A USD performance on stage.


Be heard. Choose your path and earn your advanced degree in music at USD.

Master Your Music and Inspire Others

Let your passion become your career. Our program offers you affordability and flexibility with several specialization choices and multiple thesis/non-thesis tracks to customize your plan of study. USD offers the only master's of music degrees in the state, and our program has been accredited though NASM since 1956 and and by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

We provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to become a professional musician, whether you work as a performer, educator, scholar or a lifelong learner. We award over $240,000 each year in scholarships and opportunities for graduate assistantships, musical development, leadership growth and personal enrichment through mentored performances, classroom study, individual instruction and guided research. 


Degrees & Offerings

Music (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

This master’s degree provides several paths of specialization allowing you to dive deep into your area of interest. Whether you choose music history, conducting, collaborative piano or performance, it offers opportunities for musical performances, concerts, marching band competitions, festivals and recitals. The online music education specialization requires one three-day summer workshop.

View Admissions Requirements

Music: Music Education (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus and Online

This online program prepares students for an advanced level of K-12 teaching or for doctoral degree work in music education. The program requires 30 credit hours and includes both a thesis/non-thesis path in the areas of instrumental music education or vocal/choral music education. This flexible format offers all but one class online to meet the needs of the working public school teacher and the post-undergraduate looking for an advanced degree. The Summer Directors' Institute is part of the curriculum, allowing you to complete the program within two years.

View Admissions Requirements

Music: Music Performance (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Advance your vocal or instrumental skills as a musician through one-on-one mentorship. Pursue a variety of careers in the music industry, from teaching music theory and technique to developing your own solo repertoire and performance. This 30-credit hour program of study includes vocal music performance or instrumental music performance (woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings and keyboard).

View Admissions Requirements

Music: Music History (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Increase your knowledge of music in the western world from classical antiquity to the present. The music history specialization provides graduate-level training in the six style periods and introduction to world music, preparing you for further doctoral study or for a career as a music historian, college professor or music librarian. The program requires a thesis, 30 credit hours and proficiency in one foreign language.

View Admissions Requirements

Music: History of Musical Instruments (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The master of music degree with a specialization in history of musical instruments is designed to meet the needs of students with a wide variety of backgrounds, training and interests. Work in the National Music Museum, one of the greatest institutions of its kind in the world, and choose to focus on conservation, research, cataloging and others that best suit your interests.

View Admissions Requirements

Music: Collaborative Piano (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The master of music degree with a specialization in collaborative piano allows skilled pianists to complete lesson, coursework and performance requirements in vocal and instrumental duo, small chamber ensemble, choral ensemble and opera/musical theater. This selective, nurturing program provides extensive repertoire development, musical growth opportunities and preparation for further academic and professional work in the field of collaborative piano.

View Admissions Requirements

Music: Conducting (M.M.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Increase your technical skills and gain the advanced theoretical knowledge necessary for a career in the conducting field with a master's degree in conducting. You will have the option to focus on conducting specifically in the choral or instrumental realm, or take a mixture of both concentrations. This program prepares students for advanced level K–12 ensemble teaching or for doctoral work in various musical areas.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

Complete Audition (Performance, Collaborative Piano, & Conducting), Interview (Music Education) or submit a writing sample (History & Musical Instruments) as required by your chosen program of study. 

For additional information on these requirements, please contact Dr. Moskowitz or reach out directly to the major professor in your area.

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate chair of the department.

Learn More

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Music. You may be interested in inspiring and strengthening music in local communities or sharing your passion for music with others to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

outREACH mUSic 

Inspire, uplift, and strengthen local communities through music performances in locations where citizens’ access to music might be limited, such as community centers, assisted living facilities, hospitals, homeless shelters, and group homes. 

Join Now

National Association for Music Education (NAfME)

Engage with guest speakers and activities that promote music teaching and learning, such as the annual USD Field Marching Competition, USD Coyote Jazz Festival events, Dakota Days and more.

Join Now

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community. 

Join Now

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting work at local, national and world-wide venues. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides the opportunity to communicate the significance and impact of your research project in just three minutes. 

Learn More

Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester, students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School. Faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus and, in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

Learn More


IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work through oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays. 

Learn More

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in music.
the cello section of the USD Symphony


Develop the skills necessary to be successful in your musical career while gaining lifelong friends and mentors. Whether you are interested in teaching, music performance or music history — or some combination of the three — the Department of Music will provide you with real-world experiences and connections to help you succeed.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Department of Music. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and creative scholarship throughout the music field. 
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Holdhusen

David Holdhusen

Chair, Music/Professor/Dir, Choral Activities
Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Campbell

Timothy Campbell

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Todd Cranson

Todd Cranson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Alessandra Feris

Alessandra Feris

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ioana Galu

Ioana Galu

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tracelyn Gesteland

Tracelyn Gesteland

Professor/Buhler Distinguished Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Susan Gray

Susan Gray

Bio Image for Faculty Member Sonja Kraus

Sonja Kraus

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Amy Laursen

Amy Laursen

Associate Professor


Bio Image for Faculty Member Paul Lombardi

Paul Lombardi

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member JuanCarlos Mendoza

JuanCarlos Mendoza

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Eric Mosterd

Eric Mosterd

Assist Director CTL
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Sanderson

David Sanderson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Darin Wadley

Darin Wadley

Associate Professor
Student playing a clarinet with piano in the background.

Visiting Artists Program

The Department of Music hosts guest artists from around the world each year. These artists provide concert performances and our students get the opportunity to work directly with them in master classes.
Visitors in the national music museum hall.

National Music Museum

You have the opportunity to learn from and explore the National Music Museum on campus. Founded in 1973, the National Music Museum and Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments is one of the great institutions of its kind and is home to the largest collection of historical musical instruments in the world.
Master of Music student Laura Engles smiling.

Earn Your Master's in Music Education Online

We're committed to bringing our knowledge to you. USD serves the largest number of online students in the state of South Dakota. With competitive online tuition rates, we offer the same price whether you’re an out-of-state or in-state student.

Courses are offered online and you can start anytime. The required on-campus Directors' Institute is offered over the summer, enabling you to finish the program in the shortest amount of time.

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

** Resident rates may be available to you through the SD Advantage, Child of Alumni or Western Regional Graduate Program. To see if you quality, visit usd.edu/grad-tuition.

hear from a USD student

Success story Eva Niklaidou smiling.
Everyone is warm and welcoming at USD. Students can grow both as musicians and human beings. I am both a piano performance student and graduate assistant. What amazes me the most is not only the great level of expertise all members of the faculty have, but their continuous dedication, passion and support they give their students.

Eva Nikolaidou

Current Graduate Assistant
Volos, Greece

Take the Next Step