SFSU Music Student Handbook

Policies and procedures for the students of the San Francisco State University School of Music

Students are also subject to San Francisco State University's general policies and procedures; standards for student conduct; and those of the Graduate Program.

Program Objectives

  1. To train students: 
    - To perform at a professional level 
    - To successfully compete in the professional fields of music 
    - To be prepared for advanced collegiate study in music  

  1. To provide for the development of music educators who will perpetuate the finest musical traditions in highly diverse musical communities, such as those found in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond 

  1. To foster intellectual and creative expressions through research and musical scholarship 

  1. To educate general students in ways which enrich, enlighten and encourage the development of their musical expression and appreciation 

  1. To train students to perform in concerts and other musical events of the highest quality for SF State and the Bay Area Communities 

  1. To assist in the cultivation of arts audiences of the future 

    Undergraduate Learning Objectives are found here: https://music.sfsu.edu/bachelors 

  1. To prepare students for advanced collegiate study in music
  2. To foster intellectual and creative expressions through research and musical scholarship
  3. To educate general students in ways which enrich, enlighten and encourage the development of their musical expression and appreciation
  4. To train students to perform in concerts and other musical events of the highest quality for SF State and the Bay Area Communities
  5. To assist in the cultivation of arts audiences of the future

Undergraduate Learning Objectives are found here: https://music.sfsu.edu/bachelors 

The Master of Music program provides graduate study for the superior performer and allows for maximum development of specialized skills in the candidate's particular area of documented achievement. Students may emphasize classical solo performance, chamber music, or conducting. This degree is particularly appropriate for students intending to perform or conduct music professionally, to teach applied performance in college/university settings or private studio, or to pursue doctoral studies in performance.

This program provides advanced study for students with highly developed interest and attainment in specific areas of music; prepares teachers for certain types of college music positions; provides prospective doctoral aspirants with a sound foundation for advanced graduate study; provides advanced academic qualifications for public school teachers; and prepares students for professional careers in composition. 

General Information

All official communications to students about academic matters, policy updates or other departmental matters are sent to the official @SFSU email account provided to each student. Students who prefer to use another email account are responsible for forwarding their emails from their SF State account to their email of preference.

We'll post announcements and news to the School of Music website, in the hallways, by email, and on social media.

The Music Program is housed in the Creative Arts Building. Facilities include McKenna Theatre and Knuth Hall, seating 701 and 322 respectively; a piano laboratory; choral and instrumental ensemble rehearsal space; classroom and practice facilities; and a dedicated recording studio. Knuth Hall houses three Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano.

The J. Paul Leonard Library provides music listening facilities; computer access; and an extensive collection of scores, recordings, and books on music. The Frank V. de Bellis Collection of Italian culture, located on the fourth floor of the library, contains a rich assortment of historic musical instruments, rare books, musical manuscripts, and scores and archival sound recordings.

Practice Rooms are open during business hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. during Spring and Fall semesters, with the possibility of extended hours on a semester-by-semester basis. Please contact the music office music@sfsu.edu for current hours.

1.      Practice rooms may ONLY be used by: ​  

•     SFSU students enrolled in one or more music courses 

•     School of Music enrolled majors and minors 

•     School of Music alumni in the Alumni Association 

•     Individuals who have obtained permission from the School of Music administration (and can prove it)

2.      No eating, drinking or gum-chewing allowed in the practice rooms; No food, drinks, or gum anywhere on or near the pianos.

3.      Do not leave your personal belongings unattended. The School of Music is not responsible in any way for lost or stolen items.

4.      Grand piano rooms can only be used by piano majors.

5.      Pianos, piano benches, chairs, and music stands must stay in the room and be restored to their original setup at the end of use.

