Master’s Programs Overview

See the items below for an overview of guidelines governing the Master’s degree programs.

Both the MA and MM degrees require 30 credits of coursework, including a minimum number of credits at the 600 level (12 cr. for students in the Plan A Thesis program and 18 cr. for students in the Plan B Non-Thesis program), excluding 699 and thesis 700. No more than 4 credits in ensembles may be applied to the degree. A master’s degree at the University of Hawai‘i normally takes two years to complete; however, because the ethnomusicology degree is ordinarily based on field work, this degree may involve additional time.

Students must earn a minimum grade of B- in music courses that count toward the master’s degrees. This rule applies to students entering in Fall 2016 and after.

The student fulfills the residency requirement for the Master’s program by completing two semesters of full-time work or four six-week summer sessions, or the equivalent in credit hours applicable to the student’s degree program. Full-time status for the summer session is defined as enrollment in at least 8 credits of coursework per pair of summer sessions (e.g., 6 credits for the first summer session and 2 credits for the second summer session).

Proficiency in a foreign language is required of master’s students in Ethnomusicology and Musicology. This requirement can be met in one of three ways:

  1. Foreign Language 202 or its equivalent (at the intermediate level of study) in which the student receives a grade of B or higher.
  2. A reading proficiency examination administered by the appropriate university department.
  3. Native speakers of a language other than English will be considered to have fulfilled the foreign language requirement, if their native language is relevant to their thesis research.

Area specific foreign language requirements:

  • Composition: None
  • Ethnomusicology: A reading or speaking knowledge of a foreign language relevant to the thesis research, or equivalent competence in linguistics.
  • Music Education: None
  • Musicology: A reading knowledge of French or German.
  • Performance: Requirement for vocal performance area only: one year of German and either one year of French or one semester each of French and Italian (proficiency may be demonstrated by successful completion of coursework taken while an undergraduate or graduate student).

Diagnostic Exam

Prior to enrolling for the first semester of study, each classified graduate student will take a diagnostic examination in music history (part I) and music theory (part II) to determine whether or not the general exams or qualifying exams in those areas (or specified courses in lieu of the general exams) are needed to clear pre-program deficiencies. Students are also tested in their area of concentration (part III). The purpose of this examination is twofold: (a) to assess the student’s background and determine if there are deficiencies that should be remedied, and (b) to assist the advisor and the student in planning a program of study. Detailed information about the examination is available on request. Successful performance on specific parts of the diagnostic examination exempts the student from the equivalent parts I and II of the general examination or qualifying examination.

The diagnostic/general/qualifying examination is offered in August (before the beginning of the fall semester), in January (before the beginning of the spring semester) and in the third week of April.

  • Students who enter in the fall semester will take the diagnostic examination in August. If the student does not pass any portion of the diagnostic examination, he or she may re-take the examination in January and April or take the recommended course(s) between August and May and clear deficiencies in the first academic year of study by earning a grade of B or higher.
  • Students who enter in the spring semester will take the diagnostic examination in January. If the student does not pass any portion of the diagnostic examination, he or she may re-take the examination in August and the following January or take the recommended course(s) between January and December and clear deficiencies in the first year of study by earning a grade of B or higher.

N.B. Students who enter in the spring semester will be exempt from taking the April examination and will not need to submit a petition for approval to the graduate faculty.

Dismissal from the graduate program will occur if the student does not pass any part of the diagnostic examination and then: (1) does not pass the general examination or qualifying examination twice; or (2) does not take the prescribed course(s) to clear deficiencies in their first year of study; or (3) does not earn a B or better in the prescribed course(s).

Students with deficiencies are strongly advised to take the recommended course(s). Students may also wish to study on their own and re-take the examination. Keep in mind that many classes recommended to rectify deficiencies are offered only once per year. The student should consult with his or her advisor to discuss the most suitable course of action.

For a more detailed overview of the Graduate Diagnostics Exams, visit this page.

In general, graduate students at UHM need to complete all degree requirements within seven years after admission to their programs.