Shepherd School to offer Artist Diploma in Music program

Beginning in the fall of 2013, the Shepherd School of Music will offer the Artist Diploma in Music for gifted performers seeking a highly advanced level of performance study.

The two-year program is intended for post-master’s degree students interested in training at the highest levels of musical performance. The artist diploma will complement the doctoral program, which focuses more heavily on teaching and research, and will accept up to nine students per year, with a maximum of 18 students in the program at any one time.

“We’re looking for a select group of exceptional students in specialized areas, including orchestral, chamber music, opera and solo performance,” said Shepherd School Dean Robert Yekovich. “Having the Artist Diploma in Music will create an ideal balance with our undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs, particularly in orchestral and chamber music study.”

Yekovich said the Shepherd School has considered the initiation of such a program for several years and moved forward with plans following the restructuring of the doctoral and master’s degree programs.

“The appropriateness of creating an artist diploma program became increasingly clear as we contemplated, assessed and eventually implemented the changes to our existing graduate degree programs,” Yekovich said.

Norman Fischer, the Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Cello, said the artist diploma is a different approach than the school’s other programs. “The students will spend a year immersed in private lessons, community engagement and performance projects,” he said. “In addition, students will report to a group of teachers who are part of a committee in charge of instruction.”

Given the program’s exclusivity, Fischer said, expectations are extremely high. “Like the other Shepherd School programs, we expect the artist diploma program to attract an extraordinarily high level of applicant.”

Paul Kantor, the incoming Sallie Shepherd Perkins Professor of Violin, called the Artist Diploma in Music “a fantastic addition” to the Shepherd School.

“The doctorate is a highly respected academic degree, but I think most of us consider the artist diploma as an equivalent high-level degree but with a greater emphasis on performance for people who are less interested in a university teaching career,” Kantor said. “I think the artist diploma makes Rice even more appealing for performance-focused musicians who have completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees and are looking for the next step, and opens the possibility of a Rice education to an important group of candidates.”

For more information on programs offered at the Shepherd School of Music, visit

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.