California State University system. The 65,000 square foot expansion of the Music Building, completed in 1991, combined with an extensive remodeling of the existing facility includes a 320 seat Concert Hall, the 200 seat Wahlberg Recital Hall, a 220 seat Rehearsal Hall, as well as over 30 practice rooms, classrooms, a large dance studio, faculty office space, a conference room, student lounge, and 700 student lockers. The building also contains a recording studio, computer labs, and a tracker-action organ.

Department of Music

The Henry Madden Library

The Henry Madden Library is the largest academic library in California located between San Francisco and Los Angeles it is arguably one of the busiest libraries in all of inland California with 1.76 million visitors a year. The new addition to the library, completed in 2009, houses The Ronald J. Harlan Music Collection and consists of approximately 22,000 compact discs, 40,000 stereo and monaural LPs and 47,000 scores. The collection music contains representative scores and recordings in the areas of classical, jazz, musicals, popular music, and world music. In addition, there are also spoken recordings containing poetry, plays, and speeches. The media collection also has more than 7000 videos (DVD and VHS) of educational and research value in all subject areas.

Henry Madden Library

The Graduate Writing Studio

The Graduate Writing Studio is dedicated to helping graduate students improve their academic writing skills. Located in the Henry Madden Library, the Graduate Writing Studio provides the opportunity for students to make individual appointments or drop-in to meet with one of the writing consultants regarding their project, thesis or longer papers as part of a graduate seminar assignment. The Graduate Writing Studio also offers informative workshops on academic writing, documentation style and avoiding plagiarism, as well as a series of workshops specifically designed for international students.

Graduate Writing Studio

Admission Criteria

University Requirements

1) Completed a four-year college course of study and hold an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association, or shall have completed equivalent academic preparation as determined by appropriate campus authorities; 2) be in good academic standing at the last college or university attended; 3) have earned a grade point average of at least 2.5 on the last degree completed or have attained a grade point average of at least a 2.5 (A=4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter units attempted; and 4) satisfactorily meet the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe. In unusual circumstances, a campus may make exceptions to these criteria. *

*These and other CSU admissions requirements are subject to change as policies are revised and laws are amended. The CSU website and the CSU admissions portal are good sources for the most up-to-date information.

Music Department Requirements

The following criteria is specific to the Department of Music and published in the 2019-2020 Fresno State Catalog: - requirements

A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required. Applicants with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 may be considered, however, for these applicants the GRE General Test is required.

  1. A bachelor's degree in music (or the equivalent) is required. Applicants must have their official transcript(s) sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  2. Applicants in choral conducting. instrumental conducting. instrumental performance, and vocal performance must arrange an audition with the appropriate faculty member (see Audition Requirements in the next section).
  3. Applicants in the areas of composition and music education must arrange an interview with the appropriate faculty member (see Interview Requirements in the next section).
  4. Three current letters of recommendation must be sent directly to the Graduate Program Coordinator (pdf preferred). At least two letters must be from former music teachers, professors, or other musicians with firsthand knowledge of the applicant's musical and academic abilities or experiences.
  5. Applicants must submit a Personal Statement that addresses the reasons(s) for pursuing graduate study at Fresno State, along with a detailed explanation of the applicant's personal and professional goals.
  6. A writing sample (equivalent to an undergraduate term paper) must be submitted directly to the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  7. Music Education Option applicants must hold a valid California Credential to teach music or complete the California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) and subject matter proficiency, as defined by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CSET or approved subject matter program).

International applicants must achieve a minimum TOEFL score of 550 to gain entrance into the program.

Audition Requirements


Choral Conducting

Candidates will be required to send a résumé, three letters of recommendation and complete an on-campus audition. Please arrange an audition and send resume and letters to the Director of Choral Activities (

On-Campus Audition
On-campus auditions will be scheduled with the Director of Choral Activities. See Audition Process/Requirements below. If a candidate is unable to come to campus for a live audition, they may submit video recordings for the panel to evaluate. Please see Video Audition Requirements below.

Audition Process/Requirements
The candidate will conduct the Fresno State Concert Choir through 2 pieces in the audition and lead the ensemble through a brief warm-up. Candidates are encouraged to choose warm-ups/choral exercises that help to set up the pieces they will be conducting. The candidate will audition for a panel of faculty.

Piece #1: Title to be assigned by the Director of Choral Activities. The candidate will conduct straight through the work (or movement), giving the audition panel an opportunity to see the candidate's artistry and physical communication skills as a conductor. The candidate may not coach the choir verbally.

