The policies set forth below and in related documents (University Catalog, College website, etc.) were determined by the faculty of College of Music, in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School and the University of Colorado. These formal written policies are used to guide all decisions made by the faculty and administration, and students are expected to refer to them often as they work toward earning their degrees.  All official decisions pertaining to degree requirements, including special exceptions granted by the faculty or Associate Dean are recorded in written form and kept in the student’s digital file. Oral agreements are not considered binding without written record in the student’s file (e.g., official letters, printed email communications, etc.). The faculty regularly reviews all degree plans and academic policies; the most current versions are posted at the website. When degree requirements change, students may choose, with the consent of their faculty advisory committee, either to follow the revised plan or to continue with the degree as it was defined when they began the program. Many College of Music policies are governed by the Graduate School Rules for the campus; other important campus policies are detailed at the Graduate School Website.

The University's Honor Code

The College of Music expects all students to abide by the University of Colorado’s Honor Code, which promotes “academic integrity, moral and ethical conduct, and pride of membership in a community that values academic achievement and individual responsibility.” The Honor Code Pledge is posted across the campus and also appears on many course materials as a reminder that honor is a fundamental value at CU: “On my honor as a University of Colorado at Boulder student I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this work.” The Honor Code system is comprised of various committees that support students and faculty in the implementation of the code. The Honor Code website includes essential information and links to numerous resources that help students to understand plagiarism and other violations. It also explains the formal processes in place for reporting suspected violations and imposing sanctions on students found guilty of violating the code. Because this information is readily available, the faculty assumes that students have studied it closely, and therefore students cannot claim ignorance as an excuse for violating the Honor Code.

All suspected violations of the Honor Code must be reported to the campus Honor Code office. The academic and non-academic sanctions for violating the Code can be severe; so please take the time to review the information at the Honor Code website, especially the “Student Information” section.

Preliminary and Major Field Examinations for Incoming MM Students

Immediately prior to beginning MM degree work, students are required to take Preliminary Examinations in music theory and musicology. The preliminary exams are offered online two times a year, two-three weeks prior to the beginning of Fall semester and one week prior to the beginning of Spring semester. Specific dates are announced in advance by the music Graduate Program Assistant, and students are expected to plan accordingly. The required preliminary exams differ slightly depending on the major area of study. Consult the Preliminary/Major Field Exam Requirements document and the Preliminary Exam Preparation and Remediation Information document for these and other important details.  Students who earned a BM degree from CU-Boulder are exempt from the written theory, aural skills, and musicology/ethnomusicology preliminary exam requirements. 

Results for each exam are posted anonymously as Pass (equivalent to C or higher) or Remediate prior to the first week of classes. Any exam not passed on the first attempt may be taken a second time. IMPORTANT NOTEStudents who miss the scheduled mandatory preliminary examinations (for any reason) before their first semester of study must take the exam on the scheduled date during the week before their second semester and will forfeit their right to attempt a failed exam a second time.

Students who do not pass any required preliminary exam should begin enrolling in remedial course work no later than their second semester of study and are expected to address all deficiencies as soon as possible. Students can petition the Assoc Dean to begin addressing deficiencies during the second year, based on degree plan requirements.  

Piano performance & pedagogy, strings, woodwinds, choral conducting, orchestral conducting, and voice students also must take the Major Field examination during orientation week. The scope and format of this examination vary by discipline, but the general aim is to evaluate the student’s background in areas directly relevant to their chosen major. For example, voice majors are asked questions about music history and literature (with a focus on vocal and operatic repertoire), phonetics, and stylistic analysis/score identification of German and French Song examples. The area faculty uses the Major Field examination to advise students on coursework necessary for completing the degree requirements.

English Proficiency

International students are encouraged to be evaluated by the staff in the International English Center (IEC) during the week before classes start. The IEC will recommend any necessary remedial coursework in English as a Second Language, and students are advised to begin enrolling in recommended coursework immediately to receive additional English language support. The IEC provides some scholarship support so that students may study with specialists in ESL instruction.

Residence and Registration Requirements

The minimum full-time course load is 5 or more credits at the 5000 level, or 1 or more credits of thesis per semester.  Students with certain types of federal and state financial aid must register for at least 6 hours to be considered full-time, and can receive Federal aid if registered part-time. For more information consult the Academic and Enrollment Status Grid. Students taking individual composition or applied lessons (for 2 or 3 cr. each semester) must also carry at least one other course in that semester in order to show adequate progress toward the degree. Students who must complete more than two remedial courses (as a result of not passing preliminary examinations by their second semester) are likely to take at least five semesters to complete the master’s degree. The Graduate School mandates that a master’s degree be completed within four years of first registration.

