student holding an electric guitar with neon signs in the background.


Studio Guitar

With a faculty of world-class touring and recording guitarists, the USC Thornton Studio Guitar program is considered one of the finest guitar graduate programs in the world. The program offers Master of Music (MM) and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees, as well as a Graduate Certificate (GCRT) in Studio Guitar.

The innovative and groundbreaking program strongly emphasizes jazz and popular music skills and techniques, while providing a foundation in classical training. Alumni include performing and recording artists, top touring side players with major recording artists, studio musicians, composers for film, television and other media, e-learning consultants and curriculum designers, authors, members of classical ensembles, music supervisors and world-renowned teachers and professors of music.

Note to undergraduate guitarists: USC Thornton offers three different programs for undergraduate guitarists. Please refer to the application requirements for jazz studiespopular music performance and classical guitar.

Graduate & Doctoral Programs

Master of Music

Studio Guitar Performance

2 years | 30 units

The MM in Studio Guitar is a two-year, 30-unit program consisting of individual instruction, ensembles, advanced studio guitar performance, music history and electives. Two graduate recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Doctor of Musical Arts

Studio Guitar Performance

65 units

The DMA in studio guitar requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major, an academic field and two elective fields. Four doctoral recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate

Studio Guitar Performance

2 years | 16 units

The Graduate Certificate in performance is a two-year, 16-unit program consisting of individual instruction, studio class, and two ensembles, or the equivalent thereof, each semester. This graduate-level program is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate education in music, or its equivalent, and intend to concentrate their energies on the full-time development of their discipline.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Studio Guitar Alumni

Our alumni have performed and recorded with a diverse array of distinguished artists and ensembles, including John Mayer, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Mraz, John Legend, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Whitney Houston, Pink Floyd, Miley Cyrus, Ben Folds, Eels, Michael Bublé, Ray Charles, Enrique Inglesias, Ricky Martin, and Mark Anthony. Acclaimed alumni include Paul Jackson Jr., Lee Ritenour, Andy Abad, Adam Hawley, Charles Altura, Molly Miller, Matt Greif, Andrew York (of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet), Richard Smith, and Larry Koonse.

USC Summer Guitar Seminar

An intensive four-week course that prepares student guitarists for successful college and professional careers


Nick Stoubis, chair
Darro Chea, coordinator

TMC 118
(213) 740-3224