Jazz History and Research, M.A.

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Founded in 1997, this unique program prepares people to do research, publish, and teach about jazz. The program attracts a diverse range of teachers, performers, scholars, and intellectuals from every background with a shared passion for America’s music. Students are encouraged to approach jazz with a broad lens and develop their own topics, drawing on approaches that include performance; composition; popular music; histories of race, gender, and sexuality; film; world musical traditions; and more. Graduates of our program have gone on to complete doctorates in musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory and related fields. Others teach at community colleges and have used their degrees to enhance their credentials as teachers, performers, or archivists.

In addition to its acclaimed faculty, Rutgers University-Newark is home to the Institute of Jazz Studies, the largest public access jazz library in the world. The institute contains correspondence, sheet music, and other materials that once belonged to virtually every major figure in jazz history, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Mary Lou Williams, and many others.  Students work closely with experts at the Institute and are eligible for scholarships that allow further study of the archive’s materials.

The required 12-course curriculum covers topics such as music historiography, jazz analysis, archival research, in-depth studies of individual musicians, and critical approaches drawn from fields such as American studies, gender studies, and critical histories of race. In addition to required courses, many students choose to play in the jazz ensemble. Also, private theory study, one-day writing workshops and/or a semester-long writing seminar may be required, at our discretion, in addition to the required 12 courses. At the end of the coursework each student takes a final comprehensive exam and completes a master’s thesis.

While there are many degrees available in jazz performance, pedagogy, and composition, this program is unique in its focus on the history and research of jazz.


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