General Program Information
The Graduate Program of the Department of Music offers advanced training in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, and composition, leading to the degree of PhD in Music. There is no admission to an AM program separate from these PhD programs. In unusual cases, students who cannot successfully complete the General Examination may be given the option of completing the requirements for a terminal AM degree.
At any given time, there are 55-60 graduate students in residence, and 6-10 new graduate students enter each year. The Music Building contains a concert hall (the John Knowles Paine Concert Hall), classrooms, faculty and graduate offices, a superb research library (the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library), a microfilm library of primary source materials (the Isham Memorial Library), an archive of world music recordings, listening facilities, a high-quality electronic music studio (HUSEAC: Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition), an ethnomusicology lab, a collection of early instruments, chamber music rehearsal rooms, and individual piano practice rooms. Other facilities throughout Harvard University include the vast resources of Widener Library, the Houghton Library (which contains rare music prints and manuscripts, and autographs of major composers), Lamont Media, and the libraries and practice rooms of the Dudley House (the center of graduate student activities). In addition, a wealth of musical opportunities is readily available to students at Harvard and at the many neighboring universities (e.g., Boston University,Berklee, Brandeis University, M.I.T, , and New England Conservatory) and civic and professional institutions (e.g., Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Public Library, and Museum of Fine Arts with the Mason Collection of Musical Instruments).
Since teaching is an integral part of graduate training, most graduate students are teaching fellows during part of the time they are at Harvard. Teaching fellows are also eligible to apply for a resident or nonresident tutorship in one of the 12 undergraduate houses, or the graduate center, Dudley House. In addition to financial benefits, teaching fellowships and tutorships provide excellent professional experience.
In recent years virtually every graduate student has received one or more of the fellowships and grants awarded by the University and the music department. Awards given by the department each year include several prizes in composition, the John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship, the Oscar S. Schafer Fellowship, the Richard F. French Fellowship, the Ferdinand Gordon & Elizabeth Hunter Morrill Fellowship, and the Nino Pirrotta Research Grant. Graduate students are awarded six years guaranteed funding (including living expenses) when accepted to a PhD program.
All applicants are required to take the GRE General Examination and must submit, along with their applications, samples of their previous scholarly work in musicology (for the Musicology PhD), ethnomusicology (for Ethnomusicology PhD), or theory (for the Theory PhD). The online application will allow you to upload up to 20 pages of material.
Applicants to the Composition PhD program must submit three to four compositions (scores and recordings where available) along with your application materials. Printed scores and CDs are accepted; links to samples and downloads are not. Samples of work must be sent with a self-addressed, stamped envelope if they are to be returned to the student.
Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences handles the admissions materials. All questions about the admissions process, as well as all application supplementary materials, should be sent to them by December 31 for candidates who seek entrance inthe following fall term:
Admissions and Financial Aid
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Holyoke Center 350
Cambridge, MA 02138-3654
Download an application electronically: http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/apply
You are required to upload all supporting documents (transcripts, writing samples, recommendations, etc)
to the online application.
GSAS deadlines are listed here: http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/important_dates/important_dates.php
If you have questions about your application, call 617-496-6100 (2-5pm EST) or write email@example.com
For financial aid questions
call 6170495-5396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You may visit the department to learn more about the PhD program, but please know that faculty are not available to meet with prospective students. An interview or visit is not required for admission. For more information about visiting the Department of Music, see Visit.
NOTE: Please do not call the Music Department about the status of your application or the return of your materials. Application materials only come to the Music Department at the very last stages of the process, and are held here in complete confidentiality until admissions recommendations are made.
The Program in Musicology and Ethnomusicology
At Harvard, musicology is broadly defined as the disciplined study of music and includes the historical, comparative, and systematic aspects of the field. The program incorporates two tracks: historical musicology, with an emphasis on the history, theory, and literature of Western music in its contexts from antiquity to the present; and ethnomusicology, which concentrates on the ethnographic study of any musical tradition in relationship to its cultural setting. Most graduate courses in historical musicology and ethnomusicology are research seminars; many treat specific topics, periods, and regions, while others deal with current problems and methods. On the completion of preparatory training and the passing of the General Examinations, PhD dissertations may be written in either field. MORE INFO
Go to Admissions requirements
The Program in Theory
The PhD in music theory is characterized both by a deep involvement in the inner workings of music and by an engagement with the wider philosophical, cultural and psychological questions surrounding music. The program reflects this interdisciplinary interest of our students, and seeks to explore the links of music theory to other areas of critical engagement, while providing our theorists with the specialized skills they require.
The teaching in the program emphasizes analytical techniques--all students take courses on Schenkerian theory and on a range of tonal and post-tonal analytical practices, as well as an introductory course to explore current issues in the field. At the same time, the program also encourages students to build a framework in which to place these techniques and to reflect on the underpinnings of music theory. Regular courses on questions in psychology, temporality, history of music theory, and aesthetics round off our course offerings and often take music theory into interdisciplinary territory. Graduate courses on challenging repertoires--e.g. modal theory, non-Western music, or very recent composition--frequently round off our offerings.