Faculty Advisory Committee

The student’s major studio teacher or faculty advisor chairs the three-member advisory committee and is primarily responsible for advising the student toward completing all degree requirements. In consultation with the major advisor, the student should choose the other two members of the committee, no later than the midpoint of the second semester in residence. Students planning to give a recital during their first year must confirm two committee members from the applied area before the recital is scheduled.  All advisory committee members must hold graduate faculty appointments, and one member usually is from a department outside the student’s major. The members signify their commitment to serve on the committee by signing the Graduate Advisory Committee form, which then must be approved by the Associate Dean and placed in the student’s digital file.

In selecting committee members, students should consider faculty members with whom they have studied directly, as well as those whose areas of expertise are especially relevant to their own performance and research interests. Sometimes a particular area of interest emerges after the committee has been formed, and the student may wish to involve a faculty member who was not a member of the original committee. In such cases, changes to the committee may be proposed by the student, who submits to the music graduate office the Graduate Advisory Committee Substitution form (signed by the affected committee members and the major advisor).

All TMUS recitals and projects require grades and signatures from at least two committee members. (In the case of sabbatical leaves and exceptional circumstances, other qualified graduate faculty members may be asked to substitute for a regular committee member.) Once students are engaged in thesis projects and recitals (TMUS 6xxx), it is critical to plan well in advance to ensure that committee members are available to attend recitals/lecture recitals and also to provide detailed guidance on research projects. Students needing an accompanist are advised to schedule their recital(s) the semester prior the intended semester of the recital. Students are also advised to request and confirm a pianist prior to scheduling their recital date. A pianist must be requested at least 9 weeks prior to the scheduled recital. Students are required to announce the recital date to all committee membersMost College faculty members hold nine-month academic appointments that begin in mid-August and end in mid-May. Therefore, students should not expect faculty to do committee work during the summer unless special arrangements have been made directly with the faculty member. Faculty members grading the recital or lecture recital, except in extenuating circumstances as determined by the committee chair in communication with the Associate Dean, attend the recital. Other committee members may attend the recital, watch the recital via livestream (if available) or watch a video of the recital in order to offer feedback to the student or a recital grade.

MM Degree Plan/Advising Checklist

A degree plan should be formulated under the guidance of the major advisor and advisory committee during the first year in residence. The advising checklist (available on the Graduate Degrees page) serves as your individualized degree plan as it contains a semester-by-semester schedule for all required course work, tentative dates (e.g. fall or spring) for the written Master’s Qualifying Examinations (MQE) and final oral examinations, and a schedule of the TMUS recitals and projects (the latter should include a brief description of the topic whenever possible). In general, MM students receive weekly applied lessons each semester of the degree, regardless of lesson credit registration (which is variable dependent on the degree).

To help with planning your registration all TMUS courses are set up as variable credit. DO NOT register for more than the total number of credits required for each project. The advising checklist should be signed by the major advisor and submitted to the Associate Dean (via email) no later than the middle of the second semester in residence.

Students should also submit the Graduate Advisory Committee form to the graduate studies office no later than the middle of the second semester in residence.  Careful planning helps the student to anticipate required courses that are not offered annually, faculty leaves, and to complete the degree as efficiently and economically as possible.

Grades and Quality of Work

A student is required to maintain at least a B (3.0) average in all work attempted while enrolled in the Graduate School, and a student must have at least an overall 3.0 average to receive a graduate degree. Courses in which grades below C (2.0) are received are not accepted for master’s degree programs or for the removal of academic deficiencies. (Grades received in foreign language courses taken to fulfill the language requirement are not used by the Graduate School in calculating grade point average.)

Courses taken toward the fulfillment of requirements for graduate degrees may not be taken pass/fail. Graduate students may not register for more than 15 credits during any one semester.  Students whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 at any time during their graduate career will be placed on probation by the Graduate School. See pp. 14–16 of the Graduate School Rules (2021 edition) for further information about academic standards.

An “I” or incomplete grade may be given when students, for reasons beyond their control, have been unable to complete course requirements. A substantial amount of work (50% or more of course requirements) must have been satisfactorily completed before an “I” grade request can be considered. For students graduating in May, all assignments need to be submitted to the instructor 10 days before the grade submission deadline. See the Incomplete Grade Policy and Procedures for Graduate Students document for more information.

