PhD in Musicology

The PhD in Musicology is offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) in close collaboration with the College of Fine Arts (CFA) School of Music.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Musicology offers two specializations: Historical Musicology or Ethnomusicology, as well as a double specialization in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology. It is designed for those who are preparing themselves for college or university teaching, or for any position that requires research and writing about music. The curriculum for this degree is structured in breadth as well as in depth and is therefore also of value to administrators, executives, performers, conductors, and pedagogues at the very highest levels.

Credits

A minimum of 32 credits must be completed for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology.

Prerequisites

Candidates in the Historical Musicology or Ethnomusicology specializations must possess an MA in Music, usually with a concentration in musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, or composition, or its equivalent. Deficiencies must be made up without credit. Additional prerequisites may be required if deemed necessary by the faculty.

Placement Exams

All incoming students must take proficiency exams in music history and music theory. These exams are administered just before the start of the fall semester and the results are used to inform course selections. Students who are found to be deficient in either area may be assigned remedial coursework as determined by their advisor. This remedial coursework will not count towards the requirements of the degree.

Fields of Specialization

Candidates choose one of the following fields of specialization: Historical Musicology, Ethnomusicology, or the double concentration in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology.

Course Requirements

Historical Musicology Specialization

Students should take the Pro-Seminar in Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 828) in their first semester. There are no further specific course requirements for the PhD in Musicology, but students should customize their program in consultation with their advisor using the following distribution as a general guide:

  • 20 further credits from among 700- and 800-level courses in musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory
  • 4 credits of approved non-music electives
  • 4 credits of Research and Directed Study in Music (CFA MU 921)

Ethnomusicology Specialization

Students should take the Pro-Seminar in Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 828) in their first semester. Other requirements are as follows:

  • 8 credits in ethnomusicology and musicology seminars, to include Research Methods in Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 829) and Contemplating Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 830)
  • 16 credits in approved areas such as anthropology, musicology, music education, ethnomusicology, history, or specific area studies courses from Boston University or the Boston Consortium
  • At least 2 semesters of World Music Ensemble (CFA MU 567), either as instructor or participant (worth 0 or 1 credit)
  • Knowledge of the undergraduate survey course Musical Cultures of the World (CFA MU 340/350), either as a teaching assistant, or by auditing the course
  • 4 credits of Research and Directed Study in Music (CFA MU 921)

Double Specialization in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Students should take the Pro-Seminar in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 828) in their first semester. Other requirements are as follows:

  • 8 credits of musicology seminars
  • 8 credits in Research Methods in Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 829) and Contemplating Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 830)
  • 3 credits of a music theory seminar at the 800 level
  • 12 credits of approved non-music electives
  • 4 credits of Research and Directed Study in Music (CFA MU 921)

Language Requirement

  • PhD candidates in the Historical Musicology specialization must demonstrate a reading knowledge of German and one other foreign language.
  • PhD candidates in the Ethnomusicology specialization must demonstrate a reading and speaking knowledge of two foreign languages relevant to their studies.
  • PhD candidates in the double specialization in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology must demonstrate a reading knowledge of German and a reading and speaking knowledge of one other foreign language relevant to their studies.

Students who choose to fulfill a language requirement through a GRS Reading Seminar (e.g. GRS LF 621, LG 621, LI 621, etc.) should obtain a copy of the Report of Examination form from the department’s administrative coordinator to be signed by the Chair and then submitted to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) Records Office, 705 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 112. Students who fulfill a language requirement by examination will have this form submitted on their behalf.

Qualifying Examinations

Students should take the qualifying examinations for the doctorate when they have only three credits remaining to be fulfilled toward the degree (CFA MU 921). Students must have the written approval of the advisor for each attempt at these examinations. As part of the evaluation of the written and oral examinations, the examiners may specify areas for further study above the minimum credit requirement for the degree, whether or not the examinations were passed.

In the case of an unsuccessful attempt, the examiners may specify such further requirements before allowing the student to repeat the examinations. The examinations may not be taken more than three times.

A written application to take the qualifying examinations must be submitted to the Chair of the department at least six weeks in advance of the scheduled examination date. Students may enroll in Research and Directed Study in Music (CFA MU 921) only after the successful fulfillment of the examinations.

Historical Musicology Specialization

Preparation for the Qualifying Exams should begin during the third semester of course work. Guided by their advisor, students will select three topics on which to compile substantial annotated bibliographies. Students should submit their final bibliographies to their advisor for final approval no later than the beginning of the semester or summer in which they plan to take their exams. The Historical Musicology qualifying exam is in four parts: a take-home essay of 5,000-7,000 words for each of the three topics, to be completed in one week each, and a theory examination, to be completed in one weekend.

Ethnomusicology Specialization

Preparation for the Qualifying Exams should begin two or three semesters prior to the examination. Guided by their advisor, students will select three topics relevant to their dissertation on which to compile substantial annotated bibliographies. Students should submit their final bibliographies to their advisor for final approval no later than the beginning of the semester or summer in which they plan to take their exams. The examination committee will schedule a one-week period for the Qualifying Exams to take place before the student’s fifth semester. The Exam Committee will devise three questions, one on each topic selected, for each of which the student will write an essay of 5,000-7,000 words to be submitted along with the annotated bibliography for each essay. In addition, students will be asked to analyze a recording from their research area. If the essays are considered acceptable, the student and the examination committee will meet for an oral exam of three hours to discuss the exam topics in depth as well any other questions about the discipline.

Double Specialization in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Preparation for the Qualifying Exams should begin during the fourth semester of course work. Guided by their advisors, students will select two topics in historical musicology and two topics in ethnomusicology on which to compile substantial annotated bibliographies; at least two of these selected topics should be relevant to their dissertation. Students should submit their final bibliographies to their advisor for final approval no later than the beginning of the semester or summer in which they plan to take their exams. The Exam Committee will devise four questions, one on each topic selected, for use in the exams. The qualifying exam for the Double Specialization in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology is in five parts: a take-home essay of 5,000-7,000 words for each of the four topics, to be completed in one week each, and a theory and analysis examination, to be completed in one weekend.

Residency Requirement

Every doctoral candidate must be enrolled as a full-time student for at least one academic year. See the Degree Requirements for the PhD on this site, under Residency.

Oral Exam

The oral examination takes place approximately one month after the completion of all written exams and receipt of the dissertation prospectus (see below). It deals primarily with the dissertation prospectus (proposal).

Dissertation

The candidate must write a dissertation that constitutes an original contribution to the field of musical knowledge.

Dissertation Prospectus

Before embarking upon the dissertation, the candidate must submit a dissertation prospectus to the department and the GRS Records Office, 705 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 112. The first draft of the dissertation prospectus must be submitted to the department within 90 days of the completion of the qualifying exams.

See the Degree Requirements for the PhD on this site, under Dissertation Prospectus.

Abstract and Dissertation Defense

The candidate must submit an approved abstract of the dissertation and pass an oral defense on the subject matter and the background of the dissertation. See the Degree Requirements for the PhD on this site, under Abstract and Final Oral Examination.

The final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to all the readers at least two weeks prior to the defense date. The candidate must submit the final draft of the completed dissertation to the Chair two weeks before the university deadline for submission. This copy must already have been approved and signed by the readers. Failure to meet this requirement will mean that the University deadline will not be met. After approval by the Chair, one hard copy of the final document must be submitted to the Chair. The dissertation defense must be scheduled at least 2 weeks prior to the filing deadline. Failure to adhere to these dates will mean that the date of graduation will be delayed.

Research with Human Subjects

Students doing research with living human subjects, or with data from living human subjects, are required to comply with IRB regulations. For further information and to begin the process of obtaining IRB compliance, see the Institutional Review Board website.

Courses

The schedule of courses to be offered by the School of Music during a given semester may be found in the College of Fine Arts section of the Class Schedule.