The dissertation projects our theory graduates work on reflect this unique combination of interests. Recent and current PhD topics include feminist approaches to performance analysis, microtonality and tone imaginations, multi-modal analysis of boy-band videos, Athanasius Kircher's Musurgia universalis (1650), and neuro-scientific imaging of perceptual parameters.
Our theory faculty is enhanced on a regular basis by exciting visiting faculty, which complement our existing research and teaching strengths in interesting new ways. Recent visitors have included Allan Keiler (Brandeis), Fred Lerdahl (Columbia), Allen Forte (Yale), Ellie Hisama (Columbia), and Martin Scherzinger (NYU), as well as Brian Ferneyhough (Stanford), Helmut Lachenmann (Stuttgart) and Harrison Birtwistle (London). MORE INFO
Go to Admissions requirements
The Program in Composition
Harvard's program in composition is designed to give students the time and opportunity to develop as composers by offering general musical guidance as well as specific individual criticism of their works. The program is centered around the students' achieving clarity of expression through developing their command of compositional technique. In addition, acquaintance with the literature of the past and present through analysis and performance is considered indispensable. Most courses are seminars and deal with specific topics or student works.
The student typically spends the first two years in the department on coursework. The third and fourth years are devoted to work on the dissertation and teaching, as well as active participation in composition colloquia and Harvard Group for New Music concerts. Composers may spend one term during their 4th year at another art institution or university if a particular research project or artistic residency can be obtained.
On the completion of preparatory training and the passing of the General Examinations (during the summer before the third year), PhD dissertations comprising a substantial portfolio of between five and seven pieces of varied scoring and length may be submitted. MORE INFO
Go to Admissions requirements
Secondary Field in Musicology/Ethnomusicology
To complete a secondary PhD field in Musicology, a graduate student will take a minimum of four courses, at least two of which will be graduate courses (200 level) and no more than two of which are at the level of Music 150 or above, and receive honors grades of at least B+. Neither Pass/Fail nor audited courses will count towards a secondary PhD field. Contact the advisor in Ethnomusicology or in Musicology in the Department of Music for additional information on a secondary PhD field.
Many innovative research areas are not classifiable along traditional lines but rather borrow from a variety of different approaches and methods. This includes projects that integrate creative components or performance into academic work. Candidates interested in the cross-disciplinary category should clearly lay out their academic interests and musical experience. They should present a clear rationale for the cross-disciplinary nature of their interests. Where appropriate, candidates are encouraged to include performance materials in their application. (Candidates admitted through the cross-disciplinary category will declare one of the departmental programs, will take generals and pursue dissertation work in that program, with modifications as appropriate.)
Music as a Secondary Field
A student enrolled in a PhD program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University may achieve formal recognition for completing a secondary field in Music. The following requirements must be met to complete this secondary field.
• Completion of a minimum of four half-courses courses.
• One of these courses must be an introductory course: Music 201a: Introduction to Historical Musicology, Music 201b: Introduction to Ethnomusicology, or Music 221: Current Issues in Theory.
• The remaining three courses may be chosen from other graduate courses (200 level: “Primarily for Graduates”) or intermediate courses (150 level or above: “For Undergraduates and Graduates”). (No more than two courses may be chosen from the 150 or above level.)
• Neither Pass/Fail nor audited courses will count towards a secondary Ph.D. field in this department.
Students interested in declaring a secondary field in music should submit the “GSAS Secondary Field Application” to the Director of Graduate Studies as evidence of their successful participation in four appropriate courses in the Music Department. Once they obtain the approval of the DGS they and the registrar will receive certification of successful completion of secondary field requirements.
For further information contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Harvard University Department of Music, Music Building, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 617-495-2791 email@example.com
For additional information http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/secondary_fields_2.php
To apply to the PhD program in musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, and composition, you must make an application to the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. All applications are online, and may be found (along with all the requirements, fee information, and procedures) at http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/apply
All recipients of a four-year college degree or its international equivalent may apply (students with and without master's degrees may apply). If you are unsure whether you are eligible, please read the GSAS guidelines.
Admissions decisions are made by Music Department faculty, who weigh a combination of factors such as GRE scores, past academic record, strength of scholarly (or compositional) work, and recommendations. The TOEFL test may be required if English is not your first language (required minimum score is 80). Detailed information pertaining to requirements for admission are on the GSAS site listed above.
For information about visiting the department and admissions requirements please go to http://www.music.fas.harvard.edu/gradinfo.html
Admission to the PhD Program: Frequently Asked Questions
Are GRE scores required?
GREs are required of all students applying to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS); scores are valid for five years. You do not need to take the Music GRE test. Only the general GRE (math/language) is required.
How important are GRE scores?
We take GRE scores into consideration along with the entire dossier, not as a single factor that determines the outcome of an application.
When is the deadline for application to Harvard?