Piece #2: Title to be decided upon by the candidate in conjunction with the Director of Choral Activities. The candidate will choose a piece or portion of a piece to rehearse for approximately 15 minutes. The aim is to make as much difference in the performance of the piece/excerpt as possible in the allotted time.

Video Audition Requirements
Your video should include approximately 10 minutes of rehearsal (this may include warm-ups) and 10 minutes of performance recordings of your conducting. The camera should face the conductor. Video submissions should be a link to a video file. Once received, the DCA will distribute the links to the faculty panel for final consideration.

For further information, contact Dr. Cari Earnhart (

Instrumental Conducting

  • Applicants must meet with Dr. Gary Gilroy for a one-on-one interview to discuss the applicants experience and the graduate instrumental conducting program.
  • Applicants must submit a video recording (at least 20 minutes in length) of the applicant conducting an instrumental ensemble in either a performance or rehearsal setting.

For further information, contact Dr. Gary Gilroy (

Orchestral Conducting

  • Applicants for the MA in conducting should have some conducting/teaching experience prior to application. In addition to the other items required for admission to the Department of Music, applicants should have a pre-audition video representative of their work in conducting as follows:
  • A rehearsal video recording of approximately 30 minutes’ duration from a single rehearsal; this recording should show a frontal view of the conductor and verbal directions should be clearly audible.
  • A performance video recording including several contrasting selections; this video may be made from the audience’s position, but should clearly show the conductor’s gestures.  Although the performance video may consist of a number of selections recorded at various times, individual performances should be intact and technologically unaltered.
  • All videos must be of high visual and aural quality.
  • If the pre-audition video recordings are acceptable, the graduate orchestral conducting professor, Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, may invite the applicant to schedule a live audition.  For that audition, please prepare two contrasting pieces from the standard literature and make sure you have a piano reduction for both pieces.

For further information, contact Dr. Thomas Loewenheim (

Instrumental Performance


For audition information, contact Prof. Larry Gardner (


• Two solos of contrasting nature from the standard literature.

For audition information, contact Prof. Bruce Bransby (


All applicants to the cello studio are expected to prepare the following audition requirements:

  • One movement of a concerto from the standard cello repertoire, such as Dvorak, Schumann, Haydn D or C, Lalo, Shostakovich, Barber, Herbert, Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante, Elgar, or Saint-Saëns.
  • A Prelude and one other movement from any Bach Cello Suite (the prelude and movement should come from the same suite).
  • One virtuoso piece such as those listed:
    • A showpiece such as Tchaikovsky Pezzo Capriccioso, Popper Elfentanz, or Davidoff At      the Fountain
    • An Italian sonata by Boccherini, Valentini or Locatelli
    • A Popper Etude or Piatti Caprice
  • A solo piece of the applicant's choice

For further information, contact Dr. Thomas Loewenheim (


Music Education or Music Performance degree with applied clarinet as the major instrument; 4 years (8 semesters of college applied clarinet lessons). Completion of a Senior recital (1/2 recital for Music Education; 1 full recital for Music Performance) Be prepared to successfully demonstrate B.A. in Music Education; B.A. in Music Performance requirements from Department of Music at California State University, Fresno.

  • Prepare and perform all major and minor scales full range of the instrument (low e 1 octave below treble clef, and high c two octaves above the treble clef staff; scales for three octaves - E, F, F#/Gb, A, Bb, B, and C). Tempo marking qtr - 100, scales played as 16th notes. See Baerman Bk. 3.
  • Prepare and Etude from Jean Jean 16 Etudes or Jean Jean 16 Etudes; Jettel Etudes Bk.3 Preliminary Studies to the Accomplished Clarinetist, or Jettel Etudes Bk. 1 or Bk. 2 or Bk. 3 of The Accomplished Clarinetist.
  • Prepare and perform all movements of one of these major concertos by - Francaix, Spohr (no.1, no.2, no. 3, or no.4), Tomasi, Nielsen, Weber Concerto no. 2.
  • Submit a performance resume that includes all repertoire studies (technical studies, etudes, solo repertoire - concertos and sonatas, as well as unaccompanied works).
  • Names of references that may be contacted upon completion of the audition (they may include the same people who are submitting letters of recommendation).

