Master of Music

The Master of Music degree brings together advanced students and professional faculty in a high-level, collaborative environment. The program is highly selective and deliberately limited to a small number of students. Private studio instruction is at the center of the performance, conducting and composition. Graduate assistantships and scholarships are available. Graduate conducting students serve as assistant conductors for ensembles

Master of Music, Classical Performance Emphasis

Strings, Winds, Brass, Percussion, Voice, Piano, Harp and Guitar

Private studio instruction is at the heart of the performance program. Our faculty of artist-teachers, many of whom perform with the San Francisco Symphony, Opera, and Ballet, work with students to achieve levels of performance suitable for entrance to the world of professional music as performers and teachers or for admission to doctoral-level study. In addition to solo recitals and large-ensemble concerts, high-level performance opportunities also include chamber ensembles coached by the Alexander String Quartet, operas, and concerto competition, and positions in the highly acclaimed chamber choir.

Master of Music, Chamber Music Emphasis

Strings, Winds, Brass, Percussion, Voice, Piano, and Guitar

Applied lessons and chamber music coaching with members of our applied faculty form the hub of the master’s degree in chamber music. Electives include secondary instrument or voice instruction, advanced score reading and transposition, and numerous seminars in history and literature.

Master of Music, Conducting Emphasis

Orchestra, Wind Ensemble or Choir

Please note: The school is currently not accepting applications for the Choir Conducting Emphasis. 

Private studio instruction combined with large-ensemble podium time is at the core of our curriculum, which is designed for preparation for professional conductors and those wishing to continue in doctoral programs. In order to provide maximum conducting experience, this program is kept very small—a limited number of students are accepted into each program at any time. Student conductors typically spend at least one year as assistant conductor of a university ensemble. Students refine conducting and rehearsal techniques in private lessons and seminars as well as conducting and rehearsal techniques, develop score preparation skills, explore literature and continue to develop a broad knowledge of music history and theory.

Application Procedures

Applications for the Graduate programs are due April 1 for the following fall semester, or by October 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
  • Up to two rounds of live auditions (M.M. only). Streaming videos (use Vimeo) are accepted from applicants who are unable to travel to campus

Emphasis in Classical Instrumental/Vocal Performance or Chamber Music program

Schedule a live audition before members of the Music faculty; or for applicants unable to travel to San Francisco, submit a high quality Vimeo video link as part of the application, 30-45 minutes in duration demonstrating the student's current level of accomplishment. A repertoire list is also required, including an indication of those works on the list which have been performed in recital.

Emphasis in Orchestra or Wind Ensemble Conducting

Auditions are completed in two rounds. Selected candidates may be invited for a live audition with the SF State Orchestra. Details will be forwarded when appropriate.

  • A streaming video, posted on Vimeo, of a rehearsal or concert. Camera should show a front view of the conductor (camera placed at rear of ensemble) from a reasonable distance, and ideally demonstrate a varied selection of repertoire.
  • Please include your name, a repertoire list (with timing numbers), and the performance date.