Coursework Overview

Students in History/Theory and Ethnomusicology will normally take a total of seventeen required courses of 30000- to 40000-level instruction during Scholastic Residence. Composition students will normally take nine quarters of Music 34000 (Composition Lessons), twelve quarters of Music 34100 (Composition Seminar) and twelve required courses of 30000- or 40000-level instruction.

Tracks 1 and 2

Students who enter the program with an M.A. in Music (or equivalent degree) from a different institution may, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, opt for one of two tracks. Under Track 1, the standard number of required courses will be reduced as outlined in each program description below, and the Comprehensive Examinations will be taken in the summer after the first year. Under Track 2, students will complete the standard two-year curriculum for their area of study and take the Comprehensive Examinations in the summer after the second year.


Seminars include all academic courses numbered above 40000, not including the Graduate Colloquium and Graduate Teaching Forum in Music. Students are encouraged to take seminars that offer a wide variety of approaches and subjects. Faculty mentors and the DGS will advise students on the balance between disciplinary and extra-disciplinary training; music students are typically expected enroll in several of the available music seminars, while also taking some courses outside the department. Reading courses, whether topic-based or directed, may not be substituted for a seminar.


The Colloquium is a series of lectures followed by discussion and normally given by speakers from other institutions who are specially invited by the Music Department to share their recent research or compositions with students and faculty. Attendance at a total of six quarters of colloquium is required, and students may register for colloquium in any quarter. Students must attend at least half of the lectures in a given term to fulfill the colloquium requirement for that term.


The Department of Music values the practical knowledge of music-making in addition to the scholarly study of music. We seek to cultivate an active community of musician-scholars, while also allowing for a range of expressions. Students in all subfields will complete two different activities before attaining candidacy (inc. playing in two different ensembles). We encourage students to be capacious and thoughtful about their career trajectories, and to use this opportunity to expand their musical expression and skills in support of their desired futures.

Possible musicianship activities include:

  • Participate in a University-sponsored ensemble for a year
  • Play a solo recital
  • Play a chamber recital
  • Play a piece on a solo or chamber recital (s/a Tea Time concerts)
  • Take regular lessons on your instrument for one year (proof of instruction required)
  • Record and produce an album of your original works
  • Transcribe a substantial amount of music from an oral/improvised tradition (beyond coursework requirements, with the guidance of a faculty member)
  • Take three exams in musicianship skills of your choosing (e.g., chromatic sight-singing, harmonic dictation, and open score reading, with the guidance of a faculty member)

The DGS will consider students’ petitions for substitutions and alternative activities.

Incompletes and Quality Grades

Students are expected to complete work for a specific course during the quarter in which the course is taken. Students unable to complete the requirements for a departmental course by the end of that quarter will not receive a letter grade (known as a “quality grade”) and will instead see a “blank,” an “I” (incomplete) or an “NGR” (no grade recorded) on their transcript. These placeholders will be replaced by a quality grade when all requirements for that course have been fulfilled and evaluated.

All outstanding coursework for blank/I/NGRs must be completed and submitted by September 1 before the beginning of the following academic year. If coursework is not completed by this date, the incomplete grade will automatically be changed to a “UW” (unofficial withdrawl). The UW can be changed to a quality grade for eight quarters if/when the student remedies the incomplete. Alternatively, the student can elect to take a new course to fulfill the requirement.

Students are expected to take required academic courses for quality grades (letter grades); a petition to change to P/F grading will be considered only in exceptional circumstances. If a student changes their enrollment in an academic course to P/F, they typically forfeit counting that course toward their required program of study. There are several courses for which P/F grading is the norm, including Colloquium, Dissertation Development Seminars (DPPS, DPS, DCS), and Graduate Teaching Forum in Music (GTFM).

Academic Integrity

All work submitted by a student must be his or her own. All work copied, translated, or paraphrased from the writings of others must be accompanied by appropriate citations, following guidelines from the Chicago Manual of Style or an equivalent reference work. Failure to cite work appropriately constitutes plagiarism, an offense punishable under the University disciplinary system. Students with questions about the application of these criteria to individual cases should consult with the instructor.