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Master's Degree Curriculum

AnchorThe Master of Arts (M.A.) in Music degree includes areas of emphasis in Composition, Computer Music, Integrative Studies, and Performance. Students are expected to complete all degree requirements in six quarters of residence. All M.A. students must make an appointment with the Graduate Adviser for a degree check no later than the winter quarter of the second year.


AnchorCore Curriculum:

(NOTE: all core courses taken as an M.A. student also count towards a Doctoral degree)

METHODS - All students are required to complete both courses during their first quarter at UCSD.

  • MUS 291
  • MUS 501

PERFORMANCE - All students must complete at least 4 units (M.A. level) or 8 units (Doctoral level).

  • MUS 200/201/202

DEPTH - All students must complete at least 20 units (MA level) or 32 units (Doctoral level) from among these options.

  • MUS 206
  • MUS 207
  • MUS 210
  • MUS 215 A-B-C
  • MUS 271 A-B-C
  • MUS 272
  • MUS 170-177 (no more than one course from this series can count towards this requirement)

Note: Students must take "Methods" and "Depth" courses for a letter grade to use them toward the M.A. Degree.

Courses used to fulfill Area requirements cannot also be used to fulfill Depth requirements (except where explicitly stated in the Composition Area requirements).

BREADTH - All students are encouraged to take at least one graduate-level or upper-division undergraduate course outside of the department, which, by petition and on a case-by-case basis, may count towards the “depth” requirement.

FOCUS - All students (except for computer music) are required to enroll in the appropriate area focus course (S/U grading option only) every quarter in residence (for Ph.D. students), or until advanced to candidacy (for D.M.A. students).

  • MUS 204/205/245

RESEARCH - All students must complete at least 6 units of MUS 299 and are encouraged to pursue independent research on a continuing basis. Doctoral students must complete at least 6 units of MUS 298 enrolled with members of the student’s doctoral committee in preparation for the qualifying exam.

  • MUS 298/299

TEACHING - Participation in the undergraduate teaching program is required of all graduate students at the equivalent of 25% time for three quarters or 33% for two quarters (6 units total)

  • MUS 500

ENGAGEMENT - All students are encouraged to explore outreach and service opportunities during their graduate study and to engage in sustained and substantive ways with our diverse local communities as an integral part of their creative and scholarly research.

Area Requirements:


  • MUS 203 A, B, C - Successful completion of the jury process is necessary to get a passing grade in the corresponding seminar
  • MUS 203 D - every quarter in residence with committee chair after successful completion of 203C
  • MUS 210 - must be taken twice (one time can count towards the “depth” core requirement)
  • MUS 228
  • MUS 229
  • MUS 271A & B (both courses can count towards “depth” requirement)

AnchorComputer Music

  • MUS 270 A, B, C
  • MUS 270D - every quarter in residence after successful completion of 270C

AnchorIntegrative Studies

  • MUS 215 A, B, C
  • MUS 215D - Every quarter after successful completion of 215C


  • MUS 200, 201, or 202 every quarter in residence
  • MUS 232 every quarter in residence

AnchorM.A. Completion Requirements

  • Successful completion of the Core Curriculum and all curricular requirements of the student’s area of emphasis for the master’s degree.
  • Formation of a Master’s Committee — Click here for official UC San Diego policy.
  • Submission of a substantive and polished research paper (which may have originated as a graduate seminar paper) to the student’s M.A. committee for approval.
  • Students emphasizing Composition must submit a folio of three chamber compositions (supplemented by audio or audio-visual recordings for at least two).
  • Students emphasizing Computer Music must submit a second substantive and polished research paper along with either a thesis demonstrating original research, or a lecture-performance in which the scientific, technological, and musical aspects of an original computer music composition are documented, played and discussed.
  • Students emphasizing Integrative Studies must pass the Preliminary examination and complete a thesis of roughly sixty pages demonstrating original research and critical insight, which may also include documentation of their creative practice. The purpose of the Preliminary examination is to evaluate a student’s command of content presented in the core Integrative Studies sequence (MUS 215 A-B-C) and of scholarly research and writing conventions more broadly. Students take the Preliminary Examination at the end of the spring quarter of their first year. The exam consists of written responses to questions provided by the professors who taught in the core sequence during that same year. The exam duration is three hours and it is proctored electronically. After the exam, the participating professors provide written feedback evaluating a student’s demonstrated proficiency and identifying any perceived shortcomings. If, in rare cases, those professors unanimously agree that the student has not passed the exam, then the student will not be allowed to continue in the program and will receive no further funding or support. In select cases, students may also be asked to repeat core coursework, even if they received a passing grade, in order to continue in the program. The overriding purpose of the exam, however, is constructive rather than punitive. 
  • Students emphasizing Performance must present a major recital that merits approval by the student’s committee chair, and submit either two additional creative projects with accompanying documentation or one creative project plus a second research paper.
  • All of the above master's requirements must have final approval from all members of a student's committee. Click here for UC San Diego policy on Progress to Degree.