College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Graduate Degrees

Master of Music

The faculty of the College of Music has modeled the MM degree programs at CU-Boulder after the guiding principles outlined by the National Association of Schools of Music. The purpose of Master of Music degree work is to refine skills in music performance, music composition, research and writing, and pedagogy. There are numerous fields of study within the Master of Music program: composition, conducting, music theory, performance, and performance with pedagogy. The musicology program admits students only at the Ph.D. level. 

The master of music degree provides advanced studies in performance, performance/pedagogy, composition (with an optional emphasis in technology), music theory, and conducting (choral, orchestral, and wind). Out of approximately 650 institutions nationwide offering master’s degrees in music, the college’s MM program was ranked 20th by U.S. News & World Report. Areas of emphasis in performance and performance/pedagogy include all band and orchestral instruments, guitar, harp, harpsichord, jazz, organ, piano, and voice. Each of the MM degrees incorporates studies in the major area, support courses in music electives, and thesis/recital work. The minimum credit hours required for a MM degree varies from 30 to 32 depending on the area of study. Consult the General MM Degree Guidelines along with the relevant Degree Plan below.

The following degree plans are available for the Master of Music degree:

Master of Music Education

Students in this degree program complete advanced studies that are designed to refine their teaching philosophy and practices. These studies include courses in historical and philosophical foundations of music education, psychological theories of music learning, basic research methods, curriculum development, and assessment. The minimum number of credit hours required is 30.

The college also offers a master of music education degree/certification with K-12 teaching for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in music, but in a major area other than music education. Course work leads to a master’s degree and a Colorado K-12 music teaching license. The entire program requires a minimum of 71 credit hours.

The following degree plans are available for the Master of Music Education degree:

Doctor of Musical Arts

The faculty of the College of Music has modeled the DMA degree programs at CU-Boulder after the guiding principles outlined by the National Association of Schools of Music. As defined by the NASM, the Doctor of Musical Arts degree is intended for those seeking “the highest level of professional practice emphasizing the creation or performance of musical works and the application and transmission of knowledge about musical works, or pedagogy. . . . Creation, performance, and teaching are highly disciplined efforts; inquiry and investigation, and often research and scholarship, are components of performance practice” (NASM Handbook, 2009–10: 116).

This professional degree is intended for composers, conductors, and performers who possess both creative and scholarly abilities. Graduates of this program go on to careers as composers and performers in solo, chamber music, opera, jazz, or orchestra, or as choral, jazz, band and/or orchestral conductors. A particular focus of the DMA is the preparation for a career as a college, conservatory, or university teacher. Students work closely with an advisor in developing a degree plan that reflects their needs and interests. This degree requires a minimum of 30 hours beyond the master’s level, including 12 hours in seminar and other course work, and a minimum of 18 hours of performance and written projects (constituting the dissertation portion of the degree). Consult the General DMA Degree Guidelines along with the relevant Degree Plan below.

The following degree plans are available for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree:

Doctor of Philosophy in Music

The PhD in Music emphasizes research in the principal areas of music education or musicology. Each program plan is developed through collaboration between student and advisor, keeping the specific goals of each individual student in mind. The objective is to prepare the student for a career in research and college teaching. Minimum requirements for PhD degrees are: 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor degree for musicology and 75 for music education, including 30 hours of thesis credit. Graduate-level courses taken at the University of Colorado Boulder for a master of music degree are automatically applied; graduate courses taken at another university may be considered for transfer (up to 21 credits).

The following degree plans are available for the Doctor of Philosophy in Music degree:

Professional Certificates

  • Professional Certificate in Opera and Solo Vocal Performance
    This program is designed to provide intensive performance studies for those who have the talent and potential for a career in opera, chamber, and solo vocal performance. Studies include individualized voice instruction, vocal coaching, and performance opportunities in opera, solo, oratorio, and other concert work, with elective studies in entrepreneurship, as preparation for a performance career.
  • Professional Certificate in String Quartet Performance
    This program is designed to provide intensive performance experiences and coaching for those that have the potential for a career in string quartet performance. They are provided both coaching and individualized instruction, with extensive opportunities for performance, as well as elective studies in entrepreneurship, in preparation for a performance career. Students are normally expected to audition as a pre-formed ensemble for admission to this program.
  • Professional Certificate in Woodwind Performance
    This program is designed to provide intensive training and experience for woodwind musicians. Admission to the program is highly selective and is restricted to the most qualified and advanced candidates who have the talent and motivation to succeed in a highly competitive area of music performance. Applicants must have an excellent record of performance and are required to submit a resumé that summarizes their performance experience.