Academic Information

3.1 Advisors

All decisions concerning a student's graduate program should be made in consultation with the student's advisor.  Default advisors for the various degree concentrations are as follows:

Composition Dr. John Baur
Conducting (Choral) Dr. Larry Edwards
Conducting (Orchestral) Dr. Harvey Felder
Conducting (Wind) Dr. Albert Nguyen
Jazz and Studio Dr. Jack Cooper
Music Education Dr. Joe Hanson
Musicology Dr. Kenneth Kreitner
Orff-Schulwerk Dr. Heather Klossner
Pedagogy The applied teacher
Performance The applied teacher

3.2 Permits & Registering for Classes

New students must take the history and theory entrance exams (see 3.5 Entrance Exams) and meet with their advisor (see 3.1 Advisors) before registering for any classes.  Advisors can remove the alternate pin (which allows students to register) and issue permits for classes.

Returning students should speak with their advisor for any necessary permits required for class registration.

3.3 Course Loads

A full-time graduate load is 9 credit hours, however graduate students may take up to 15 credit hours each semester.  Permission from the Associate Director of Graduate Studies is required for a course load over 15 credits.  Students who hold graduate assistantships must enroll for at least 9 credits unless approved by the Associate Director of Graduate Studies.  Any graduate student who does not enroll each semester (fall and spring) is considered withdrawn and must reapply for admission to the degree program and the Graduate School (see 2.4 Readmission).

3.4 6000-level Courses

Master's level courses are numbered in the 7000s. No more than 30% of the Master's degree may count at the 6000-level.  For a 34-credit degree, this equates to 10 credits.  The Graduate School policy for Master's degrees can be found on their Master's Minimum Degree Requirements page.

Doctoral level courses are numbered in the 8000s. No more than 15 hours of courses at the 6000-level may count towards the degree.  The Graduate School's doctoral policy on 6000-level courses can be found on their Academic Regulations page.

3.5 Entrance Exams

All graduate music students must take entrance exams in music theory and music history to determine deficiencies in these areas. The exams are given each semester on the Monday and Tuesday before the first day of classes. New Students must take the history and theory entrance exams and meet with their advisor before registering for any classes. The specific dates and location of the exam will be emailed to students several weeks in advance.  If the student is determined to have deficiencies, he or she may take the required course(s) to remove the deficiency, or study independently and retake the entrance exams a second time.  The remedial courses are:

  • MUTC 6202 - Music Theory Review
  • MUHL 6304 - Music History Review

These courses do not count towards a graduate degree. Study guides can be found here:
Entrance Exam in Music History
Entrance Exam in Music Theory

3.6 Foreign Language Requirement

Many doctoral programs have foreign language proficiency requirements; courses taken to fulfill these requirements do not count towards the degree. Consult your area coordinator concerning any deficiencies.

Although reading proficiency in a foreign language may not be a requirement for your area, you may need to acquire such skill for your document research; consult your advisor and committee on this as you formulate your proposal.


  • Choral: completion of the two-semester diction sequence or equivalent.
  • Orchestral: reading proficiency in one foreign language.
  • Wind: reading proficiency in one foreign language.


(a)   Proficiency in speaking French, German, and Italian;
(b)   Completion of the two-semester diction sequence or equivalent;
(c)   Reading proficiency in one foreign language

(a) and (b) are usually completed during the bachelor's or master's degree.


Piano Performance:
     (a) proficiency in diction for one foreign language chosen from French, German, Italian or Spanish;
     (b) reading proficiency in one foreign language.

Collaborative Piano:
(a) proficiency in diction for French, German, Italian, and Spanish;
(b) reading proficiency in one foreign language. Completion of the two-semester diction sequence is recommended.

No requirement.

No requirement.

No requirement.

No requirement.

Reading proficiency in one foreign language. A computer language may be substituted.

reading proficiency in two foreign languages.

Music Education:
No requirement.

Deficiencies in speaking requirements are remedied by successful completion of foreign-language courses at the 1010 level (first-semester undergraduate course) at an accredited institution within five years of entry into the doctoral program, or while the student is enrolled in the Graduate School. A student with native or near-native fluency in the required languages may request an exemption for that language.