For further information, contact Dr. Miles Ishigaki (


  • One movement from either the Mozart Concerto in G Major, K. 313 or the Mozart Concerto in D Major, K. 314;
  • One movement/piece from a Baroque period work of choice;
  • One movement/piece from a Romantic era or 20th/21st century work of choice.     

During graduate studies, M.A. students in flute will study in-depth the breadth of repertoire from Baroque to contemporary music. Students will become adept at performing a variety of styles (including the use of extended techniques) within solos, orchestral excerpts, and chamber music.

For further information, contact Dr. Elisa Moles (


  • Performance of two contrasting works not to exceed 20 minutes, with a minimum time requirement of 12 minutes.
  • Demonstration of any major scale in two and three octaves, and the same for any melodic minor scale.

For further information, Dr. Corey Whitehead (


  • Perform a solo from the list below or something similar.  Selections should include music that demonstrates the applicant's technical and lyrical ability. 
    • W.A. Mozart, Concertos 2 & 4
    • F.J. Haydn, Concerto No. 1
    • P. Dukas, Villanelle
    • E. Bozza, En Foret
    • R. Gliere, Concerto
    • F. Strauss, Concertos 1 & 2
    • P. Hindemith, Sonata or Concerto
  • Expectations for graduate-level applied horn lessons:  Through study and practice of performance techniques as well as stylistic conventions, covering a wide variety of solo and ensemble musical literature, students will be expected to develop their musicality, technical mastery and their knowledge of repertory to a high level. 

For further information, contact Dr. Thomas Hiebert (


  • Mozart C Major Concerto, first movement
  • Two contrasting standard repertory solos
  • Three orchestral excerpts

For further information, contact Prof. Rachel Aldrich (


The candidate shall perform works/etudes that demonstrate an aptitude and skill level required for graduate work. Choose works or select your own representative works from each section below: I/A, I/B; II/A, II/B; III/A, III/B; IV/A, IV/B.

I. Snare Drum:

              A. Solo or Etude (1)

                           1. Twelve Studies for Snare Drum, Jacques Delecluse

                           2. The Solo Snare Drummer, Vic Firth

                           3. Portraits in Rhythm, Anthony Cirone (selected)

              B. Excerpts (2)

                           1. Orchestra Repertoire for the Snare Drum, Raynor Carroll

II. Mallet Keyboards:

              A. Solo or Etude, 4 mallet (1)

                           1.Time for Marimba, Minoru Miki

                           2. Two Mexican Dances, Gordon Stout

                           3. Suite for Marimba, Alfred Fissinger

                           4. Works for Marimba (collection), Keiko Abe

                           5. Sonata in ‘B’ Minor, J.S. Bach

                           6. Looking Back, David Friedman (Vibes)

                           7. My Lady White, David Maslanka

                           8. Nancy, Emmanuel Séjourné

                           9. Children’s Corner, Claude Debussy (trans. L. H. Stevens)

                           10. Land, Tagatsugu Muramatsu

                           11. Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra, Robert Kurka

                           12. Ilijas, Nebojsa Zivkovic


B. Excerpts (2)

  1. Orchestral Repertoire for the Glockenspiel, Vol. I and II, R. Carroll
  2. Orchestral Repertoire for the Xylophone, Vol I and II, R. Carroll
  3. Modern School for Xylophone, Marimba, and Vibraphone, M. Goldenberg

III. Timpani

A. Solo or Etude (1)

  1. Eight Pieces for Four Timpani, Elliott Carter
  2. Studie 1, Michael Bump
  3. 3 Movements for Five Timpani, John Beck
  4. Theme and Variations, John Floyd
  5. Four Verses for Timpani, Murray Houllif

B. Excerpts (2)

  1. 20th Century Orchestral Studies for Timpani, Alan Abel (ed.)
  2. Exercises, Etudes, and Solos for the Timpani, Raynor Carroll
  3. Classic Symphonies for Timpani, Morris Goldenberg (ed.)
  4. Classic Overtures for Timpani, Morris Goldenberg (ed.)
  5. Orchestral Excerpts for Timpani, Randy Max
  6. The Working Timpanist’s Survival Guide, John Tafoya

IV. Multiple Percussion*

A. Solos (1)

  1. Anvil Chorus, Lang
  2. Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, Milhaud
  3. Rebonds ‘A’ or ‘B’, Xenakis
  4. Canned Heat, Kopetski
  5. Inspirations Diabolique, Ricky Tagawa
  6. South of Jupiter, Thomas Hasenpflug (with tape)
  7. Songs I-IX, Stuart Saunders Smith
  8. Therapy, John Serry
  9. To the Earth, Frederic Rzewski
  10. Garage Drummer, James Campbell

*Video of multiple percussion work from Senior Recital will suffice if access to instruments/equipment is restricted.

