Master of Music (MMus) Degree in the field of Orchestral Conducting

Program Learning Outcomes for the MMus Degree

Upon completing the MMus degree, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate technical and musical competence in performance, composition, or historical scholarship at a professional level.
  2. Develop advanced analytical skills in music theory and a deep understanding of how those skills inform music performance.
  3. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the relationship between music history and music performance.
  4. Develop career development skills that complement their professional-level performance skills.

Requirements for the MMus Degree  

The MMUS degrees can be thesis or non-thesis master's degrees depending on the field declared. For general university requirements for thesis master's degrees, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. For general university requirements for non-thesis master's degrees, please see Non-Thesis Master’s Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. Students pursuing the MMus degree programs must complete:

  • A minimum of 43-54 credit hours depending on field of study to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate-level study (coursework at the 500-level or above).
  • A minimum of 24 credit hours must be taken at Rice University.
  • A minimum residency enrollment of one fall or spring semester of full-time graduate study at Rice University.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.67.
  • A minimum GPA of 2.67 in required coursework.

Students completing the MMus degree in all fields of study must participate in core music, applied music, and other required music courses as well as in chamber music and large ensembles, plus electives. They are entitled to one hour of private lessons each week of each semester they are enrolled as an MMus degree candidate; private or group lessons beyond this may result in additional fees. 

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this degree program. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the program's academic advisor, or where applicable, the department or program's Director of Graduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the department or program's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.


Total Credit Hours Required for the MMus Degree in the field of Orchestral Conducting 47

Degree Requirements

Conducting Requirements 1
MUSI 637ADVANCED CONDUCTING FOR MAJORS (minimum of 4 semesters)3
MUSI 533GRADUATE CONDUCTING SEMINAR (minimum of 4 semesters)1
MUSI 635ADVANCED ORCHESTRA (minimum of 2 semesters)2
Performance Technique Coursework
Select 4 from the following:4
ORCHESTRAL REPERTOIRE (001 Orchestral Repertoire - Violin)
ORCHESTRAL REPERTOIRE (005 Orchestral Repertoire - Woodwind)
ORCHESTRAL REPERTOIRE (006 Orchestral Repertoire - Brass )
ORCHESTRAL REPERTOIRE (007 Orchestral Repertoire - Percussion )
Academic Coursework
Other Requirements
Select 6 credit hours from Elective Requirements (see below for course list) 26
Select 8 credit hours (minimum of 4 semesters) from Concentration Lessons (see below for course list)8
Proficiencies 3
Students must demonstrate the following proficiencies:
Piano proficiency
Aural skills proficiency
Total Credit Hours47

Other Requirements

Students must complete 6 credit hours from the Elective Requirements, and 2 courses from the Performance Coursework lists below.  

Other Requirements
Elective Requirements 26
Select 6 credit hours from the following:
Any course at the 300-level or above
Any language course at the 100-level or above
Any Music Theory, Music History, or Music Career and Skills Enhancement course
Secondary Lessons (any course between MUSI 251 and MUSI 297 with the exception of MUSI 281)
Concentration Lessons (private vocal and/or instrumental study)8
Select 8 credit hours from the following:
Any course between MUSI 351 and MUSI 373
Any course between MUSI 381 and MUSI 398
Footnotes and Additional Information

Policies for the MMus Degree 

Shepherd School of Music Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the Shepherd School of Music publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:


For Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, and Orchestral Conducting applicants, an audition is required. Composition applicants must submit portfolios, and Musicology applicants must provide samples of their written work. Musicology applicants must also complete advanced music tests as well as the Graduate Record Examination for admission consideration.

Academic Standards

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Further information on curricular requirements for all majors and degree programs is available from the Shepherd School of Music.

Grading Policy

A minimum grade of B- (2.67 grade points) is expected of all music students in their major applied area. A grade of C+ (2.33 grade points) or lower is considered unsatisfactory and will be evaluated in the following manner:

A music major who receives a grade of C+ (2.33 grade points) or lower in their major applied area will be placed on music probation. Music probation signifies that the student’s work has been sufficiently unsatisfactory to preclude graduation unless marked improvement is achieved promptly. A student on music probation may be absent from class only for extraordinary reasons and may not represent the school in any public function not directly a part of a degree program.

If a student receives a second semester of C+ (2.33 grade points) or lower in their major applied area, whether for consecutive semesters or not, the student will be discontinued as a music performance major and merit scholarship from the Shepherd School will be discontinued.

Note: For music history and musicology majors a grade of  C+ (2.33 grade points) or lower in any music history course is considered unsatisfactory and will be evaluated as above.

Graduate degree requirement: a minimum grade point average of 2.67 is necessary for graduation. 

Leaves of Absence and Voluntary Withdrawal

Music majors must obtain permission in writing from the dean of the Shepherd School before requesting a leave of absence from the university. Requests must be in the dean’s office before the first day of classes in the semester for which leave is requested.

Music majors taking voluntary withdrawal from the university are not guaranteed readmission into the Shepherd School and may be asked to reapply/reaudition. Students should explain the reasons for their withdrawal to the dean before leaving campus.

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Shepherd School of Music website at:

Opportunities for the MMus Degree 

Other Musical Opportunities

Lectures and Performances

A visiting lecturer series, a professional concert series, and numerous distinguished visiting musicians contribute to the Shepherd School environment. The Houston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Chorus, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Masterworks Chorus, Da Camera, Context, and Chamber Music Houston, as well as the activities of other institutions of higher learning in the area, also provide exceptional opportunities for students to enjoy a wide spectrum of music.

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Shepherd School of Music website at: