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Graduate Programs in Music



About the Program

Brandeis University's graduate programs in Music concentrate in two areas: Composition & Theory and Musicology.

Composition and Theory
The department offers three degree programs in composition and theory: M.A. (normally one year), M.F.A.(normally two years), and Ph.D. (normally two or more years following the completion of M.F.A. requirements). The programs are designed to help students develop a command of the craft of composition. That objective is supported by studies in theory and analysis and in electro-acoustic music.

Musicology
The department offers three degree programs in musicology: M.A. (normally one year), M.F.A. (normally two years), and Ph.D. (normally two or more years following the completion of M.F.A. requirements). The programs offer an integrated approach to the understanding of the nature, structural basis, and historical development of music. Students may elect to emphasize or concentrate in music history or in theory and analysis. In the music history program, a variety of techniques and methodologies, including style development, source studies, and historiography, are applied to different repertories and historical problems. The theory and analysis program features work in the history of theory as well as analytic work in the context of theory construction involving the evaluation of pretonal, tonal, and contemporary analytic models.

Degree Options:

  • Ph.D. in Music: Composition and Theory 
  • M.F.A. in Music: Composition and Theory (full- and part-time)
  • M.A. in Music: Composition and Theory (full- and part-time)
  • Ph.D. in Music: Musicology
  • M.F.A. in Music: Musicology (full- and part-time)
  • M.A. in Music: Musicology (full- and part-time)
  • Ph.D. in Music (Musicology or Composition & Theory) with a Joint Master of Arts in Music and Women's and Gender Studies (full-time; students apply to the master's program while enrolled in the Ph.D. program)

Faculty

We encourage you to explore one of the department’s greatest assets through our faculty pages.

Courses and Degree Requirements

For the most updated course listing, course descriptions, and degree requirements, please visit the Registrar.

How to Apply

Application Deadlines:

Ph.D.: January 15 
M.F.A. & M.A.: For fall admission (starts in late August): rolling through April 1; For spring admission (starts in January): November 15.

Admission Requirements:

Applicants to Composition and Theory must submit:

  • An online application;
  • An application fee (please click here for more information);
  • Transcripts from all universities and colleges attended must be uploaded to your application; do not mail official transcripts to our office. For more information, visit Frequently Asked Questions;
  • Two letters of recommendation, submitted online. At least one should be from a faculty member.
  • curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé;
  • statement of purpose in essay form, indicating your reasons for undertaking graduate study. In addition, please describe your qualifications for the academic program and your objectives in undertaking this program. Applicants to the doctoral program should outline their research interests and how they would complement those of the faculty. Applicants to the master's program should discuss their plans for their academic and professional career and how the degree would help them attain their goals.
  • Portfolio: Please submit at least three original scores, with corresponding audio files of performances of those scores, if available. The Department of Music requires that you submit digital files for application review purposes, and you must contact the department to request an exception if you want to submit non-digital files. Preferable file formats are .PDF for scores and .WAV, .AIF or .MP3 for audio files. Do not send native notation program files (e.g. .MUS, .SIB). Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. 
  • Music Composition Exam: The Department of Music employs an informal testing procedure designed to assist the admission committee in reviewing applications to the graduate programs in Composition and Theory. Upon submission of the online application, please submit this exam via the applicant self-service status page
    • There are two short exercises in tonal music. You are asked to spend up to, but under no circumstances more than, four hours (including copying time) in the preparation of your answers. Please note that your application will be considered incomplete without this exercise.
    • Upon completion of the test, you are asked to sign the appended statement affirming that you have received no outside assistance in preparing your answers. You should then upload the exam directly to your applicant self-service status. It is highly advised that you keep a copy of your exam for your own personal records; electronic submission of this exam is strongly preferred.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) recommended, but not required. Our ETS institution code is 3092.

International students:  For additional requirements for international applicants (non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents), minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores, and important information regarding visas, please click here.

For a more comprehensive description of application requirements, please visit Frequently Asked Questions.

Applicants to Musicology must submit:

  • An online application;
  • An application fee (please click here for more information);
  • Transcripts from all universities and colleges attended must be uploaded to your application; do not mail official transcripts to our office. For more information, visit Frequently Asked Questions;
  • Two letters of recommendation, submitted online. At least one should be from a faculty member.
  • curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé;
  • statement of purpose in essay form, indicating your reasons for undertaking graduate study. In addition, please describe your qualifications for the academic program and your objectives in undertaking this program. Applicants to the doctoral program should outline their research interests and how they would complement those of the faculty. Applicants to the master's program should discuss their plans for their academic and professional career and how the degree would help them attain their goals.
  • Writing Sample: Please submit a critical writing sample 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 Exam (GRE) recommended, but not required. Our ETS institution code is 3092

International students:  For additional requirements for international applicants (non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents), minimum TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores, and important information regarding visas, please click here.

For a more comprehensive description of application requirements, please visit Frequently Asked Questions.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Generous scholarships and financial aid are available; for more information please visit Financial Aid.

Careers and Alumni

Students and alumni can work closely with Career Services for an array of resources, including CV/resume help, job search, and networking.