Deficiencies in diction requirements are remedied by completing courses in the two-semester diction sequence (MUSE 6211 and 6212) or equivalent.

The reading proficiency requirement is intended to help you carry out doctoral-level research, for classes and especially for your document or dissertation. The requirement is satisfied by (a) successful completion of a foreign-language course at the 1020 level or higher at an accredited institution within five years of entry into the doctoral program, or while the student is enrolled in the Graduate School; or (b) passing a foreign-language examination administered by the School of Music. Native or near-native fluency in the required languages may have this requirement waived for that language.

Reading proficiency exams in French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish are offered during exam week of each semester (sign up through the graduate office) or at other times by request. If you require another language, please consult the musicology faculty.

The exam consists of translating an area-appropriate passage from a journal article, encyclopedia, preface to an edition of music, etc. A dictionary is allowed. The exam lasts one hour, and, in that time, you are expected to translate a couple of paragraphs into comprehensible English. The exam is graded by music faculty, in consultation with faculty outside the School of Music as appropriate.

If you are granted an exemption, please have your advisor submit documentation of this to the Graduate Office.

3.7 Research & Bibliography

All graduate students are required to take a Research & Bibliography course or equivalent during their graduate study.  Master's students are required to take Research & Bibliography (MUHL 7400) no later than the second semester of graduate work to facilitate research. Doctoral candidates who did not have a course in Bibliography and Research Methods at the master's level must complete MUHL 8400 during doctoral study. This course can help fulfill the history requirement for the DMA or PhD. Students in the PhD in music education may substitute MUSE 8220 for this requirement.

3.8 Transfer of Credits

A student may transfer credits from another institution, subject to the review and approval by the major professor, Associate Director of Graduate Studies and, when applicable, the doctoral committee and Graduate School. 

The master's degree requires 30-36 graduate credits.  Up to 12 credits can be transferred from another institution.  Up to 12 hours may be taken at the University of Memphis before official admission to a degree program in the School of Music.  For the doctoral degree, a student may transfer up to 15 hours of credit from another institution, subject to review and approval by the doctoral committee and the Associate Director for Graduate Studies. Applied music credit (including credits for lessons, ensembles, and recitals) or credit from courses with variable syllabi may not be transferred, but most academic credit may be transferred, as long as the grade is A or B.

Transfer Credit Evaluation forms can be found on the Graduate School Forms website under Graduation Forms.

A maximum of 15 credits may be transferred from certificate programs to non-related graduate degrees, subject to approval of the graduate program. Moreover, all credits from a certificate program may be transferred to a relevant graduate degree where the entire content of a given certificate could satisfy some of the requirements of a graduate degree.

3.9 Degree Time Limits

The master's programs are designed to be completed in four semesters of full-time study. More time may be taken, but all work toward a master's degree must be completed within eight consecutive years, beginning with the first course included on a student's program of study.  For details, visit the Graduate School page for Minimum Requirements for Master's Degrees (under heading Time Limitation).

Doctoral degrees must be earned within 12 consecutive years. All course work must be completed within 10 years of the student's original admission to a doctoral program. The student may take a further two years of dissertation credit.  For details, visit the Graduate School page for Minimum Requirements for Doctoral Degrees (under heading Time Limitation).

Once the time limit for each degree has been reached, courses that were taken in the beginning will drop off and not be counted toward the degree unless they are validated.  Certain restrictions apply and only a percentage of the coursework can be validated.  For details, see the Graduate School's Course Validation page.

3.10 Out-of-State Tuition Waiver for Thesis/Dissertation-Only

Out-of-state tuition can be waived for students enrolled in only thesis/dissertation credits and who currently live out of the state of Tennessee.  The form must be completed at least three weeks prior to the semester in which a student plans to enroll in dissertation or thesis hours.  Once the OOS Tuition Waiver form has been filled out, it should be submitted to the School of Music's Graduate Studies Office.

3.11 Continuous Enrollment for Thesis & Dissertation Courses

All master's thesis or doctoral dissertation courses, including recital, are covered by the Graduate School's continuous enrollment policy; once a student has enrolled in this number, he or she must keep enrolling for at least one credit every semester (summers excluded, except for a summer graduation) until the thesis is complete. The Continuous Enrollment Policy is in force for all 9000s, MUHL 7996, and MUSE 7996.

