Jazz Studies (MM)
The Master of Music in Jazz Studies program is open to select candidates with an undergraduate degree in music and significant experience in jazz and contemporary music. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in a non-music discipline but with extensive training and experience in the jazz idiom will also be considered.
The 32-credit Jazz Studies master’s degree program can be completed in one academic year and provides a solid foundation in contemporary music. Throughout your time at UArts, you will get advanced private instruction in your major area, in order to develop professional-level artistry and skills. You’ll focus on your individual career goals and develop your musical identity.
Jazz in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia region serves as a separate classroom: Its vibrant jazz music scene inspires and propels those seeking to expand their creativity and further their professional music careers. UArts ensembles have performed outside of Philadelphia, at festivals like the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in Vermont, the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Delaware and numerous other events and locations.
During the late 1940s, John Coltrane and Jimmy Heath would frequent the Philadelphia library and listen to Western classical music such as Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Jazz icons like Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Bill Evans studied and analyzed everything from European classical to various world musics and American popular forms.
That kind of curiosity—which crosses genres and the ability to analyze and digest music theory and practice of all kinds—are paramount in UArts’ Master of Music in Jazz Studies program. The idiom of jazz and its unlimited influences drive the program’s faculty and the students; it is the music that surrounds the students each day in classrooms and studios and throughout the night, as they play in clubs and performances and on radio stations in and around Philadelphia. Graduate students learn, perform and innovate the genre.
The program is centered on five outcomes designed to prepare graduates for successful careers as performers, educators, directors, producers and a host of positions in the music industry.
Upon completion of the Jazz Studies (MM) program, graduates will
demonstrate an advanced understanding of the jazz idiom and improvisatory process.
possess an advanced ability for the analysis of music from various periods and styles, demonstrating theoretical and historical understanding and the ability to transform that understanding into personal creative activity.
exhibit excellence as performers and composers through the development of original material, technical mastery of their instruments, interpretive skill, ensemble experience, superior listening ability and the development of a personal conceptual approach to improvisation and composition.
demonstrate the verbal and written communication skills necessary to be effective pedagogues, authors, advocates of their work and overall contributors to public discourse in their field.
have developed the ability to think independently in the acquisition, assimilation and application of knowledge that will shape their artistic identity, musical development and career path.
The interdisciplinary nature of the master's program allows you to take classes in the School of Music such as Composing for Performers, MIDI and Music Technology and Music Journalism. In MIDI and Music Technology, you’ll learn to write, perform and record original music for film, while learning to produce and shoot your own video. You’ll experience a hands-on study of writing in Music Journalism through researching, fostering industry contacts, interviewing and learning the business of writing while learning through modules at WRTI, a local radio station known for its jazz programming. Surrounded by talented students and faculty from other disciplines at UArts, you’ll have numerous opportunities to collaborate with visual artists, dancers, actors and other artists.
The Jazz Studies master’s program curriculum includes an internship, through which you’ll gain valuable experience and contacts that will benefit you after graduation. Recent internships have included
- observing and participating in pit bands for Philadelphia theater productions;
- writing and editing for leading jazz publications, including All About Jazz and Modern Drummer;
- working in arts administration for the Philly Pops; and
- assisting jazz bass legend Jymie Merritt in rehearsing and documenting his original music.
A Jazz Scholar track is offered for students who wish to focus on nonperformance areas of the curriculum. These areas may include
- jazz composition and arranging,
- jazz history and research,
- jazz pedagogy, and
- jazz journalism.
Students approved for the Jazz Scholar track will follow a modified curricular plan developed in cooperation with the program director.
You’ll get to perform with a variety of ensembles, including the Graduate Jazz Ensemble and “Z” Big Band. Typically, graduate students complete two semesters of Graduate Ensemble and two semesters of an ensemble that is co-populated with advanced undergraduates. Students have also proposed and been approved to create specialty ensembles that feature their own compositions.
