Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.)

Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.)

The Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) 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 leadership in the church and, if one chooses, ordination as 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. The Church Music Colloquium, Supervised Practicum, 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.

The program is regularly enriched by the Cabe Distinguished Lectureship, through which lecturers of international reputation are resident for periods ranging from several days to full terms. Past lecturers have included Carlton Young, Nicholas Temperley, Robert Donnington, John Bell, John Rutter, David Willcocks, Margaret Hillis, William Mathias, Barry Rose, Max Von Egmond, Alice Parker, Patrick Matstikenyiri, Brian Wren, Thomas Troeger and Stephen Cleobury.

Outcome Objectives for the Program

Musical, Theological, and Liturgical Discernment

The objective of the program is to develop the abilities necessary to make sound judgments on the musical quality of works performed, on the theological validity and quality of the texts sung and on the liturgical appropriateness of music used in worship.

Musical Skills

Professional-level accomplishment in either organ or choral/vocal studies with a competence in the other area is required. These skills will be informed by a solid foundation that includes the history and bibliography of music, aural and analytical skills and a knowledge and application of current technologies.

Educational Process

The program will develop an understanding of pedagogical processes needed for teaching choirs of all ages and developing musical participation by the congregation.

Understanding of the Prophetic Nature of Sacred Music

The program also will develop an understanding the liturgical role music plays in attuning the emotions to the spirit of worship and in proclaiming the Gospel message.

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 term hours of courses in the liberal arts.

A cumulative G.P.A. of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) is required for admission to the Division of Music. Admission to the School of Theology further requires that a minimum G.P.A. of 2.75 be achieved in the student’s liberal arts work. Acceptance by both the Division of Music and the School of Theology is necessary for admission to the M.S.M. program.

The applicant is expected to bring to the program performance capabilities, in organ or choral performance, that clearly indicate he or she is ready for study at the graduate level. The applicant’s performance capabilities must be demonstrated by a personal audition (for organists) or an audition tape (for choral conductors). Download audition requirements.

Applicants who already hold graduate degrees in music or who have completed some coursework at the graduate level may, upon the approval of the director of the program, apply up to nine term 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 School of Theology (if the work is in theology).

With the approval of the appropriate admissions committees, a student may pursue concurrently the M.S.M. and Master of Music degrees, the M.S.M. and M.Div. degrees or the M.S.M. and C.M.M. degrees. It is also possible to earn the M.T.S. degree with a concentration in Church Music and worship. Applicants interested in such options should consult with the director of the M.S.M. program.

Financial Aid

In addition to the financial aid described elsewhere in this catalog, a limited number of scholarships, fellowships, graduate assistantships and work grants are available specifically to M.S.M. students. Inquiries should be addressed to the director of the M.S.M. program.

Download catalog description of M.S.M. degree program (PDF file).