Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Graduate Comprehensives and Community Engagement


The Graduate Comprehensive Project serves as a capstone review to the master’s degree curriculum in which the student analyzes, researches, and writes about the music to be performed on their final graduate recital.  The purpose of the Graduate Comprehensive Project is to provide a forum in which students finishing their master’s degree can demonstrate mastery in the scholarship of music developed throughout the master’s program, much as a graduate recital demonstrates mastery in the performance or composition of it.

For more information and specific requirements please view the Graduate Comprehensive Project Guide.

All graduate students must submit a copy of the Graduate Student Comprehensive Project Information Sheet to each of your Project Advisors.

All students must submit a signed and initialed copy of the Plagiarism Pledge to the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Stephen Neely via CANVAS no later than December 1 of their third semester, of the last day of classes of their third semester (if the student is finishing their program in a semester other than the Spring semester). 


All graduate Master of Music students in the School of Music are required to give one community engagement performance to complete their degree.

The twin purposes of the community engagement requirement are audience development and community service.

Community engagement performances are concerts given by one or more students that bring live, professional-level classical music to a time and place where it would not usually be encountered.  Community engagement concerts that serve underserved or disadvantaged populations are especially encouraged.

Community engagement performances are unpaid, and they cannot also be used as part of any coursework for School of Music courses.

Though performance is the central component of the requirement, students are highly encouraged to talk with audience members about the music and in general to engage with them beyond the act of performance itself.  When possible, guidance on how to do this, as well as on presentation and other aspects of the community engagement performance, will be offered by the Music Entrepreneurship faculty during a Graduate Forum early in the academic year.

The first step toward completing the community engagement requirement is registering for the course “Community Engagement Performance,” 57-790.  Once you are registered, you will have access to the course’s canvas site.  The next step is to submit a proposal for a community engagement performance through canvas.  John Paul Ito, the Director of Graduate Studies and instructor of the course, will decide on the suitability of the proposal.  Only after you have received approval for a proposal should you finalize arrangements for a community engagement concert.  At the actual performance, a separate Graduate Community Engagement Verification Form is required for each student who wants to use the performance to satisfy the community engagement requirement. The form must be signed at the performance site and submitted to Prof. Ito via canvas.

Further guidance about what sorts of performances count as community engagement follows:

  • A paid gig cannot be converted into a community engagement performance by declining payment.  An organization that has the means to pay performers should do so.
  • Participation in a free concert series that does not pay performers does not count as community engagement, because such participation does not bring live classical music to a time and place where it is not usually heard.
  • Churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations vary widely in their ability to pay musicians.  In order for musical performance in a religious service to count as community engagement, the music director of the organization (or the closest relevant official) must email Prof. Ito to state that the organization cannot afford to pay performers, and that professional-level classical music (other than that provided by a staff organist or similar) is not usually a part of the services.

Community Engagement Application/Verification Form