Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About
Completing a Graduate Degree in Music
I’m almost done with my course work. What do I do now?
First, make an appointment with your program advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies in Music (DGSM), so that you can go through the process in detail. You need to go over the procedures and details, and fill out some form for final departmental requirements like your thesis, project or recital, and for your oral comprehensive exam. You will also need to apply for graduation through the School of Graduate Studies (SoGS).
Do I have to do a thesis?
Well, yes and no . . .
If you are in the MM Performance program, then yes. The thesis for Performance majors is comprised of a performance recital and a scholarly document related in some way to the recital (repertoire, methodology, technique, etc.).
If you are an M.Hum (music emphasis) major, then you need to do a thesis in the Humanities program. The thesis topic can be flexible, and may be either a recital with a document, a traditional research-based document,, or an extended project like a composition. All three options require a document.
If you are in the MM Music Education program, then you may elect to either do a traditional thesis, a small project with a document, or a recital with a document.
When do I need to decide on my thesis, project, or recital?
You can make the decision just about any time, but you probably should come to a decision as you get about half-way done with your degree (about 20-24 credits).
Can anybody do a recital?
No. All recitals must be approved by the appropriate Department of Music Applied Board. If you think you might want to do a recital as your final thing, then see the board chair in that applied area early in your program.
Do I need to sign up for a special class for my thesis, project, or recital?
If you are doing a thesis, then you will need to sign up for thesis credit.
If you are a MM in Performance, then you will need to sign up for 3 hours of MUS 799.
If you are an MM in Music Education doing the Thesis Option, then you will need to sign up for MUS 799 for the agreed-upon number of hours that you and your committee have decided that you will need to complete the thesis satisfactorily.
If you are an M.Hum, then you will need to sign up for 8 hours of HUM 730.
For those doing a thesis, you don’t have to take all the required thesis credits in one quarter, unless you want to. You can spread them over two or more quarter if you prefer.
If you are an MM in Music Education doing either a Project or Recital Option, then you don’t need to sign up for a special class if you are enrolled in at least one graduate course. If you’ve already done all your required coursework, and you just want to work on the project or recital, you can do that, but you must then register for 1 credit of Continuing Enrollment, MUS 789.
How do I get my thesis, project, or recital approved?
First, see your advisor and the DGSM. They’ll help you decide on the committee of faculty members that you will need to oversee your work. Then, you’ll need to contact those faculty members about serving on the committee. One of the committee members will be appointed as chair of the committee, and you should let that person help you and guide you through the whole process.
Next, you need to discuss your ideas with the chair of the committee. Once you both are agreed on a thesis or project topic, or a recital, then you’ll need to fill out a form called the Thesis, Project or Recital Proposal Form. The form is available in the Department of Music Office. This form will help you navigate the process of deciding on a topic and getting it approved. It must be submitted to the Department of Music before you begin.
If you’re proposing a Recital, then you must also submit a Graduate Recital Application Form with the Thesis, Project or Recital Proposal Form.
What if I don’t submit the Thesis, Project, or Recital Proposal Form before starting?
It’s important that you get full approval of your thesis, project, or recital proposal before you start. Submitting the proposal after starting, or not submitting the proposal, will delay approval of your thesis, project, or recital proposal, and may even result in the denial of that particular proposal. It could also delay your graduation. Ditto if you’re planning to do a recital and you don’t also submit the Graduate Recital Application Form before starting recital preparation.
What is the Oral Comprehensive Examination (“Orals”)?
It’s an oral test that you usually do as the final thing before you graduate. It usually lasts 90 minutes. There are three main sections to the test, each section lasting 30 minutes: music history, music theory, and your area of specialization (music education, choral conducting, instrumental conducting, instrumental performance, piano, or vocal performance, or in the case of the M.Hum, your area of interest and specialty, such as composition or another topic).
How are Orals given?
The test is administered by an Oral Comprehensive Examination Committee (or Orals Committee) of three professors, one from each of the areas outlined above. This committee has a chair who acts as the test session “moderator.” Each area professor will ask you questions from topics related to your studies in those areas. Also, the other two professors may ask follow-ups during each section of the test.
What’s a thesis defense, and do I have to do one?
If you are doing a formal thesis, then there is an additional 30 minutes added to the Orals for a thesis defense. Normally, this is not done if the thesis is in the MM in Performance. A “thesis defense” is an added section during the Orals where the three professors will ask you to describe your thesis and the research behind it, and may ask questions about what you have written.
When will I know the results of my Orals?
Usually, you will be told the results of your Orals following a short meeting between the three professors, right after the test is over. You may pass all or part of the test. If you don’t pass one or more of the sections, you will be given the opportunity to come back and retake that or those section(s). Usually, you can come back to do any retake that may be necessary after about a month has passed.
What happens when I pass all the sections?
The Orals Committee chair will notify the Department of Music. Then, we notify the SoGS so that they know that the Orals requirement has been fulfilled. They will enter this in your SoGS file, and on your graduation application.
Can I take the Oral Comprehensive Examination before all my coursework, or my final project, thesis, or recital are completed?
Yes, many take the exam during their last quarter of study. Some ask to take it earlier than that, but it is usually recommended that you don’t do that. If you do, you will need to have passed all of the core courses in music history, music theory, and research required in your program. If you want to take the test early, you should discuss this as soon as possible with your advisor and the DGSM.
How is my Oral Comprehensive Examination Committee chosen?
Your Orals Committee is appointed by the DGSM, after consulting with you. Once the committee is chosen, the DGSM will contact one of the professors and ask them to chair the committee. Once the Orals Committee chair is selected, then they will contact the other committee members.
How do I study for the Orals?
After the Orals are scheduled, you should make an appointment with each of your Orals Committee members, and ask them to discuss the test with you. They will be able to give you helpful suggestions to prepare.
Ok, let’s say I’ve gotten all my coursework done, finished and gotten my thesis, project or recital approved, and passed my Orals. Now what?
You’re almost done! The only thing left is to apply for graduation through the SoGS. They have a form in their office (Student Union E 344) that you will need to fill out. You should do this at the end of the 2nd last quarter, or at the very beginning of the quarter in which you plan to graduate. By the way, they’ll also check your record for any incomplete grades, overdue fees or fines, and so on. If there’s anything like that this is unresolved, then it will hold up your graduation.
- Graduate Studies in Music
Dr. Christopher Chaffee, Director
M 350 Creative Arts Center
- Department of Music
Dr. Randall Paul, Jr., Interim Chair
M153 Creative Arts Center
- WSU School of Graduate Studies
Dr. Andrew Hsu, Dean
E 344 Student Union
- WSU Graduate Catalog: Music Section