V. Additional Requirements

              A. Sight reading on snare and mallets

              B. Ear training skills on timpani

For further information, contact Dr. Matthew Darling (


• Performance of at least 20' of repertoire from memory including:

  1. The first movement of a classical Sonata (Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven excluding Op.49).
  2. One larger work or a group of smaller pieces from the Romantic period (Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff).
  3. One or two works of choice representing other eras such as Baroque, Impressionism, or 20th and 21st centuries.

For further information, contact Prof. Andreas Werz (


Prospective students should prepare three works of contrasting styles.  Audition repertoire does not need to be performed from memory.  The program must include one of the following works:

  • Paul Bonneau:  Piece en Forme de Valse
  • Jacques Ibert:  Concertino da Camera
  • Robert Muczynski:  Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op. 29
  • Ryo Noda:  Phoenix

For further information, contact Dr. Alan Durst (


  • Contrasting etudes and or solo movements from the standard repertoire, as well as contrasting excerpts from the standard orchestral trumpet repertoire.   
  • Demonstration of ability on varied trumpets is a plus (piccolo, C trumpet, etc.).
  • Examples below are intended to provide guidance but are not limiting, you may choose other works of comparable difficulty.
    • Etude Books: Charlier 36 etudes, Brandt 34 etudes, Bitsch 20 etudes, Bousquet 36    etudes
    • Solos: Halsey Stevens Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, Tomasi, Trumpet Concerto,          Honegger Intrada 
    • Orchestral Excerpts: Moussorgsky/Ravel, Pictures at an Exhibition- opening     promenade, Stravinsky Petrouchka- ballerina dance, Respighi Pines of Rome- off stage               solo 

For further information, contact Dr. Nathan Soberalski (


For audition information, contact Prof. Ed Hull (


  • Etude or Caprice
  • J. S. Bach: one movement from Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo or from the Suites for Cello Solo
  • One movement of a viola concerto or sonata for viola and piano from the standard repertoire 

For further information, contact Dr. Limor Toren-Immerman (


  • Etude or Caprice
  • J. S. Bach: one movement from Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo 
  • One movement of a violin concerto or sonata for violin and piano from the standard repertoire

For further information, contact Dr. Limor Toren-Immerman (

Vocal Performance

The Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance at California State University, Fresno is a degree that specializes in the study and performance of vocal music in the Western Tradition. It is a continuation of academic inquiry into vocal music performance, literature and pedagogy from the completion of a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music or Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. The aim of the master's degree is to foster, from a posture of intellectual curiosity, connections and original conclusions in the area of vocal music in performance. 

Prospective master's degree students are expected to already have studied and performed in great detail, the music written for the voice over approximately the last 800 years in Europe, Scandinavia and more recently North and South America. The prior acquisition of at least a functional knowledge of at least five Latin/Germanic/Slavic derived languages is essential, as is the ability to sing in these languages. Familiarity with the International Phonetic Alphabet is an asset, as is the knowledge of the significant historical trends in repertoire for the voice since 1600 CE. Also, a working knowledge of current thought in teaching methods and pedagogy for solo voice is desirable. If the student lacks experience in any of these areas the faculty can require the student, as a condition of acceptance to the degree, the undergraduate courses in diction, vocal pedagogy or vocal literature to remedy to any academic deficiency in these subjects.

For the audition we require an applicant to prepare five contrasting solo pieces in at least four different languages and from three different musical historical periods. One of the songs must be in English. A live audition in Fresno is preferred and an accompanist will be provided. However, in some cases a video audition will be accepted. The video must be unedited and the recording must show the student performing the songs with a clear audio of both the singer and a live acoustic piano. Videos that are edited or are not clear will not be accepted and a live audition will be required for consideration and admittance.

For further information, contact Dr. Anthony Radford (

Interview Requirements (Composition and Music Education only)


  • All applicants in music composition are required to submit the following materials by February 1 (for Fall consideration) or October 1 (for Spring consideration).
  • Three representative compositions. These scores should be notated out, either in music notation software (i.e. Finale, Sibelius, etc.) or by hand. Scores should be bound. Audio recordings of each piece. Recordings may be MIDI realizations (for students applying to the MA program, MIDI is strongly discouraged). Recordings should all be included on a single CD.
  • Please send all materials to Dr. Kenneth Froelich, Department of Music, California State University, Fresno, 2380 E. Keats Ave. M/S MB 77, Fresno, CA 93740. Alternatively, materials may be e-mailed to E-mail submissions must include all files in a single, compressed folder. Scores should be in PDF format. Recordings may be MP3s OR available as links to online web-based streamers (i.e. SoundCloud).
  • Following the submission of materials, applicants should contact Dr. Froelich to arrange an interview.

