School of Music

Admission to the Program


Contact the USM Office of Graduate Admissions for an application and instructions. Go to:

First consideration will be given to students whose applications are complete by April 1 (for fall admission), May 22 (for admission to the summer music education program), and October 15 (for spring admission).

Every applicant for admission to the graduate music program must submit:

  • An application form
  • The application fee
  • Official transcripts of all previous college and university work
  • An essay of 300-500 words on your professional goals
  • A professional résumé

In addition, applicants to the School of Music graduate program must fulfill the following requirements prior to enrollment:

  • A baccalaureate degree or its equivalent in music or music education
  • An interview and portfolio review (by invitation only; see details below).
  • Applicants in composition must also submit:
  • Scores of three representative works from three different performance media showing originality and technical competence.
  • Recordings (CD, mp3, or url link) of three representative works (to correspond with scores above, if possible).
  • Complete list of works with first performances arranged chronologically.

Music Interview and Portfolio Review
Once the Office of Graduate Admissions application is complete, the School of Music Graduate Studies Committee will review the materials and make a recommendation to the School’s coordinator of graduate studies The program advisor for composition will contact applicants selected for interview.

Each degree program has specific audition requirements. Acceptance into an area of study is exclusive to that area, and a separate application and audition is required for each area. Due to the intensive and individualized nature of a graduate program in music, admission in specific areas will be limited.

Information for Matriculated Students
Graduate Competency Exams
All incoming School of Music graduate students must pass competency exams in music theory/ear training and music history and literature prior to enrollment in MUS 520 Seminar in Music History and MUS 530 Seminar in Music Theory. These exams will be graded pass/fail. Each exam may be taken no more than three times. Students unable to pass after three attempts must withdraw from the program.

Special Requirements and Standards
All music graduate programs must be completed within six years from the date of matriculation. Students must maintain a B average in all course work and must have no grade lower than B-. Students who receive grades lower than B- will be reviewed for retention in the graduate program. Each program requires that students demonstrate mastery in their primary area of study. Composition students meet this requirement through the presentation of a recital.

The following conditions will apply to all graduate recitals:

  • Required recitals must be performed after successful completion of the comprehensive exams
  • Grading of the recital will be by a committee of no than three jurors. The jurors will be drawn from the graduate faculty, the degree candidate’s  graduate  advisor,  and  the  degree  candidate’s  private  instructor.
  • The candidate must receive a grade of B or higher on the recital. If the grade of B is not achieved, the candidate must perform another recital that contains at least 50 percent new material. If the grade of B or higher is not achieved at this recital retake, the candidate must petition the faculty to remain in the degree program.

Transfer credit
Six graduate credits may be transferred to USM from another NASM-accredited college or university.

Admissions credit
Additionally no more than six graduate credits for work earned at USM in the five years prior to matriculation may be credited to the master’s degree.

Composition requires a two-year residency.

Exit Requirements
Composition majors must present one sixty-minute lecture/recital in which program notes and compositional process are shared with the audience as verbal introductions to each work. The recital comprises forty minutes of original music for a variety of mixed media composed while in residency for the degree. The composer will participate as performer on at least one work on the recital. In addition to the recital, the composer is encouraged to seek performances for his/her work elsewhere; only in exceptional cases might any part of this recital substituted for outside work.

Applicants in COMPOSITION must also submit:

  • Scores of three representative works from three different performance media showing originality and technical competence
  • Recordings (CD, cassette, and / or VHS video tape) of three representative workds (to correspond with scores above, if possible)
  • Complete list of works with first performances arranged chronologically

Applicants in CONDUCTING must also submit:

  • A videotape which contains at least 15 minutes of conducting, at least one-half of which should be of a performance
  • A complete repertoire list of works performed

Applicants in JAZZ STUDIES must also submit:

  • A representative repertoire list of works performed
  • A recent recording that contains at least fifteen minutes of a live performance including a demonstration of your improvisational abilities

Applicants in MUSIC EDUCATION must also submit:

  • A videotape which contains a 10-15 minute teaching sequence from a classroom or rehearsal setting
  • A written, critical analysis of the teaching episode on the videotape
  • An essay of 1000 words on a current topic in music education
  • Evidence of a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent in music education

Applicants in PERFORMANCE must also submit:

  • A complete repertoire list, specifying those works that have been performed
  • A recent recording of a live performance
  • Voice only: Show evidence of completion of two semesters or equivalent of undergraduate Italian and two semesters or equivalent of either undergraduate French or German; show evidence of proficiency in Italian, French, and German diction.

Auditions for: Portland Youth Symphony Orchestras, Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, and Youth Choirs

USM Youth Ensembles

The USM Youth Ensembles invite young musicians and singers (ages 8-18) to audition for the following ensembles.

Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra
Portland Youth Wind Ensemble
Portland Youth Junior Orchestra
Portland Young Peoples String Consort
Southern Maine Youth Chorale
Southern Maine Children's Choir

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