Application Overview for Graduate Studies

Please see the page Financial Aid for Graduate Studies for information on how to apply for assistantships and/or scholarships.

All applicants seeking admission to the Graduate Program in Music must submit forms and materials as described on the Graduate Division website by the Graduate Admissions deadline.

Forms may be submitted online or via the postal service at:

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Graduate Admissions Office
Spalding 354
2540 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822

Graduate Applicants must also submit the following to the Music Department by the appropriate deadline:

  1. three confidential recommendation letters (not more than two years old) accompanied by a signed cover sheet sent directly by the referee to the address below; and
  2. a copy of a transcript from each post secondary institution attended. Official transcripts sent directly from the institution in a sealed institutional envelope must be submitted after the student is admitted. Transcripts are not required for any coursework completed at any of the UH campuses since Graduate Admissions will obtain UH transcripts on behalf of applicants;
  3. statement of objectives; and
  4. supporting materials  (see below) specific to the intended area of specialization for Master’s students, for PhD students.

These materials should be submitted through Music Mākālei, our application portal:

Mākālei-Button

Graduate Division requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for unconditional admission, and 2.7 for conditional admission. Most applicants amply exceed these minima.

Note: Students completing a master’s degree in music at UHM and wishing to continue for a PhD in Music at UHM may apply by submitting the Petition for Admission to a Doctorate in Same Discipline to the Graduate Chair who will supervise an internal admissions process. This option is available only to students who move on to the doctoral level with no break. Transcripts and Graduate Admissions Application form are not necessary, nor does the Graduate Division charge a fee.

International students should start to collect application materials and information ten to twelve months before they expect to begin their studies at the University of Hawai’i because of the extra time necessary to process applications, receive transcripts and schedule standardized tests.

For more information about music graduate programs, please contact the Music Department Graduate Chair.

Applicants who are not native speakers of English must take the Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) and have the TOEFL score sent directly to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Paper-based (P), computer-based (C), and internet-based (I) minimum requirements for UH Music are:

  • 560(P), 220(C), or 83(I) for all PhD students, and
  • 600(P), 250(C), or 100(I) with subtest scores of 25 for listening and 25 for speaking for all teaching assistants.

Other TOEFL score minimum requirements for the Music Department are:

  • 500(P), 173 (C), or 61(I) for MM performance majors
  • 540(P), 207 (C) or 76(I) for all other master’s students.

TOEFL scores cannot be more than two years old. Scores are not required for admission if you have earned a bachelor’s or advanced degree within the last five years at a regionally accredited or recognized institution in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, or United Kingdom.

Applicants for admission to the master’s degree program must have an undergraduate degree with a major in music or a bachelor’s degree and evidence of an equivalent musical background; three confidential (not more than two years old) letters of recommendation on forms provided by the music department; and, for non-native speakers of English, a TOEFL score of 500 minimum for performance or 540 for other concentrations and 600 for teaching assistants (see TOEFL description above). A GRE General Test score is welcomed but not required. In the following concentrations, students must meet additional admission requirements:

MA, Ethnomusicology

A personal statement of 800 words minimum (3 pages) including the purpose of study. Background in cultural anthropology is desirable and, depending on the thesis research, may be required.

MA, Music Education

  • BEd degree (music education) or equivalent
  • Minimum one year of paid, full-time music teaching experience at the elementary, intermediate, or secondary level in a public or private school.
  • Of the three letters of recommendation for admission, two must be from a past or present principal or other supervisor.
  • Each applicant needs to submit a videotape/DVD demonstrating current teaching expertise. Suggested minimum length of the videotape/DVD is 20 – 30 minutes. Applicants may include segments from more than one class session or rehearsal. A lesson or rehearsal plan must be included with your demonstration video. This videotape/DVD serves as the general examination (part 3) for music education applicants. Videotapes will not be returned unless a SASE is provided by the student with the application materials sent to the music department. Decisions concerning both requirements and evaluations are made by the music education faculty. For more information, contact Dr. Barbara McLain.

MA, Musicology

Sample of academic writing proficiency (a minimum 10-page term paper from an upper division music history course is preferred).

MM, Composition

Three original scores which are representative of various forms and media, and a recording of at least one of the three submitted works. Applicants must also have a bachelor’s degree in music composition (or equivalency in course work) or submit music scores that demonstrate sufficient preparation for studies in composition at the master’s level.

MM, Performance

An audition of works representative of various musical styles.

  • Applicants residing in Hawai‘i must audition in person.
  • Applicants not residing in Hawai‘i must submit an unedited recording comparable in scope and length to an in-person audition and, if admitted, will audition before the department admissions faculty before the student registers for the first semester of residency to ascertain appropriate placement in the curriculum sequence.
  • A recent University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa graduate may be admitted without a hearing if the BM senior recital is considered to be of high enough quality by the majority of the department admissions faculty.

Please see the recording instructions as well as audition information on the Auditions page. Recordings will not be reviewed until the application is complete.

Applicants for admission to the PhD program must present:

  • a master’s degree in music (in the area of emphasis) or equivalent;
  • an excellent academic record;
  • two copies of a transcript from each post secondary institution attended
    (official transcripts sent directly from the institution in a sealed institutional envelope must be submitted after the student is admitted; transcripts are not required for any coursework completed at any of the UH campuses since Graduate Admissions will obtain UH transcripts on behalf of applicants.);
  • three confidential letters of recommendation (not more than two years old) on forms provided by the music department;
  • a sample of academic writing proficiency such as a recent term paper; and
  • for non-native speakers of English a TOEFL score of 560 or better.

NOTE: At the doctoral level the Department welcomes a GRE score but does not require that applicants submit one.

In the following concentrations, students must meet additional admission requirements:

PhD, Composition

A master’s degree in composition or equivalent, in terms of course work and original compositions. A score of a large-scale work, scores of two shorter works, and a recording of at least one of the above. Evaluation of these scores will constitute one part of the applicant’s doctoral qualifying exam in composition (part 3).

PhD, Ethnomusicology

A master’s degree in ethnomusicology or the equivalent in terms of coursework and fieldwork. A major research paper in ethnomusicology as evidence of extensive background in musical traditions other than Western art music.

PhD, Music Education

  • A master’s degree in music education is preferred, but an equivalent background is acceptable.
  • A minimum of two years full-time music teaching in a public or private school at the elementary, intermediate, or secondary level.
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation must address the applicant’s teaching ability; at least two of these letters must be written by a past or present principal or other supervisor.
  • One of the following: (a) a videotape of a teaching demonstration (or actual teaching), or (b) an in-person teaching demonstration. A lesson or rehearsal plan must also be provided.

The evaluation of submitted teaching demonstrations (taped or in person) will constitute part of the applicant’s qualifying examination in music education.

PhD, Musicology

A master’s degree in musicology or a minimum of four graduate seminars in musicology. A 7,500 word research paper in English on a subject in historical musicology.