Jul 20, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Sacred Music (MM)

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The MM in sacred music consists of course work in sacred music, choral conducting, choral literature, choral development, music history, and vocal arts. The program culminates with a graduate recital or project.


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/Project

Students majoring in Sacred Music must complete a recital or a project, as approved by the department. Candidates completing the recital must perform one public recital. 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. Candidates completing the project must work with the department to determine the details for this requirement.

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. A final oral examination in sacred music and related areas will be administered by the sacred and choral music faculty.

Curriculum Requirements

Keyboard and Voice Proficiency

Proficiency tests in keyboard and voice will be given by the choral and sacred music faculty during the student’s first semester in residence to determine if additional study in either medium is required.

Lessons (2 units)

Take 2 units from the following:

Music Ensembles (2 units)

  • Ensemble Units: 2 units total*

Program Intensive Courses (20 units)

Core Thornton Academic Courses (4 units)

Electives (2 units)

Capstone Projects (0 units)

  • Graduate recital or project Units: 0
  • Comprehensive review Units: 0

Total units: 30

*Sacred music majors must participate in a choral ensemble chosen from MUEN 508 , MUEN 510 , MUEN 511  or MUEN 512  each semester if enrolled for 4 or more units.

**In some cases, MUHL 500-level courses and/or private instruction in organ, piano, voice or guitar may be substituted for MUCM 440 , MUCM 541 , MUCM 542  and MUCD 541 . In some cases, instruction in guitar or another instrument may be substituted for MPKS 501  or MPVA 501 .

***Courses with similar content in MPVA 541  taken at another institution may be substituted, subject to Vocal Arts departmental approval. Consult with the Vocal Arts and Sacred Music departments to finalize substitution approval and/or course placement.

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