6.      No more than 2 persons in small practice rooms.

7.      Windows must be left uncovered at all times.

8.      No smoking, drinking, or use of other controlled substances in the practice rooms.

9.      Garbage and trash should not be left in the practice rooms. 

Our School of Music recording studio is equipped with 24 recording channels, going through two Neve 1073 OPX and a Universal Audio Apollo 8 interface. There are three separate mixing stations specifically designed for different audio mixing needs. The main control room has Focal Twin6 monitors for stereo mixing. The live room is equipped with KRK Rocket 10 monitors for stereo mixing as well as a full Dynaudio BM6a 8.1 surround sound. There is also a separate headphone mixing station with a midi keyboard and a Focusrite Scarlett solo interface. Each room has an iMac available with the latest from Abelton, Logic, Max and Unity. There is a large collection of analog synthesizers including a Moog Sub 37, Moog Mother 32, a collection of Euro-rack modules, Moog theremin and a vintage Serge synth. Both the control room and live room have large HD TVs. There's also a grand piano, Steinway D, in the space which we invite students to use when recording themselves for competitions and auditions.

Book a time in the studio with an audio engineer who can help with your curricular recording needs here:


Instruments are available to students enrolled in music classes and may be checked out from the Department. Rental fees vary for the use of these instruments.

To get your instrument

Pay the instrument rental fee here.

For keyboard rental fill out this survey first: https://sfsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_a2G6KCCeaUEXp2K

Please email Paul Wilson at peedub@sfsu.edu with a copy of the receipt (keyboards are excluded from this criteria) then make an appointment to pick up your instrument (other than keyboards) or equipment.

Prior to the end of the semester, all instruments must be returned after the completion of your final ensemble or jury.

Renter is responsible and liable for the loss or damage of the rented equipment other than ordinary wear and tear. In the event of loss or theft, or damage beyond repair of rented equipment, Renter will be responsible for compensating The School of Music in an amount equal to the Retail Purchase Price of the equipment in question, less any applicable rental payments. The School of Music will subsequently provide a replacement instrument of equal quality. Proof of loss and circumstances satisfactory to The School of Music will be required. For this coverage, the rental account must be current and renter must file a police report within 24 hours and notify The School of Music within 48 hours.

The School of Music will make the appropriate repairs and adjustments to keep the equipment in proper playing condition as long as the account is current. This does not include the restoration of finish, willful damage, careless handling, cleanings or replacement of expendable accessories such as but not limited to strings, rosin, reeds, etc. The Renter is responsible for the maintenance and servicing of the rental equipment.

Lockers are available for currently enrolled music majors, minors and non-majors enrolled in qualifying music courses. Lockers are distributed based on instrument size and are not for use of storing anything other than your musical instrument(s), music and/or musical accessories (e.g., mutes, instrument stands).

Locker types (subject to availability)

  • Tall, single door lockers are for guitarists, bass guitarists, and trombones. 
  • Tall, double door lockers are for cellos and other larger instruments.
  • Small, wider, single door lockers are for French horns, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets.
  • Large (XL) Double door lockers for tuba, upright bass, drum kits.

To get your locker

Pay the rental fee here.

Please email the receipt of this ticket to Paul Wilson (peedub@sfsu.edu)

The department lock will be removed after which you will replace it with your own combination lock.

Make sure to email yourself the combination in case you forget it.

Lockers are not 100% theft-proof.

All lockers must be cleaned out by the end of exam week every semester.

Knuth Hall Recital Hours. MWF 1:00-1:50 pm

Music majors should not schedule classes during this time.

Recital attendance and participation is a requirement for graduation. Consult with individual instructors for course-specific requirements.

Ensemble Recitals may also be scheduled on weekday evenings 7:30-8:30 pm.

Almost all recitals and concerts presented by the SFSU School of Music are free of charge and open to all.

Work with your applied lessons instructor/s to book your recital time in Knuth Hall by the third Monday of Spring and Fall Semester.

SPRING 2024 booking link is here: https://sfsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6zFU0iuVy6R6yLc

The University Police Department encourages students, staff, and faculty to utilize the SafeWalk service in your travels in and around the campus community, as part of a broader personal safety management plan. You can call (415) 338-7200, then press zero to arrange for a SafeWalk and more information can be found on this link https://upd.sfsu.edu/safewalk. You can find additional safety information on the UPD website at this link https://upd.sfsu.edu

Refer to the SFSU Office of Emergency Services for information on emergency evacuations, earthquake preparedness,our emergency alert system, and other Campus Safety protocols: https://oes.sfsu.edu/

Undergraduate Policies and Procedures

Video Auditions for admissions and placement are accepted on a rolling basis. The link to submit an application or sign up for placement evaluations is here.