Performances include a graduate recital during spring semester, the Graduate Jazz Festival and ensemble concerts. Students may concentrate in bass (acoustic and electric), drumset, guitar, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, vibraphone, voice and woodwinds.
- Ambient Ensemble
- Big Band
- Brass Ensemble
- Femme Ensemble: an instrumental ensemble for women, nonbinary and gender-neutral students
- Graduate Jazz Ensemble
- Great American Songbook
- Hip Hop
- Jazz Composers
- Jazz Singers
- Original Music Ensemble
- Rick Kerber Tribute Ensemble: an 18–20 piece Lab Band
- Rock Ensemble
- Saxophone Quartets
- Stax Records Ensemble
- Transfusion Ensemble
- Vocal Session Ensemble for rhythm sections and individual vocalists
Duration: One year, full time*
Total credits: 32
Course selections are only examples; your options might vary.
Graduate Arranging (2c)
Advanced Transcription & Analysis (3c)
Applied Major Instruction (3c)
Ensembles (take 2) (2c)
Graduate Improvisation I (2c)
MIDI & Music Technology (2c)
Graduate Professional Internship (1c)
Graduate Forum (1c)
Composing for Performers (2c)
Applied Major Instruction (3c)
Ensembles (take 2) (2c)
Graduate Project/Recital (3c)
Graduate Improvisation II (2c)
Music Journalism (1c)
Graduate Professional Internship (1c)
Jazz Pedagogy (1c)
Graduate Forum (1c)
Explore the full curriculum
“The undeclared mandate of creative artists is to speak the language of the time in which they live or push that language forward — in order to do so, they need an historical and sociological context for the music they’re experiencing.” – Don Glanden, Jazz Studies Program Director
Jazz Studies Program Director Don Glanden earned a Bachelor of Music in Composition from University of North Texas in Denton and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Glanden has performed with many great jazz artists, including Patti Austin, Marcus Belgrave, Randy Brecker, Donald Byrd, Eddie Gomez, Henry Mancini and Ernie Watts. He has produced eight albums, including two as a leader, Sudden Life and Only Believe. Glanden has also published numerous articles in jazz publications such as Downbeat, Jazz Improv and All About Jazz, and is the producer and director of Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary.
Contact Jazz Studies Program Director Don Glanden at
Jazz Studies faculty include celebrated and accomplished musicians, such as
- Dave Allen MM ’18 (Guitar);
- Steve Beskrone;
- Matt Davis;
- Chris Farr BM ’94 (Saxophone), MAT ’95 (Music Education);
- Matt Gallagher MM ’01 (Jazz Studies);
- J. Michael Harrison;
- Micah Jones MM ’99 (Jazz Studies);
- Tom Spiker;
- Tony Miceli BM ’82 (Percussion);
- John Swana.
Distinguished Affiliate Faculty
The program’s outstanding, Philadelphia-based faculty is complemented by an affiliate faculty comprising world-renowned artist-educators. Students study regularly with high-profile musicians in course modules, masterclasses, lessons and workshops that are presented in both online and on-campus settings.
- Peter Bernstein
- Adam Blackstone
- Johnathan Blake
- Robin Eubanks
- Joel Frahm
- Roberta Gambarini
- Jamar Jones
- John LaBarbera
- Sherrie Maricle
- Aaron Parks
- Lewis Porter
- Ben Street
Alumni & Careers
Jazz Studies alumni pursue careers as arts administrators, composers, educators, music directors, performers, producers, and music writers and editors. The interdisciplinary curriculum allows you to focus on your individual career goals and gain real-world experience, preparing you for a variety of roles in the music industry.
