Information for MM Students


Curriculum outlines for individual MM concentrations are found in Section 8 of the SOM Graduate Student Handbook. See Section 7 for specific information on music history, theory, ensemble, and elective courses.

MUS 501 Introduction to Graduate Studies is required of all MM students the first fall semester of enrollment. Find more information on courses in the UA Graduate Catalog.

MM Recital

See Section 1.6 “Important Legal Information” concerning recital credit and compensation policies.

Plan I

Composition requires the equivalent of one recital of works written and performed during study toward the MM degree at in the SOM. The requirement may be met in one of the following three ways:

  1. A public recital of performances of the student’s works
  2. The equivalent of one recital performed on multiple public recitals
  3. The equivalent of one recital presented as a professional-quality recording produced and edited by the student.

Plan II

Arranging, Conducting, and Performance (excluding Woodwinds Option) require one public recital. Woodwinds Option requires one public recital on the major instrument and one half-recital (or equivalent) on the secondary instrument.

Requirement and Procedures

  1. Length and Repertory 
    • The MM recital includes approximately 50–55 minutes of music, none repeated from any other recital or recital component for which recital credit has been awarded at UA or at any other institution.
  2. Registration, Direction, and Approval for Performance
    • A Student must be registered for applied lessons with the major professor in the semester that any recital or recital component is performed or recorded. The recital or component must be directed by the major professor, who must approve its scheduling.
  3. Prehearings
    • The major area sets policy on prehearings; students should consult the major professor.
  4. Recital Credit
    • Recital credit is awarded to only one student for the recital. For composition majors, recital credit will be awarded in the semester that the entire recital is completed and made available to the advisory committee.
  5. Location of Performances
    • The MM recital is given on campus. With permission of the advisory committee, the recital (or components of the composition recital) may be given off-campus if all other recital requirements are met. The student must supply a high-quality audio or video recording for committee review.
  6. Grading
    • Grading is pass/fail by simple majority of the members of the advisory committee. Two attempts are allowed to pass the recital. The second attempt must occur in a semester following the first; the program may not duplicate material from the first attempt.
  7. Scheduling
    • See Section 6 on procedures for scheduling and recording.

MM Lecture

Plan I Only: MM students in Musicology and Theory only must present a 50-minute public lecture.

Requirements and Procedures

  1. Length
    • The lecture is approximately 50 minutes in length and must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to research, organize, and communicate information coherently.
  2. Content
    • The material contained in the lecture may not be taken directly from the MM thesis but may relate tangentially to the thesis.
  3. Prospectus
    • The student must develop a prospectus including a prose summary of content and methodology, an outline, and a bibliography.
  4. Prospectus Submission
    • With the permission of the major professor, and at least one month prior to the anticipated date of the lecture or lecture-recital, the student submits the prospectus to the DGS. The DGS reviews the format and submits the prospectus to the advisory committee.
  5. Prospectus Approval
    • The prospectus must be approved by the advisory committee no later than one week before the anticipated date of the lecture. The committee approves the prospectus via email to the DGS, who will call a committee meeting only if dictated by committee response.
  6. Location of the Presentation
    • The lecture is given at the SOM and may be scheduled in the recital hall or an appropriate classroom.
  7. Grading
    • A grade of pass requires a simple majority of the advisory committee.
  8. Scheduling
    • See Section 6 on procedures for scheduling and recording.

MM Comprehensive Written Examinations

Plan I Only: MM students in Composition, Musicology, and Theory take a comprehensive written examination. The exam may be scheduled no sooner than the first fall or spring semester after successful completion of all required MUS courses except MUS 599 Thesis Research. The exam must be passed no later than the fall semester before an anticipated spring or summer graduation or the spring semester before an anticipated fall graduation.

Requirements and Procedures

  1. Scheduling
    • Examinations are offered only once during each fall and spring semester, typically just before fall and spring breaks. Dates for the examinations are found in the SOM Graduate Calendar.
  2. Registration
    • Students must register for MUS 596 Comprehensive Examination at the beginning of the semester during which they plan to take the examination. Late registration for this course is not allowed.
  3. Length
    • Each examination consists of four discrete sections, with three hours allocated to each.
  4. Content
    • Examinations are based on, though not limited to, each student’s coursework in the MM program and may include material pertaining to thesis topics under consideration.
  5. Compilation
    • Examinations for each student are prepared by the student’s advisory committee under the direction of the chair of the advisory committee. The chair consults the committee, compiles the examination, and submits the examination to the DGS no later than one week before the examination date.
  6. Administration
    • Examinations are administered by the DGS, who distributes copies of the completed examinations to appropriate committee members.
  7. Grading
    • The examination is graded by the advisory committee; each of the four sections is graded pass/fail. Grades are collected by the DGS and reported to the committee. A grade of pass for the examination requires a simple majority vote on each section. The committee may also pass or fail certain sections of the examination, again by simple majority.
  8. Second Attempt
    • Students are allowed two attempts to pass the examination, each in separate semesters. No examination questions will be repeated on the second attempt. The committee may require the student to retake the entire exam or only those parts failed on the first attempt.
  9. Postponing the Examination
    • Students who register for the examinations but postpone them are responsible for dropping MUS 596 by the last day to receive a grade of W (withdrawn). A grade of Incomplete will be given only for students who are required to take the examination a second time.