Placement evaluations in Music Theory, Music History, and Ear Training all take place on the Thursday before classes begin Fall and Spring semesters.

The piano placement evaluation is taken to pass out of one or more of the required piano classes. Please upload a video (YouTube or Vimeo preferred) of no more than 10 minutes of you playing piano/keyboard in any style, demonstrating your level of keyboard proficiency. Placement evaluations for piano may be submitted here.

First-year undergraduate students are not required to take a placement evaluations unless they believe they can test out of one or more semesters of theory, history, ear training, or piano coursework.

All new undergraduate students in the School of Music should attend orientation and schedule an initial advisement appointment with Dr. Ginwala.. Please review the LCA Advisng Syllabus before the meeting.

Coursework in the Music Major is mostly sequential and is designed to be taken in a specific order. It's crucial that students follow the sequences to ensure timely progress towards graduation. The current course rotation can be found here.

Undergraduate students may be required to audition for placement in applied music and to test for placement in class piano or music theory. More information on the audition process here.

Current students should meet with their assigned faculty adviser in November and April to plan for course selection for the following semester. Find your advisor here.

The Undergraduate Advising Center (UAC), is the home base for first-year freshmen and undeclared students.

Appointments are available in-person and virtually. To schedule an appointment, please go to https://advising.sfsu.edu/

UAC office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm, located in ADM 203.

Students who are interested in changing major or minor options within the School of Music must contact the Department Chair. For any of the BM options, an audition will be required with the faculty who teach in that option prior to receiving approval from the Chair. Make an appointment with Dr. Ginwala here.

Students should refer to their bulletin year Degree Progress Report for their ensemble requirements.

Course Enrollment and Credit

Many upper-division courses have required prerequisites that must be completed before enrolling in the course. Consult the course bulletin to determine prerequisite requirements for each course.

Under certain circumstances, it's possible to substitute one course for another in the music program. This is especially true in the electives. The student must contact their primary undergraduate music advisor who must approve the substitution, and who will then make the necessary change in the student’s program. Failure to make these changes in a timely manner may result in a delay in processing for graduation.

If you are a Music BM you can satisfy your GE within the Major

  • When BM major completes MUS 221, 222 AND 223, they automatically satisfy C1 (Arts) 
  • When BM completes any two of these MUS 550, 551 and 552 , you automatically satisfy UD-C (Arts) 


 1. Request the CBE form from cginwala@sfsu.edu

Complete the yellow portion of the form and return to cginwala@sfsu.edu

After 4 weeks, check your that these course appear on your transcript by logging into your Student Center and:

  1. Open the other academic... drop-down menu
  2. Select Transcript: View Unofficial, click the double arrow button
  3. In Report Type, select SF State Unofficial Transcript, click View Report

When they DO appear, email cginwala@sfsu. We'll then file an Advisor Request to turn them green on your Degree Progress Report

Students transferring to SF State may transfer a maximum of 90 semester units of work from other accredited institutions. Music courses taken at other institutions are governed by course articulation agreements on file with the registrar. Course equivalencies for all other courses are determined by the university at the time of transfer. Courses taken at community colleges or other two-year institutions cannot be used to satisfy upper-division requirements.

A grade of C or higher is required for all music courses in the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts major.

Check the SFSU degree requirements for additional academic requirements.

Juries and Recitals

For all students enrolled in any of the following courses: MUS 303, 313, 353, 360, 776 or 780 an end-of-semester performance for faculty (called "jury") is required, in lieu of a final exam.  Students who perform a senior recital are exempted from juries in the semester of the recital.