The annual deadline is usually around January 2 for entrance the following fall term. Check the GSAS website for each year's deadline.
Does Harvard offers scholarships or financial aid?
Yes. If you are accepted into our PhD program, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will offer you a financial package that guarantees funding for six years, and includes both tuition and living expenses. Teaching stipends may make up part of the package from the student's third year on.
There are also opportunities for additional funding. The Department (and GSAS) awards prizes, fellowships, stipends, and grants each year to graduate students for language study, dissertation completion, research assistance, and travel, among other pursuits.
Do I need to submit samples of my work?
Yes. You need to support your application with samples of your work, be it scholarly (musicology/ethnomusicology/theory) or creative (composition). Specifics are available here.
Does Harvard accept international students?
Are foreign students required to take the TOEFL exam?
Students whose native language is not English or who have not graduated from an English speaking university are required to take and pass the TOEFL exam. The recommended passing score is 80.
I don’t have an undergraduate degree in music. Am I still eligible for admission?
While many of our entering students do have degrees in music, backgrounds and degrees vary widely. We look at all around preparation of our applicants and their overall excellence. As a Music Department, we do look for training and expertise in one or more music traditions and an ability to deal successfully with a curriculum that has requirements across the music subdisciplines as well as interdisciplinary studies.
Can I apply for a Master’s Degree?
The Harvard graduate program in Music is a doctoral program. The subdisciplines of musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, and music theory do not admit candidates for the Master's Degree only. There is a small program (1-2 students per year) in Performance Practice that requires a thesis and terminates in an A.M. degree.
I have received a Master’s Degree and wonder if I can transfer credit for courses taken?
We permit transfer of credit for no more than two courses. Students are allowed to request transfer credit if they are in good standing after the first year of coursework and on submission of details about the course for which credit is requested. Graduate courses taken as an undergraduate student may not be presented for credit if those courses counted toward the undergraduate degree.
I am interested in taking courses in other Music subfields. Is this possible at Harvard?
Our programs both require and encourage coursework in other sub-disciplines of music.
I am interested in more than one sub-discipline in music. Which graduate program should I apply for?
We have graduate programs in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory and composition. Our programs are small, so it is important that you apply to the program closest to your major interests.
Can I take courses outside the Music Department?
Harvard has extraordinary course offerings across the disciplines and we encourage our graduate students to take courses that will enhance their knowledge.
Do foreign language courses count toward degree credit?
You can enroll in language courses to meet the language requirements of our programs, but these courses do not count toward credit for the Ph.D.
What are the possibilities for financial support for graduate studies at Harvard?
The Graduate School at Harvard typically offers admitted Music students six years of full funding, in the form of stipends, teaching fellowships and finishing grants (this amount covers living expenses as well as tuition). Departmental resources include special funds for summer research and some additional fellowships.
I am a performer and wonder if the Music Department gives credit for performance activities to graduate students? What opportunities are there for performance at Harvard?
Although we encourage performance, our graduate program is an academic one and performance activities do not count towards a degree. As a Department of Music which does not have a performance faculty, we are not able to provide vocal or instrumental lessons. There is a lively musical scene on campus and graduate students are welcome to join many University ensembles, including those sponsored by Dudley House or Gamelan Si Betty. Graduate student musicians sometimes perform on the special noontime University Hall Recital Series. The Harvard Group for New Music performs student compositions. Boston is home to a lively musical world and many students participate as performers in music traditions ranging from early music to jazz.
Will interviewing with the Music Department aid my chances of acceptance to Harvard?
No. Unfortunately, faculty are not usually available to meet with prospective students.
If I want to talk to a member of the music department about the program, how do I go about it?
Prospective graduate students can call the Department receptionist (617-495-2791) during November, December, and January to schedule a visit to the department. You may be able to talk with other students, sit in on a class, or attend a concert or lecture. Please go to http://www.music.fas.harvard.edu/gradinfo.html for more information.
Visiting the Department
You are welcome to visit the Department at any time, although we in no way require or expect you to make the trip. You should know that we do invite the students we admit to our program to come to Cambridge as part of our admissions process. At that time, admitted students meet with faculty, get to know our current students, and are introduced to other students who have also been admitted.
We regret that we are not able to make appointments with individual faculty members during a pre-admissions visit.
If you do decide to make a visit prior to the admissions deadline there are optimum times to visit, such as between October and our December holiday break. If you visit at another time of the year, check the academic schedule to avoid reading/exam periods and semester breaks. It is not necessary to visit, nor should you see it as a way to improve your chances of admission.
Rather, a visit is simply a good way to learn about our Department's intellectual environment and infrastructure. We urge you to consult the course schedule http://www.music.fas.harvard.edu/courses.html so that you can plan to sit in on one or more graduate seminars (please ask permission of the instructing professor first: music professors can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). This is the best way to get to know the professors and students.
