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Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology with Historical Emphasis

The University of Michigan offers programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in historical musicology and in ethnomusicology; the Master of Arts degree is also available. Students are admitted to the doctoral program directly from a bachelor's degree program. A Master of Arts degree may be awarded after two years to those students not continuing in the Ph.D. program.

Specialized resources available to support the graduate programs in historical musicology and ethnomusicology
include the following:

  • The faculty of the Department of Musicology includes distinguished teachers, scholars, and researchers of national and international reputation.
  • The School of Music, Theatre & Dance Library holds about 100,000 volumes of books, scores, and microforms, and over 20,000 sound recordings. Special collections include the Montgomery Collection of Popular American Sheet Music and the Women's Music Collection.
  • The School provides excellent computer facilities to enhance instruction and research. Available software serves a wide variety of scholarly and musical needs.
  • The Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments comprises over 2,000 instruments from throughout the world, many in playable condition.
  • Ensembles offered include an Early Music ensemble, a Contemporary Directions ensemble, and a Javanese gamelan.
  • The William L. Clements Library of American History includes rich holdings of American music before 1900. Another special collection, the Eva Jessye Collection, includes rare materials pertaining to African-American music.

Program Objectives

The doctoral program provides specialized training and develops the ability to pursue original research. The Department of Musicology is committed to a time-to-completion of the doctorate of six years. All students admitted to the PhD program in Musicology are provided with five-year funding packages. To remain eligible for financial aid at the doctoral level, students should achieve candidacy by the end of the sixth term.

Prerequisites for Admission

Each student entering the Ph.D. program in historical musicology must have completed the following undergraduate minimums:

  1. Twelve semester hours of music history.
  2. Twelve hours of music theory.
  3. A liberal arts sequence in addition to the foreign language and English requirements.

Knowledge of foreign languages is indispensable for studying the history of music. Prospective students are expected to enter with training in one foreign language, preferably French or German, and must qualify in that language at the end of the first year in residence. This can be accomplished by passing the School's Foreign Language Test or by one of the methods described in the Handbook for Rackham Students in Music, Dance, or Theatre.

It is highly recommended that students also attain proficiency in some field of performance. From a practical standpoint, college positions frequently require the ability to combine teaching in musicology with instruction in a field of performance. Lecturers are also frequently called upon to illustrate their remarks at the piano. From a musical standpoint, we believe that nothing can replace first-hand experience in playing and singing.

Program of Study

At least one academic year of full-time residence is required.

Annual deadlines can be found here.

The First Two Years

The first two years of study provide training in the practice and methodology of musicology. A minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit is required during the first two years of graduate study. Of these, at least 12 must be in either historical musicology or ethnomusicology and 8 hours in other fields of music. Each precandidate must choose two courses of at least two hours' credit each in a cognate field. Two departmental courses are required:

  • Musicology 501, Bibliography and Methodology
  • Musicology 502, Scholarly Writing and Research Technique

In addition, two electives are required that are related to a student's principal area of study. These will normally be taken outside the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. With the approval of the department, however, performance courses may be elected as the cognate and taken within the School. In general, the choice of electives is based on a student's background, on his or her preparation for the third-term review, and on the plan of research for the Ph.D. Although others are possible, recommended cognate disciplines include:

  • history of dance
  • anthropology
  • sociology
  • history
  • literary criticism
  • history of art
  • classics
  • Germanic languages
  • Romance languages
  • medieval and early modern studies
  • European studies
  • American culture
  • Latin American Studies
  • women's studies
  • jazz studies

A student wishing to be considered for a graduate-student instructorship must elect Musicology 509, Teaching of Introductory Courses in Music, or petition the departmental faculty before or during the first week of classes in the first term of residence, to request a waiver of this course based on demonstrated competence in teaching at the college level. The petition should be sent to the department chair.

Third-Term Review; Examinations and Research Paper

During the fall term of the second year of graduate study the student will be expected to:

  1. Take an examination designed to test the student's knowledge of European and American music. The examination, normally given in October, consists of an essay on 3–5 works of divergent periods, genres, and/or styles. The Prelim Committee formulates the questions.
  2. Complete a critical-bibliographical paper on a topic of the student's choice, typically selected and developed in the course of MUSICOL 502. The third-term paper should demonstrate the student's ability to pursue original scholarly research and to articulate findings in clear English prose. It should review a well-defined musicological topic and selection of music, evaluate criticallythe available literature on the topic, and describe lines of inquiry that remain to be pursued.While developing the topic, students should feel free to contact faculty members for general guidance. Such contacts are most beneficial early in the process, particularly during the project’s conceptual stage. The third-term paper is not to be a mentored project, so students should not expect faculty members to read and edit drafts of the paper.

