North Carolina Central University to Offer a New Master’s Degree Program in Jazz Studies

Historically Black North Carolina Central University in Durham has announced that it will offer an online master’s degree program in jazz studies. The program will begin in the summer of 2023.

Students who enroll in the new degree program will have their choice of two tracks – Performance or Composition and Arranging. Once the program launches, NCCU will be the only historically Black college or university in North Carolina with an online master’s degree program in jazz studies and one of only a few in the country, according to Lenora Helm Hammonds, interim chair of the department of music, director of graduate programs, jazz studies and vocal jazz ensemble director.

Helm Hammonds, who has worked at NCCU for 17 years and has performed worldwide, said NCCU has been developing the new program for five years and expects to have 20-25 students enrolled initially.

“We found that a lot of our students who are seeking the master of music degree are non-traditional students who aren’t coming right off of earning a bachelor’s degree,” Dr. Helm Hammonds said. “Some of them have been working in the field as professional, performing musicians, and they decided they wanted to add a degree to their arsenal of resources for the eventuality of teaching.

“Band and choral directors who teach in k-12 schools and are musicians may also find NCCU’s new online master’s program attractive, Dr. Helm Hammonds continued. “They have their undergraduate degree in music, but many of them didn’t study jazz, so we anticipate having a lot of those individuals to enroll as well.”

Dr. Helms Hammonds holds a bachelor’s degree in film scoring and voice from Berklee College of Music in Boston. She holds a master’s degree in jazz performance from East Carolina University in Greeville, North Carolina, and a doctor of musical arts degree in music education from Boston University.

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