You may also want to attend any colloquia, lectures, or faculty seminars that coincide with your visit (check our calendar at www.music.fas.harvard.edu/calendar.html), or to tour the Music Library (contact Liza Vick to make an appointment at email@example.com) and other Harvard libraries. It may also be possible to chat informally with some of our current graduate students, who are apt to be working in the department and library during the academic year.
Our receptionists can tell you more about the schedule of events (call 617-495-2791). You can also reach them through email: Kaye Denny (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Charles Stillman (email@example.com).
Tours of the Harvard campus are available twice daily Monday through Friday (and some on weekends), and originate from the Holyoke Information Center in the Holyoke Center Arcade, right in the middle of Harvard Square.
Graduate Advisors: 2013-2014
For more general questions, contact the Director of Graduate Studies (Kay Kaufman Shelemay). For questions specific to each discipline, the faculty advisors this year are:
Historical Musicology: Sindhumathi Revuluri
Ethnomusicology: Ingrid Monson
Theory: Christopher Hasty
Composition: Hans Tutschku
All Professors can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Type the professor's name in the subject line of your email letter (for example, Subject: for Prof. Kelly).
Information for Currently Enrolled Graduate Students
PhD Degree Program
The first two years: coursework
Third year requirements
Final Requirements for Graduation
The first two years: Coursework, Language Study
Sixteen half-courses are required to receive the PhD. Fourteen courses are usually taken during the first two years. Historical musicology students must take two half-courses in ethnomusicology and two half-courses in either theory or composition. No more than one seminar in Medieval theory will count toward the theory requirement; no more than one analysis course can be counted towards the theory requirement. Ethnomusicology students are required to take at least two half-courses each in historical musicology and in offerings outside the department. Ethnomusicology students must also take at least two half-courses in music theory. It is recommended that at least one theory seminar be in cross-cultural music theory. Theory and composition students do not have a set curriculum and should plan their course of study with their advisor.
Students may be allowed academic credit (normally no more than two half-courses) for work done in other graduate schools in the United States or abroad, subject to the evaluation by the department and acceptance by the Graduate School. Petitions may be submitted after the completion of one full year of graduate work in the department.
In general, for all students, 100-level courses should be taken as supplemental to the graduate program, and should not be the major portion of the student's coursework. In order to receive graduate credit, permission to take any half-courses at the 100 level must be granted by the graduate advisor before taking the course.
Competence and fluency in traditional harmony, counterpoint, strict composition, and analysis (including analysis of 20th-century music), are prerequisites for taking the general examination. Entering students will be given a placement test to assess skills. Music B will address these musicianship skills but does not count as one of the required 16 courses. Work must be undertaken in the first year of study.
Note: Graduate students who have one or more incompletes will not be considered for department summer grants.
Language Exams and Requirements (to be completed before General Examination)
Written language exams are given at specified times throughout the year. Reading knowledge of the following languages must be proved before taking the general examination:
Historical musicology--German and French or Italian. Alternative language choices should be discussed with the musicology advisor.
Ethnomusicology—Two research languages, to be determined in consultation with the Ethnomusicology advisor.
Theory—German plus one other language (French, Italian, Latin).
Composition—German, Italian or French unless an alternative language is approved in writing by the graduate advisor.
Historical musicology and ethnomusicology students must additionally pass a third language appropriate to the field of specialization after completing the general examinations and within one year of the approval of a dissertation proposal.
Requirements for languages not tested regularly within the department may be satisfied through special examination, or through presentation of other documentation at the discretion of the graduate advisor.
Language Exam Exemptions
If your native language is a research language and your spoken and written English skills are proficient, you may be exempted from taking a language exam in your native language. At most one language exam may be passed by exemption, and at least one foreign language exam must be taken. (In other words, in programs that only require one language exam, a different foreign language may have to be chosen.) Exemptions are determined on a case-by-case basis by the program advisor and need to be approved by the department.
Language Exam Guidelines
Note: No exceptions will be made
regarding the schedule or requirements for
notification. Sample practice exams are downloadable, below. If you need to take an exam other than in French, German, or Italian, please request your exam from Assistant to the Chair well in advance..
language examinations are given three times during the
academic year, in late October/early November, mid-February, and April;
students will be notified at the beginning of each
academic year as to the precise dates. Students should
sign up for an examination with the Director of
Administration at least three weeks before the desired
examination date. If requested, one sample of each
language exam will be provided to the student when they
sign up for an examination.
2) A graduate
student may retake an examination but only within the
regular cycle and in accordance with the guidelines of
his or her particular graduate program.
examinations in German, French, Italian, Latin, and
Spanish will be administered by Music Department faculty
members. Special arrangements for tests in other
languages must be made no later than six weeks before the
4) Students should
consult with the graduate advisors of their respective
programs about language requirements at the
beginning of their first semester on campus. At that
time, they should agree upon a tentative schedule by
which they will satisfy the language
anticipating any special language need should raise this
issue with the Graduate Advisor at the earliest moment to
allow adequate consultation and planning. Under specific
conditions, students whose native language is not English
may, upon approval of the graduate advisor, satisfy one
language examination by taking a special English
examination, to be administered by the Department,
involving translation of a text from their native
language to English.
