The Master of Church Music degree is designed to be completed exclusively in summer sessions or in combination with evening sessions, meeting the needs of church musicians who are not able to take coursework during the traditional academic year. The program enables students to further their knowledge and skills in all aspects of church music with three emphasis areas:

  1. organ
  2. choral
  3. handbells

While courses are taught from a Lutheran perspective, all denominations are welcome and highly valued in the program. The ecumenical diversity brings an immeasurable strength to the teaching and ongoing discussion of church music.

The Objectives of the Church Music Degree

For all students:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of liturgical church music practices, musical forms, and the song of the church
  • Demonstrate the knowledge of music theory, and facility in arranging and composing
  • Demonstrate appropriate choral conducting techniques
  • Acquire the knowledge and skill to play and direct handbells
  • Possess knowledge on a specific church music topic
  • Demonstrate the ability to work with people

For Organ Emphasis:

  • Improve organ technique for use in service playing or recital
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the literature for the organ and of the styles of organ building

For Choral Emphasis:

  • Improve vocal technique for use in choral directing
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the literature for the choir

For Handbell Emphasis:

  • Improve all ringing techniques for use in performance, conducting, and composition of handbells
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to be a successful handbell choir director

Admission Procedure in Addition to Admission to the Graduate School

To gain degree seeking status in the Master of Church Music program, a student must:

  1. Successfully pass the following:
    1.  Qualifying audition with performance of two contrasting works on organ or voice (not required for Handbell Emphasis students);
    2. MUS 541 Graduate Theory Review course or MUS 642 Form and Analysis;
    3. Written examination in General Music History.
  2. Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the last two years (or last 48 credit hours) of undergraduate work. Candidacy status: To achieve candidacy status for the Master of Church Music degree the student must have successfully completed 24 hours of course work in the degree with a GPA of 3.0 or better and passed the Qualifying Audition, Theory and History examinations. All students must have achieved candidacy status before registering for MUS 591 Practicum or MUS 599 Recital, Service, Concert.

Transfer of Credit

Up to six semester hours of transfer credit may be accepted from a nationally accredited graduate school. (For organ emphasis, this includes three credits of applied organ; for choral emphasis this includes one credit of applied voice.) Only courses with a grade of A or B will be accepted for transfer credit. All transfer credits must be certified by the Registrar and approved for the degree program by the director of the program. All transfer credits should fall within a seven-year time limit for the degree. Exceptions must be approved by the director of the program.

Recital or Concert

Organ Emphasis

A recital or service of sacred organ music is required for the Master of Church Music (Organ Emphasis) degree. Students must have passed all portions of the qualifying audition and candidacy status. This recital/concert will be a minimum of 60 minutes in length, with appropriate repertoire chosen by the student and instructor and approved by the department. The intent of the recital or service is to demonstrate the heightened skills acquired through the course of study in organ and church music.

Recital dates can be selected by the student and the instructor based on the school calendar, but final approval must be given by the Music Department Chair.

In addition to playing the recital, the student is to research and analyze the selections, write a paper which presents the findings and provide brief program notes for the recital/concert. The paper is to be properly documented and presented to the music faculty at least three weeks prior to the recital/concert.  It is to present the historical facts and insights into the composition and composer which will be used in the interpretation of the music. The department may suggest revisions to this document before granting final approval and acceptance of the paper. A copy of the finished and approved paper will be catalogued and placed into the holdings of the university library.

Choral Emphasis

A concert or service of sacred music is required for the Master of Church Music (Choral Emphasis) degree. Students must have passed all portions of the qualifying audition and have candidacy status. This concert or service will be a minimum of 60 minutes in length, with appropriate repertoire chosen by the student and instructor and approved by the department. The intent of the concert or service is to demonstrate the heightened skills acquired through the course of study in conducting, church music, and/or singing.

Concert or service dates can be selected by the student and the instructor based on the school calendar, but final approval must be given by the Music Department Chair.

In addition to directing the concert or service, the student is to research and analyze the selections, write a paper which presents the findings, and provide brief program notes for the concert/service. This paper is to be properly documented and presented to the music faculty at least three weeks prior to the concert/service. It is to present the historical facts and insights into the composition and composer which will be used in the interpretation of the music. The department may suggest revisions to this document before granting final approval and acceptance of the paper. A copy of the finished and approved paper will be catalogued and placed into the holdings of the university library.

