Undergraduate & Graduate Students FAQs

Frequently asked questions pertinent to current students

If you do not find your question on this list, contact the main office at (408) 924-4673.


Undergraduate Students

How often should I check MySJSU?

Check your MySJSU account every day during the first two weeks of class. Make sure your fees are paid to avoid disenrollment. Be certain that the correct applied studio has been added to your program.

Am I required to be in a major performing ensemble every semester?

Yes, each semester you are enrolled in applied lessons, you also must be enrolled in the appropriate major performing ensemble. Consult your area coordinator if you have specific questions.

What happens if I am disenrolled after the start of the semester?

If you are disenrolled, you must immediately initiate action to pay your fees and re-enroll. You usually have only one day between disenrollment and University Census day. If you do not re-enroll in your classes prior to University Census day, the school will not approve your enrollment.

Where do I find answers to questions about facilities use, juries, and recitals?

All of the basic information relating to undergraduate and graduate student questions can be found in either the Music Major Undergraduate Handbook or Graduate Handbook . Please be certain you have a handbook and review it frequently.

How do I gain access to the building to practice after hours?

To practice in the music building after normal business hours, you must visit the Music and Dance office (MUS 179) and request that the director stamp and sign the back of your Music Use Fee card. 

How do I obtain a key to a specific classroom or piano?

If you have been approved to work in a locked classroom or have been approved to use a normally locked piano, see the Music and Dance office (MUS 179) to obtain a key. This key must be returned immediately to the office.

Whom do I see about questions concerning my scholarship?

Questions concerning scholarship awards or requirements should be directed to Mrs. Lucy Yamakawa-Cox in Music 165. If she is unable to answer your question, she will advise you concerning the person who may be of help.

I have a concern about a grade or a specific classroom occurrence. With whom should I speak?

First, address your problem or concern to the instructor of record. If you feel the concern has not been addressed adequately, make an appointment to speak with the Director of the School of Music and Dance for further review of the problem.

If I am feeling uncomfortable, harassed, or threatened by other students, staff, or faculty, what should I do?

If you are feeling harassed or threatened by any person or group of people, report it immediately to the Director of the School of Music and Dance. SJSU maintains a zero tolerance for any form of harassment on campus.

Graduate Students

What is required for admission to the master’s degree program at the School of Music and Dance?

The application is a three-step process: (1) an online application to the university, which includes all academic transcripts; (2) a paper application to the School of Music and Dance, which includes three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose; and (3) an audition and/or portfolio of work for your major area.

The application deadlines can be found at Admission Deadlines.

To apply to the university, please go to the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluation (GAPE) site. Transcripts should be sent to:

Graduate Admissions
Student Services Center
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192

To  apply to the School of Music, please follow this link. For auditions, please contact the area coordinator and see this link for specific audition requirements .

University requirements are detailed below. School of Music and Dance requirements include (1) an undergraduate degree in music, (2) evidence of the ability to complete the graduate program successfully, and (3) a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units of undergraduate work.

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required for all students who graduated from a higher education institution outside of the U.S. where the primary language of instruction was not English. The School of Music and Dance minimum entrance score is 590 (paper based), 243 (computer based), or 96 (internet based), with a score 5 in the Writing Section. All test scores must be less than two years old. Test scores must be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service office to SJSU (institution code is 4687). The School of Music and Dance does not require the GRE.

Are degrees from foreign universities, conservatories, and institutions acceptable?

All foreign degrees are evaluated first by the Graduate School. If a degree is in question, the School of Music and Dance normally is consulted. Students who come from foreign universities, conservatories, and institutions must understand that the master's degree at SJSU requires the ability to write extended term papers in English and participate fluently in class discussions.

Please see International Document Requirements for the proper way to submit international school work and degrees.

What if I do not have an undergraduate degree in music?

If a highly qualified candidate applies for the master's degree program without holding a bachelor's degree in music and is admitted, the graduate advisor in consultation with the major area coordinator will prescribe a course of undergraduate-level remediation. Such a course of remediation may significantly impact a student's time to degree. Under no circumstance, however, will a candidate be admitted to the master's program without holding a completed bachelor's degree.

What are the advantages of obtaining my master's degree from an institution that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)?

Students who attend a NASM accredited institution are assured of the highest musical and curricular standards. As an accrediting agency, the NASM requires its member institutions to maintain national standards, procedures, and guidelines agreed to by peer institutions representing the field, providing a continuous base of academic strength and a long-term commitment to developing the quality of music instruction throughout the nation. Students who transfer from another NASM accredited institution have the knowledge that their coursework will normally be accepted by SJSU for graduate credit.

How long will it take to finish my degree?

Full-time students generally take four semesters. Working part-time students have up to seven years to complete their degree but must be continuously enrolled.

Can I transfer in graduate units from other institutions?

Yes, students are allowed to transfer up to six units of the thirty required for the master's degree, pending the approval of your major professor, graduate advisor and the university.

What areas of concentration are available for graduate study in music?

Graduate degrees in music at SJSU are offered in instrumental and vocal performance, composition, choral and instrumental conducting, jazz studies, music education, music history, and music systems/theory.

Describe the entrance evaluations.

Prior to your first semester of residency, all students are required to take entrance evaluations in music history and music systems/theory. The evaluations are designed to show that you have proficiency at the undergraduate level in music history and systems/theory and are ready to begin graduate level work. Each evaluation is three hours long and is given during Pre-instruction Activities at the start of the semester. The music history evaluation consists of three sections--Medieval/Renaissance, Baroque/Classical, and Romantic/Modern--each with multiple choice and essay sections. The music systems/theory evaluation consists of one hour of dictation, and two hours of harmonic and formal analysis, orchestration questions, and counterpoint. For more information, see section 3.3 below.

