Master of Music

The 30-unit, two-year Master of Music degree program 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 degrees, while seminars and hand-on experiences are the focus of degrees in music education and music history. Graduate assistantships and significant scholarships are available, and the Graduate String Quartet Residency program offers two-year fellowships to existing quartets. Graduate conducting students serve as assistant conductors for instrumental and vocal ensembles.


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Master of Music, Classical Performance Emphasis

Strings, Winds, Brass, Percussion, Voice, Piano, 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 well-prepared and talented 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, concerto competitions, and positions in the highly acclaimed touring chamber choir. Significant scholarships are available for incoming students.

Master of Music, Chamber Music Emphasis

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

Artists in residence: The Alexander String Quartet

Private lessons with our artist-teachers together with extensive chamber music coaching with the Alexander String Quartet 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. Scholarships are available, including the String Quartet in Residency Fellowship for a preformed quartet.

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 Master of 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 and Dance. 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 Classical Instrumental/Vocal Performance or Chamber Music program

A live audition before members of the Music faculty; or for applicants unable to travel to San Francisco, a high quality audio cassette, CD, DVD or videotape 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 Orchestral Conducting

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

Emphasis in Wind Ensemble Conducting

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

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

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 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 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

Audition requirements for the Master of Music

Audition requirements for the Classical and Chamber Performance emphases.


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