Master of Sacred Music

Msm Choir Member Reads Sheet Music During Rehersal

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The MSM program equips students for professional careers in church music--where employment opportunities are plentiful--while also providing them with the foundations to pursue doctoral studies or other professional career paths, including music education, music ministry, and concert performance.

The MSM degree is a two-year, 48-credit-hour degree, consisting of courses in applied music, sacred music history and analysis, and liturgical studies. Students are admitted into one of three studios: (1) Choral Conducting; (2) Organ; or (3) Voice. Students are encouraged to gain expertise in secondary areas such as voice, organ, piano, continuo, and conducting. Each graduate is expected to be a well-rounded musician, possessing the requisite skills in playing, conducting, and singing to shape music programs in churches, schools, and the community-at-large. 

A unique strength of the program is the emphasis on work with children's choirs and organ training through assistantships with the Notre Dame Children's Choir and Children’s Organ Training Program. The MSM program also includes a biennial study trip, funding for degree recitals, and free language instruction during the summer.


Choral Conducting Studio

  • MSM students present two recitals with an ensemble of graduate student vocalists. The first is an a cappella performance, while the second recital includes a small instrumental ensemble. 
  • Biannual study and performance trips to Europe
  • Summer language instruction
  • Workshops and Masterclasses offered regularly. Recent Masterclasses include: Seraphic Fire, Tallis Scholars, Cantus, Schola Antiqua, The Crossing, Donald Nally, Joseph Flummerfelt, Stephen Cleobury, Benjamin Saunders, Chris McElroy, Alastair Willis, and Kimberly Dunn Adams.
  • Performance highlights from previous Conducting recitals can be found here.

“In addition to my studies at Brandeis, I teach music at Saint Columbkille Partnership School, a Catholic Jesuit grade school. I am also the Choir Director at the Congregational Church of Weston. My Sacred Music education from Notre Dame prepared me to engage fully in both of these side positions, supplementing my joy while I get a Ph.D. in musicology to better proclaim His glory through musicological study.”

Zen Kuriyama MSM '19
Ph.D. Student, Brandeis University

Voice Studio

  • Students in the voice studio are collaborative, socially conscious, theologically informed artists, who seek to use their voices as forces for good in their communities, whether in places of worship, in educational settings, or as professional concert artists.
  • Notre Dame’s award-winning graduate voice studio provides an inclusive environment in which singers develop their skills and knowledge in multiple ways:
    • Vocal technique and artistry, through individualized studies with world-class faculty
    • Performance opportunities in diverse repertoire, including opera, oratorio, art song, early music, contemporary music, and choral music
    • Vocal pedagogy, vocal literature, and lyric diction studies
    • Secondary performance studies in keyboard and conducting
    • Summer language instruction (optional);
    • Workshops and master classes with guests such as Anthony Dean Griffey, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Martin Katz, Dame Emma Kirkby, David Jones, Laura Brooks Rice, Arlene Shrut, and VOCES8
    • Biannual study and performance trips abroad
  • All admitted students are supported by full tuition scholarships plus paid assistantships that include conducting for the Notre Dame Children’s Choir.
  • Performance highlights from previous voice recitals can be found here.

“We have so many resources here at Notre Dame. We have a lot of exceptional faculty members who are also very open minded about expanding the influence from other traditions and cultures, including Hispanic and African American cultures. To have an opportunity to make a difference through music is such a blessing."

Emorja Roberson MSM '17
DMA in Conducting Student, Sacred Music at Notre Dame

Organ Studio

  • Workshops and Masterclasses offered regularly. Recent Masterclasses include: Olivier Latry, Stefan Engles, Janet Fishell, Christopher Young, Isabelle Demers, Gregory Crowell, Renée Anne Louprette, Huw Lewis
  • Organ students at Notre Dame have access to several exquisite instruments, including the two large instruments by Paul Fritts in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (II/34) and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (IV/69).  The organ in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is inspired by 17th and early 18th century German baroque instruments, and is ideally suited to the music of Dieterich Buxtehude and J. S. Bach
  • Six dedicated practice organs for Sacred Music students; 15 organs for practice and performance across campus
  • Taylor and Boody Continuo Organ
  • Biannual organ trips to Europe
  • Serve as organist at local parishes and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
  • Professor Kola Owolabi demonstrates Fritts, Opus 24 with Georg Muffat's Toccata tertia, from Apparatus musico-organisticus (1690)
  • Professor Kola Owolabi performs Frescobaldi on the 17th century Neapolitan organ at University of Notre Dame
  • Professor Kola Owolabi's recent video recording of Thomas Kerr, Anguished American Easter
  • Performance highlights from previous Organ recitals can be found here.

"The interdisciplinary nature of the program was the selling point for me. What also really stood out to me is the strength and reputation of Theology Department. I had the opportunity to take some electives outside of my immediate discipline, and that was incredible, it's eye-opening."

Michael Emmerich MSM '12
Associate Music Director, Archdiocese of Omaha