Music Education

For information regarding the interview and any additional submission materials, contact Dr. Tony Mowrer ( or Dr. Emily Mason (

Requirements for Satisfactory Progress Toward the Degree


Progress through the M.A. program is marked by five stages, some of which are determined by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies and others by the Department of Music. The five stages are:

  1. Classified status (requires Department and Division of Research and Graduate Studies approval);
  2. Completion of the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement (requires Department approval);
  3. Submission of the Petition for Advancement to Candidacy (requires Department and Division of Research and Graduate Studies approval);
  4. Successful completion of Music 298 or Music 299 (requires Department approval);
  5. Online application for graduation (requires Department and Division of Research and Graduate Studies approval).

Throughout these stages students are evaluated to ensure that they are making satisfactory progress toward the degree. The M.A. program in Music is designed to be completed in four semesters. While there may be rare exceptions, satisfactory progress will normally be determined by the following criteria:

  • Classification: Graduate students admitted conditionally classified must complete program admission conditions in order to achieve classified standing (full admission). Students are expected to promptly remove any conditions and be eligible for classification at the end of the first semester following admission.
  • Grade Point Average: Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 gpa each semester.
  • Course Load: Students are expected to enroll in at least one of the 3-unit core seminar each semester until the core seminars are completed - a total of 12 units.
  • Continuous Enrollment: University policy requires graduate students to be continuously enrolled at the university every fall and spring semester until the awarding of the degree. If students have applied for graduation during the summer, they must maintain continuous enrollment in that term as well. This policy does not apply to students who have been granted an official leave of absence. Students must maintain continuous enrollment in the program. 
  • Advising: M.A. students are required to meet with the Graduate Program Coordinator for advising each semester.

Students who do not meet the standards of satisfactory program will not be considered for financial aid, and may be subject to academic probation or dismissal from the program.

Conditional Classification

Some new students are admitted to conditionally classified status. Students may remain conditionally classified until they have accumulated 10 units of credit. During this time, which should not extend beyond the first semester, they must remove all conditions for classification. These conditions most frequently include:

  • Completion of the department's diagnostic entrance examinations in music history and music theory. See the Graduate Program Coordinator for details.
  • Completing any remedial work indicated by diagnostic exam results.

Students must be classified by the time they accumulate 10 units. Otherwise, and in accordance with University policy, they may be denied permission to count towards the degree any units in excess of the allowable 10.


When all conditions have been met, the student is eligible for full classification, which is full admission to the MA program. Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator to make this request.

Graduate Writing Skills Requirement

Before advancing to candidacy, students must pass the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement. Upon entry to the MA program in Music, a degree of writing competency should be equivalent to a passing grade in English 160W or on the University's Upper Division Writing Examination. Students for whom English is a second language should be aware that while a TOEFL score of 550 is adequate for admission to the MA program in Music, it will probably not be adequate for passing the Department's Graduate Writing Skills Requirement. Normally, the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement should be fulfilled during the student's first fall semester of enrollment. The Graduate Writing Skills Requirement is a component of Music 220, Seminar in Bibliography and Methods of Research. Students who pass all components of Music 220, except the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement, will undertake a developmental writing program until Department standards are met. The Department standards for the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement are included in the course materials for Music 220.

Petition of Advancement to Candidacy: Eligibility

Advancement to Candidacy is a procedure that provides the student with a program of study that has been officially reviewed and approved by the student's program faculty and by the graduate dean. Students who have been advanced to candidacy have official permission to proceed toward qualifying for the degree.

After a student is classified and after satisfactory completion of at least 9 units, the student may be advanced to candidacy. Normally this process would take place during the student's second year of graduate study. Advancement requires submitting a specific list of courses to be completed for the MA degree and passing of the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement.

The Graduate Writing Skills Requirement (Music 220) must be passed prior to advancement to candidacy. In addition, student's Faculty Mentor should be consulted with regard to specific electives or courses of interest to be included in the program of study. The Petition for Advancement to Candidacy requires the signature of the Graduate Program Coordinator and must be approved by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. Students need to follow the Division of Research and Graduate Studies calendar for the submission deadline and arrange a meeting with the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two-weeks prior.  

