Master of Arts in Music

The 30-unit, two-year Master of Arts in Music is for students interested in advanced Composition Studies, History and Literature, or Music Education. Highly specialized coursework provides an intensive focus on the student’s particular area of specialization.

Music Education Emphasis

We offer two different education tracks to suit your individual needs:

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. You will add breadth to your understanding by learning research techniques specific to music education, participating in classes on designing and implementing curricula, and taking part in seminars on secondary education. And you will add depth through fieldwork and a master’s thesis in an area of your particular interest. We have scheduled classes late in the day, to allow you to participate even if you have a full-time position.

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, you are encouraged to take non-music classes in areas related to your particular interest, further honing your knowledge in areas you may wish to explore at the doctoral level.

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 program is intended to advance your career, either as a teacher in a two or four-year college or as a student in a doctoral program. More importantly, we teach you to teach yourself, so you can continue to learn after your formal studies are over. In classes and seminars, you will study music research techniques and study music of all periods. In a yearlong period of one-on-one study under a faculty specialist, you are able to cultivate one or more areas of your specific interest.

Composition Emphasis

This small and highly selective program works with a maximum of six students at any one time. You will work closely with your faculty mentors, some of the most highly respected composers in the country. As a graduate student, you will have opportunities to write for a professional ensemble in residence, faculty ensembles, and advanced student ensembles coached by the Alexander String Quartet. Orchestral works are read each semester. 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.


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Application Procedures

Applications for the Master of Arts in Music program are due April 1 for the following fall semester, or by October 1 for the following spring semester. Late applications will not be accepted.

Applicants are required to file two separate applications, one to the Division of Graduate Studies, and one to the School of Music. Applicants who do not complete both requirements cannot be considered for admission.

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):

Apply to Graduate Studies

Step 2: Apply to the School of Music

Department application requirements include:

Emphasis in 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.

Emphasis in Music History

Representative examples of music research papers.

Emphasis in Composition

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

Send all materials as email attachments to:

Classification and Placement Exams for Graduate Studies

Incoming graduate students must take classification exams for both the university and the School of Music and Dance to begin the program.

Classification exams for Graduate Students:

Recent SF State music graduates may be exempted from one or more of these requirements. Contact the graduate coordinator for further information.

Program Requirements and Curriculum

For graduates, the normal load during spring and fall is from nine to twelve units per semester and seven units during the summer. For international students immigration regulations require a minimum academic load of twelve units for undergraduates and eight units for graduates for spring, fall and summer semesters.

Additional details about the Master of Arts in Music are available from the SF State Bulletin (Catalog).

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.

Mailing address

School of Music
c/o San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132


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