Our graduates have distinguished themselves worldwide. Alumni are teaching at all levels of education, widely recognized and published scholars, prize-winning and frequently performed composers, writing for television and film, conductors of orchestras, opera, and choruses, students performing solo and orchestral careers with leading orchestras, and singers in opera companies around the world.

The department supports and encourages students who wish to do graduate-level work in both performance and academic areas. Students may either pursue multiple degree objectives, or combine high-level course work or performance opportunities with the degree program of their choice.

Master's and Doctoral Degree Programs

We offer the following options:

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Some graduate degree emphases offer a combined MA/PhD or MM/DMA (by finishing all requirements for the MA or MM and passing qualifying exams, you automatically begin the PhD or DMA program). See each individual emphasis for more information.

The department also offers graduate degrees in Orchestral Conducting and Choral Conducting, but applications are not being accepted at this time.

Application Deadlines

During the 2023-24 academic year, the Department of Music will be undergoing a major seismic retrofit and facelift for a large section of our facilities. During this project the department will be making necessary updates to programs and curricula, anticipating being moved back into the building and fully operational during the 2024-25 academic year. To this regard, the Department of Music will not be accepting graduate applications for the Fall 2024 Admission cycle

Admissions Timeline

Applications are only accepted for the fall quarter.

Applicants for all degree programs must first meet entrance requirements for the University of California. See the Admissions and Outreach section of the Graduate Division Website for more detailed information.

Applicants to the MA or MM degree programs or the combined MA/PhD and MM/DMA programs must have completed a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Music degree, or an equivalent as determined by the UCSB Graduate Division. Applicants to the PhD and DMA programs must have a graduate degree comparable to the relevant MA or MM degree at UCSB.

Graduate students work closely with faculty members in their specific area of expertise.​​​​​​



Required Admission Materials

Each of our Graduate Programs is selective and due to the highly competitive nature of our admissions, only applicants who complete an application and submit all of the required supplemental materials will be considered for admission.

All Graduate Applicants are reviewed on and must submit the following materials:

  1. Three Letters of Recommendation and rating scale submitted in the online application by the recommender.
  2. Statement of Purpose, Resume or CV, and Personal History and Diversity Statement submitted in the online application (see the Statements and Supplemental Documents section of the Graduate Division website for more information).
  3. TOEFL scores (if applicable) - see the Exam Scores section of the Graduate Division website for more information
    • Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS
    • The GRE is not required for any applicants to the Department of Music.
  4.  Transcripts
    • Unofficial (with name and school seal) transcripts uploaded into the online application from all schools at which you completed one or more full academic term (or equivalent).
    • Official copy of transcripts from all institutions attended are required to be sent to the Graduate Division only for those applicants who have been accepted and plan to attend.
  5. Writing Sample
    • For applications to Theory, Ethnomusicology, Musicology, Composition:  Please submit copy of your Master's thesis (if applicable) or recent term papers into the online application system for your writing sample.  In addition, in your statement of purpose please address your agenda for study and research including your specific area of interest, both over the past years and projected into the future.
    • For applications to MM, MM/DMA, and DMA:  Please submit a writing sample, in the form of a term paper, or other lengthy essay.  Music History is the preferred topic.  Upload the document into the online application system.
  6. Prescreen and/or audition required for all performance degree areas:

    Requirements and Deadlines by Performance Area

  7. Composition degree program requires the following:
    • A portfolio of scores (one of substantial length) and recordings (or MIDI renderings) of recent works 
    • Recordings via online links should be entered in a single PDF file and uploaded into the documents section of the UCSB Graduate Application (titled composition scores)

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No, you do not. However, you need to have the necessary background in music to pursue graduate study. 

Bachelor’s degrees from many countries are accepted. Please visit the Graduate Division website for international requirements.

The University and the Department require a B (3.0) minimum overall GPA from all college-level coursework. Report your Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) as listed on your official university transcript. Report your GPA on the scale used at your institution. If your institution does not use a 4.0 scale, do not convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale

For applicants from institutions where GPA classifications do not exist, some equivalency may be required. Contact the Graduate Advisor for more information.

The number of applications accepted varies greatly, based on departmental need in particular instrument or program areas.  

No, we do not. The individual interaction of faculty and students that comes from classroom and one-on-one instruction is an important part of our program.


Application Requirements

The GRE is NOT required for any applicants to the Department of Music.

We only accept applications for Fall quarter.  The online application becomes available mid-September for admission the following fall quarter. Go to the online application.

The deadline for all applications, supplemental materials, and test scores is January 10 for admission to Fall.  In past years, the deadline has been extended to late March or early April.  It is important to note that the longer you wait to complete your application and submit your materials, your chances of receiving a funding package decreases.  Please check the graduate admission page for the most up-to-date information.

