The College of Arts and Architecture

Master of Music in Conducting - Choral

Program Goals

The Master of Music in Conducting degree is designed for the preparation of professional conductors, with options in choral, orchestral, and band/wind ensemble music.

The degree program provides students the opportunities to develop their conducting and rehearsal techniques, explore a large body of literature appropriate to the area of study, refine skills in music analysis and score preparation, and expand their knowledge in music theory and history.

Students are also encouraged to continue their studies in individual performance or composition.

Program Description

The curriculum includes individual instruction in conducting gesture, score preparation, and rehearsal technique. Significant conducting experiences with University ensembles are included, and students are assigned to at least one year of service as the assistant conductor of one or more ensembles.

The conducting degree requires a minimum of 36 credits of course work. At least half of these credits must be at the 500-level or above, and at least 30 credits must be taken at the University Park campus.  A conducting recital, master's paper, and an oral examination are also required.

Knowledge of the history and theory of Western art music must be demonstrated by satisfactory completion of competency examinations. These examinations occur prior to the start of each semester. Unsatisfactory performance on the competency examinations may result in the necessity for enrollment in remedial course work without credit toward the degree.

Degree candidates receive extensive podium time and, therefore, enrollment is limited to ensure that all candidates can receive this important experience.  Before beginning the application process, please contact the appropriate faculty member to ensure that applications for new students are being accepted.

The 36-credit requirement is as follows:

Requirements Credits
Choral conducting 8
Studies in choral literature 8
Integrative conducting seminar 2
Music theory, music history, or music literature in an area other than the chosen option 9
Introduction to music reference and research materials 2
Graduate degree performance 1
Master's Paper 1
Electives 5

In addition, choral conducting students must demonstrate competency in vocal pedagogy and in English, German, French, Italian, and Latin diction.  Competency may either be determined by completion of diction and vocal pedagogy courses taken during the undergraduate degree (with a grade of B or better), or by the successful completion of placement tests.  Students failing to meet minimum competencies in one or more parts of these tests must either enroll in appropriate courses or complete special projects administered in the choral conducting and literature classes.

Admission Requirements

A candidate applying for admission to the master's program in choral conducting should have completed a recognized degree in music with at least a 2.8 junior-senior grade-point average. Transcripts should include the following:

  • 12-16 credits in music theory and analysis
  • 6-9 credits in music history
  • Courses in conducting, counterpoint, form and analysis, and orchestration

Candidates who are deficient in any area above may be considered for admission, but should be prepared to make up the deficiency without credit toward the degree if accepted.

Student Aid

For an overview of current tuition and fees as well as the financial assistance programs available to graduate students at Penn State, see Graduate Financial Aid.

Admission Procedure Summary

Please click on "conducting" in graduate audition requirements to discover what is required. Then, access Application Process for directions.

Please note that ALL application materials are to be uploaded to the online application EXCEPT the pre-screening DVD recording.  Upload the following materials:

  • an official transcript - NOT an advising or unofficial transcript - (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction)
    Chinese applicants must also submit an official graduation certificate and official diploma, in Chinese and translated English, if the applicant has already earned the previous degree(s).
  • names of two references and their email addresses (Penn State will contact your references directly)
  • statement of purpose (your professional goals and how graduate study will help you attain these goals)
  • list of 30 choral or choral/orchestral compositions that you consider to be the most historically or musically significant, with one-paragraph annotations for 10 of your selections that justify their inclusion.
  • repertoire list of works that you have studied in preparation for your career as a conductor, indicating works that you have conducted in performance, in rehearsal, or have studied
  • application for School of Music Graduate Assistantship (optional), see Graduate Financial Aid

The following should be sent through the mail:

Alternatively, pre-screening video may be submitted electronically.To do this, go to and create an account (if you do not have one). Upload your video following the instructions provided. Under the video settings, choose "unlisted", and email your link to

The following should be submitted to Penn State by the testing agencies at your request.  Select "Penn State University" as the destination for your TOEFL or IELTS scores by selecting the correct school code below:

  • TOEFL and IELTS scores (international applicants only) - School Code 2660

Mail pre-screening DVD recordings to:

School of Music Graduate Admissions
The Pennsylvania State University
233 Music Building I
University Park, PA 16802-1901

Phone: 814-865-5568
Fax: 814-865-6785