Music Teaching and Learning

Master of Music (MM), Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Graduate Student Fall Application Deadline

December 1

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Graduate Application Requirements for Fall Admission

The following information is for MM and DMA applicants applying to the Music Teaching and Learning program for the fall semester. Applications are not accepted for Spring admission to this program. If you are interested in applying to our newest degree, Master of Music in Community Music, please click here to view the requirements for Community Music.

The Music Teaching and Learning Department invites applicants for the master’s and doctoral degree programs for the fall semester.

The Master of Music in Music Teaching and Learning provides music educators with courses and learning experiences to deepen and broaden their scholarship, research, and practice in the field. We welcome applications from national and international students. In addition, we aim to accommodate local students who wish to maintain their full-time teaching jobs, offering alternative schedules, such as classes in the evenings and summers. The degree offers a seamless transition into the DMA in Music Teaching & Learning, with credit being applied for most courses taken at the master’s level.

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Teaching and Learning equips future college and university professors to prepare new music teachers to meet the challenges of increasingly diverse and technologically-proficient communities, while being able to rigorously participate in the public debate on the value and roles of music and music education. Students have the opportunity to intern with university professors in music education methodology classes, including and going beyond traditional models and formal public school education. Scholarship skills are rigorously developed through studies in music education, history, philosophy, sociology and psychology. Students will acquire writing skills, while pursuing a choice of research activities or cutting-edge creative work that will enable them to lead our profession. In addition, students have the opportunity to choose three additional fields of study, one of which may be outside of music. We welcome applications from national and international students. In addition, we aim to accommodate local students who wish to maintain their full-time teaching jobs, offering alternative schedules, such as classes in the evenings and summers.

The faculty will contact applicants to set up an interview. Interviews can be conducted via phone, skype or in person, depending on the applicant’s location and availability. Interviews will be conducted throughout the application period.

For additional information regarding the degree programs, please contact Dr. Beatriz Ilari, Chair of Music Teaching and Learning, at ilari@usc.edu. For further information with applications, please contact Thornton Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu or (213) 740-8986 or (800) 872-2213.

All applicants are required to submit two separate application forms:

  1. USC Application for Graduate Admission
  2. Thornton’s SlideRoom application form

The total application fee is $115 ($90 for the USC Graduate Application and $25 for the SlideRoom Media/Materials upload). All required materials must be received by December 1. Application materials will not be accepted via mail or email. If both required application forms are not submitted by the December 1st deadline, your application will be removed from consideration.

Applicants experiencing hardship or extenuating circumstances due to natural disaster or public health concerns in their local area that may affect their ability to satisfy application requirements may contact the Thornton Office of Admission at uscmusic@usc.edu to explore possible accommodations. Though we cannot guarantee that accommodations/exceptions will be possible, applicants are encouraged to contact the Admission Office as soon as possible to allow the maximum amount of time to consider the options.

Applying For

Fall Admission

Auditions Required?

No.

Questions?

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu | Phone: (213)740-8986

Complete the USC Application

Applicants must complete the USC Graduate Application and submit all other application materials required by the December 1st deadline.

USC Graduate Application Fee

The application fee for the USC Graduate application is $90. Application fee waivers are available to qualified applicants, and must be requested before submitting the USC Graduate Application. If you plan to apply for a waiver of the USC Graduate Application fee, please do so at least two weeks before the application deadline. The deadline will not be extended for applicants who fail to request a fee waiver in time. Details and instructions can be found here.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into the USC Graduate application. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Program Materials Section

When completing the USC Graduate application, it is important to pay special attention to the following items that you will find in the “program materials” section of the application:

  • Thornton SlideRoom portal – A link to access the Thornton SlideRoom portal will be provided in this section.
  • The Documents tab – Documents submitted in this section will not be accessible to the Thornton faculty. Thornton faculty will only be able to review documents submitted via the Thornton SlideRoom portal. In order to complete this section, you must check the box indicating that you do not wish to upload documents in this section.
  • The Questions tab – Enter your SlideRoom Confirmation number where indicated (you will receive your SlideRoom confirmation number upon submission of the SlideRoom form).
International Applicants

Click here for important additional requirements and instructions.

Complete the SlideRoom Portfolio

All applicants must complete the Thornton SlideRoom portfolio by the December 1st deadline.

All Thornton supplemental materials must be uploaded through SlideRoom, which you will access through the link provided in the “Program Materials” section of the USC Graduate Application.

Applicants to the MM, Music Teaching and Learning or DMA, Music Teaching and Learning will include the following items as part of the SlideRoom Application:

SlideRoom Requirements

SlideRoom Application Portal

A link to the SlideRoom portal is located inside the USC Application for Graduate Admission, in the “Program Materials” Section.

The SlideRoom application fee is $25 (fee waivers are not available). Thornton supplemental materials will not be accepted via mail or email.

The SlideRoom form must be submitted before the USC Application for Graduate Admission (Applicants can start both forms and work on them at the same time). Once SlideRoom is submitted, you will need to enter your SlideRoom confirmation number into the “Questions” tab, also located in the “program materials” section of the USC Graduate application.

Scholarly Writing Sample

This should consist of a literature review or research report in the field of Music Teaching and Learning.

Teaching Video

This video recording of the applicant’s teaching is for the purpose of assessing teaching skills and level of experience. The video recording should be approximately 15 minutes in length.

Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

This should include musical, professional and academic experience, including job descriptions for 2 years of teaching experience for MM applicants or 3 years of teaching experience for DMA applicants. Teaching experience can be private, public or studio teaching, though some evidence of successful group instruction is preferred.

Repertoire List (Optional)

This list should include works studied and performed. Etudes, scale studies, arias, art songs, chamber music, solo pieces, and original compositions are all examples of what could be included in this list.

Statement of Purpose

All applicants must prepare a statement of purpose addressing why the applicant is interested in this degree and why Thornton is a good fit. The Statement of Purpose is typically 1-2 pages in length.

Transcripts

All transcripts are due December 1st. Please carefully read the transcript requirements below.

Scans (PDF format) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended must be uploaded into SlideRoom. Official transcripts are issued by the registrar’s office of each institution. Unofficial transcripts or documents printed from an on-line student system will not be accepted. Failure to upload scans of official transcripts may significantly delay the release of a final admission decision.

Please note that official transcripts must also be submitted separately to the USC Graduate Admission office following the guidelines here.

Letters of Recommendation

3 recommendation letters are required from graduate Music Teaching and Learning applicants. Letters should speak to musicianship and potential as a teacher and community music leader/administrator.

For DMA applicants, one of of these letters must be from a professor who has assessed a substantial research or analysis paper that the student has written.

Recommendation letters are to be submitted online through the Thornton SlideRoom portal via the “References” section by December 1. We cannot guarantee the review of any material received after December 1.

Doctoral Introductory Video (DMA only)

A “Doctoral Introductory Video” must be submitted through SlideRoom by December 1st.

USC Thornton recognizes that DMA and PhD graduates are expected not only to be elite performers and scholarly experts in their fields, but also exceptional and versatile teachers, inspiring and innovative leaders, and consummate musicians with strong complementary skills. This is a tall order, and it necessitates a well-honed individualized academic portfolio. To this end, USC Thornton requires every Doctoral student to declare, in addition to the major field, an academic field and two elective fields, one of which may be a field outside of music. The purpose of this multidisciplinary approach is to support each student’s personal and artistic development in a way that will be well-aligned with her/his professional goals.

As a reflection of the individualized nature of the USC Thornton Doctoral programs, DMA and PhD applicants are required to submit a single-take, unedited, and preferably unrehearsed video of no more than four minutes, including a brief personal introduction, a description of professional goals, and an explanation of how pursuing a DMA or PhD at USC Thornton will support the pursuit of those goals.

TOEFL or IELTS Scores (International Applicants Only)

TOEFL or IELTS scores are required from International applicants for whom English is a second language. Please include your scores on the application form where indicated, and be sure that an official score report is sent to USC’s Graduate Admission office by the application deadline. Minimum test score requirements and other relevant information can be found here. Please note that scores well beyond the minimum acceptable are preferable.

Graduate Academic Admission Examination


All applicants to Music Teaching and Learning (MM and DMA) must take Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination. The examination will be administered via an online platform on January 15, 2022 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Applicants will receive materials to be reviewed in preparation for the exam about two weeks prior to the exam date. Additional details will be sent in mid-December to those applicants who are required to take the exam.

This written examination reflects the types of critical inquiry with which graduate-level courses at USC Thornton engage. The examination will be assessed by academic faculty as a measure of an applicant’s readiness for the academic rigors and multi-disciplinary structure of Thornton graduate programs. This assessment will be one of several important components considered by the faculty in order to reach a final admission decision for each applicant.

The examination will be administered in two sequential sections:

  1. Conceptual Essay: Applicants will be given an essay prompt about an issue or issues in the music profession today. Applicants will be asked to write a short essay exploring various aspects of the topic(s) introduced by the prompt, responding to specific questions and drawing on their own experience, knowledge, and opinions as appropriate.
  2. Analytical Essay: Applicants will be given a scholarly/literary text on a music-related topic. Applicants will be asked to respond in essay form to a series of analytical questions relating to the text provided. The analytical issues may concern basic music theory (possibly with reference to a short example in musical notation), music history, and/or aesthetics.

It is important to note that Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination is not an examination for which students are generally able to study or prepare. It is not designed to examine factual knowledge, but rather the ability to think analytically and express critical thought in academic language, as this is the type of work that is required for graduate-level academic courses at USC Thornton. While the content of Thornton’s Graduate Academic Admission Examination may be drawn from a wide range of scholarly sources, it may be helpful to refer to the following publications by our own faculty:

  • Barrett, Janet & Peter Webster: The Musical Experience: Rethinking Music Teaching and Learning.
  • Brown, Bruce: W. A. Mozart: Così fan tutte (Cambridge Opera Handbook)
  • Demers, Joanna: Anatomy of Thought-Fiction: CHS Report, April 2214
  • Foster, Kenneth J: Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice
  • Gordon, Stewart: Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas: A Handbook for Performers
  • Nye, Sean. “Sprockets + Autobahn: Kraftwerk Parodies, German Electronic Music, and Retro Dreams in Amerika.” In Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor. Neil Gregor and Thomas Irvine, eds.
  • Page, Tim: On Music: Views and Reviews
  • Simms, Bryan: The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923
  • Sloan, Nate. Switched on Pop (blog with Charlie Harding). http://www.switchedonpop.com.