Advancement to Candidacy

Petition of Advancement to Candidacy: Policies for Graduate Degrees

The approved degree program for the graduate degree is a cohesive pattern of specific requirements for the program and additional courses selected to meet the student's particular needs.  It consists of at least 30 units that must be completed within five years, beginning with the earliest course taken toward the degree.  Only graduate courses (200-series) and such upper-division courses (100-series) as are recommended by the colleges, schools, or departments and approved by the University Graduate Committee are acceptable for use toward a graduate degree.  Other courses are counted in calculating the student's study load but cannot be counted toward the unit requirement for the degree.  Courses that were used to satisfy the requirements of a previous degree cannot be double-counted toward another degree. At least 21 units of a 30-unit program must be residence credit (courses taken through regular enrollment at California State University, Fresno).  No more than 9 units of transfer and/or California State University, Fresno Extension credit may be included in the 30-unit program, or no more than 18 units in the 60-unit program. Courses older than five years may not be included on the Petition of Advancement to Candidacy and used to fulfill requirements toward the master's degree.

The Culminating Experience: Project (Music 298) or Thesis (Music 299)

The project or thesis represents the culminating experience in the master's program.  The "Graduate Recital Form" must be submitted in the semester in which the student intends to graduate. Music 298 enrollment requires the signatures of the Faculty Mentor, Graduate Program Coordinator, and Department Chair. Students need to obtain the signature of their Faculty Mentor prior to submitting the form to the Graduate Program Coordinator. Forms must be submitted during the first two weeks of the semester.

Music Education Option students must consult with their Faculty Mentor prior to the semester of enrollment to determine whether to enroll in Music 298 (project) or Music 299 (thesis). Music Education Option students will be required to submit a proposal for either a project or thesis by at least the semester prior to enrollment.

If the project or thesis is not completed during the semester of enrollment, the student receives a grade of RP (Report in Progress) and will be required to enroll in Music 298C or Music 299C for 0 units until the project or thesis is completed. Enrollment for 0 units does not exempt the student from the payment of fees. Students may enroll twice for 298C or 299C with departmental approval. Additional registrations are not encouraged and must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Permissions and class numbers for 298C or 299C must be obtained from the Department.

Performance Option (Music 298)

  • Instrumental and Vocal Performance students are required to present a master's recital of 60-75 minutes, in at least three contrasting styles and should consult with their Faculty Mentor regarding any specific requirements. Conducting students must also consult with their Faculty Mentor regarding the specific requirements for their performance.
  • In consultation with the student's Faculty Mentor, all Performance Option students are required to have a two-person Graduate Recital Committee. Students should submit the names of the committee members to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least one month prior to the Graduate Recital.
  • Program notes are required of all Performance Option candidates. These notes must show evidence of appropriate research, analysis of the music, and graduate-level writing competence. A draft of the program notes must be approved by the Recital Committee at least one-month prior to the Graduate Recital.
  • It is the student's responsibility to follow all Music Department procedures for booking the Graduate Recital. Download and complete the "Degree Recital Procedures" and "Degree Recital Office" forms.

Music Forms

Music Education Option Project (Music 298)

Students in the music education option may elect to do a project as their culminating experience. Students need to develop a well-organized and detailed proposal for the project to be submitted for approval by the Faculty Mentor in the semester prior to registering for Music 298. The proposal must demonstrate the feasibility and availability of necessary sources, as well as relevance of the project. Upon acceptance of the proposal, a project committee must be formed. Students must consult with their Faculty Mentor by the end of their second semester about specific requirements and deadlines for completing a music education project.

Music Education Option Thesis (Music 299)

In addition to the project option described above, students in music education may elect to produce a thesis. The thesis topic should be chosen in consultation with the Faculty Mentor at least one semester prior to registering for Music 299. A well-organized and detailed proposal must be submitted. The proposal must demonstrate availability of research materials and relevance of the topic. It should include a provisional title and outline, a detailed abstract (1000 words min.) and annotated bibliography. For practical reasons, work on the thesis work will need to begin two or three semesters prior to registering for Music 299. Following the acceptance of the proposal, a three-person thesis committee must be formed.