Most performance programs and degrees require a prescreen audition (links to be uploaded into the online application). Please refer to specific programs for requirements. Application to the DMA program requires a live audition. Composition requires a portfolio of scores (one of substantial length) and recordings (or MIDI renderings) of recent works (links to be uploaded into the online application).


Financial Assistance

Graduate students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens apply for federal financial aid by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. Direct Loans, Grad PLUS Loans, and work-study are available through this process. While students may submit this application throughout the year, graduate students wishing to be considered for work-study must submit their FAFSA each year by March 2 for the upcoming academic year. All domestic graduate students expecting campus support must file the FAFSA on time annually.

The combination of loans, work-study, fellowships, fee remissions, and health insurance awards cannot exceed the budget used for financial aid eligibility determination. Your aid package may change if you receive fellowships or awards during the year.

For more information about loans, work-study, and other financial aid, refer to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Graduate Student page and the Money Matters page.

A variety of financial assistance, in the form of awards, fellowships, scholarships, stipends, teaching Assistantships and tuition waivers, is offered by the Department of Music, the UCSB Music Affiliates, and the Graduate Division, and is available to talented and academically qualified students.  If you are an international applicant, please contact Carly Yartz or the faculty member in charge of your area of study for further information.

More information about Financial Assistance


There are a variety of sources for financial support.  Please visit the Music Department Graduate Financial Support page, the Graduate Division's Financial Support page, and the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships page for more information.

All applicants will be considered for departmental fellowships and teaching assistantships and all doctoral applicants will also be considered for central fellowships as long as all admissions deadlines and requirements are met. There is no separate application.

Generally speaking, the Music Department at UCSB tries to provide all accepted students a funding offer of some sort.

International students are eligible for most forms of merit-based support.  However, they are not eligible to apply for need-based financial aid.

It is not possible to work full time and complete a degree in the music department at UCSB.  Also, living in Santa Barbara, or close proximity, is important.



Our programs are in Performance, Composition, Theory, Musicology, and Ethnomusicology. We do not have a pedagogy program, but offer pedagogy courses occasionally.

No, we do not. The individual interaction of faculty and students that comes from classroom and one-on-one instruction is an important part of our program.

We require full-time status and are open only to those selected by our application process.

Yes, as time allows, you are welcome and encouraged to take courses outside the department.

The MM-only program takes two years, the DMA-only program takes 3-4 years, and the MM/DMA program takes about 4 years to complete both degrees. The MA-only program takes 2-3 years, the PhD-only degree takes 5-8 years, and the MA/PhD program takes 5-8 years to complete both degrees. The timeframe varies based on the degree type and emphasis. Please see the individual area information on the Areas of Study page for emphasis-specific time to completion. The Graduate Division's Time-to-Degree Tables offer university-required timeframes.

The UCSB Department of Music supports and encourages students who wish to do graduate-level work in both performance and academic areas. Students may either pursue multiple degree objectives, or combine high-level course work or performance opportunities with the degree program of their choice.  Music graduate students in all areas are welcome to audition for ensembles and take one-on-one lessons with faculty.


International Students

Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS.  The university minimum TOEFL score requirement is 550 when taking the paper based test (PBT) and 80 when taking the internet based test (IBT). The university minimum IELTS score for consideration is an Overall Band Score of 7.  Exemptions will be considered for students who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at an institution whose official language of instruction is English. Applicants must provide final/official transcripts indicating (1) completion of the degree program and (2) English as the official language of instruction.

Applications are not considered complete without the test scores from either the TOEFL or IELTS tests.

No, the only difference will be in requirements of English proficiency and items related to the visa.




If you have any questions that have not been answered, please contact the Graduate Advisor.

Student Stories


Jared Holton, PhD Candidate

Focus on Ethnomusicology

Jared Holton is a doctoral candidate and Chancellor's fellow in Ethnomusicology with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Global Studies at UCSB. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano performance, intercultural studies, and music education, with over seven years experience teaching private and classroom-based music curricula. On the stage, his performances range from solo piano concerts, collaborative work in the Western Classical repertoire, and most recently as 'ud and vocal performer with the Middle East Ensemble at UCSB. He came to UCSB after nearly five years of teaching music in Western Libya within several institutions, namely the University of Tripoli, and performing music with a variety of local and expatriate musicians. 

His research topic investigates the transmission and effectivity of the ma'luf tradition, an Andalusian music within Tunisia and Libya. This project explores the historical and ethnographic circulations of Andalusian music between coastal cities and across political borders, and how movement and consistent human migration have sustained these traditions. Other research interests include the connections between music, religion, and soundscapes; globalization and musical practices; and music pedagogy.