3.12 IRB Guidelines for Research Involving Human Subjects

All theses, research documents, and dissertations that involve human subjects—including, for example, interviews with living musicians—are required to have prior approval from the University's Institutional Review Board.  Guidelines and forms can be found on the IRB Guidelines & Templates website.  Most music theses are found to be exempt, but is essential to get permission before beginning research. 

3.13 Writing Guides & Style Manuals

Doctoral students should also review 6.9 DMA/PhD Proposal and Dissertation/Document Guidelines. The Music History area has written two helpful resources to guide students with their dissertation and scholarly documentation.  These documents can be found online.

The style manual for papers, documents, and theses in all disciplines is Kate L. Turabian et al, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).  MUHL 7400 Research & Bibliography will always use the latest edition of the Turabian.

Doctoral students should also review 6.9 DMA/PhD Proposal and Dissertation/Document Guidelines. Students beginning this process should consult the School of Music's Guide to Scholarly Documentation.

3.14 Rotating Course Offerings

For advising and degree planning purposes, a list of rotating course offerings is listed below:

Theory I (MUTC 7201/8201), Theory II (MUTC 7202/8202), and Theory III (MUTC 7205/8205) are offered on a three-semester, sequential rotation. The current semester's course will be followed by the next course in the sequence.

Fall only
MUHL 6015 – Guitar Literature
MUHL 6304 – Music History Review
MUHL 7400/8400 – Bibliography
MUHL 4002/6002 – Song Repertory I (even years)
MUHL 7507/8507 – Advanced Studies in Art Song (odd years)
MUHL 4263/6263 – Oratorio Literature (even years)

MUTC 6202 – Music Theory Review
MUTC 7010 – Advanced Improvisation

MUSE 7002 – Teaching Music in Higher Education (even years)
MUSE 4211/6211 – Vocal Diction I (even years)
MUSE 8516 – Advanced Problems in Singing Diction (even years)

Spring only
MUAP 6301 – Acting for Opera I

MUHL 4003/6003 – Song Repertory II (odd years)
MUHL 6020 – Solo Brass Literature (odd years)

MUSE 6251 – Guitar Pedagogy
MUSE 6514 – Brass Pedagogy (even years)
MUSE 6212 – Vocal Diction II (odd years)
MUSE 7501 – Vocal Pedagogy I (even years)
MUSE 7502 – Vocal Pedagogy II (odd years)

3.15 Experiential Learning Credit

The University of Memphis allows students to earn Experiential Learning Credit for "knowledge, training, and skills" acquired through prior learning outside the traditional academic setting. These may include experiences in professional work, military, training classes, professional skills workshops and seminars, volunteerism, and unique life experiences. The ELC Portfolio is "a reflective narrative of the student's previous learning experiences." The portfolio is evaluated by qualified faculty, and there is no guarantee that the credits will be granted. ELC credits may not "meet, replace or substitute for general education credits, [concentration] studies, or a senior project." A portfolio in music performance may include audio or video recordings.

For graduate students, the total number of hours from transfer credit (which may be no more than one half the number of hours required for the degree), credit by exam, and ELC may not exceed two thirds of the number of credit hours required for the degree. More information about this process can be found on the ELC website. Questions can be directed to the ELC Program.

3.16 Dual Degrees & Double Concentrations

Students who hold or are enrolled in a master's degree from The University of Memphis may pursue a second master's or doctoral degree with a different major or degree if the academic unit accepts them. For a second MM degree, up to 20% of the total combined credit hours for the two degree programs or fifteen credit hours (whichever is greater) may be shared. No more than 12 semester hours may be applied toward a second doctoral degree. Shared credit hours must be approved by the advisor and graduate coordinator for each degree program. Two degrees may be pursued simultaneously or sequentially. Each degree must be completed within the designated time limits.

Students wishing to pursue a second concentration (e.g. MM in Performance and Musicology) must initiate this process by completing and submitting a Change of Status form. Students can note their intention to complete their existing concentration by writing the concentration in next to their existing major. There is not a limitation on the number of shared hours between the two concentrations.