MM Thesis

Plan I Only: MM students in Composition, Musicology, and Theory must complete a thesis. The MM thesis in Composition is an original composition written under the direction of the major professor during study for the MM degree. The MM thesis in Musicology and Theory documents original research on some topic in a relevant area.

For Musicology, topics might include, for instance, an analysis of a musical composition, a critical edition of a work for which none exists, a catalog of a composer’s works or a substantial update to an existing catalog, a descriptive inventory of an archival collection, a description of a musical document (medieval manuscript, collection of antebellum sheet music, etc.), a study of a performance practice, a biography or original contribution to the biography of a significant musical figure, a history of a music organization.

For Theory, topics might include, for instance, a detailed analysis of a single musical work or set of works; an original contribution to an existing theory of music; a critical response to, or comparison of, current or historical music theories; or some combination of these.

Requirements and Procedures

  1. Prospectus
    • Through research and consultation with the major professor, other advisory committee members, and other appropriate persons, the student selects a project and writes a formal prospectus detailing the limits of the topic, its significance, the working methods, a bibliography, and other supporting information. The prospectus must include a brief narrative, an outline, and a working bibliography.
  2. Prospectus Submission
    • With the major professor’s approval, the student sends the prospectus to the DGS, who reviews the format and submits the prospectus to the advisory committee.
  3. Prospectus Approval
    • Approval by the advisory committee is required for work to proceed. The DGS’s poll of the committee may take place via email; a meeting of the advisory committee will be called only if necessary.
  4. Thesis Format
    • The thesis must conform to Graduate School regulations for electronic theses and dissertations and to a style guide approved by the Graduate School. The Graduate School website gives full information under the heading “Current Students” and then “Preparing Theses and Dissertations.” The SOM’s default style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style, notes and bibliography format; an individual committee may approve a different style guide if it is accepted by the UA Graduate School. Note: Students should include the dedication and acknowledgments pages with headings and page numbers only; texts of those sections should not be added until after the defense.
  5. Thesis Submission
    • After completion of the thesis, and with the major professor’s approval, the student sends the thesis to the DGS, who reviews the format and submits the thesis to the advisory committee.
  6. Thesis Defense
    • With the advisory committee’s approval, the DGS convenes the committee for the thesis defense and oral examination. The defense occurs after all other requirements for the degree have been completed successfully. The advisory committee grades the defense pass or fail.
  7. Post-Defense Corrections
    • The advisory committee may require minor changes to components of the project and still award a pass; in this case, the major professor is responsible for monitoring the changes before the student submits the final project to the Graduate School. If substantial changes are recommended during the defense, the project will not be submitted, and forms will not be signed until a complete revision has been presented to the advisory committee.

Submission dates for the thesis prospectus and thesis draft, calculated by proposed graduation date, are available on the SOM Graduate Calendar. Information on requirements and procedures for submission of electronic theses are available on the Graduate School website. It is the responsibility of each student to understand and to follow the guidelines in these websites.

Oral Examinations

All MM students will take an oral examination; this is the final step toward completion of the MM degree. Students must register for MUS 597 Oral Examination in the semester of graduation and must apply for graduation at the beginning of that semester. Application for degree is made online through MyBama.

Requirements and Procedure

  1. Content
    • Plan I: Composition, Musicology, and Theory
      • The examination will be primarily a defense of the thesis. The examination must follow the grading of all recitals or lectures required by the degree program. The examination will take place only when the thesis is completed in a form considered by the student and the advisory committee to be ready for submission to the Graduate School.
    • Plan II: Arranging, Conducting, and Performance
      • The examination will be based upon (though not limited to) coursework in the MM program. The examination must follow the grading of all recitals and lecture-recitals required by the degree program.
  2. Scheduling
    • The DGS will schedule oral examinations each spring and fall semester for all eligible students beginning two weeks before the Graduate School deadlines for reporting results of those examinations each term. These dates are found on the Graduate School website and on the SOM Graduate Calendar. An oral examination may be scheduled in summer only under extraordinary circumstances and with the consent of the entire advisory committee and the DGS.
  3. Registration
    • Students must register for MUS 597 (Oral Examination) at the beginning of the semester during which they plan to take the oral examination. Late registration for MUS 597 is not allowed.
  4. Second Attempt
    • Students are allowed only two attempts to pass the oral examination; each must take place in a separate semester.