Jun 15, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Jazz Studies (MM)

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The MM in Jazz Studies is a two-year, 30-unit program, focusing on individual jazz instruction, jazz composition, jazz improvisation and ensembles, coupled with traditional music history. Two graduate recitals and a comprehensive review are required.


Admission to Thornton programs is granted through the USC admission process. Applicants are screened by appropriate faculty selection committees. Specific entrance requirements are reviewed on an annual basis and published online at music.usc.edu.

Unit and Grade Requirements

Students must complete at least 26 semester units at USC, including the thesis or recital. A grade point average of not less than 3.0 (A = 4.0) is required for all graduate courses in music, and a grade of B or higher is required for all courses in the major department. Students who transfer credits must achieve this average on all combined transferred and residence units.

Transferred Credits

All credits transferred must be the equivalent of corresponding current work at USC. Course work completed at another institution that has been approved by the Thornton School for transfer credit must have been completed within seven years from the date of admission to a master's degree program to be applied toward that degree. Transfer credit petitions must be filed with the appropriate Thornton adviser during the first semester in residence.

Time Limit

The time limit for completing the Master of Music degree is five years. Progress is measured from the beginning of the first course at USC applied toward the degree. Extensions will be granted by petition to the Thornton School for only the most compelling reasons.

Music Graduate Entrance Exams

All students entering a graduate-level degree program (MA, MM, DMA, PhD) at USC Thornton, who have not previously completed a degree at USC Thornton, must take a series of entrance exams in core music subjects. These exams are called Music Graduate Entrance Exams (MGEEs). Information regarding which exams are required for specific majors is available from the Thornton Student Affairs office. Also see the Thornton School of Music Admission to Graduate Standing section of this catalogue for specific policies relating to these exams. 

Master's Recital

Two public recitals are required of all candidates for the Master of Music degree Jazz Studies, as indicated below. Candidates must apply for recital dates, according to the current guidelines of the Music Operations office. Some departments require that a candidate be prepared to play or conduct the recital program for the approval of a faculty committee in advance.

Comprehensive Review

Candidates for the Master of Music must pass a comprehensive review toward the end of their course of study, usually in the final semester. This review, which is administered by the faculty of the major department, consists of an oral or written examination, covering relevant aspects of musical performance, literature and/or technique.

Master of Music in Jazz Studies


The applicant must hold a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in jazz studies or its equivalent.

Curriculum Requirements

Core Thornton Academic Courses (6 units)

Individual Instruction (8 units)

Ensembles (8 units)*

Program Intensive Courses (4 units)*

Electives (4 units)*

Capstone Projects (0 units)

  • Two graduate recitals Units: 0
  • Comprehensive review Units: 0

Total Units: 30

*MM Jazz Studies students accepted into the Jazz Composition track must complete the courses listed below as part of their Ensembles, Program Intensive Courses, and Electives requirements instead.

Jazz Composition track requirements*

Ensembles (4 units)

Select 4 four units from the following as directed by the department:

Electives (2 units)

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