3.0 Academic Information

3.1 Advising

Both incoming and returning graduate students will have all PINS and permits entered by the Graduate Studies Office for all programs.    

For incoming graduate students, all first semester advising will be done with the Graduate Studies Program Manager. If there are any changes to the initial schedule that a student’s advising professor would like to make, these should be requested prior to the start of the semester. 

All adjustments should be requested via email by the faculty member to the Graduate Studies Office with the student copied. The Graduate Office will place the permit and send confirmation of the schedule change.    

During the first semester of study, the student should begin to work with their primary professor to form their degree plan which the Program Manager will use as a reference for scheduling classes thereafter. A completed degree plan should be submitted to the Assistant Director for Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Program Manager by March 15. All course approvals come directly from the advising professor, and in the case of doctoral students’ Cognates, their cognate professor as well.

Master’s and Graduate Certificate students will have courses outlined for them fulfilling all degree requirements, with the exception of nine credit hours for the Approved Studies in Music courses.  These courses are solely approved by the student’s major Professor. The Graduate Studies Program Manager and Assistant Director for Graduate Studies will support both student and Professor during advising sessions through discussion of the student’s interests and strengths.   

Doctoral students will have mandatory course work as outlined by the Graduate Studies Program Manager adhering to the student’s signed degree plan, but all development of their cognate study is done with their Professor directly. The student’s primary Professor and Cognate Professor should approve the subject and attendant coursework for a doctoral cognate.

Graduate Advising Process 

  • Students will receive an email notification approximately 5 weeks before registration opens. This notification will provide instructions on scheduling an advising appointment with the Graduate Studies Program Manager, which includes a link to directly select their time and mode of meeting.  Advising sessions may be scheduled in person, via Zoom, or by phone per student preference.
  • Prior to the advising appointment, the Graduate Studies Program Manager will review the student’s transcript and degree plan which will be used to suggest courses for the following semester. If the student’s full degree plan is not yet completed before the advising session for the second semester, the student should bring a draft of the degree plan which will include the second semester classes discussed with the advising professor.
  • During the advising appointment, students will review a copy of their transcript and suggested degree plan. Students will be able to discuss scheduling options and other course requirements. The Graduate Studies Program Manager will then clear student PINs and enter permits for registration. 

3.2 Course Loads

A full-time graduate student enrolled in 9 credit hours is considered full-time, however graduate students may take up to 15 credit hours each semester. Permission from the Graduate Studies Office 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 Graduate Studies Office. 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 Progress Toward the Degree).

3.3 Progress Toward the Degree

All University of Memphis Graduate students must maintain a minimum of a 3.0 GPA ("B").

  • Grades of "D" and "F" will not apply toward any graduate degree but will be computed in the GPA. 
  • No more than 7 hours of "C-," "C" or "C+" will be applied toward meeting degree requirements. 

A graduate student may repeat a course to earn a higher grade only if the earned grade was a "U" or lower than a "B" (3.0). No course may be repeated more than once to improve the grade. 

  • A maximum of two courses may be repeated during the student's total graduate career to improve a grade. Students should always check with their advisors before enrolling in a course a second time. 
  • After completion of the repeated course(s), students must go to their director of graduate studies or designee to get approval for grade replacement. 

Students who do not attend a fall or a spring semester must apply for readmission. This is a simpler process than admission, but it does have the same deadlines. Some areas may require a new audition. Students must also complete a Readmission Application to the Graduate School. That form can be found under 'Application Forms' on the Graduate School Forms page.

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.

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.

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.

3.4 Policy for Dismissal

Any student whose academic or musical work does not meet the program requirements will be notified by the major instructor or faculty advisor in consultation with the area faculty and the Associate Director of Graduate Studies. The faculty advisor will outline the concerns and create a course of action, with a timeline, to improve the student's progress. If the quality of the work does not improve within the specified time, the student may be dismissed from the degree program.