How strict are the deadlines?

Very strict; most are beyond the control of the School of Music and Dance. For further information, please check the Academic Calendar and the GAPE website for academic deadlines. Please also see the Bursar's Office for deadlines concerning Registration Fees, Payment Due Dates, Installment Payment Plan, and Parking Permits.

Who comes to SJSU to get a master’s degree?

Our graduate students include teachers seeking greater skills and advancement in their profession, those who wish to become professional performers and teachers, those who wish to teach at the community and junior college level, and those who are preparing for further study at the doctoral level.

Will my employment prospects be enhanced when I complete my graduate degree in music?

The skills and knowledge obtained through a master’s degree program often lead to enhanced career opportunities. For teachers, the additional education usually means a raise in pay as well as opportunities for increased recognition and responsibilities in their districts. Performers often benefit from the time they devote to improving their skills. SJSU graduates often are members of major symphony orchestras, opera companies, and military ensembles, or earn their living as studio performers and private teachers. Many graduates teach in community and junior colleges across the United States.

Will a master's degree in music from SJSU make me an attractive candidate for further graduate study if I decide to pursue additional education?

Graduates of SJSU programs are highly sought after by major universities. Many graduates have gone on to complete their doctorates and hold distinguished university positions around the country.

What about the faculty?

The music faculty at SJSU includes noted performers, conductors, composers, and scholars with a long list of accomplishments and national and international recognition for their performances, compositions, and scholarly work. Every faculty member is committed to the education of graduate students and strives to meet the individual needs of each student.

Are there special learning opportunities?

Graduate students are given almost unlimited performance opportunities as soloists and as members of the fine SJSU music ensembles. Students have the opportunity to conduct research at The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, the only such center in the Americas. The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its wealth of music, and opportunities abound for those who wish to teach, conduct, or perform while pursuing their graduate studies.

What types of facilities are available?

The School of Music and Dance is housed in a historically significant facility in the center of campus. Designed by the architect Stanley Willard in the 1940s, construction was delayed because of World War II and began in the early 1950s. Dedication ceremonies took place on December 3, 1953. The acoustically vibrant Concert Hall, which incorporates Art Deco Mayan designs above the stage, seats 550 people and is booked throughout the year with campus and public recitals and concerts, meetings of music teachers, and music conferences. The music building includes recording studios, a computer lab, rehearsal and performance halls, and classrooms. Most graduate courses are given in the intimate surroundings of a seminar room. The School owns several early keyboards (clavichords, harpsichords, and fortepianos), a rich collection of Renaissance instruments, a collection of world music instruments (including a gamelan), and extensive electronic technology and equipment. Students also have special access to the collections of The Ira F. Brillant Center for Beethoven Studies in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

Is financial aid available for graduate students in music?

Several SJSU scholarships are available for graduate students. Students who receive a scholarship should be aware that they will be required to perform in two ensembles or fulfill other duties outlined in the scholarship contract. Graduate students interested in scholarships must adhere to scholarship audition deadlines. A limited number of graduate teaching assistantships are available to highly qualified candidates who have demonstrated teaching experience. These assistantships are determined each semester according to the needs of the SMD. Contact the School office for applications for these positions.

The Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies has assistantships available for students to serve as assistant editors of The Beethoven Journal. Work-study funds also may be available to hire assistants to work in the Center. Interested students should contact the director of the Beethoven Center at (408) 808-2056.

What educational and living expenses can be expected in San José?

Tuition at SJSU is relatively low (please see Registration Fees) while apartment and house rentals in the South Bay are relatively high. Graduate students often live on campus or share apartments or houses. The university is especially proud of the new Campus Village, a three-building state of the art student, faculty, and staff apartment complex that opened in the fall of 2005. Students should contact University Housing, Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. PST at (408) 795-5600 and info@housing.sjsu.edu for further information.

Are there opportunities for part-time work, either on campus or in the community?

In addition to the part-time positions mentioned above, graduate students also find music and non-music related employment in a wide variety of Bay Area businesses. Choral conducting students often work in local churches or with community choruses directing adult and children's choirs. Pianists frequently teach in local music schools or set up their own private studios. Some students work part-time in computer businesses in the world-famous "Silicon Valley," sometimes in music-related jobs. In addition, many area public schools hire SJSU graduate students to work with their students and performing ensembles throughout the year. Highly qualified students in music education may participate in the San José Music Project, which provides fellowships for students who volunteer in area public schools.

Must I be continuously enrolled once I begin?

Yes, even after you have finished your basic coursework and are working on your final project, you must be enrolled each semester.

Is it possible to complete a California Teaching Credential and a master's degree at the same time?

It is possible to work on a combined music education master's degree and a single subject music teaching credential. The combined coursework is 60 units.

What resources are available for students with learning disabilities?

SJSU has an excellent educational center on campus for people with learning disabilities. We are committed to helping all students diagnosed with a learning disability succeed at SJSU. Your responsibilities as a student with a learning disability include (1) working with the Disability Resource Center to find ways to help you succeed, and (2) informing all of your instructors at the beginning of each class of your learning disability so that you can agree on a work plan for the semester that may include any special accommodations. Additional information can found at the Disability Resource Center or by calling the Center's main office at (408) 924-6000.