The recommended length for this paper is 35–40 pages of prose, in addition to the bibliography, with appendices and musical examples as needed. One hard copy and one electronic copy (Word document) of the paper are to be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies bySeptember 15(or the first business day thereafter) of the second year of study. After faculty critique, a revised version will be submitted six weeks later. As they work on this second draft, students are encouraged to consult with any department faculty to discuss individual comments and suggestions. Again, faculty members will not read/edit/comment on the second draft. How students respond to faculty comments and incorporate faculty suggestions is a valuable component of the exercise.

The departmental evaluation of all students in the third term is based on graduate-level course work completed to date, the third-term paper, the results of the preliminary exam, and the student's prospects for continued success in the field. The department's judgment is a collective one. If the evaluation is favorable, the student may continue in the Ph.D. program. If a student has not successfully fulfilled the requirements of the third-term review, but has performed adequately in other respects, he or she will be awarded a terminal master's degree. The department chair will report the results of the evaluations to the students concerned.

Entering students with M.A. degrees in Musicology from other institutions may also petition the departmental faculty to request participation in these exercises during the first term of residency.

Program of Study Beyond the First Two Years

It is expected that students in Musicology will achieve candidacy within six terms of entering the program. Financial aid at the doctoral level is conditional on the achievement of candidacy within six terms.

Requirements for Candidacy

  1. Successful completion of at least two courses in a major field of specialization.
  2. Demonstration of proficiency in a second foreign language, preferably one related
    to the student's field of doctoral research.
  3. Successful completion of Musicology 509, Teaching of Introductory Courses in Music, or exemption by the department and the Faculty Council on Graduate Studies based on demonstrated competence in teaching at the college level.
  4. Successful completion of two cognate courses taken outside the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in a field related to the student's field of specialization.
  5. Successful completion of three courses in each of two minor fields of music other than the student's field of specialization. Minor fields may include, for example, a period of music history, American music, or ethnomusicology. The department encourages the latter.
  6. Successful completion of the general preliminary examination in music theory.
  7. Successful completion of the special field examination in musicology. This examination normally includes a listening exam and two essays, the general sense and limits of which have been discussed in advance with the prospective dissertation advisor. One essay will cover the entire period of research. The second will be more closely focused on the proposed dissertation topic.

Special Field Examination

The special field examination in historical musicology comprises two parts, both of which should be scheduled in advance and in reasonably close proximity.

  1. Two essays, the general sense and limits of which have been discussed in advance with the advisor and approved by the committee (the dissertation advisor and two other members of the musicology faculty). One essay will cover the entire period of research or area of concentration of the student. The second will be more closely focused on the dissertation topic. The time limit for the essay portion of the exam may last up to six hours, divided into two sections with an hour break in between.
  2. An oral examination based on a repertoire list of 50 pieces (or up to 50 hours of music, depending on the candidate’s area of specialization), comprising works in at least three genres. The student will propose the repertoire list and circulate it to the examination committee for its approval at least one month in advance of the exam. The repertoire list should be supported by bibliographical research, subject to the committee’s inquiry at the exam. The oral exam will last two hours.

Note: Students wishing to be considered by the department for a one-term candidacy fellowship must pass the Special Fields Exam and achieve candidacy in the term prior to the fellowship term. In such cases, the Rackham grace period (within the fellowship term) may not be used. For more information, see the scheduling guidelines at the Rackham website.

Dissertation Requirement

The dissertation requirement in musicology comprises four parts: the dissertation proposal, the dissertation conference, the dissertation oral presentation, and the dissertation itself.

The dissertation proposal will consist of a carefully researched and written description of the proposed topic (approximately 20-25 pages) that will argue for its relevance, feasibility, and originality as a scholarly contribution to the field of musicology. The proposal should also describe the plan of research and indicate as precisely as possible the objectives of the project, the sources to be consulted, the current state of research, and the cultural, musical, methodological, historical, aesthetic, anthropological, critical, analytical, and social issues relevant to the topic. If the project involves fieldwork, the proposal should indicate how it will be carried out and what criteria will be applied in the evaluation of data.

A dissertation conference is required. The dissertation conference is a meeting of the student with a committee of the faculty (typically but not necessarily the dissertation committee) soon after candidacy has been achieved to explore the avenues of research outlined in the candidate's proposal and pertinent to the dissertation topic.

While researching and writing the dissertation, each Ph.D. candidate will present a lecture in a public forum before an audience of students and departmental faculty. This dissertation oral presentation will describe the topic, methodology, and results of his or her dissertation research to date. This lecture will customarily be presented at a point when the candidate can benefit most from the exchange: after enough research has taken place to define the chief issues of the topic but before a large portion has been written.

The dissertation in historical musicology must make a significant and original contribution to the field, and otherwise conform to the standards of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

Final Oral Examination

A comprehensive oral examination on the candidate's dissertation will be conducted by the dissertation committee following the completion of the dissertation.

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