Doctoral Qualifying Examinations


DMA Study Guide THEORY

Part B Study Guides are available upon request.  Requests for departmental study guides must include full name, instrument, and UID.


  • FRENCH and ITALIAN language exams  will be held:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 9 a.m. – 11a.m. in Room 154

  • GERMAN language exam will be held:

Thursday, September 18, 2014, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. in Room B36


  • DMA Qualifying HISTORY exams  will be held:

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, 9 a.m – 4 p.m. (with a one-hour lunch break) in Room B36

  • DMA Qualifying THEORY exams will be held:

Saturday, September 27th, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (with a one-hour lunch break); Location: Basement practice rooms


Registering for Qualifying Examinations

Students may register for the exam by bringing an application form, signed by your department chair or your advisor, to CFA 240 no later than one week prior to the exam date.

Application due dates:

History: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Theory: Friday, September 19th, 2014

Prior to application for an examination, students must: pass CFA MU719/MT701; pass CFA MU749/MH711; complete at least thirty (30) credits; and have no incompletes on their transcript.

Language Examinations

The language exams generally take place one week prior to the History and Theory exams.   Students may obtain an application form either from CFA 240 or by download.  Beginning at 9 a.m. students have two hours to complete the exam. It will be written in blue books with a pen or pencil. Students may make use of a paper dictionary, but no other resources are permitted.

Students have the option of taking a reading class in one of the above required languages of their choice in lieu of taking the exam. The classes are pass/fail like the exam and counts the same as the exam.

GRS LI621: Reading Italian for Graduate Students

GRS LF621: Reading French for Graduate Students

GRS LG621: Reading German for Graduate Students

Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music History:

Laptops are prohibited. Students will write the exam in blue books using a pen or pencil, and are allowed a paper dictionary if one is needed. Please see below:

Part A

10 sample essay questions are available on the School of Music website. These exact questions will not appear on the exam. On the day of the exam, 10 new questions that are similar to these in style and organization, will be handed out, and the student will write 3 out of the 10 given essays, one from each group. Here is the breakdown of historical genres:

Three essays, one from each group.

Group I. Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque

Group II. Classical, Romantic, Twentieth Century

Group III. Contemporary Classical, World Music, Popular Music, Jazz

Part B

This varies from department to department.  Patrick Waters,, will have questions for most departments.  Some departments like to give questions directly to you, the student, and she won’t have those, but you’ll work that out directly with your department chair. This is generally true for the departments of Collaborative Piano and Composition & Theory.


Tutors for the Music History Examination are now available through the Department of Musicology.  Fee: $45 per hour for private tutoring, and a class rate per person (for a class of from two to five students) of $25.  The frequency of the sessions is to be determined between the tutor and the student.

BASIL CONSIDINE Basil is a dissertation-stage PhD candidate in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology. His research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sacred music, nineteenth-century opera, and the music of Mauritius. He works extensively with international students and is also a Writing Tutor at BU. He may be contacted at or 617.858.1617.

MARIA GEORGAKARAKOU (accent on last “a”) Maria Georgakarakou was born in Athens, Greece. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Music from the Longy School of Music and is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Boston University.  She may be contacted at or 617.230.3630.

DAVID KJAR (pronounced “care”) David Kjar is pursuing a PhD in Musicology. His research focuses on eighteenth-century performance practice and notions of performance in the twentieth century, with attention given to Wanda Landowska and her influence on the performance style of the early music movement.  He may be contacted at or 617.879. 2619.


Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music Theory

Study Guide

Computers, cell phones, and paper dictionaries are prohibited during the Music Theory exam.  Students are allowed only writing utensils, a watch, and food/water for the duration of the exam.


Doctoral Qualifying Examination in Music History – Oral Examinations

Once a stsudent has passed both written exams, he or she will be qualified to sit for an oral examination. Once qualified, students must sit for the oral exam in the same semester as successful completion of the written exams and must be available for the date given.  Please check the Graduate Handbook for more information.  Examination boards will include the student’s major teacher or department chair, a musicologist or theorist/composer, and a faculty member at-large, chosen from any department. The exam is roughly two hours long.

If a retake of the exam is needed, it may occur no sooner than the following semester.

General Information:

Three Attempts

Each student is given three attempts to take and pass the exams, i.e. three for History, three for Theory, and three for the oral examination. Students are considered to have availed themselves of an attempt upon receipt of the exam in the examination room. Students may rescind their application to take the written exams without penalty as late as the morning of the exam, provided that exam administrators are informed in advance of the exam start time.

Graduate Handbook

The Graduate Handbook is the ultimate authority for official policy regarding exams.


The School has created a Facebook group  for students to encourage each other and swap studying ideas.