PhD Requirements

Note: For information about maintaining degree status, financial aid and expectations, health insurance, advising, course of study, and academic standing, see PhD Program Information.

Curriculum Requirements Top

Requirements differ by area of specialization. However, the guidelines for all PhD students in music include 18 units for those matriculates with a master's degree and 27 units for those entering with a bachelor's degree only. Normally, this requires two years of coursework in the former case and three years in the latter. Each student pursues a major field of study comprising a minimum of six to nine units. For further details, see the specifications below.

See Requirements by Specialization:

Composition and Music Technology
Music Education
Music Theory and Cognition

Cognate Area of Study

All students are required to take three 300- or 400-level courses outside the Bienen School of Music in an approved cognate area. Students whose work touches fields such as cognitive psychology, learning sciences, performance studies, comparative literature, linguistics, cultural anthropology, African studies, acoustics, film or dance are encouraged to take enough coursework in these areas to develop meaningful intellectual connections and true depth of understanding. The purpose of this requirement is to learn to think as a scholar in another field - a fundamentally epistemological orientation that will play a central role in the future of musical scholarship and teaching.

Approved Courses

All courses for the PhD must be selected from the approved listing of courses maintained by The Graduate School. Students should consult the approved list in the Graduate Catalog.

Assessments Top

At several key points in the student’s program of study, an assessment process asks students to demonstrate that they are making appropriate progress. This evaluation includes:

  • Faculty assessment at the end of the first year or beginning of the second year
  • Successful demonstration of foreign language proficiency (as required by the specialization area)
  • Teaching demonstration in the form of a classroom or other professional presentation similar to the sessions the Bienen School of Music requires as a part of its own faculty search procedures
  • Public lecture, paper, or presentation outside the Bienen School of Music, to be given before completion of the dissertation. (This is designed to stimulate early involvement in the presentation of original research at the regional, national or international level.)

Qualifying Examinations Top

Students must complete a comprehensive examination at the conclusion of course work. This examination differs by specialization, but each program requires both a written and an oral component. A description of the intended dissemination often accompanies the examination. Successful passage of this examination advances the student to candidacy for the degree.

Candidacy Top

Admission to The Graduate School does not constitute or guarantee a student's admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. Admission to candidacy is contingent upon the recommendation of the student’s department or program and upon approval of the Graduate Faculty.

The student’s music advisor initiates the procedure for scheduling the qualifying examination. Bienen’s Graduate Services is responsible for entering approval of the qualifying examination and must submit approval to TGS via the Self-Service form, PhD Qualifying Exam. Following the completion of the qualifying examination, students will be admitted to candidacy.

Students are notified in writing by The Graduate School of their admission to candidacy, further requirements for the completion of their program, and their degree deadline. A student must be admitted to candidacy prior to the beginning of the student's fourth year. Periods of non-registration do not alter the candidacy deadline.

Continuation Courses Top

Active PhD students must always be registered for study. The Graduate School maintains a series of courses under the TGS listing in CAESAR for such courses that are appropriate for students who have completed all formal course work and are working on their qualifying exams or dissertation. All such courses are for "0" credit.

Continuation Courses

  • TGS 598 is the appropriate course for students in residence who have not yet been advanced to candidacy.
  • TGS 599 is the correct registration for students in residence who have been advanced to candidacy and are working on their dissertations. The Graduate School requires a maximum of three registrations for 599. If the dissertation is completed before the completion of all three 599 registrations, the remaining 599 courses are not necessary for the degree.
  • TGS 512 is appropriate for students who are not in residence but are working on their degree.

PhD Timeline Top

The Graduate School policy states that all requirements for the doctoral degree must be met within nine years of initial registration in a doctoral program, which falls on the last day of the 36th quarter. For students on an approved leave of absence or approved childbirth accommodation, milestones will be extended accordingly.

Download PhD Timeline

Timeline Extension