The jury is normally about ten minutes in length and is heard by faculty members in the student’s performance area (brass, woodwinds, percussion, strings, voice, or keyboard). Failure to perform a jury as required will result in an incomplete grade for the semester and may result in a failure for the semester. Preparation for the jury is done in conjunction with the applied lesson teacher during the course of the semester. Each student is assigned a jury grade based on an average of the grades recommended by the faculty members present.

Students preparing for their senior recital must present a Junior Qualifying Jury at the end of the semester preceding the senior recital. Junior Qualifying Juries are normally, 20 minutes in length. Upon passing the Junior Qualifying Jury students should as applied faculty to email the director to request this requirement be turned green on the DPR.

All degree programs in music require a "Culminating Experience," a major project near the end of the degree, designed to demonstrate mastery of the breadth and depth of coursework taken during the degree.

BM Culminating Experience - The Senior Recital/Composition Course

Students in the Bachelor of Music register for MUS xxx, the senior recital/composition project course. This course includes applied lessons. Students who pass this course with a grade of C or higher have fulfilled their Senior Recital/Composition project. Senior Recitals may occur no sooner than the semester after successful completion of the Junior Qualifying Jury.

BA Culminating Experience - MUS 598 (see below for details)

MA/MM Culminating Experience - MUS 89x (see below for details)


Majors in the Bachelor of Arts program may be eligible, under certain circumstances, to register for two semesters of 30-minute applied lessons. Majors in the Bachelor of Music program are required to register for up to eight semesters of 30- or 60-minute applied lessons, depending on concentration. Consult your music advisor on signing up for applied lessons in your instrument

Students must request permits each semester for applied lessons. If approved, permits will be made available three weeks before each semester.

The deadlines to request permits are: Fall semester Aug 1; Spring Semester Jan 1.

Access request form here.

Posters may be made by the student and delivered to the music office. Staff will post these on dept bulletin boards. A limited number of simple, one or two-page programs may be printed out by Front Office staff, time and resources permitting (this is not guaranteed). Professional, reasonably-priced printing of posters and programs is also available in the student center and self-service printers are available in the J.Paul Leonard Library Study and Research Commons.

Accompanists are provided by the department for applied lessons, for juries and recitals.

Students who wish to utilize an accompanist for a jury or recital are responsible to contact the staff accompanist as soon as possible. Piano accompanist support is subject to availability. Please request an accompanist if needed when filling out your recital request form.

BA Senior Thesis & Oral Presentation


Bachelor of Arts students complete a Senior Thesis by enrolling in MUS 598. MUS 598 is not offered in every semester. Please consult Course Rotation page (add link) and enroll in the semester closest to your anticipated semester of graduation. This class is a core requirement of the Upper division classes for the BA degree. Students develop and research a topic, in consultation with the course instructor. The semester is spent on guided, independent research and writing work, resulting in a research paper.

1.   The paper will be a minimum of twenty-five (25) pages of double-spaced text and will be carefully footnoted using Chicago Manual Notes and Bibliography style. The following URL describes the basics of citation: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Citation will also be covered during the course. It is essential to footnote any ideas found in a book, article, or other source, even if they are paraphrased. A paper without footnotes will not be accepted.

2.   The paper must answer a thesis-driven question related to music and will be a synthesis of your sources. The paper should have a least fifteen sources and should include both books and articles. Some online sources may be unreliable (Wikipedia, for instance) and will not count toward the minimum number unless they are peer-reviewed. Example of peer-reviewed sources are Grove Online (accessed via the library website here: https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/grovemusic) or The Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music (again accessed from the library website: https://sscm-jscm.org).

3.   The paper should have a logical structure, and include a thorough bibliography and any necessary graphics, score excerpts, or recorded examples. These do not count towards the page length. Any graphics or musical examples must have captions beneath them.

4.   Arguments must be persuasive in order to achieve the goal of answering the thesis statement. This is not just a report. A project such as this takes much editing and reworking. The finished paper represents the culminating project of the BA degree at San Francisco State University.

The paper must demonstrate proper grammar, spelling, format, footnoting, and bibliography format. The Chicago Manual link above gives details.