6) The student and
the Director of Graduate Studies will be notified in
writing of the outcome of an examination by the faculty
member who administers it.
7) Language exams can be taken on a computer but the computer must be "offline." Students are permitted to use a word-processing computer program only for the purposes of typing out their translation. Students
may use up to two hard-copy dictionaries to aid translation, for
example, an abridged volume for fast access and a
complete one for greater detail. Students are not permitted to use any other translation resources, such as online dictionaries, online translation programs or any other electronic programs or translation facilitators, and must sign a pledge attesting to their compliance with these rules.
Sample language exams
Advising: Pre- and Post Generals
Advising in the department during the pre-generals period is primarily handled by the appropriate graduate advisors and faculty members in the various programs, with the director of graduate studies available for further advice. After successful completion of the general examination, students consult with individual faculty members on their proposed fields of concentration, and when a dissertation proposal has been completed it is presented to the faculty in that field of study. When the dissertation proposal has been approved by the faculty in the program, it is brought to the entire department for final approval, and a dissertation committee is set up for each student. The dissertation committee consists of an advisor and two readers. Any questions or concerns about advising in the department can be brought to the attention of the Director of Graduate Studies or the Chair.
The progress of all graduate students is reviewed at the end of each year. In addition to adequate course work, there are special requirements for first- and second-year students. Every student must submit at least one paper written for a graduate course as part of the first-year review. In Musicology, every first- and second-year student must write a least one seminar paper per term.
General Examinations (taken at the start of the third year)
The General Examination consists of two parts: written and oral. The orals are taken within one or two weeks of passing the written portions. The exams differ by program but are usually taken between May and August of the student’s second year of study. Both the written and the oral parts can be repeated, but not more than once. The format, which is significantly different for each program, is as follows:
For historical musicologists, the general test will have three main parts: written, analysis, and oral. The written exam consists of essays and short answer questions related to six of eight topics chosen by the student. The two prepared topics not selected for the written exam will be presented in the oral exam. The open-book analysis exam will be given in the summer, around mid-July. This will be a take-home exam, distributed on a Friday, and returned on Monday, mid-afternoon. It consists of two pieces of music chosen from 1) before 1700, 2) 18th or 19th century, or 3) 20th century. Students will choose one topic on which they will make a ten-minute presentation in the oral examination. Students will choose a second topic on which they will prepare a syllabus for a 13-week graduate seminar on the subject. This syllabus will be presented in written form, and may be the subject of discussion in the oral examination.
exam consists of an analysis test and a general test. The
analysis test includes two musical examples, one chosen
from the student's primary world music area and the
second drawn from a contrasting musical tradition agreed
on in advance in consultation with the ethnomusicology
general test is divided into four sections: one on
ethnomusicological theory and method; a second on world
music; a third on interdisciplinary problems; and a
fourth on the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. By
request of the student and in consultation with the
ethnomusicology faculty, another subject area may be
substituted as the focus of the fourth section of the
In ethnomusicology, the oral examination
begins with discussion of the primary world music area
chosen by the student. The remainder of the examination
includes questions about general ethnomusicology not
necessarily related to topics covered in seminars, and
further discussion of questions posed in the written
The examination consists of four different parts:
1. A preliminary oral examination on repertoire and analysis ("single sheets"), lasting 30 minutes, with 30 minutes preparation time, usually taken at the beginning of the summer.
2. Four written exams of 3 hours each: (a) systematic theories, (b) history of music theory, (c + d) two examinations in special fields relevant to dissertation research.
3. Analytical essays on two musical works from different periods (take-home paper over 4 days).
4. A two-hour oral examination will allow discussion on the written work and may broaden to engage a variety of related issues in music theory.
Part 1 is an oral exam with one hour preparation time. At the beginning of the preparation time, 10 score excerpts are handed out, broadly taken from canonical works (substitutions can be arranged). The student is asked to identify, contextualize, or classify all of them, and to make more detailed analytical observations on three of them. The oral exam during which the findings are discussed doubles as a "dress rehearsal" for the more substantial oral that concludes the general examinations later during the summer.
Part 2 includes four written exams. They are held in four three-hour exams over the course of several days. Each exam requires students to choose two questions from a larger selection, and to write an essay on each. The exams are in the following subjects:
(1) Theoretical Systems
This paper consists of three sections (Schenker, Neo-Riemannian Theory, Pitch-Class Set Theor;: with permission from the Theory Adviser one section may be substituted for an equivalent alternative). The two essays must be from different sections. The questions tend to offer an opportunity for critique and analysis in a given theoretical tradition.
(2) History of Music Theory
This paper consists of three periods (Early Modern, 18th Century, 19th Century; with permission from the Theory Adviser, one section may be substituted for a different period). In the past, some questions have required detailed knowledge of specific theories or theorists, while others have aimed at sketching a broader historical perspective of developments in the History of Music Theory.
