The Jazz Studies program at the University of North Texas provides you with an intense musical experience. It's large enough to constitute its own scene while enabling you to receive individual attention from faculty members.

You can pursue a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies in one of three tracks: performance, composition and pedagogy. At the doctoral level, we offer a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Performance with a concentration in Jazz Studies.

In lessons, small and large ensembles, classes, concerts, recitals and independent projects, our students develop as performers, composers and teachers. They've earned a wide range of recognitions over the years, including 10 DownBeat Student Music Awards in 2014.

Students participate in the region's musical life while at UNT and later join a large community of successful jazz alumni.

Setting the standard

The Division of Jazz Studies enjoys a long tradition of excellence, establishing the nation's first undergraduate Jazz Studies program in 1946. We always seek new musical directions to remain connected to today's jazz music scene and other music professions that our graduates enter.

Interest in our program is strong. We currently have 60 to 70 master's students and nine doctoral students and graduate about 17 graduate students each year. Our primary goals are to:

  • Prepare you for a successful career as a jazz performer, composer, arranger or educator
  • Cultivate your knowledge of and appreciation for the jazz tradition and the broader musical traditions from which it's grown
  • Encourage your creative efforts and share your results on university, local, regional, national and international levels in performances and recordings
  • Help you enter the profession through interactions with guest artists and learning about music industry entrepreneurship

Performance, research and other learning opportunities

You'll have many performance opportunities to choose from, including:

  • Nine jazz lab bands, among them the six-time Grammy nominated One O'Clock Lab Band®, directed by Jay Saunders
  • Three Jazz Singers groups guided by Jennifer Barnes
  • L-5 and Super 400 Electric Guitar Ensembles directed by Fred Hamilton and the graduate teaching fellows he mentors
  • Latin Jazz Lab directed by José Aponte
  • Jazz Chamber Music (approximately 25 small groups)
  • Jazz Repertory Ensemble
  • Zebras (a contemporary music ensemble)
  • U-Tubes Jazz Trombone Ensemble

The UNT Music Library is one of the nation's best music libraries for jazz research. It features an extensive collection of books, periodicals, scores and special collections, and a recorded sound collection of more than 1 million items.

Each semester, we welcome guest artists for master classes, concerts and multi-day residencies. Our Jazz Lecture Series and Gomez Artist Residency have featured Ravi Coltrane, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Darcy James Argue, Nasheet Waits, Greg Osby, Peter Erskine, Christian McBride, John Clayton and Peter Eldridge. Guest artists are listed at the sites for the Gomez Endowment and the Jazz Lecture Series.

About the College of Music

The College of Music is one of the nation's most comprehensive music schools and is recognized internationally for its artistic and academic excellence. The college is a vital component of the region's arts community, presenting more than 1,000 concerts annually.

Its facilities include 300 practice rooms, seven performance venues (including Winspear Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center and Voertman Hall), numerous classrooms, rehearsal rooms, computer labs and an intermedia theater.

The College of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21; Reston, Va. 20190-5248; telephone 703-437-0700). This accreditation means the college meets or exceeds strict academic standards for excellence in education.

Attending UNT

Admission requirements

You'll need to meet the admission requirements for the Toulouse Graduate School®, the college and the division. Graduate school requirements are outlined at the graduate school website. More information about the college and division requirements is at the College of Music website and the Division of Jazz Studies website.

To satisfy the GRE requirement, you may complete the GRE's Analytical Writing section or the Jazz Studies in-house writing exam. The in-house writing exam is given during new graduate student orientation.

We prefer master's applicants who have an undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies, but applicants can be admitted with undergraduate degrees in other music fields or in another field. We prefer doctoral applicants who have a master's degree in Jazz Studies, but applicants can be admitted with master's degrees in other music fields.

All applicants must participate in an in-person audition or submit a video recording. Applicants to the composition track are also expected to submit a portfolio of compositions and arrangements.

If you're enrolling in the master's program, you may have to take some undergraduate courses to prepare for the master's program. The courses are determined after your transcript is evaluated and proficiency exams completed. You can also demonstrate your competence by audition or exam.

Degree requirements

Master of Music degree

  • 11 credit hours of required Jazz Studies courses
  • 6 credit hours of electives in music outside the Jazz Studies field
  • 15 credit hours in the performance, composition or pedagogy track

All students must pass a comprehensive exam covering all graduate course work in Jazz Studies.

Doctor of Musical Arts degree

  • 12 credit hours of applied instruction in performance courses
  • 3 credit hours of a jazz history and analysis course
  • 3 credit hours of a jazz pedagogy course
  • 2 credit hours of jazz ensemble
  • 2 credit hours of jazz chamber
  • 12 credit hours of dissertation (Available options are outlined at the catalog.)
  • 9 credit hours of musicology/music theory courses
  • 12 credit hours in a related field

Financial assistance

Applicants are eligible for competitive scholarships, including some full tuition and fees scholarships, and about 18 teaching assistantships and fellowships. Nonresident students who receive a competitive UNT scholarship of $1,000 or more are eligible to pay in-state rates.

Teaching assistants work with professors in classes on jazz recordings, improvisation and aural skills. Teaching fellows — with responsibility for grading — direct large ensembles and teach lessons. For some assignments, more than one student is appointed. Some students combine two roles in their position. Assignments are available in:

  • Applied jazz saxophone, electric guitar or jazz piano
  • Arranging
  • The electric guitar ensembles
  • The Four through Nine O'Clock Lab Bands
  • Improvisation
  • Introduction to Jazz Recordings
  • Jazz chamber music
  • Jazz piano, aural or keyboard fundamentals
  • The Jazz Singers
  • The U-Tubes Jazz Trombone Ensemble
  • The Zebras


The Jazz Studies faculty members are active artists and committed teachers. Their full biographies are available on the Jazz Studies website.