-This program is not yet approved for international students-

Offering an unparalleled opportunity for professional development on the podium, this cutting edge program provides comprehensive training for the 21st-century choral conductor.

Studies in choral literature and choral development intersect with coursework in liturgical music, the history of sacred music, and theoretical studies to provide an outstanding basis for leadership in the choral field. All of these competencies are designed to support the development of conducting craft and artistry at the highest professional level. Individual instruction as well as seminar formats on conducting and rehearsal technique prepare our students to lead The Repertory Chorus, a fully professional ensemble for the training of choral conductors. In addition to this experience of leadership in a professional recital series format, our conducting students have the opportunity to lead student ensembles in sectional rehearsals, balancing the ideals of professional level achievement with the challenges of choral development in younger singers.

The Repertory Chorus

The Repertory Chorus is a fully professional choir which serves as the resident training ensemble for graduate students in choral conducting. Drawn from among the Capital's best choral singers, this ensemble performs a curated series of choral concerts and liturgical services that showcase a carefully curated selection of sacred choral masterworks conducted by CUA's graduate choral conducting studio, under the direction of Dr. Timothy McDonnell, head of graduate choral studies at the Rome School. For more information on the Master of Music in Choral Conducting, please contact Dr. Timothy McDonnell, mcdonnell@cua.edu.

Entrance Requirements

Prior to submitting a formal application, persons interested in the Master of Music in Sacred Music degree must communicate with the director of the program.  A formal application to the M.M. in Sacred Music will include the following:

  1. Letter of Application
  2. Current Curriculum Vitae
  3. Personal Statement relating candidate's professional goals to the practice of Sacred Music (500-1000 words
  4. Pre-screening Performance Video (does not need to be from an actual performance): 20-30 minutes of conducting video (where the candidate is visible from the front) demonstrating works of contrasting styles; it is preferred to show examples of both rehearsal and performance, if possible.  Live on-campus audition requirements will be stipulated upon invitation to campus.

    Invitation to campus for auditions, interviews, and testing is based on evaluation of the Applicants will perform for the faculty at the time of their visit.
  5. Demonstration of conducting skills is required for both concentrations. Testing consists of demonstration of keyboard proficiency, open score-reading and sight-singing. Repertoire for conducting auditions will be stipulated upon invitation to the live on-campus audition. Auditions are held once a year, early in the spring semester; detailed information is posted on the music website.

All students entering the Master of Music degree program in Sacred Music must take the Music Theory Placement Examination and the Music History Placement Examination. These placement exams are administered by the Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition faculty, and are always offered in-person on the Saturday before a given term begins.

Musical Prerequisites

The undergraduate music degree (typically the Bachelor of Music degree) is a prerequisite except in extraordinary circumstances. Graduate entrance examinations will be administered.


Graduation Requirements

  1. The student may schedule comprehensive examinations (MUS 698A w/ classes; MUS 698B w/o classes) following the adviser's written approval. Four two-hour examinations are administered over a two-day period; the student must pass all four examinations.

    The examinations will be given as per the following schedule:

    1. Day 1:

      1. Liturgical Studies (two hours)
        TRS 741A Liturgy, Theological and Historical Perspectives
        TRS 744 Eucharist: A Liturgical Theology / Sacred and Choral Music (two hours)
        MUS 584 Liturgical Music
        MUS 746 Seminar in Sacred Music 

    2. Day 2:

      1. Music History and Music Theory (two hours)
        MUS 556 History of Sacred Music
        MUS 712 Analytical Techniques II / Music Literature* (two hours)
        MUS 634 Choral Seminar (4 semesters)

    3. *Candidate takes the Music Literature portion of the examination based on his/her MMSM specialization and coursework: choral music.

  2. A one-hour public recital (MUS 697A w/classes; MUS 697B w/o classes) in the area of concentration is required.

Minor in Latin American Music

Requirements listed above apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. A minimum of 44 hours of graduate work is required.
  2. Six semester hours of Latin American music electives are required.A significant portion of the student's performance repertoire for the final recital must consist of music by Iberian or Latin American composers. For the composer, a significant portion of compositions must be works for Hispanic/Latin American liturgical needs.