(3+4) Special Topics I and II
Both Special Topics are arranged and prepared with the Theory Faculty. The topics should prepare the student for their likely field of dissertation work and help them survey and critique the existing literature. Each of the two exams consists of three questions, of which two must be answered.
Part 3 is a take-home exam in musical analysis. Four pieces are handed out: 2 tonal, 2 post-tonal; substitutions of repertoire are possible with permission of Theory Adviser. One piece from each section must be selected. The student writes substantial analytical essays--with graphs, sketches, written descriptions--on the two selected pieces. The pieces are handed out Fri at 9am, the essays are due the following Mon at 3pm.
Part 4 consists of an oral exam. This typically last 2 hours, and follows the successful completion of the written exams, usually within one to two weeks. The oral examination follows up the work on the written examination and may broaden to engage any related issues in Western music and Music Theory, without restriction as to historical field.
For composers, a written analysis is to be completed in three days at the end of the spring term of the second year of graduate study. It consists of a piece or set of pieces that should be analyzed by the student in the allotted time period. Students are also required to write an original composition of 7-10 minutes length with an imposed instrumentation, to be submitted by mid-August. The oral examination is based on an in-depth discussion of three major works that are assigned in the late spring of the second year of graduate study, plus an analytical presentation of the student's original composition.
SAMPLE GENERAL EXAMS
Master's Degree (non-terminal, on the way to PhD)
This non-terminal degree may be obtained after successfully completing the following:
-Two languages (one, in the case of composition students)
-Written portion of the general examinations
The degree application dates are the same as the Ph.D. dates. Please see the Director of Administration for more information.
Third Year Requirements
The third year is primarily devoted to developing a dissertation proposal and the beginning of work on the dissertation. All students will complete their required courses; in most cases, that will mean two half-courses. Musicology students will begin their third language (to be completed within one year of the approval of a dissertation proposal). Music 250hf, "Colloquium on Teaching Pedagogy", is required.
Beginning in the third year, graduate students in good standing are eligible for teaching fellowships. Most teaching fellows devote two-fifths TIME to teaching. Following successful completion of the general exam, students are required to take M250ht (Teaching Practicum). This course does not count towards the 16 courses required for the Ph.D.
Within the academic year in which the general examination is passed, the PhD candidate is expected to develop a proposal for a dissertation, which should be a major original contribution to the field. The proposal must be submitted for approval to the department, which is responsible for assigning the student a committee consisting of a dissertation advisor and two other faculty members. Normally, the complete dissertation must be submitted within five years after passing the general examination, and satisfactory progress must be demonstrated every year in order that the student remains in good standing. If the dissertation is submitted thereafter the department is not obligated to accept it. The formal requirements for the dissertation are set forth in The Form of the PhD Dissertation, provided by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The department requires one bound copy for the Music Library, in addition to the two copies (one bound, one digital) required for the Registrar.
All departmental doctoral candidates (including composers) who are about to submit or have submitted their dissertation are required to make a final presentation of their work. A dissertation workshop (Doctoral Conference) is required of all dissertation-writing students in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and theory.
Final Steps in the Dissertation Process
- The procedure for completing the dissertation is as follows:
1. The full text must be submitted to the members of the Dissertation Committee for suggestions, corrections, changes, etc. Candidates are encouraged to discuss drafts of individual chapters with all members of the Dissertation Committee.
2. The candidate should check with the Director of Administration to be sure that all degree requirements have been met.
3. The application for the degree must be submitted to the Registrar by the date published in The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Handbook for the November, March or June degrees.
- 4. After the committee has approved the dissertation in its final form, an unbound copy must be submitted to the department at least four weeks before the Registrar's deadline. During this period the members of the department are free to examine the completed thesis.
5. For all students, a public colloquium on the dissertation is required shortly before or after it has been approved.
6. Copies: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) requires both one bound paper copy and one digital copy, submitted electronically through ProQuest, at an online submission site located here: www.etdadmin.com/gsas.harvard. In addition, one copy bound for the Music Library must be submitted to the department office at the same time the Registrar copy is submitted. University microfilms and RILM forms must be completed at this time as well..
A student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be making satisfactory progress in order to be eligible for any type of financial aid. The following nine items provide a general definition of satisfactory progress that has been adopted for this purpose by the Music Department. It is hoped that this requirement will have a healthy effect on students' academic progress, and that it will enable us to preserve resources for those most deserving of financial assistance.
1. During the first two years of graduate study any student who is permitted to register is considered to be making satisfactory progress.
2. A prospective third-year student must have achieved the minimum grade-point average required by this faculty (B).
3. A prospective third-year student must have passed general examinations.
4. A prospective fourth-year student must have obtained approval of a dissertation prospectus.
5. A prospective sixth-year, or more advanced, student must have produced at least one acceptable chapter of the dissertation or its equivalent for each year beginning with the fifth.