Academic Probation
A graduate student whose cumulative grade point average drops below 3.00 will be placed on probation. A second consecutive semester on probation can result in suspension. Conditions under which continuation in the Graduate School beyond two consecutive semesters on probation will be granted must be recommended by the academic unit program directors/coordinator of the program and approved by the director of graduate studies in CCFA and the Dean of Graduate School. 

If a degree-seeking student is not making satisfactory progress toward degree completion, the student will be dismissed from the degree program. Further detailed information concerning academic regulations can be found in the Academic Catalog

3.5 Graduation Procedures 

The deadline for applying for graduation is within the second or third week of the semester you plan on graduating. These steps must be completed and submitted to the School of Music one week prior to the Graduate School deadline. The Graduate School's Deadlines for Degree Candidates gives detailed due dates for each step of the process. The Graduate School's Graduation Information page links to all required forms.

  • Login to the MyMemphis portal online and Apply to Graduate. If you don't manage to graduate during the semester you apply, you have to reapply in the following semesters-unless you have received an IP in thesis, recital, etc.
  • Fill out the Candidacy form. This form, found on the Graduate School Forms page, requires you to list the courses you have taken that count as part of the degree: the "Dept." (actually the prefix, e.g. MUAP, MUHL), the course number, the course title, the number of hours, the grade, and the year. Your accurate and current degree plan, submitted after you second semester of study, will help simplify this process. When filling out the Candidacy form:
    • Do not list any credits or courses that are not found on your degree plan. Only enter courses that are a formal part of the degree curriculum, not courses with undergraduate numbers (e.g. language, theory review), extra ensembles, or ensembles taken for 0 credit-hours. The credits you enter on the candidacy form must equal the exact number of credits of your degree.
    • For courses currently underway, leave the "grade" box blank. Use the grade IP only for courses (normally thesis-type courses) for which you have actually received the grade IP.
  • Before your candidacy form will be signed you will need to submit the following to the School of Music Graduate Studies Office:
    • UM Academic transcript (from MyMemphis)
    • Approved Degree plan with signatures

The candidacy form is routed through Docusign to your major professor, the Associate Director of Graduate Studies, to the CCFA office of the Associate Dean, and then to the Graduate School for appropriate signatures.

3.6 Entrance Exams

The School of Music no longer requires entrance exams for graduate students.

3.7 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.

3.8 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.

3.9 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.

(a) Choral: Completion of the two-semester diction sequence or equivalent.
(b) Orchestral: Reading proficiency in one foreign language.
(c) 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.

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

Reading proficiency in two foreign languages.

Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and 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.

3.10 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.

3.11 OOS Tuition Waivers Thesis/Dissertation

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.

3.12 Continuous Enrollment for Thesis & Dissertation

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.

3.13 IRB, Interviews, & Surveys

Theses, DMA documents, and dissertations that involve "human subjects research" must be approved by the University's Institutional Review Board. An interview with a research subject is not considered "human subjects research" and thus does not need such approval (see Regulatory update January 19, 2019, at the IRB website). Surveys require approval. If a student is unsure if their project is "human subjects research," needs further information, or wishes to begin the approval process, they should consult the IRB website: IRB - Division of Research and Innovation - The University of Memphis

If a student wishes to undertake a project involving interviews or surveys, they should include a knowledgeable faculty member on their committee (for example, a member of the music education faculty). If a student’s project requires IRB approval, that should be obtained as soon as the proposal is approved by the student’s doctoral committee. Before application for IRB approval, the student must complete CITI training: CITI - Division of Research and Innovation 

This topic is addressed briefly in MUHL 7400/8400 (Bibliography & Research Methods in Music) and in Graduate Document Workshops offered during the Fall semester.

There are also several music courses that include this content:
MUSE 7220 (summer course, Research in Music Education)
MUSE 8207 (Measurement of Music Behavior)
MUSE 8606 (Descriptive and Experimental Research in Music Education)

And there are possibilities outside music:
HIST 6022 (Oral History)
COMM 7434/8434 (Qualitative Research Methods)

3.14 Writing Guides & Style Manuals

Doctoral students should also review 8.10 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:

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.

3.15 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)

3.16 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.

3.17 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 Assistant Director for Graduate Studies 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.