Master of Sacred Music

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The Master of Sacred Music (MSM) degree is a two to five-year post-baccalaureate degree that combines academic and musical studies. The closure of graduate programs in organ performance across America has made the MSM increasingly the de facto degree for advanced studies in church music; MSM graduates who wish to continue their studies have the option of academic (PhD or ThD) or applied (DMA) tracks. Most MSM programs are limited to choral conducting and organ performance, as these two applied fields are the primary occupations of church music directors. Piano Performance is usually taught as a subdiscipline or acquired separately.

There are eight Master of Sacred Music programs in the United States. These programs are located at the Boston University School of Theology, College of Jewish Music's H.L. Miller Cantorial School, Duquesne University, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion's School of Sacred Music, Emory University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Notre Dame and Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music. Boston University's program is the oldest (BU is also host to the oldest higher education program in music in the United States) and Notre Dame's[1] is the youngest (admitting its first students for Fall 2005). An MSM program at Union Theological Seminary was dissolved when UTS' Institute of Sacred Music was dissolved and moved to Yale.[2]

As of November 14, 2012, Luther Seminary has ended their MSM program. Current students will be permitted to finish out their studies, but no new applicants will be accepted. This decision was made by President Richard Bliese, against the recommendations of the seminary's Educational Leadership Committee (ELC).

Related Programs[edit]

Several institutions of higher education offer masters programs in Liturgical Music or a Master of Music programs in Sacred Music. These are distinguished from MSM programs by their primary focus on the applied music components. An example of such programs can be found at the Catholic University of America's Institute of Sacred Music, which recently converted its masters and doctoral programs in liturgical music to MM and DMA programs in sacred music. Another example is University of Alabama's MM degree [1] in Church Music.

Claremont Graduate University offers a Master of Arts in Church Music, and it is the only institution offering the terminal Doctor of Church Music (D.C.M.).[3]

External links[edit]

  • Musica Sacra - Official Journal of the Church Music Association of America.
  • [2] - American Guild of Organists list of programs


  1. ^ [ "University of Notre Dame"] Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  2. ^ [ "Yale Institute of Sacred Music"] Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Claremont Graduate University