Music Theory

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Music Theory

The PhD in music theory program offers professional training for careers in teaching and scholarship. Applicants are admitted based on their background ability and motivation for academic, scholarly, and artistic achievement and their desire to contribute to the program. Theory faculty members possess expertise in current methodologies of analysis, history of theory, and pedagogy. The program offers instruction in counterpoint, Schenkerian analysis, 20th-century theory, the history of music theory, pedagogy, and a variety of specialized topics.

The doctoral degree in theory is oriented toward preparing students for scholarly research and teaching, aiming for breadth and depth in one specialized area. The program offers the emerging scholar:

  • Courses that prepare students for advanced research in their field
  • Interdisciplinary interaction within a comprehensive school of music and a major research university
  • A curriculum with a varied range of choices with respect to historical periods, analytical systems, and cultural areas

The music theory faculty of the School of Music invites interested students to email us before applying to the theory PhD program. Specifically, we ask students to contact the individual professor they think would be the best fit as their degree/research advisor in order to have a conversation about the applicant's interests, goals, and fit with the department.

For your PhD, you will be expected to meet the following requirements, including your post-baccalaureate study from other institutions:

  • 30 credits of music theory and analysis courses
  • 6 credits of musicology/ethnomusicology 
  • 12 credits of supporting non-music coursework
  • 3 credits of music electives in Music Composition, Musicology, Ethnomusicology, or Performance
  • Demonstration of reading knowledge in 2 foreign languages
  • Completion of written and oral preliminary exam
  • Completion of thesis or final project
  • Completion of final oral examination

Requirements for the Music PhD