Master of Music in Performance Guitar Emphasis

Program Overview

The graduate degree in guitar performance from USU seeks to attract guitarists of pre-professional and post-professional caliber who are in pursuit of high-level instruction and guidance. Goals for the graduate degree in performance at USU are ultimately that students will learn how to define themselves as artists and find a voice that is unique. Students are encouraged to search for and identify their musical voice while assessing and increasing their technical ability and knowledge of genre and styles all while developing their weakness and improving their strengths as musical artistic voices. Each student is encouraged to research, transcribe and analyze masters that have come before them and be able to discuss and perform in a way that reflects an understanding of this music and it’s contributions to the canon of guitar music. Students will be able to clearly articulate in person and/or in written form the direction they want to take and path they are to pursue as they develop a voice that is based on timeless examples of excellence but also looking forward to they themselves creating an original voice that will contribute to art music with the guitar as their primary instrument. 

It is expected that students will have a strong and professional understanding of music theory (scales, modes, chord construction, voicing techniques for the guitar, improvisation concepts, technical considerations on the instrument). Each student will perform a successful recital. Presenting standard material and original music in solo, duos, and combo form are encouraged and expected as the musical genre and style dictates. Each student will also graduate with an understanding of how to create digital performance and pedagogical materials, prepare works for publication such as articles, books and musical content. 

Program Specifics

For specific information regarding coursework required to earn this degree, please refer to the University Catalog.


Master of Music (MM) Application 

All applications are submitted online through the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants for the Master of Music degree must complete the following:

  1. Official College Transcripts - To qualify for admission to the MM program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Official transcripts must be sent directly from previous institutions to USU.
  2. (NOT REQUIRED) GRE or MAT Scores - The GRE or MAT is optional for applicants to the Master of Music degree programs. However, applicants should be advised that the GRE/MAT is a requirement for some tuition waivers and scholarships available through the School of Graduate Studies.
  3. Letters of Recommendation – Three satisfactory letters of recommendation must be sent directly by the recommenders through the application server. Applicants are highly encouraged to seek a recommendation from a primary applied teacher and one academic music faculty (theory, history, etc.). 
  4. Writing Sample - Applicants must upload a 500–1000 word (1-2 pages, single-spaced) personal statement on one of the following topics: 
    • Topic 1: Describe a moment or experience in your musical education that convinced you to pursue higher education in music.
    • Topic 2: How do you hope your music career will make an impact on today’s musical culture?
    • Topic 3: Why does/should music matter to individuals or society today?
    An academic research paper on a musical subject may also be accepted at the discretion of the Graduate Music Committee. The writing sample will be evaluated by the Music Department Graduate Committee and all full-time faculty in the applicant’s primary area of emphasis. Applicant essays will be evaluated in part on the quality of writing, including organization, concision, and clarity.
  5. International Student Requirements - In addition to the General Admissions Requirements, International students must meet the language, degree, and funding requirements of the USU School of Graduate Studies.
  6. Audition/Interview - Applicants must complete a successful live or recorded entrance audition/interview. To schedule an audition, submit an Audition Application. If travel distance or schedule conflicts prevent applicants from auditioning live, they may select the recorded audition option on their application and submit a video recording of their audition. Those who select the recorded audition option on their application will receive submission information via email.
  7. Overall Graduate GPA at least 3.0 and no grades of C- or lower - Graduate students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA for degree-program courses. Grades of C- or lower will not be accepted for a graduate degree.
  8. Matriculation Start Semester - A master’s degree must be completed within six years of entering the degree program. Additional time may be requested by the student’s committee and submitted to the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies for review.

Applicants for the Master of Music - Performance (Guitar Specialization) should prepare the following for an audition:

  1. All major and minor (natural, harmonic, and melodic) scales in two octaves.
  2. Other common scales – modes of the major scale, whole-tone, diminished, etc.
  3. One solo piece (chord solo arrangement or classical/fingerstyle) that best represents the applicant’s technical and artistic strengths.
  4. Applicants should bring a typed list of repertoire studied in the last four years. 

All applicants will also be tested on music reading and knowledge of chord voicing in the audition. Applicants with a jazz emphasis should also prepare to improvise over a “standard” and a blues progression.

For questions regarding guitar audition repertoire, please contact Corey Christiansen at


Corey Christiansen

Corey Christiansen


Music (Guitar)

Phone: (435) 797-8840
Office Location: FAC 124