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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The graduate program in theory 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

Expected MA Coursework

  • MUS 8xxx courses in theory and analysis: 18 credits
  • MUS 8xxx course(s) in musicology or ethnomusicology: 3 credits
  • MUS 5xxx/8xxx course(s) in music composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, or performance: 3 credits
  • 5xxx/8xxx courses outside of music; may include music education/therapy: 6 credits

Additional PhD Coursework: minimum 24 credits

  1. Major Program: 12 credits of courses (5xxx/8xxx level) in theory and analysis
  2. Concentration: 3 credits of courses (5xxx/8xxx level) in musicology or ethnomusicology, taken at the University of Minnesota
  3. Supporting Program: 6 credits of courses (5xxx/8xxx level) outside music; may include Music Education courses
  4. Language Requirement: PhD students are required to pass reading comprehension examinations in two foreign languages -- German and either French or Italian (certification form required). One of these latter languages may be replaced by a special research technique or collateral field of knowledge.
  5. Thesis: 24 credits of MUS 8888 Doctoral Thesis.  

The completion of course work will be followed by comprehensive preliminary written and oral examinations. 

View degree plan for the theory PhD.

The music theory faculty of the School of Music invite interested students to email us before applying to the theory Ph.D. 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.