Graduate Programs

Black and white photo of Richard Chowenhill playing guitar in front of a mirror

PhD Candidate Richard Chowenhill

The Department of Music offers graduate programs in two areas: composition and theory, and musicology.

Composition and Theory

There are three degree programs in composition and theory: MA (normally one year), MFA (normally two years), and PhD (normally two or more years following the completion of MFA 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. Student compositions are performed in the New Music Brandeis concerts and by ensembles-in-residence.


There are three degree programs in musicology: MA (normally one year), MFA (normally two years), and PhD (normally two or more years following the completion of MFA 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 source studies, style development 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. Courses consist of proseminars and seminars: proseminars survey an array of topics illustrating the representative avenues of research and methodological approaches and seminars typically concentrate on a single topic.

Music & Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

For doctoral students only, we offer an interdisciplinary program with Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, leading to a joint MA in passing in music and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Topics include feminist theory, gender studies, cultural history, and the investigation of work by and about women.