Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Master of Music

Becoming a professional musician requires talent and commitment. But it also takes the right educational environment with one-on-one training with master teachers, strong ensemble and chamber music experiences, and diverse opportunities to develop performance skills in public. Not only will students experience a university setting where they can flourish academically as well as musically, but Pittsburgh is a city with a thriving cultural community offering another dimension to their growth.

Graduate students form a community of young professionals within the Carnegie Mellon School of Music. Most are already working as performers or composers outside the university. Many have responsibilities within the School, either assisting faculty in classroom situations or working as managers and assistants within the performing ensembles. Their presence raises the level of excellence throughout the School as they participate in large ensembles alongside the undergraduate students.

The studio is the heart of all of our graduate programs, with a strong emphasis placed on the highest caliber of ensemble and chamber music experience possible. The School of Music maintains a superb philharmonic orchestra, wind ensemble, concert choir and repertory chorus, contemporary ensemble, and jazz ensemble, as well as smaller performing groups in specific instrumental areas.

Carnegie Mellon’s music faculty know what it takes to succeed. All studio faculty are professional musicians, many holding principal chairs in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and are renowned performers and master teachers.

The School of Music offers the following Master of Music degrees. Click the link below for specific curriculum information.

  • Instrumental Performance: all orchestral instruments as well as guitar, euphonium, saxophone, and bagpipe
  • Keyboard Performance: piano and organ 
  • Vocal Performance
  • Composition
  • Collaborative Piano: the Collaborative Piano curriculum gives specialized training to pianists pursuing a career working with vocalists and instrumentalists. This curriculum provides the necessary skills and artistry required for an increasingly growing field.
  • Orchestral and Choral Conducting: mentor-style instruction (applications are not being accepted for Fall 2018)

Studio is the most important activity of the graduate degree programs at Carnegie Mellon. Master of Music candidates must perform a minimum of one full recital. The master’s degree program has a small, but vitally important academic component woven into its performance/composition/conducting focus.

One course each term is required in music analysis or music history. Incoming graduate students are first given competency tests in these areas to determine if remedial work is needed. All competency examinations must be completed before the end of the second semester.

A wide range of electives are available to meet the diverse career needs of the graduate student. Some students elect courses outside the school in such areas as business management or foreign languages. Others prefer to do the majority of their elective work in the School of Music and explore in greater depth such areas as music history, theory, pedagogy, chamber music, computer music, recording technology and accompanying.

Students who are accepted to begin work in the master’s program are not automatically candidates for the degree. They must complete 36 units of graduate courses with an average of “B” or better before they can be considered as candidates for the degree.

Furthermore, the grade of at least a “B” must be earned each semester in the student’s major area. Graduate students may be dropped form the program if they fail to maintain the professional standards of the school or fail to make sufficient progress during any semester.

All candidates for the Master of Music degree must also pass a comprehensive review in their major area; successful completion of this review is a requirement for graduation. This review is tied to the student’s solo recital, and includes an analysis of at least one movement of a work from the recital and well-researched written program notes for their concert.

Effective in Fall 2012, all candidates for the master of music in the School of Music must complete the master of music program within a period of seven years from original matriculation as a master’s student. Once this time-to-degree limit has lapsed, the person may resume work towards a master’s degree only if newly admitted to a currently offered master’s degree program under criteria determined by that program. Under extenuating circumstances, students may appeal for extension of the time to degree limit.

Carnegie Mellon courses are measured in units rather than credits or credit hours, with three units equaling a standard credit. More information here

All the skills needed to present classical and/or contemporary music to the public are absolutely essential for tomorrow’s musician. While the core of each student’s educational program is the private studio instruction in performance, composition, or conducting, every Carnegie Mellon student is expected to develop the communication skills necessary to engage tomorrow’s audiences in their artistic work.

Therefore, all master’s degree students are required to present at least one outreach activity during their two years of study in the graduate program. This activity can be any musical presentation with an emphasis on education. Each student makes all the arrangements necessary to present his/her program out in the community, emphasizing audience interaction, helping them to understand and appreciate the music being shared.