Thesis Guidelines

Graduate Curriculum

Core Requirements (12 units)

Music 204, 220*, one ethnomusicology or music history seminar (Music 260T, Music 277), and one music theory seminar (Music 240T, Music 267).

*Music 220 is the prerequisite for 240T, 260T, 267, and 277.

Options (10-14 units)

  • Composition: Music 234 (6 units); additional music theory seminar (3 units); Music 211 (2 units).
  • Conducting: Music 210 (6 units); Music 211 (6 units).
  • Instrumental Performance: Music 210 (6 units); Music 211 (6 units).
  • Music Education: Music 210 (6 units); additional courses to be determined in consultation with the student's Faculty Mentor.
  • Vocal Performance: Music 210 (6 units); Music 211 (6 units); Music 285 (2 units).

Electives (1-5 units)

Courses to be chosen in consultation with the Faculty Mentor and the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Project or Thesis (3 units)

Music 298 or Music 299

A total of 30 units are required for the degree.

  • Courses in addition to those in the M.A. requirements may be required after examination of the student's record and the student's performance on the diagnostic entrance examinations.
  • A maximum of 4 units of Music 102 taken after completion of the bachelor's degree may be applied to the M.A.
  • Students may count up to a maximum of 6 units toward the M.A. for each of the following courses: Music 210, Music 211, Music 290, and Music 291.


The online filing period for the graduate degree to be granted is approximately the first two weeks of each semester or summer.  A $35.00 non-refundable graduation application fee is required.  Graduation application procedures are available on the Division of Research and Graduate Studies page:

Graduation Application Process

Financial Aid Opportunities

There are a variety of ways to finance your graduate career. The Financial Aid Office at Fresno State provides information on how to apply for aid, scholarships, and resources. The Division of Research and Graduate Studies offers a number of scholarships, fellowships, and awards including The Graduate Research and Creative Activities Support Award and Travel Grants to present at a paper or poster at a major association professional conference or society meeting.

Scholarship recipients must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who fall below a 3.0 GPA will lose their eligibility to receive music scholarships and grants until such time as the GPA is raised.

Scholarship recipients whose grades fall below 3.0, but who are close to meeting the standard can petition the Department for a one-semester extension before losing their eligibility. If they fail to meet the standard after the one semester extension, they will lose scholarship/grant eligibility until the standard is met.

Scholarship recipients are expected to attend classes regularly. Faculty reports of recipients frequently missing classes will result in the loss of scholarship/grant eligibility.

Graduate scholarship recipients must be enrolled in at least 6 units of course work in order to receive a scholarship or grant. Scholarship or grant recipients who drop classes during the semester, resulting in a total unit enrollment below the required minimum, will be expected to repay the scholarship or grant to the Music Department.

Scholarship recipients are expected to make steady progress toward the completion of the degree. Those who fail to complete the degree in a timely fashion will lose scholarship eligibility.

Music Scholarships

Graduate Assistantship

Graduate assistants are identified as needed by the full-time faculty. These positions are intended to provide the student with an apprenticeship experience and with financial support for graduate education. University policy mandates that graduate assistants (and teaching associates, see below) be appointed in fields related to their advance study. Full assistantships require a maximum of 20 hours per week of service and may not be appointed concurrently in other CSU job classifications. Graduate assistants work under the close supervision of full-time faculty. They are limited to assisting full-time faculty members in undergraduate lower division courses (lecture, studio, lab), but are not responsible for instructional content, for selection of student assignments, for planning examinations, or for determining terms grades for students, nor are they assigned any instructional responsibilities.

Teaching Associate

Teaching associateships are sometimes available depending on the curricular needs of the Department. Graduate students with at least conditional classified standing and who are currently enrolled in six units or more of graduate courses in the Department of Music are eligible to apply for a teaching associateship. Under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty, teaching associates will be given assignments that contribute significantly to the student's graduate work and educational experience. Teaching assignments include: teaching a lower division introductory course, assisting faculty in the reading of papers, grading examinations, and/or performing other assignments supportive of university instruction.

Graduate Award and Recognition

Graduate Dean's Medal

Every year one graduating student is selectedfor the College of Arts and Humanities Graduate Dean's Medal. All graduate programs within the College nominate one student for this honor. Members of the College of Arts and Humanities Advisory Board review the nominees and make a recommendation to the Dean.  

