Jazz Studies Graduate Ensemble

Jazz Studies (MM)

The Master of Music in Jazz Studies program is open to select candidates with an undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies or an undergraduate degree in music with significant experience in jazz and contemporary music. 

Learning Objectives

The 32-credit Jazz Studies master’s 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 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island and numerous other 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

  1. demonstrate an advanced understanding of the jazz idiom and improvisatory process.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 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.

UArts Ensembles

  • Ambient Ensemble
  • Big Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Chorus
  • Femme Ensemble: an instrumental ensemble for women, nonbinary and gender-neutral students
  • Graduate Jazz Ensemble
  • Great American Songbook
  • Handbells
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz Composers
  • Jazz Singers
  • Motown
  • Original Music Ensemble
  • Rick Kerber Tribute Ensemble: an 18–20 piece Lab Band
  • Rock Ensemble
  • Saxophone Quartets
  • Soul
  • Stax Records Ensemble
  • Transfusion Ensemble
  • Vocal Session Ensemble for rhythm sections and individual vocalists

Sample Curriculum

Duration: One year, full time*
Total credits: 32

Course selections are only examples; your options might vary.

Expand all Collapse all
Fall (16 credits)

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)

Spring (16 credits)

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)



“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 Glandon, 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.
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);
  • Steve Fidyk;
  • Matt Gallagher MM ’01 (Jazz Studies);
  • J. Michael Harrison;
  • Micah Jones MM ’99 (Jazz Studies);
  • Randy Kapralick;
  • Tony Miceli BM ’82 (Percussion); and
  • 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

Faculty Spotlight

Micah Jones
Micah Jones


Bassist and producer who has performed with Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Patti LaBelle, Tiffany Jones, Patti LaBelle and others
UArts Pre-College Creative Jazz Institute Faculty Randy Kapralick
Randy Kapralick

Assistant Dean

Performer, composer and educator who has played with Aretha Franklin, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Four Tops, the Philly Pops and others
Don Glanden, Jazz Studies Director
Don Glanden

Jazz Studies Program Director

Jazz Studies (MM)
Musician, writer and filmmaker

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

My experience at the University of the Arts is something I draw on every day while teaching and performing.
— Tom Palmer '04, Asst. Professor, University of Delaware Jazz Studies (MM)

UArts Graduate Ensemble on Spotify

Graduate Jazz Studies (MM) YouTube Channel

Explore the Graduate Jazz Studies (MM) YouTube channel.

Jazz Studies (MM) Facebook

Visit the Jazz Studies (MM) program on Facebook.

How to Apply

Application Deadline
Fall 2021:
Applicants who submit the application form and all required supporting materials before February 1, 2021 will be prioritized for scholarship funding opportunities from the university. Students may continue to apply on a rolling basis after the Feb. 1 priority deadline and will be considered for admission and scholarships on a space-available basis.

Review graduate tuition, financial aid and scholarship information.

To apply, the following materials are required:

  • Application fee of $60 (nonrefundable; submitted with your application)

  • Official transcripts

    • Official transcripts from all prior undergraduate and graduate schools attended are required. Transcripts should be issued directly by the Registrar's Office at the college(s) attended and sent to the Office of Admissions, The University of the Arts, 320 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to gradcredentials@uarts.edu. For transcripts from outside the United States, please refer to the instructions provided below for international students.

  • Three letters of recommendation

    • Letters of recommendation may either be requested through the online application form, or mailed to the Office of Admissions. At least two must come from professors or professional in your field familiar with your capabilities and credentials. The third may be from a colleague, collaborator or a peer.

  • Statement of intent & resume

    • Your statement of intent & resume are uploaded and submitted as part of your online application. What do you hope to gain by your studies at the graduate level? Your resume should highlight all of your professional accomplishments including employment, internships, honors, exhibitions and publications.

  • Personal interview

    • After the application has been processed, each applicant is contacted for a personal interview conducted by the program director. Interviews will be conducted remotely via telephone or video call.

Music Auditions

Distance Auditions & Interviews
Auditioning during a scheduled remote audition day is preferred, unless circumstances prevent you from participating. In the event that you can’t make it to one of our audition dates, you can request an exception from the Office of Admissions. In that instance, you can submit a video recording of your audition. If your request is approved, follow the specific audition and interview submission instructions for your program of interest. Recorded auditions should be submitted via the GetAcceptd online submission platform.

Overview & Format
You will select an audition date on the application form. Your School of Music audition will happen in two steps.

Step one: You’ll submit your required material for review. Ensure that you are uploading all required materials for your desired major.

Step two: During your live remote audition day, you will take a virtual placement test. Some applicants might be asked to sight read materials. (Check your specific major requirements to find out about sight reading). You will also be asked to interview with the Jazz Studies program director one-on-one to review your submitted materials. You may also be invited to participate in a panel discussion with various School of Music faculty and students. 

Recorded Audition Guidelines for the School of Music
The repertoire for recorded auditions is the same as it is for remote auditions. Include a repertoire or program list (also clearly marked with your name and major), outlining titles, authors, composers and descriptions of the pieces you’ll be performing. Your video should not exceed 15 minutes. Complete and upload the appropriate audition/interview information form along with your audition and/or portfolio materials when you submit via GetAcceptd.

UArts reserves the right to re-audition or interview any applicant admitted on the basis of a video audition. In such cases, the university also reserves the right to reconsider and to withdraw the original offer of admission or scholarship, if necessary.

Remote Audition Dates

  • January 23, 2021

  • February 13, 2021

  • February 27, 2021

  • March 27, 2021

  • April 10, 2021

International Applicants

In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants or those with foreign credentials must submit:

  • Official transcripts

    • All transcripts from outside the United States must be in English and must be official. The Office of Admissions may request that international students obtain a transcript evaluation from a third-party credential evaluation service (such as World Education Services or Educational Credential Evaluators) in cases where further information is required to assess international credentials. 

  • Proof of English language proficiency

    • International students whose native language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test. A minimum TOEFL score of 79, IELTS score of 6.0, or Duolingo English Test score of 100 is required for admission. In lieu of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test, completion of Level 9 in the University of the Arts ESL Institute will be accepted.   

I20/F-1 International Student Visa Information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by the 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.

Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study may receive an offer of conditional admission that first requires enrollment in the University of the Arts' English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete Level 9 of ESL study in ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies.

In special circumstances, applicants who have not taken the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted in writing and include the reason for opting not to take the exams. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require an interview. A waiver may be considered for those applicants who enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university in the U.S. and successfully completed two semesters of college-level English, not taken in conjunction with ESL study, and earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those classes.

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