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Graduate Program Chair in Composition and Theory,
Yu-Hui Chang

Graduate Program Chair in Musicology, Eric Chafe

Joint MA Adviser in Music & Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Eric Chafe

For more information about admissions, financial aid, and student services, please visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

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Music Department Course Requirements 

Music Graduate Student Handbook

Current Graduate Students 

Library Research Resources

Musicology Ph.D.

From the Gorham Collection of Early Music Imprints

From the Gorham Collection
of Early Music Imprints

The Ph.D. program in musicology is designed to offer students the time, resources, and support to develop their skills as researchers, writers, and teachers in higher education. Courses on the graduate level consist of proseminars and seminars: proseminars typically survey an array of topics illustrating the representative avenues of research and methodological approaches; seminars are intensive investigations devoted to a single topic and stress original research. Students may elect to concentrate in music history or theory and analysis, and work closely with the Graduate Program Chair in choosing courses appropriate to their specific research interest. Competency in two foreign languages, German and French (or an alternative to French, by petition) is required. A comprehensive written general exam is administered in August, prior to the beginning of the third year.

Preparation of graduate students for teaching careers is an integral part of the Ph.D. programs in music. Graduate students receive assignments as teaching fellows for music courses during their second, third, fourth and fifth years of training. Responsibilities include course preparation, lecturing, administering and grading exams, and meeting individually with undergraduates.

The Music Department houses an extensive collection of period instruments including two harpsichords and an historic Viennese fortepiano, which are stored in the Jencks Early Music Room. The Creative Arts Library in the main university library is a first-class research library with strong holdings in scholarly music editions, journals, and microfilm reprints of original materials, as well as the Walter F. and Alice Gorham Collection of Early Music Imprints, 1501-1650. Brandeis also belongs to the Boston-area library consortium, allowing graduate students to use books in major libraries in the area.

Alumni from the graduate program in musicology are well placed in major academic institutions throughout the country. A partial list of alumni and placement can be found via this link: Graduate Alumni.

The basic requirements for the Ph.D. program include:
  • Twelve courses at the graduate level: proseminars and seminars in musicology and theory (including an array of courses in different historical periods, in music analysis, and in history of theory).
  • Satisfactory completion of the language requirement in French and German, as demonstrated by translation of an excerpt from a theoretical text. Students may substitute another language for French by petition. The German requirement should be satisfied by the end of the first year.
  • Teaching: beginning with the second year of residence, Ph.D. candidates in musicology participate as teaching fellows in the relevant undergraduate courses, for a minimum of six semesters. All teaching comes under the guidance of the primary course instructors and the department chair.
  • Examination: prior to the beginning of the third year, candidates must demonstrate competence by means of a written general examination.
  • Four additional courses at the graduate level, normally MUS 401d (Dissertation Research), or other courses as recommended by the faculty.
  • Dissertation proposal: fifteen- to twenty-page prospectus of the dissertation developed in consultation with the dissertation adviser and presented to the musicology faculty for their approval, no later than the end of the third year of residency.
  • Dissertation on a historical, theoretical, or analytical subject. Two copies of the doctoral dissertation, as well as an abstract of the dissertation not to exceed 350 words in length, should be submitted to the program chair no later than December 1 for a February degree, or March 1 for a May degree, of the academic year in which the Ph.D. degree is to be conferred. Dissertations should demonstrate the competence of the candidate as an independent investigator, his or her critical ability, and effectiveness of expression. Upon completion of the dissertation, the candidate is expected to defend it in a final oral examination.
  • Three years of residency.
  • Attendance at departmental musicology colloquia.

Boston Area Graduate Consortium: for cross registration at other institutions

This consortium allows for Brandeis graduate students to take graduate level courses at Boston College, Boston University, and Tufts University as part of their tuition at Brandeis. A full-time graduate student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is permitted to enroll in no more than one graduate cross-registered course each term. This should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance their graduate experience, and not as a substitute for courses already offered at Brandeis. Graduate Students wishing to consider this option must first discuss it with their Graduate Program Chair. Learn more about the Graduate Consortium.

Financial Aid

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program are offered full tuition and living stipend by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which is renewable based on successful academic progress for a total of 5 years. Information about this and other sources of funding may be found on the GSAS website. GSAS also offers graduate student awards, prizes, and annual travel grants for presentations of works.

Application Procedure

Applicants are asked to apply directly to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences using the online application procedure Apply Online. The deadline for applications for admission for the fall semester is January 15. Students are not admitted to the Ph.D. program during mid-year. GRE scores are recommended; English proficiency exam scores are required when applicable.

Application Fee: check the GSAS Admissions site for the fee, which must accompany the application. Applications will not be considered without payment of the application fee. Current Brandeis students are exempted from paying the application fee.

Statement of Purpose:
in essay form, state your reasons for undertaking graduate study. Please describe your qualifications for the academic program to which you are applying and your objectives in undertaking this program.

Applicants should clearly outline their research interests. The statement should also indicate how the applicant's research interests would complement those of the faculty. Applicants should discuss their plans for their academic and professional career and how the particular graduate program will help them attain their goals.

Two Letters of Recommendation: submitted online. At least one should be from a faculty member.

GSAS will continue to accept hard-copy letters of recommendation from those referees who prefer this method.

 from all universities and colleges attended must be uploaded to your application; do not mail official transcripts. For more information, visit Frequently Asked Questions

Written Work: please submit a sample of critical writing not to exceed 35 pages; the 35-page maximum may consist of a single critical essay or two shorter essays of approximately equal length.

Graduate Record Examinations General Test:
the GRE General Test is recommended, but is not required. The ETS code for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is 3092. For more information about the GRE, visit

Non-native Speakers of English: international students should visit the international admission section of the GSAS website for information on TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE requirements. The GSAS TOEFL school code is 3261.

Application Deadline:
the deadline for applications is January 15. Admission to the program is for the following fall semester. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be considered.

Tracking the Application:
GSAS will provide information for tracking the application online in the form of a checklist. Data is updated in real time.

Visiting Brandeis:
applicants are welcome, but not required, to visit Brandeis and interview with faculty during admissions time, or at another time during the academic year if more convenient. Interviews can be arranged directly with the individual faculty members by email or telephone. Attending seminars and meeting with current graduate students can also be arranged. A complete list of concerts is available online. Tours of the Brandeis campus are conducted daily.