6. Requirements 2 - 5 shall be cumulative.
7. A student who fails to meet a requirement may, upon the department's recommendation, be considered to be an "exception"--and remain eligible for financial assistance--for a grace period of up to one year. At the close of the grace period, in order to be considered to be making satisfactory progress, the student must have met both the requirement missed earlier and the requirement that would normally be imposed at that time.
8. No student may have more than one such year of grace during his or her study.
9. In addition, the requirements of this calendar may be deferred by a department during one year of departmental approved Leave. A department may, if it wishes, defer requirements for a more extended period of approved leave in order to facilitate a student's obtaining a professional degree.
Final Requirements for the PhD Degree/Graduation
Application for the Degree
are available from academic departments, the Registrar's
Office (20 Garden Street) , and the Dean's Office (University Hall). They must be completed by the student,
signed by the Department Chair and filed with the
Registrar's Office by the appropriate due date. In unusual
circumstances late applications may be accepted for the next
two weeks only; there is a penalty fee for late
There are deadlines for filing
the application for your degree. Dates change slightly each year. Doctoral candidates should work closely with their advisors to insure that their committee members receive near final drafts of the work at least one month prior to the degree application deadline.
*Note: It's always best to check with the Registrar for final dates; the following dates are quidelines only.
Awarded in November:
Dissertation certificate due/dissertation submitted electronically (see below)
Degrees Awarded in March:
Dissertation certificate due/dissertation submitted electronically (see below)
Degrees Awarded in June:
Dissertation certificate due/dissertation submitted electronically (see below)
If a student does not
receive the degree on the date it was applied for, the
student must reactivate the degree application for conferral
at a later date. Reactivation forms are available at the
above offices; they also need the signature of the
Department Chair, and must be filed by the appropriate due
date for degree applications: Students may reactivate a
degree application once without a fee; for any subsequent
reactivation there is a fee.
Submitting the Doctoral Thesis
When PhD applicants
obtain a degree application or reactivation form, they
should also receive two questionnaires: The Survey of
Earned Doctorates, which is conducted by the National
Research Council, and a combined Student Exit
Interview from the GSAS Dean's Office and Survey of
Postgraduate Plans from the Office of Career Services.
Student must complete both forms and return them to the
Registrar's Office (20 Garden Street in advance of turning
in their thesis.
about the preparation, submission, and microfilming of the
thesis is contained in the booklet The Form of the
Doctoral Thesis, which is available from the Department
Administrator, at the Dean's Office, and at
the Registrar's Office. Music Department students should plan on submitting a bound copy to Isham, a bound copy for the University Archives, and an online submission to UMI/Proquest through the registrar's portal.
Requirements for Submitting the Dissertation:
1. By 5 pm on the day of the deadline, students must have submitted the ORIGINAL Dissertation Acceptance Certificate, Degree Application (usually due earlier), and three exit surveys (or proof of completion, depending) to the registrar.
2. By 11:59 on that day, the dissertation must have been submitted (via a link available on the registrar's website) to UMI/Proquest. This digital copy must have a scanned copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate as the first page and conform to the guidelines available in the "Form of the Dissertation" document, available (and constantly revised) at the Registrar's Office. When candidates file this document they are required to order a bound copy for the University Archives. But Music Department students should be advised to order (at least) a second hard copy, bound, for Isham. This is NOT pre-set in the submission form. Note: It takes UMI 6-8 (probably more) weeks to process this.
3. Students should be alerted to the TWO phases of online distribution to which they can assent or dissent: the first is ProQuest's online database, the second is Harvard University's DASH.
4. Permissions. With the student's digital dissertation, he or she is required to submit a file of permissions letters when uploading the dissertation. This is also the point at which one can submit video/audio materials.Students are encouraged to go to an online submission workshop to clarify what is necessary and when.
All degree candidates
must register continuously until completion of the
requirements for the degree. PhD candidates must have paid
two years of full tuition and two years of reduced tuition
before receipt of the degree, unless they have completed the
PhD in less than four years from initial registration. All
PhD candidates must pay the facilities fee in their last
term of registration (unless a higher tuition has been
paid). Resident students automatically will have paid at
least the facilities fee for the term. Non-resident students
who paid the active file fee for the term will be charged
the facilities fee and given credit for the active file fee
already charged. This final charge for the Ph.D. is billed
when a student applies for the degree; it is cancelled if
the degree is not received at that time.
For students receiving
degrees in November, the last term of registration is the
previous spring term; for degrees in March the last term is
the previous fall; and for degrees in June the last term is
the spring term. Students who are uncertain whether they
will finish in time for degrees in November or March are
encouraged to register for the fall or spring terms
respectively, either in residence or on leave of absence, to
avoid late registration fees if they miss the degree
deadlines. If they then do finish in time, their
registration for the term will be cancelled. Students should
see the GSAS Handbook section on Medical Fees
regarding health fees coverage.
