• Home
  • Admission
  • Placement Exams

Entrance Exams

Undergraduate Placement Examinations

Music Theory Placement Examination:

Students StudyingThis examination, which includes both written and ear-training components, is required of all junior college students and undergraduate transfer students who have not completed a four-semester theory sequence with an accredited NASM school. New freshmen (non-transfer) students who have received training in music theory may take the exam; however, new freshmen students are not required to take the exam. The subject material for each exam may be gleaned from the following sources:

Theory I: Steven Laitz, The Complete Musician: An Integrated Approach to Tonal Theory, Analysis, and Listening. 3rd Edition (Oxford University Press, 2011) Chapters 1–12 (Roman numerals with figured bass, second level analysis, expansions/embellishments of tonic and dominant, accented and unaccented six-four chords, predominant function in the phrase model). Additionally, an understanding, both compositional and analytical, of first, second, third, and fourth species counterpoint.

Theory II: Laitz, Chapters 13–20 (The submediant, mediant, back-relating dominant, harmonic/melodic sequences, applied chords, tonicization and modulation) Additionally, an understanding of small forms—the sentence, period, hybrid theme, and small binary—from William Caplin, Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (Oxford University Press,1998).

Theory III: Laitz, Chapters 21–31 (Chromatic harmony, symmetrical divisions of the octave, enharmonic reinterpretation, large forms such as ternary, sonata, rondo, variation, additional 19th-century harmonic techniques)

Theory IV: Jane Clendinning and Elizabeth West Marvin, The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis, 2nd edition, chapters 33-40 (modes, non-diatonic scales, set class, twelve-tone procedures, and other post-tonal techniques)

This examination is given on the Friday prior to the first day of classes in the fall and spring semester. Advanced registration for the exam is not necessary; incoming students interested in taking the exam may simply arrive at one of the specific times and locations listed below:

Fall 2014
Music Theory Undergraduate Placement Exam: Friday, August 22, 2014, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM in 123 Murphy Hall

Spring 2015
Music Theory Undergraduate Placement Exam: Friday, January 16, 2015, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM in 123 Murphy Hall

Keyboard Skills Placement Examination:

piano keysPlacement Examination for the piano proficiency requirements for the various music degrees is required of all new freshmen and transfer students. All students, except piano majors or piano emphasis students, MUST either enroll directly in PIAN 144 or sign up in advance for an appointment to take the placement examination during the time period listed below. Questions may be directed to the Professor Scott McBride Smith, 304 Murphy Hall, 785-864-1470, smcbsmith@ku.edu.

Click here for more information on the Keyboard Skills Exams (pdf).

Fall 2014
Keyboard Skills Undergraduate Placement Exam: Friday, August 22, 2014, 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM in 404 Murphy Hall (Students will sign up in advance for an exam appointment to be held during this time period.)

Spring 2015
Keyboard Skills Undergraduate Placement Exam: Friday, January 16, 2015, 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM in 404 Murphy Hall (Students will sign up in advance for an exam appointment to be held during this time period.)

Graduate Diagnostic Examinations

All new graduate students except those in music education, music therapy, or M.M. opera are required to take the music history and music theory diagnostic exam. New graduate piano majors must also take an exam in piano literature.

The Graduate Diagnostic Examinations are given on the Wednesday (MUSC & PIAN) and the Thursday (MTHC) prior to the first day of classes in the fall and on the Thursday (MTHC & PIAN) and the Friday (MUSC) prior to the first day of classes in the spring semester. See specific times and locations below.


The Musicology Diagnostic Exam will be taken by all students through Blackboard.

Spring 2015 exams:

Friday, January 16, 2015, 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Exam will be open on Blackboard during these times. The School of Music computer lab (next to the Music Library, 240 Murphy Hall) will be open for those who wish to take the exam on those computers.

Music Theory

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., 123 Murphy Hall

A Practice Exam is available for those wishing to use it before the actual exam.

Piano Majors (New graduate student piano literature exam)

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., 402 Murphy Hall



2014-2015 Auditions & Scholarships

Friends of the School of Music

Reach Out Kansas, Inc., Smithyman & Zakoura Chartered and KU Music Concert Series 2014-2015

Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually