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School of Music


Music Diagnostic Exam

Prior to initial registration, all students desiring to pursue a graduate degree in music or music education (MM, MME, DMA, Ph.D.) are required to take the Graduate Music Diagnostic Examination. If you are preparing to take this exam, download, complete and return the Graduate Music Diagnostic Examination form.

The music history portion [link for a PDF study guide] consists of one essay, an aural styles examination, and objective questions that deal with terms, names, dates, general music bibliography and major works of all Western music literature from the Middle Ages to the present. The latest edition of the following books are suggested as basic study materials: Grout/Palisca/Burkholder, “A History of Western Music”; Miller, “History of Music”; “The New Harvard Dictionary of Music.”

The music theory portion of the examination tests aural skills (melodic, two-part and harmonic dictation, as well as harmonic recognition and sight-singing) and basic theoretical knowledge (acoustics, analysis, part-writing, instrumental transposition, counterpoint, form, orchestration, terminology). Standard college textbooks in the indicated areas may be used as basic review materials.

Music education majors will be given a written examination that tests pedagogical knowledge of elementary or secondary music teaching (general pedagogy, methods, materials, literature), and those specializing in choral or instrumental music may be given a conducting examination. The piano literature portion of the examination tests general knowledge of the standard body of piano performance literature (Baroque through Contemporary), more detailed knowledge of genres, stylistic trends and basic terminology. Score identification of standard works from the piano repertoire is also tested.

Students are advised to prepare carefully for all portions of the examination since the results are used to determine not only their admission status but also whether they will be required to take certain courses. Any student who changes areas after admission to a particular graduate degree program will be required to complete parts of the Diagnostic Examination applicable to the new area. All requirements resulting from the examination must be completed as stipulated by the School of Music. The Graduate Music Diagnostic Examination is normally offered during the week preceding the fall, spring and first summer terms.

Full-time study

Nine to 12 semester hours of course work (six to nine for graduate assistants) constitute a full graduate load during a regular session; six semester hours of work during a five-week summer session constitute a full load. Any graduate student wanting to use university facilities (e.g., to present a recital or to use a university library) or consult on research or recital work must be officially enrolled in appropriate courses.

Student responsibility

Although students are expected to avail themselves of faculty advisement, it is the responsibility of each student to know and follow all graduate guidelines and regulations. Any exception to graduate regulations or degree requirements must be approved in writing by the music graduate director.

Dismissal from a graduate program

Upon the recommendation of the area faculty and with the approval of the music graduate committee, a music graduate student may be dismissed either from a graduate program or from degree candidacy if the student’s work in the major area is not meeting the minimal expectations of the School of Music. The music graduate director will inform the student in writing of the decision and enumerate the reasons for dismissal. The student may appeal the dismissal to the music graduate committee.