Transfer Credits

Students who have taken graduate-level work at other institutions may request to transfer credits that are comparable to degree requirements at CU. The Graduate School allows master’s students to transfer up to 9 credit hours (although some areas allow less than this amount). There are restrictions on transfer credits, as outlined in the current version of the Graduate School Rules. These include, but are not limited to: (1) the course grade must be B or higher; (2) work already applied toward a graduate degree received from CU-Boulder or another institution cannot be accepted for transfer toward another graduate degree of the same level at CU-Boulder; and (3) credit may not be transferred until after the student has completed 6 credits of graduate level course work as a degree-seeking student on the CU-Boulder campus with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Students who wish to transfer previous credits should obtain the Request for Transfer of Credit form.  Carefully follow the instructions before submitting it to your major advisor for their signature.  The signed form, along with an original transcript, is then submitted to the Graduate Studies Coordinator, then to the Associate Dean for approval, who then forwards the form to the Graduate School for final approval.

Foreign Language Requirement

Choral conducting, collaborative piano and voice students are required to demonstrate foreign language proficiency before being allowed to take the Master’s Qualifying Examination. The choice of the language(s) must be approved by the student’s advisory committee.  Specific requirements include:

Choral Conducting: Students needing remedial work in foreign language competency, diction, and/or phonetic knowledge, based on the Major Field Exam, are required to remediate via the relevant foreign language and/or diction coursework

Collaborative Piano: One year of French, German, or Italian 

Voice: One year of two languages (selected from French, German, or Italian) or two years of one language. Students must petition the voice area to accept two years of one language and/or to accept other languages

Proficiency must be demonstrated by completing a second-semester (for a one year requirement) or fourth-semester (for a two year requirement) undergraduate course within six years of admission to the degree program or by passing the foreign language translation examination. Students can fulfill year 1 foreign language proficiency by taking a reading knowledge course, (for ex German 1500) and earning a grade of B or higher, with Assoc Dean approval. The two-hour translation exam asks students to translate prose excerpts related to music, song or aria texts, and/or passages from opera libretti. Students are allowed to use dictionaries, grammar guides, and verb charts (e.g., 501 French Verbs) during the examination.   

Currently, the College of Music offers year 1 and year 2 foreign language exams in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. A student can petition the Associate Dean to take a foreign language exam in another language. A proficiency exam and grader must be available, and the alternate foreign language request must be approved by the student’s advisory committee. 

Because international students whose native language is not English have already demonstrated their proficiency in a second language before being admitted, they are exempt from this general language requirement, but they must fulfill additional discipline-specific requirements where required.

Please contact the Assoc Dean to schedule your foreign language exam. Students needing to retake a foreign language exam are scheduled on a case-by-case basis.

Application for Admission to Candidacy

In the semester the student is taking the Master’s Qualifying Examination (MQE), master’s degree students should file an application for admission to candidacy.  Students taking the MQE fall and spring semester are directed to submit the application for admission to candidacy in December with spring semester courses registered for indicated on the application. Students cannot consider taking the MQE’s unless they have completed all preliminary exam deficiencies and all language requirements have been met.  These requirements must be completed in the semester before the student plans to take the MQE’s.  The courses you and your department agree will be used to fulfill the requirements for your degree program are listed on this form. The student’s major advisor must verify all coursework and approve the application before it is sent to the Graduate Office for approval.  

Master's Qualifying Examination

This written examination is normally taken during the third semester of study or the semester before the semester of expected graduation. The final oral examination is held with the student’s faculty committee during the semester after completion of the written examination. The MQE’s are administered online on a Saturday in early November and on an individual basis spring semester; the dates are scheduled at least one semester in advance by the Graduate Office.  Individual make-up exams on alternate dates are generally not allowed, so students should plan well in advance to reserve the posted group exam date. The exam lasts from 9 AM until 4:30 PM (with a lunch break). The exam is formulated by the student’s advisory committee, which consists of the major advisor, plus two additional graduate faculty members.  The student is allotted three hours to answer the question from the major advisor; the questions from the other two committee members are each allotted 90 minutes. Faculty are expected to grade the MQE by the last day of classes. 

Students should consult with their committee members in preparation for the qualifying exam. The questions may pertain to the student’s coursework or research interests, or they may address broader topics or areas of expertise that are expected in the student’s chosen discipline. Some committee members will provide general information about the nature of their question, but others may opt not to offer much detail in advance of the examination. Faculty members are not expected to provide their question in advance of the exam. All advance preparations for the exam are coordinated by the Graduate Studies Coordinator; be sure to verify all arrangements well in advance of the exam date.