The selection criteria for the College of Arts and Humanities Graduate Dean's Medal is as follows:

  • Distinguished scholarly and creative excellence in the discipline/field.  This should include evidence of academic contributions to the discipline/field above and beyond what is normally expected of a student in the program.
  • Dedication and plans for continuing academic pursuit achievement in their discipline/professional field.
  • Participation and achievement in leadership roles and/or service to the university and to the community through voluntary and/or paid positions.
  • Possess the unquestioned support of the department faculty in the discipline as evidenced by the department statement of nomination and letters of recommendation.
  • Ability to effectively represent their program and the university.

Graduate Student Ambassador

Each spring, one graduate student is selected as the Music Department Graduate Student Ambassador. All Graduate Student Ambassadors are recognized at a special event sponsored by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. Departments are asked to consider a variety of factors when choosing their Graduate Student Ambassador including leadership, character, integrity, and ability to inspire others.

Graduate Degree FAQs

What is required for admission to the graduate program in music?

A bachelor's degree in music (or the equivalent) is required. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is also required. Applicants with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 may be considered; however, for these applicants the GRE General Test is required. An audition is required for conducting, instrumental, and vocal performance applicants. Composition and music education applicants must arrange an interview with the appropriate faculty member(s). Applicants must also submit academic transcripts, a personal statement, a writing sample, and three letters of recommendation.

How long will it take to finish the M.A. Music program?

The M.A. Music program is a 30-unit degree that is typically takes four semesters (two years) to complete. Those students fulfilling prerequisites or enrolled part-time may require more than four semesters to complete their degree. 

What are the areas of emphasis within the M.A. Music program?  

Graduate degree options are offered in Music Education and Music Performance. The Performance Option includes emphases in conducting, composition, instrumental, and vocal performance. The Music Education Option is designed for new or experienced teachers seeking advanced study in classroom music instruction, theories of teaching and learning, and research in music education. 

Will my employment prospects be enhanced once I complete my graduate degree in music?

The skills obtained through graduate study often lead to enhanced career opportunities. For classroom teachers, the completion of a graduate degree usually means a higher rate of pay as well as an increase in leadership responsibilities within their districts. For composers and performers, the academic and artistic rigor of a master's degree can lead to a college-level teaching position, a successful private studio, and potentially greater opportunities to collaborate with other highly-trained music professionals.  

Will a master's degree in music from Fresno State increase my opportunities for doctoral study?

Over the years, numerous Fresno State graduates have gone on to Ph.D. and DMA programs at major music institutions in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world.  Several of these Fresno State graduates now hold positions at community colleges and universities. 

What about the faculty?

The music faculty at Fresno State consists of scholars, performers, educators, composers and conductors with national and international reputations. The faculty is committed to providing a quality graduate education and strive to help students reach their personal and professional goals. 

Are there special learning opportunities?

Dependent upon funding, a limited number of graduate assistantships and teaching associate positions may be available for any given semester. Graduate assistants and teaching associates work under the supervision of a faculty member. The application period normally begins by early June. Positions will be listed on the University's eRecruit webpage.

What type of facilities are available?

The Department of Music at Fresno State offers some of the most extensive music facilities within the California State University system. The 65,000 square foot expansion of the Music Building, completed in 1991, combined with an extensive remodeling of the existing facility includes a 320 seat Concert Hall, the 200 seat Wahlberg Recital Hall, a 220 seat Rehearsal Hall, as well as over 30 practice rooms, classrooms, a large dance studio, faculty office space, a conference room, student lounge, and 700 student lockers. The building also contains a recording studio, computer labs, and a tracker-action organ. 

Is there financial aid for graduate students in music?

There are a variety of ways to finance your graduate career. The Financial Aid Office at Fresno State provides information on how to apply for aid, scholarships, and resources. The Division of Research and Graduate Studies offers a number of scholarships, fellowships, and awards including The Graduate Research and Creative Activities Support Award and Travel Grants to present at a paper or poster at a major association professional conference or society meeting. In addition, there are a number of Music Department scholarships available to graduate students along with possibilities for a graduate assistantship or teaching associate position. 

What are educational and living expenses like in Fresno?

In recent years Fresno State has been recognized as a top university in national ranking publications such as Washington Monthly and Money Magazine. Tuition costs for graduate education at Fresno State are generally lower than other California State University or University of California campuses. Housing costs in Fresno are among the most affordable in California. 

What sorts of recreational opportunities exist in Fresno?

Situated in the center of the San Joaquin Valley in Central California, Fresno is within short driving distance to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks as well as ski areas, Monterey, Big Sur, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The climate in Fresno allows for year-round outdoor sports.