Diagnostic Examinations

Following admission to the Graduate College and School of Music, and prior to initial registration, all entering degree students are required to complete diagnostic examinations in the following areas:

  • Music theory
  • Music history
  • Expository writing
  • Other diagnostic examinations may be given in areas such as music education, conducting, jazz, vocal diction, etc.

Students taking these examinations will be notified of the exact date, time, and location. Diagnostic Examinations are generally administered a week before classes begin in the Fall semester. Students must register for these examinations by completing and submitting the Departmental Diagnostic Examination Registration Form no later than three weeks before the scheduled date of the Exam.

All entering students are encouraged to diligently prepare for these examinations and review their undergraduate knowledge and experiences in music theory, analysis, music history, and written expression. It is assumed that adequate training has been experienced at the undergraduate level and that review and preparation will enable most students to register for regular graduate-level courses in the above areas immediately upon entering the degree program.

It should be emphasized that these examinations are not intended as exclusion devices, but rather as a means of ascertaining levels of competency in the examined areas. Students who score below certain standards will be counseled as to appropriate means for addressing deficiencies. Any deficiencies which are determined by the diagnostic examinations must be remediated in a manner to be determined by the appropriate faculty (music history, music theory, diction, etc.) and the Associate Director for Graduate Studies. All remedial work must be completed by the end of the second semester of graduate study. Students with deficiencies may not register for core classes in those areas. Graduate review and other remedial courses do not satisfy minimum degree requirements.

There are several theory and history texts that may be of benefit in preparation for the diagnostic examinations. Among those recommended are:

Aldwell, Edward, and Schacter, Carl. Harmony and Voice Leading, 2nd ed.
New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1989

Kostka, Stefan, and Payne, Dorothy. Tonal Harmony, 6th ed.
New York:McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Turek, Ralph. Theory for Today’s Musician. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Burkholder, Peter J. A History of Western Music. 8th edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

Wright, Craig, and Bryan Simms. Music in Western Civilization. Belmont, CA: Thomson-Schirmer, 2006.

Lee, Kui-Im. The Art of Part Writing: Tonal Theory Review through Step by Step Voice-leading Practice. Dryden, NY: Ithaca Press, 2011.

Study Guide

Download a Study Guide for Diagnostic Examinations: .DOC | .PDF  (requires Adobe Reader)

Theory Proficiency

Theory Survey for Graduates (580:180g) or appropriate courses in the undergraduate theory sequence are required of all graduate students who do not demonstrate adequate proficiency as a result of taking the Departmental Diagnostic Examination.

History Proficiency

Students failing one or more sections of the Music History diagnostic exam must remedy each deficiency. This can be done in the following manner:

Take and pass the course and exams in Music History Survey for Graduates (MUS HIST 3800/5800); MUS HIST 1010, 1020, and/or 1030 (depending on diagnostic results) may be substituted for History Survey if the survey course is not available. First preference for available seats in the MUS HIST 1010/1020/1030 classes are given to enrolled undergraduates.

Expository Writing Proficiency

Students will choose one of several given topics for discussion in a written essay.  These topics are general in nature and will not require additional study for historical or theoretical content. The essay will be assessed for form, structure, argument and style.  Students failing the Expository Writing diagnostic exam may be asked to retake the exam, complete a writing course, or work with the university Writing Center.