Handbell Emphasis

A concert or service of sacred handbell music is required for the Master of Church Music (Handbell Emphasis) degree. Students must have passed all four handbell courses:

MUS 585Handbell Methods3
MUS 586Conducting Handbells3
MUS 546Composing for Handbells3
MUS 686Handbell Performance3

and all portions of the qualifying audition and cadidacy status. This concert or service will be a minimum of 60 minutes in length, with appropriate repertoire chosen by the student and instructor and approved by the department. The intent of the concert or service is to demonstrate the heightened skills acquired through the course of study in the conducting, composition, and performance of handbells.

Concert or service dates can be selected by the student and the instructor based on the school calendar, but final approval must be given by the Music Department Chair.

In addition to directing the concert or service, the student is to research and analyze the selections, write a paper which presents the findings, and provide brief program notes for the concert/service. This paper is to be properly documented and presented to the music faculty at least three weeks prior to the concert/service. It is to present the historical facts and insights into the composition and composer which will be used in the interpretation of the music. The department may suggest revisions to this document before granting final approval and acceptance of the paper. A copy of the finished and approved paper will be catalogued and placed into the holdings of the university library.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is given at the end of the student’s course of study. It is designed to bring together all aspects of the student’s study and experiences into one culminating activity of two parts, a written and oral examination. Students must have achieved candidacy status and completed the recital/concert/service before attempting the comprehensive examination.

After the student has thoroughly prepared and completed all courses for the degree, a committee of music faculty will be selected. That committee will consist of two instructors of the student’s choosing and the Head of the Master of Church Music program. It is the student’s responsibility to secure the consent of each instructor to serve on his/her committee and to coordinate the meeting of this group.

A three-hour time period will be scheduled where the student can take the written portion of the examination. Each committee member will present questions from church music in general or from their area of expertise in particular which can be completed in a one-hour period.

The written examination will be graded and after a reasonable amount of time, an oral examination will be scheduled through the Music Department Office where the student and the instructors can meet and the student can complete and /or extend the answers given in the written examination. If at the end of the Oral Examination, the student’s answers are not satisfactory, the committee members may request a portion of the examination be retaken.

The Curriculum (36 credits)

Organ Emphasis

MUS 551Choral Conducting3
MUS 585Handbell Methods3
MUS 565Survey of Christian Hymnody3
MUS 569Issues in Church Music3
MUS 571Music Heritage of the Church3
MUS 541Graduate Theory Review3
or MUS 642 Form and Analysis
MUS 545Composing & Arranging3
MUS 521Applied Organ (minimum of 6 credits)6
MUS 522Organ Literature3
MUS 599Recital, Service, Concert (Recital Paper)3
MUS 642Form and Analysis3
Comprehensive Exams (Written and Oral)
Total Hours36

Choral Emphasis

MUS 585Handbell Methods3
MUS 565Survey of Christian Hymnody3
MUS 569Issues in Church Music3
MUS 571Music Heritage of the Church3
MUS 541Graduate Theory Review3
or MUS 642 Form and Analysis
MUS 545Composing & Arranging3
MUS 551Choral Conducting6
MUS 511Applied Voice3
MUS 552Choral Literature3
MUS 599Recital, Service, Concert (Recital Paper)3
MUS 642Form and Analysis3
Comprehensive Exams (Written and Oral)
Total Hours36

Handbell Emphasis

MUS 551Choral Conducting3
MUS 565Survey of Christian Hymnody3
MUS 569Issues in Church Music3
MUS 571Music Heritage of the Church3
MUS 541Graduate Theory Review3
or MUS 642 Form and Analysis
MUS 545Composing & Arranging3
MUS 585Handbell Methods3
MUS 586Conducting Handbells3
MUS 546Composing for Handbells3
MUS 586Conducting Handbells3
MUS 599Recital, Service, Concert (Recital Paper)3
MUS 642Form and Analysis3
Comprehensive Exams (Written and Oral)
Total Hours36