The NASM accredited, Jazz Studies graduate program at North Carolina Central University is dedicated to offering quality education, shaping the future of aspiring musicians and maintaining the integrity of a great art form. The Online Jazz Studies MM degrees continue to provide the integrity of this historical, and award-winning program with increased accessibility for distance education students. This program is offered in two concentrations, Jazz Composition & Arranging or Jazz Performance.

Request Info Apply

The NCCU Jazz Studies Master of Music program is accredited by National Association of Schools of Music, (NASM), and was built upon the legacy of the NCCU Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies concentration, the first one established in the state. The acclaimed jazz faculty—including a former U.S. Jazz Ambassador, Fulbright scholars, and many recipients of the highest academic, research, and professional awards—afford students opportunity to learn from renown, practicing musicians. It is the only jazz program of its kind offering scheduled tutelage from multi-GRAMMY winner and NEA Jazz Master, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and GRAMMY winner, pianist Joey Calderazzo, as part of the degree matriculation.

The awards garnered by our student ensembles include our NCCU Jazz Ensemble placing in the top echelons of the annual Jack Rudin Collegiate Jazz Competition, winning first place (2023) and third place (2022) honors, and both the NCCU Jazz Ensemble and NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble winning top honors in DownBeat Student Music Awards. Festival highlights for student ensembles include Newport Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Art of Cool Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz Education Network Conferences. The NCCU Jazz Ensemble and vocalists were invited to perform at the White House for a reception for the staff and congressional aides (Clinton Administration) and for a political event to welcome First Lady Michelle Obama.

Composition and Arranging

In this concentration students are prepared to become composers, vocal and instrumental arrangers, film composers, music producers, music directors and vocal and instrumental music contractors, band leaders, festival producers or music educators in public and private schools and universities. Successful graduates go on to careers in film scoring, arranging for small and large ensembles in a variety of genres, and composing for film, TV and studio recordings, as well as performances with major artists.


From this concentration, students have flourished in recording and performing careers on concert stages, film and television, to a variety of audiences and entertainment settings. Successful graduates go on to careers as corporate music business, cruise ship and theme park entertainers, careers as band leaders, music producers, music directors and vocal and instrumental music contractors, music therapists, teaching artists, music educators in public and private schools and universities and arts administrators.

In addition to the rigors of the curricula in each concentration of the NCCU Jazz Studies program, students are expected to engage in jazz history and jazz performance research, culminating in a lecture-recital and thesis for graduation. Activities throughout both concentrations of the MM Online Jazz Studies program include recording studio experience, as well as music business and arts entrepreneurial training.

Estimated Tuition and Fees Per Credit Hour

*Please note: Tuition & Fees are subject to change*

The requirements for all MM Online Jazz Studies applicants are as follows:

  • Online graduate admission application
  • $50 non-refundable application fee
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all schools attended (if you earned your degree from a non-U.S. school, please see the international applicant requirements)
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.90
  • Statement of purpose or personal statement
  • Scores (for the composition or arranging concentration; contact department for
  • details)
  • The GRE is not required
  • An audition is required

In addition to the online courses during one fall and one spring semester, students must commit to a 4-week on campus residency in two consecutive summers (inclusive of a Capstone recital and lecture in the last summer 4-week residency).

Jazz Studies Online Applicants:

  • Summer: April 30th
  • Fall: July 1st
  • Spring: No admission

Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds, Interim Chair/Department of Music and Director of Graduate Programs/Jazz Studies


Phone: 919-530-6653

Program Summary