“My experience at University of the Arts is something I draw on every day while teaching and performing. My education at University of the Arts was a complete immersion into jazz. The core curriculum was challenging and presented me with new ideas and concepts. Guest artists were a regular part of the education, and the UArts faculty was always available to give guidance.” – Tom Palmer MM ’04 (Jazz Studies), Assistant Professor of Music, University of Delaware; Director, Jazz Ensemble I and II
“Because the program was small in size, I was able to get a whole lot out of every single teacher. Since you go through this intense program with a small group of graduate students, you learn from other people in the program and form this bond, which is really strong.” – Dr. James Moore MM ’06 (Jazz Studies), Vice President for Academic Affairs, West Virginia Wesleyan College; Trumpeter, Roger Humphries Quintet
“The curriculum seemed much more creative and focused than other universities—every class offered something very valuable for a developing musician. A big thanks goes to Don Glanden and Marc Dicciani. If they hadn’t suggested that I submit my transcriptions to Modern Drummer, who knows where I’d be!” – Mike Dawson MM ’04 (Jazz Studies), Managing Editor, Modern Drummer Magazine; Lecturer in Jazz Journalism, University of the Arts
UArts Graduate Ensemble on Spotify
Graduate Jazz Studies (MM) YouTube Channel
Jazz Studies (MM) Facebook
How to Apply
Spring 2024 priority deadline: Applications received by October 15 will be among the first considered for admission and scholarship. We will not accept any applications or materials after January 9.
Fall 2024 priority deadline: Applications received by February 15 will be among the first considered for admission and scholarship. We will not accept any applications or materials after August 12.
$60 nonrefundable application fee
If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.
Official undergraduate transcript
Official transcripts must be sent directly from the college where you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service.
If you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree outside the U.S., see our transcript requirements for international graduate applicants below.
Two letters of recommendation
Two letters of recommendation from professors or professionals in your field, who are familiar with your capabilities, are required.
Applicants must enter contact information for their recommenders on the application. An email will be sent to recommenders providing a link for them to upload their letter. Letters of recommendation may also be submitted by the recommender via email to email@example.com.
Statement of intent
Statements should be a minimum of one to two pages and detail your professional plans, interests and goals. What do you hope to gain by your studies at the graduate level?
Your statement of intent may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal.
Your résumé should highlight all professional accomplishments, including employment, internships, honors, notable public performances, recordings, reviews, and publications.
Your résumé may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal.
MM applicants must submit performance video records that best demonstrate their current level of ability with regard to improvisational skill, mastery of their instrument, and overall musicality. Please submit three selections that represent different stylistic areas and rhythmic approaches (ballad, swing, latin, etc.). The total time for all three videos combined should be approximately 20 minutes.
The portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission.
After your application has been processed, you will be contacted for a personal interview, conducted by the program director. Interviews may be conducted on campus, or by phone or Zoom.
In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants or those with foreign credentials must submit
Official undergraduate transcripts
Applicants who have academic documents from institutions outside the U.S. are required to provide original, attested or certified true copies of academic records from the institution where they have earned, or will earn, their undergraduate degree. These records should be in the original language in which they were issued.
For postsecondary school records that are not in English, applicants must also submit an official translation of all their academic documents. Translations must be a complete, literal, word-for-word translation in the same format of the original academic document. Transcripts cannot be translated by the student or any members of their family. Acceptable translators include English teachers or other school officials, professional translators, or a local EducationUSA office.
Admissions might request that students obtain a course-by-course credential evaluation if we are not able to confirm the equivalent level to a U.S. undergraduate degree.
Proof of English proficiency
For international applicants whose primary language is not English, and who have not completed two semesters of college-level English in a college/university where the language of instruction is English, proof of English proficiency is required.
Recommended minimums for English proficiency exams are as follows.
- TOEFL iBT: 79
- TOEFL essentials: 8.5
- IELTS: 6.5
- Pearson PTE Academic: 53
- Duolingo: 100
Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study might receive an offer of conditional admission that requires enrollment in the university’s English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies in the fall semester.
In special circumstances, applicants who do not have access to the TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo English tests can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and might require an interview.
I-20/F-1 international student visa information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by University of the Arts’ International Student Programs office, regarding visa counseling and all materials required to create an I-20 in order to obtain an F-1 visa. Contact Mara Flamm, director of international student programs, with any questions regarding your I-20 or F-1 visa.
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