School of Music, Theatre and Dance at the University of Michigan

Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory

Application Deadline for 2023-2024 – January 5

Designed for students seeking the highest degree in the field, the PhD is a rigorous five-year course of study culminating in a doctoral dissertation.

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The doctoral program provides specialized training in scholarly method, music theory, and musicology. Students should normally achieve candidacy by the end of the sixth term.


SMTD offers a wide variety of courses across all disciplines.

Academic Eligibility

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory must have completed a bachelor’s of music degree or equivalent to be eligible for admission.

A Master of Arts degree may be awarded after two years to those students not continuing in the Ph.D. program.


Nearly all PhD students receive full-tuition fellowships. Most also receive health benefits and a stipend attached to a Graduate Student Assistantship, which can vary in proportion to the appointment fraction and the duties associated with it. In addition to the funding packages offered by the SMTD, Rackham students are also eligible to apply for a wide range of fellowships to fund research, travel, and performance.