Diplomas may be
obtained with identification at the Registrar's Office, 20
Garden Street. Students may also indicate a mailing address
on the degree application; the mailing fee is payable when
the application is filed. Diplomas are sent by certified
mail; there is a small fee for mailing in the United
States, Canada, and Mexico; and a slightly higher fee for
Once the thesis,
thesis acceptance certificate and departmental
recommendation for the degree are on file in the Registrar's
Office, a student may request, in person or in writing,
certification of the expected degree. Requests should be
addressed to the GSAS Degree Office, 20 Garden St. The first
three certifications are free; there is a nominal charge for
each additional certification.
All students who
receive degrees in November, March and June of a given
academic year may participate in the Commencement
celebration held in June. In April, the Dean's Office
(495-1816) sends information about the Commencement Day
schedule, tickets, and academic regalia to all recipients of
November and March degrees and all applicants for June
Resources for Graduate Study
The Collection of Musical Instruments
[click here for detailed information and collection lists]
The Collection includes a number of instruments, including a German double harpsichord made by William Dowd and the historic Dolmetsch double harpsichord and clavichord. The room contains a piano built by Johann Baptist Streicher in 1869 from the private collection of Professor Robert Levin which has been made available to students and faculty of the department. The EIR also contains two pianos ordered for the department by Professor Levin since his arrival: (1) a copy by Paul McNulty, Prague, Czech Republic, after Anton Walter & Sohn, ca. 1805, 5 1/2 octaves (FF-c"") with moderator and true una corda, delivered in February 1998; (2) a copy by Rodney Regier, Freeport, ME, after Conrad Graf, ca. 1824 6 1/2 octave (CC-g""). Taking the harpsichord and three pianos as a whole, the EIR has instruments that take users straight through organologically from the high Baroque to the advent of the modern piano in the later 1880s. In addition, the department owns two Furth harpsichords, a number of renaissance and Baroque stringed instruments, and a small collection of historical instruments. Organs at Harvard include the four-manual C.B. Fisk instrument in the Memorial Church and the three-manual Flentrop in Adolphus Busch Hall.
Started in spring
1998, the Graduate Music Forum (GMF) aims to provide an
opportunity for Harvard Music Department graduate students
in all programs to discuss issues of common interest of
concern to them. To date, these have ranged from matters of
departmental administration and facilities to the structure
of degree programs and the inception of new student
Discussion takes place
principally in monthly meetings, which are held usually on a
Wednesday or Thursday afternoon at 5:15. Both notification
and minutes are circulated to all graduate students. All are
encouraged to attend the meetings: however, those for whom
attendance is inconvenient or impossible are urged to
participate in the Forum via e-mail or other
While the aim has been
to keep the GMF fairly informal, the organization does have
an official role in selecting and briefing representatives
to the Music Department faculty meetings and the Graduate
Student Council. These representatives, in addition to a
secretary who co-ordinates the meetings and prepares the
minutes and correspondence, are the Forum's only "office
Barwick Colloquium Series, Friday Lunch Talks & Composer's Colloquium
Each year graduate students nominate possible speakers to being to campus, and then vote on who to invite. The committee of rising 3rd year students act as coordinators and hosts for the series. The Department provides the funds that make the colloquium series, now named the Barwick Student Colloquium Series, possible.
This is not the only series of colloquia offered by the Department, but it is the only one which gives graduate students the opportunity to request specific speakers whose work is of particular interest, or in fields which are not necessarily reflected by the day-to-day offerings of the Department.
Friday Lunch Talks are a series of informal colloquia where students are invited to give "works in progress." The Composer's Colloquium is another forum for graduate student colloquia. This is a weekly get-together that meets for two hours every Monday at noon. It brings together composers, theorists and musicologists from both within and outside Harvard for discussion.
Dudley House, located in Lehman Hall on the Yard, houses the GSAS center. There is a host of events, including lectures, concerts, movies, outings, and activities tailored to graduate students. http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~dudley outlines services available. The House sponsors opportunities to share lunch or dinner with faculty, and houses a dining room, computer facilities for graduate students, the office of the Graduate Student Council and the offices of Director of Student Services for GSAS and the office of the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.
The Ethnomusicology Laboratory [the "Ethnolab"] was created to provide technical resources to aid the ethnomusicological research of Harvard University students and faculty. It includes field equipment which can be checked out for fieldwork projects as well as audio and video editing suites for transcribing, analyzing and publishing materials collected in the field.
The laboratory has been used for transcription of music and interviews, dubbing of analog audio and video in a variety of formats, digitizing analog audio and video, editing audio and video and transfer of audio and video materials to CD and DVD for archival purposes. Field recording has included audio and video documentation of performances, interviews, and events as well as the recording of music for which there are no published recordings available.
The EthnoLab equipment includes:
Pro Tools 10: Lynda
Final Cut Pro 10: Lynda
*Compressor 4: Lynda
*Motion 5: Lynda
Photoshop CS6: Lynda
Microsoft Office 11: Word, Excel, Powerpoint
iWork 09: Lynda
Access to the Ethnolab is open to