The Master of Sacred Music degree program is jointly sponsored by Perkins School of Theology and the Division of Music of Meadows School of the Arts for the preparation of professional music and arts leadership in the church and, if one chooses, ordination as a deacon. Recognizing the existence of several models of professional church music leadership, this program provides a wide range of graduate-level training in performance, professional and academic skills.
High priority is placed upon the preparation of the church musician as enabler of congregational singing and conductor of various ensembles in both the church and the community. Professional church music courses, supervised practicum, worship leadership opportunities, conducting projects and other work offered in the School of Theology and the Division of Music provide opportunities to learn a wide range of literature, performance practices and skills and to apply this learning in both academic and churchly settings.
- Discernment: Students will demonstrate musical, theological, liturgical and contextual discernment, including the ability to make sound musical and theological judgments about works performed, (e.g., questions of validity, quality and contextual appropriateness on the twin levels of text and music) and the capability to situate a musical work in a local context.
- Skill: Students will demonstrate musical skills, including advanced accomplishment in an applied area appropriate to a faith community’s piety, and informed by the history and analysis of the genres of church music as well as by sensitivity to the ways current technologies can aid the realization of the music’s goals in its contexts.
- Pedagogy: Students will practice effective pedagogy, including an understanding of faith formation through music for musicians of all types and ages, and application of processes for engaging musical participation by choirs and the congregation in worship.
- Theological framework: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the discipline of sacred music within a larger theological and cultural framework.
- Theology: Students will demonstrate clarity toward a theology that positions music in all its dimensions as praise to God and service to neighbor, as biblically based offering and prophecy, and as proclamation of Gospel.
- Interpersonal and organizational skill: Students will practice interpersonal sensitivity and organizational skills, including the ability to foster professional interpersonal relationships, Christian community in musical ensembles, and skills to effectively administer a music and worship ministry that supports the mission of a congregation in its context.
Requirements for Admission
Applicants for the M.S.M. program must hold a Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Music Education degree, or its equivalent, from a regionally accredited institution. Their undergraduate preparation must include credited work in choral conducting and at least 30 credit hours of courses in the liberal arts.
A cumulative GPA of at least 3.000 (on a 4.000 scale) is required for admission to the Division of Music. Admission to the School of Theology further requires that a minimum GPA of 2.750 be achieved in the student’s liberal arts work. The concentration in liturgical musicology requires a cumulative GPA of at least 3.500 for admittance and requires that the student maintain at least a 3.500 GPA for all graduate work. Although one application is made through Perkins School of Theology, successful applicants for the M.S.M. program are accepted by both the Division of Music in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Perkins School of Theology.
The applicant is expected to bring capabilities in one of the seven concentrations offered, demonstrating potential for success for study at the graduate level. Admission to the applied concentrations (choral conducting, keyboards, organ, and composition and arranging) requires that the applicant demonstrate performance capabilities by a personal audition or by an online Web link. All academic concentrations (music education, worship arts and liturgical musicology) include applied instruction in choral conducting and organ and a keyboard proficiency exam. In addition, the application should include a description of previous experience or written work that demonstrates the applicant’s ability to pursue graduate level work in the chosen concentration. Download Application Requirements: Academic Concentrations.
Applicants who already hold graduate degrees in music (Master of Music, Master of Music Education or other comparable degree) or who have completed some coursework at the graduate level may, upon the approval of the director of the program, apply up to nine credit hours (or the equivalent) of nonperformance graduate musical or theological study toward the M.S.M. degree. However, this work must also meet the approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies of the Division of Music (if the work is in music) or of the registrar of the Perkins School of Theology (if the work is in theology). Hours in the M.S.M. may also apply toward the M.Div., Master of Theology or M.A. degrees offered by the Perkins School of Theology. Consultation with the director of the M.S.M. program is recommended.
Requirements for Graduation
The requirements for the M.S.M. total 48 credit hours.
During the student’s final term of enrollment, they will be given a set of comprehensive written examinations covering the major areas of study and related fields. Satisfactory performance on these examinations and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.000 or a grade of B on all M.S.M. work are required for graduation.
All requirements for the M.S.M. degree must be completed within seven calendar years from the time of initial registration
Planning a Program of Study
The course of study includes some work taken in common by all M.S.M. students, courses that fulfill the requirements of one of the seven concentrations, and some work that is designed to serve the individual student’s particular needs and interests. Each student elects one of seven options for concentration study:
- Choral Conducting
- Composition and Arranging
Admission to these concentrations requires that the applicant demonstrate performance capabilities by a personal audition, by an online web-link, or by a portfolio (for composition and arranging). Click here for Audition Requirements.
- Music Education
- Worship Arts
- Liturgical Musicology
All applicants must take Graduate Placement Examinations administered by the Division of Music in order to complete their application. These examinations, administered online by the Division of Music, aid in determining the student’s strengths and weaknesses in the areas of music history, literature, theory, and aural perception. While not a factor in admission, an application cannot be considered for admission and financial aid until the exams are taken. The Graduate Placement Exams aid the student’s advisor in planning their course of study, and also provide the student with a better understanding of the expectations for graduate-level study. Those who do not successfully complete the exams during the application process may take them again at the beginning of their first semester. Remedial instruction is offered online to assist the student to complete this aspect of their requirements.
For all concentrations except organ and keyboards, materials for the keyboard proficiency exam will be sent to successful applicants after they have been admitted. The sacred music faculty will administer an exam during the first weeks of the fall semester. The results are used by the student and his/her adviser in planning a proposed course of study for the degree.
The requirements for the M.S.M. total 48 credit hours, and they may be completed in two years (usually including summers) depending on the results of the Graduate Placement Examinations. Those pursuing an additional graduate music degree in Meadows School of the Arts or fulfilling the requirements for deacon’s ordination in the United Methodist Church will require up to an extra year of study.
Students are required to participate in a spiritual formation group for two terms during the first year of study. The required supervised practicum includes musical/liturgical leadership in a local congregation and work with a church music mentor.
The 48 credit hours for the M.S.M. are distributed as follows: