The mission of the Wead Mitter School of Music is:

  • to provide a rich, integrated program of undergraduate and graduate education that promotes the highest levels of professional, creative, and scholarly development while challenging students to achieve their greatest potential;
  • to cultivate an environment that inspires creativity, stimulates intellectual curiosity, and fosters critical thinking; and
  • to serve the university community, the public, and the profession through performance, composition, scholarship, music education, outreach, and engagement.

Degrees and Majors

The master of music is offered in music: performance with concentrations in brass; composition; percussion; piano performance; collaborative piano; piano performance and pedagogy; organ; strings; string development; guitar; voice; opera; woodwinds; multiple woodwinds; choral conducting; orchestral conducting; wind conducting.

The master of music is also offered in music: education. This degree is appropriate for those who wish to emphasize music content. Those who wish to explore music education within the context of education at large should consider the curriculum and instruction M.S. program in the School of Education.

The master of arts in music is offered with concentrations in ethnomusicology, music history, and music theory.

A double master's degree with the School of Library and Information Studies is also offered.

The DMA (doctor of musical arts) and the Ph.D. are the highest degrees conferred by the Mead Witter School of Music. The DMA is granted for evidence of general proficiency and distinctive attainment in a specialized field of performance. The student's ability in independent investigation is demonstrated through a series of recitals and in a final project presenting original research or creative scholarship.

The DMA in music: performance is offered with concentrations in: brass; composition; percussion; piano performance; collaborative piano; piano performance and pedagogy; organ; strings (includes guitar); string development; voice; opera; woodwinds; multiple woodwinds; choral conducting; orchestral conducting; wind conducting.

The Ph.D. in music, a research degree, is offered in the areas of ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music theory.

Master's degrees require a minimum of 30 credits; Ph.D. and DMA degrees require significant work beyond the master's degree, including the extensive independent work described above. Each degree track varies slightly and may impose additional requirements. Contact the Mead Witter School of Music graduate office for complete explanations of the degrees offered at the master's or doctoral levels:


The Mead Witter School of Music enriches students' educational experience by hosting guest artists and scholars for master classes, recitals, colloquia, seminars, and festivals. Mead Witter School of Music organizations and ensembles perform more than 350 recitals and concerts every year, making a significant contribution to the cultural life of the university and the wider Madison community.

The Mosse Humanities Building, built in 1969, houses most of the music classrooms, rehearsal rooms, faculty studios, and 111 practice rooms. Most recitals and concerts take place in one of three performance spaces: Mills Concert Hall, Morphy Recital Hall, and Eastman Organ Recital Hall. The school's extensive collection of instruments, both common and unusual, is available to both faculty and students. Music Hall with its clock tower, built in 1879, is a campus landmark. Renovated in 1985, it is the home of the opera program. The new Hamel Music Center is scheduled for opening in Fall, 2018 and will include a concert hall, a recital hall, and a large ensemble rehearsal space.

Memorial Library is the home of the Mills Music Library, which offers extensive research and circulating collections, attractive study space, and personal staff assistance with research. Music materials on campus number over half a million, ranging from scores and sheet music to archival collections and historic audio recordings. Through Mills Music Library and other UW–Madison libraries, students have access to a wide range of online research databases as well as millions of articles, books, and streaming media. All genres of music are represented, with notably strong collections in Americana and ethnic music. Nationally known special collections include the Tams–Witmark Collection, a treasury of early American musical theater materials, and the Wisconsin Music Archives.

The Mead Witter School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the national accreditation body for schools of music, and was reaccredited in 2014.

Through the generosity of Paul J. Collins, the Mead Witter School of Music is the recipient of a substantial fellowship fund which, in combination with the Graduate School and University Foundation, allows the school to offer multiple-year funding to the highest quality graduate students in performance. The Collins fellowships, along with The Lorna Wendt and Anonymous Fund Fellowships for Choral and Voice students are offered as Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowships and provide full tuition and fees, a generous stipend, additional funds, and comprehensive health care. Nomination by a performance faculty member—usually following an on-site audition—is required for consideration.

The Mead Witter School of Music also offers teaching and project assistantships in music history, music theory, piano, conducting, voice, and other performance areas. These positions offer tuition remission plus a salary and health care benefits. In addition, the Mead Witter School of Music selects qualified applicants for the Chancellor’s Fellowship, University Fellowship, and Advanced Opportunity Fellowship. The UW–Madison Office of Student Financial Services assists students in obtaining general grants and loans. All Mead Witter School of Music students who receive funding are required to enroll full-time with 8–12 graduate credits.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A., with available tracks in ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music theory

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of the coursework (15 out of the minimum of 30 total credits) in each program must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Each track of study has different course requirements. Students must consult with their advisor in their first semester to determine expected course of study.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25.

Other Grade Requirements

Students must earn a B or above in all coursework.

Probation Policy

M.A. students who fail to make satisfactory progress in any of the four following areas: grades, course load, time constraints, or exams, will be notified in writing by the DGS. At the end of the second semester of failing to make satisfactory progress the student is placed on probation effective the next semester. This action suspends financial aid (but does not affect loans or work-study). For details see Satisfactory Progress for Master's Students.

Advisor / Committee

M.A. students have one advisor and two committees. The advisor is their principal faculty mentor. The two committees are:

  1. thesis committee
  2. exam committee.

For more details see the School of Music Graduate Handbook.

Assessments and Examinations

All M.A. tracks require a formal master’s thesis.

Time Constraints

The following time limits apply to the master's degrees in the School of Music. Exceptions to the following can be made only upon recommendation of the graduate committee and approval of the DGS (director of graduate studies):

  1. All M.M. and M.A. students with university funding (TA, PA, fellowship, etc.) must complete all requirements for the master’s degree within four semesters (not counting summer sessions or M.A. thesis credits), or six semesters if the funding appointment is more than 33.33%.
  2. Part-time and unfunded M.M. and M.A. students who have not completed the degree in seven years should submit a letter of intent and statement of progress to the DGS (director of graduate studies). The letter should include a statement of intent to complete the degree, factors that have impeded progress, what work they need to complete to finish the degree, as well as how and when they intend to complete the degree.

Language Requirements

M.A.: historical musicology track: intermediate German reading

M.A.: ethnomusicology track: intermediate filed language or French or German

M.A.–theory track: no requirement

Admission to the Master of Music and Master of Arts Programs

Minimum admission requirements of the Graduate School apply to all applicants for graduate study in music. The Mead Witter School of Music has additional requirements. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in music or equivalent foundational course work as required by each area of study. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale, calculated on the last 60 credit hours) is necessary for full admission. M.M. applicants in music education should have an undergraduate degree in music education and at least two years of music teaching experience—interested students are encouraged to contact the music education faculty prior to application. M.A. applicants are required to submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and samples of research and writing.  Both the M.A. and the M.M. programs involve substantial academic work and require excellent reading, writing, and speaking skills. Therefore, all international students are required to submit a TOEFL score. See the Mead Witter School of Music graduate admissions website for information on minimum score requirements. The Mead Witter School of Music does not waive the TOEFL score requirement for students who have completed a degree at an American university. Typically, performance applicants are required to audition in person. For details on specific audition requirements and additional application materials, visit the Mead Witter School of Music graduate admissions website.

Knowledge and Skills

  • articulates and critiques the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry in music-related scholarship.
  • identifies and employs a variety of sources and analytical approaches to inform discussion of topics in music.
  • demonstrates knowledge of musical study in historical and cultural contexts.
  • selects appropriate methodologies for research and discussion of musical topics.
  • rationally evaluates and synthesizes information from both primary sources and secondary scholarship, posing original questions and offering fresh insight into musical topics.
  • communicates clearly, both verbally and in writing, to colleagues in the field.

Professional Conduct

  • recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Cook (director), Aley, Bartley, Blasius, Bowles, Calderon, Chisholm, Crook, Davis, Dembski, DiSanza, Dill, Doing, Earp, Fischer, Fulmer, Hyer, Jensen, Johnson, Jutt, Karp, Koza, Leckrone, Perry, Potter, Radano, Rowe, Schaffer, Schwendinger, Smith, Stowe, Swack, B. Taylor, C. Taylor, Thimmig, Vardi; Associate Professors Dobbs, Hetzler, Johnson, Teeple, Vallon; Assistant Professors Grabois, Park Altino, Wallmann