About the Degree

The University of Arkansas is a public land-grant institution of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement. As the state’s flagship university, it is committed to promoting and supporting the creation of timely and innovative academic programs and learning experiences for domestic and international students. Specifically, the University of Arkansas is committed to growing graduate education opportunities for students in the state and beyond. The expansion of graduate education is one of the guiding priorities of the University of Arkansas’ strategic plan, for the university recognizes that graduate education plays a critical role in a research university and is key to the university’s impact on economic development.

It is within this context that the Department of Music offers a Master of Music (M.M.) degree program in Black Sacred Music. No other such degree program exists in the United States. Our program is supported by a gift from the Alice L. Walton Foundation. This three-year M.M. program, a summer-only program, will be housed within the Department of Music at the University of Arkansas. While there are several sacred music programs throughout the United States, this program is forward-looking by virtue of its focus specifically on Black Sacred Music.  

Our program offers a pathway toward a wide range of careers in the field of Black Sacred Music preparing students for top music positions in Black Sacred Music specifically, and sacred music in general.  We also facilitate other trajectories for those students who contribute to the Black Sacred Music research. Our M.M. program gives students the interdisciplinary training and robust work experiences that they will need to thrive in industries that value traditional and non-traditional music literacy, creativity, communication, collaboration, research, technology, worship planning, and other skills. As a faculty, we are committed to thinking about music and creative practice in a global context. As the study and practice of Gospel Music has become more prevalent in Europe, Asia, and South America, we believe that a specialty in Black Sacred Music, specifically Gospel Music, will allow us to create opportunities for academic study in the field and fill a significant deficit in music programs the world over.

Faculty for the program include full-time and part-time Department of Music faculty, along with an extraordinary group of special guest instructors. These guests will be appointed as adjunct faculty in the Department of Music, and they include: recording artists, scholars, Grammy-winners, and other international experts in Gospel Music.



The Master of Music in Black Sacred Music is a three-year, summers-only program housed within the Department of Music. The program offers a unique opportunity for advanced study in Black Sacred Music and its derivatives.  As American music largely finds its roots in Black Music, it is paramount that the preservation, proliferation, production and research of this music is included in the study of music in higher education.  This particular focus was chosen for a variety of reasons, including the dearth of programs of this kind in the United States, the quickly growing interest in music of the African Diaspora, and the commitment to expand access to music study to include students with non-traditional music backgrounds.  The curriculum is designed to equip students with the essential tools needed for professional careers which involve the presentation, teaching, and research of Black Sacred Music. Program participants will receive interdisciplinary training and significant internship opportunities consistent with the work experiences associated with Black Sacred Music spaces and related industries. The program prepares students for top careers in Black Sacred Music, and for music study at the doctoral level.  

Application for admission to the M.M. program in Black Sacred Music,  is a 2-step process. Each applicant must: 

  1. Apply to the Graduate School at the University of Arkansas (https://application.uark.edu):
  2. The prospective student must schedule an interview with the Program Director to determine the best degree plan and cognate area.