Master of Arts in Music

Music Education Emphasis

The School of Music offers two options for the Music Education Emphasis:

Option One

The first option is a terminal degree for those wishing to advance their career in K-12 education while enrolled in the teaching credential program. Students learn research techniques specific to music education, participate in classes on designing and implementing curricula, and seminars on secondary education. In addition, students complete fieldwork and a master’s thesis in an area of interest, in consultation with the faculty. 

Option Two

The second option is preparation for doctoral study and is an opportunity for teachers with a credential and two years of experience to lay the groundwork for advanced studies. In addition to classes in research methods specific to music education and in curricular development, students are encouraged to take non-music classes in areas related to future doctoral study. Many classes are scheduled after working hours. 

Music History Emphasis

Prepared to study. Prepared to teach others. Prepared to teach yourself.

Surrounded by vibrant classical music and vital cultural life in San Francisco, our music history students advance to careers in college and university teaching; or as doctoral students. Graduates in the Music History Emphasis are well-equipped to continue research in their topic areas after graduating. Classes and seminar topics include music research techniques and study music of all periods.

Composition Emphasis

This small and highly selective program works with a maximum of six students. You will work closely with your faculty mentors, some of the most highly respected composers in the country. Composition majors have opportunities to write for faculty ensembles, and advanced student ensembles coached by the Alexander String Quartet, as well as opportunities for large-ensemble readings. Performances and readings are digitally recorded, preparing you for entrance into the professional world or developing your portfolio for doctoral programs. In addition to private lessons, courses are available in a variety of topics including tonal and post-tonal analysis and composer-specific seminars. Scholarships and Graduate Assistantships are available.

Application Procedures

Applications for the Master of Arts in Music program are due April 1 for the following fall semester, or by December 1 for the following spring semester.

Step 1: Apply to the Division of Graduate Studies

Admission procedures and eligibility requirements are available from the Division of Graduate Studies and SF State Bulletin (Catalog).

Application link:

Step 2: Apply to the School of Music

Department application requirements include:

  • Undergraduate degree with a major in music, or equivalent experience.
  • Minimum 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units of undergraduate study.

The following materials should be submitted as part of the application above.

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all college work
  • Writing samples demonstrating graduate level, discipline-specific proficiency in music research
  • Statement of purpose

Additional Materials for Music Education

A written description of the nature and extent of teaching experience. Applicants must also provide evidence of at least two years of school music teaching and/or a valid teaching credential.

Additional Materials for Music History

Representative examples of music research papers, such as those written for undergraduate music history classes.

Additional Materials for Composition

A minimum of two representative scores and, if possible, recordings of recent musical compositions.

Fees and Expenses


Nonresident (U.S. and International)

In addition to the estimated regular tuition and registration fees listed above, nonresidents of the State of California must pay an additional $372 per unit (or fraction) for nonresident tuition fee. The total nonresident tuition fee paid per term will be determined by the number of units taken.

Visit the fiscal affairs website for additional information.