Final Oral Examination

The final oral examination (usually 1 hour, but Music Ed students schedule 1½ hours) is administered by the student’s committee during the final semester and is based upon the student’s course work, thesis projects, and work done on the MQE. In order that final grades and required documentation be processed on time, this exam must be scheduled prior to the deadlines posted by the Graduate School before the end of each semester.  Students must arrange the time and place of the exam with their committee members and must notify the Graduate Studies Coordinator at least three weeks in advance of the examination.  Scheduling of a room for the exam can be done on the Student Information page.  The Associate Dean’s office then submits an oral exam report form to the Graduate School for their approval.  The form is signed by the committee upon completion, certifying the student for graduation. The campus-level deadlines posted by the Graduate School are inflexible, so students must pay close attention to these dates or risk the extra time and expense of a graduation postponed to a later semester. 

For more information, see the MM/MME Masters Qualifying Exam and Oral Exam Information document.

CU's Graduate Teacher Program

Many students pursuing graduate degrees in music are planning on faculty careers in Higher Education. Some will already have experience as studio or classroom teachers, or have taken coursework in education. Whatever the student’s previous experience, CU’s acclaimed Graduate Teacher Program is an especially valuable (and free!) resource for refining one’s teaching skills. The GTP offers workshops and training throughout the year, and some graduate students decide to work toward obtaining the Graduate Teacher Certificate and or Professional Development Certificate. The College of Music typically has two Lead Graduate Teachers who are current graduate students, and who act as liaisons with the campus GTP office.  Workshops are offered throughout the year, within the College as well as on the campus at large. Find current information and resources on the GTP website.

25% Teaching Appointments:1 credit-hour scholarship

Compensation for 25% teaching appointment includes 5 credits of tuition remission each semester. Compensation also includes a maximum of 4 credit hours of funding to be applied toward degree required courses dispersed as a scholarship from the College of Music over the course of your degree. Registration for the credit hours covered by the College of Music scholarship will be determined under advisement at the discretion of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. During the first year, if you are a nonresident or international student, the 1 credit-hour scholarship will be covered by the College of Music at the nonresident tuition rate. During the second year, the 1 credit-hour scholarship will be covered at the in-state rate. For international students, the additional credit hour will be covered at the nonresident rate for the duration of the student’s appointment.

CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

CPT is one type of off-campus employment authorization for international students on an F-1 visa. CPT is authorized in conjunction with registration for an internship course that counts toward the electives portion of the degree. 

There are two, 1 credit hour internship courses you can register for in conjunction with CPT, depending on the nature of the work:

  • MUSC 5908: Internship in Music Business: Music or music business organizations, including but not limited to ensemble performance, accompanying, conducting, and arts organization work
  • MUSC 5446: Supervised Teaching Practicum: Teaching at a community music school or school-based program

NOTE: Internships are regular work that are not one-time music engagements (gigs), with a minimum of 42 hours of work required per semester. MUSC 5908 is repeatable up to 3 total credit hours, and MUSC 5446 is repeatable up to 5 total credit hours. Both courses must be taken for a letter grade. It is strongly encouraged that you discuss the possibility of CPT with your faculty advisor in your first semester of coursework to determine if a music internship will add value to your studies.


Step 1: Read through the CPT guidelines

Step 2: Contact an ISSS counselor to determine the first semester you are eligible to apply for CPT.

Step 3: Meet with your faculty advisor the semester prior to internship course registration to confirm their approval of internship course registration for the following semester. The internship should count toward the electives portion of your degree.  

Step 4: Ask your faculty advisor to email the Assoc Dean confirmation that internship course registration is needed for the following semester. Faculty advisor approval is needed no later than two weeks prior to the start of the semester.  

Step 4: Register for the appropriate internship course.

Step 5: Apply for part-time CPT authorization. Be sure to list the Assoc Dean as your academic advisor and as the graduate program advisor. The CPT start date indicated in your offer letter must be at least 10 business days from the day you submit your CPT Request in the MyISSS portal to allow time for the Assoc Dean to sign the e-form and for ISSS to process the request. 

Pre-completion OPT (Optional Practical Training)

Work authorization is needed for off-campus work that occurs on a less regular basis (e.g. gigs, subbing in an orchestra). See the pre-completion OPT website for more information on how to apply for this authorization. Use of any practical training (both pre- and post-completion OPT) is counted cumulatively with only a total of 12 months allowed for practical training. Pre-completion OPT will count against that 12-month total and reduce time available for post-completion OPT.