5. The completed paper will be presented to peers in MUS 598.

Graduate Policies and Procedures

Graduate students should meet with the Director, Area Coordinator, or Graduate Coordinator each semester, both to select classes and complete the appropriate steps to graduation. When meeting, please review these steps: https://grad.sfsu.edu/content/continuing-students

School of Music Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Benjamin Sabey sabey@sfsu.edu

New students must take placement evaluations in Music Theory and Music History, offered just before each semester begins. Students may be required to enroll in, and pass with a grade of “C” or higher, any courses which remediate deficiencies identified by the evaluation results. Students must complete remediation within the first two semesters. Recent graduates from SFSU School of Music may be exempted from this requirement.

Graduate students may enroll in MUS courses numbered above 299 to fulfill elective requirements. Note that at least ONE unit of electives must be satisfied by enrolling in a course numbered above 699.

Graduate students must file forms indicating progress to graduation. These include:

ATC (Advancement to Candidacy)

PCE (Proposal for Culminating Experience)

Report of Completion (Thesis/recital)

Report of Completion (Oral Exam)

Registration in a Culminating Experience course will not be permitted until your Advancement
to Candidacy (ATC) and Proposal for Culminating Experience (PCE) are approved by the
Division of Graduate Studies. You must have a 3.0 GPA in all post-baccalaureate course work completed.

After completion of 18 units and prior to the semester of enrolling in your Culminating Experience course you must submit your Advancement To Candidacy (ATC) Form. The ATC form acts as your contract between you, your department, and the university. The ATC lists the specific requirements you must complete before your degree can be awarded. Once the ATC is approved, you are advanced to candidacy and classified standing. The ATC is a permanent record of your completed and planned course work as well as other requirements necessary for you to complete your degree. The ATC form must be approved by Graduate Studies before enrolling in and beginning research for the culminating experience course: https://grad.sfsu.edu/content/continuing-students

All graduate students must complete an oral exam before a faculty panel, at least four weeks before their expected graduation date.  Please consult with the supervising faculty member in your area for details on preparation and presentation.

Your “final project.” This a course, supervised by a faculty committee.  All graduate students must complete a Proposal for Culminating Experience form. This is the form you use to inform the Division of Graduate Studies of your proposed project or thesis and who will be on your three-faculty member committee. You must submit this through Docusign and have it approved by your Culminating Experience Committee and the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator before signing up for your culminating experience course MUS 894, or 898).

For thesis dissertations, creative written work, or music composition, refer to the linked checklist for formatting instructions.

The School of Music may employ academically eligible graduate students to work as either Graduate Assistants (GAs) or Graduate Teaching Associate (GTAs). Your application is not a guarantee of appointment - appointments are confirmed only when the music office contacts appointees to complete employment paperwork.

Apply for GA/GTA positions for 2024 here: https://sfsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eW1P02Mu7fSISeW

Graduate Assistants (GA) help faculty members or the teaching staff with various professional and technical duties generally associated with the subject area or programs in which the assistant is doing graduate work. This work may not take precedence over the successful completion of the graduate degree program by the student in the a timely manner.

Graduate Teaching Associates (GTA) provide currently enrolled or admitted CSU graduate students with part-time employment offering a practical teaching experience in fields related to their advanced study. GTAs teach university courses and may also assist faculty or teaching staff with various professional and technical activities. Work assignments are closely associated with their program of study or the academic department in which they are enrolled.

Graduate students seeking a GA or GTA appointments must meet the following minimum academic eligibility requirements: Classified or conditionally classified graduate student Cumulative post-baccalaureate GPA of 3.0 (B) or better Enrolled in a minimum of 3 units of course work applicable to the master's degree

  • May not be enrolled in any course associated with work assignment 
  • Employment at San Francisco State does not exceed 20 hours per week
  • Must be supervised by a San Francisco State faculty member
  • May NOT teach or run class without the supervising faculty member present
  • Must have a U.S. Social Security Number or work permit (https://oip.sfsu.edu/employment; https://oip.sfsu.edu/ocec)

Inspiration for this Student Handbook (and some of the verbiage and content) courtesy of Cal State LA, Department of Music.