Senior Project Guidelines

Purpose and Eligibility

The Senior Project in Music (MUS 99d) is designed to provide the opportunity for music majors to complete a thesis, musical performance, composition or some combination of these, appropriate to the particular track the student is enrolled in. In all cases, it must include written work.

The Senior Project is a two semester, two-credit course (yields eight semester-hour credits) open to seniors majoring in music who have earned a minimum of 3.00 GPA in music major courses by the end of their junior year. Except in the case of the performance track, the senior project does not count as credit toward the music major; it is done in addition to the major. Successful completion of the project may lead to departmental honors.

Students should review the general guidelines below with their project adviser.

Process for Initiating the Senior Project

Junior Year Timeline
  • During the spring term of the junior year, students should meet with their track adviser to verify that they will achieve a minimum GPA of 3.00 in the music major. Once this has been confirmed, students must petition a music faculty member willing to advise the project. In special cases, the project may have two advisers. With approval from the project adviser, this may include a faculty member from another department. If the student is abroad, this process may be conducted by email.

  • After the project adviser has been confirmed, the student writes a proposal in the form of a three-page prospectus (double-spaced) that includes a detailed description of the project; a timeline; and, for written theses, a bibliography. For written theses, the project adviser, in consultation with the student, will also select a second reader.

  • The student then petitions the music department by submitting the proposal to the department coordinator on or before April 1, so that it may be presented at the April faculty meeting for review. The  department coordinator will inform the student regarding approval of the project.

  • Upon faculty approval, the student should download the "99-Level Senior Thesis" registration form found on the registrar's website, fill it out, have it signed by the project adviser(s) and submit it to the registrar. This must be done for both semesters of the senior year.

Senior Year Timeline - Fall Term
  • Throughout the fall term, the student and project adviser should meet regularly to discuss and evaluate progress on the project.

  • Any revisions to the prospectus must be completed and agreed to no later than the end of September.

  • If a performance in the recital hall will be included, the student should meet with concert program manager in early September to schedule a date for the performance. Performances must take place by the end of April. For nonperformance projects, a presentation date should be secured in consultation with the project adviser and the music department coordinator.

  • A first draft of the project must be submitted to the project adviser no later than Dec. 1. It should be of sufficient breadth and depth to enable the adviser to judge whether the student is making satisfactory progress and should continue in the spring semester. For performance and composition projects, the specific requirement for the first draft will be predetermined by the project adviser. A grade will be given for the fall term based on this assessment.

Senior Year Timeline - Spring Term
  • By Feb. 1, the student should meet with the project adviser to confirm that successful completion of the project is well underway.

  • Students should be aware of the deadline for dropping the course without a "W" transcript notation (adviser signature is required). This deadline is usually the beginning of March, but it is the student's responsibility to consult the academic calendar for the exact deadline.

  • The first Monday following spring recess is the final deadline for submitting the final project to the project adviser.

  • Presentation of the final project to the music department should take place prior to the May music department faculty meeting.

  • Any recommendation for honors will be discussed during the May faculty meeting.

Length and Format of the Written Portion

There are no fixed limits to the length of the written portion of the project. It is expected that a thesis will be a minimum of 40 pages double-spaced. The length of the written portion accompanying a composition or performance will be shorter, but must represent an appropriate level of scholarship and gravity. For a composition, a full score and set of performance parts is required. See individual track descriptions for more details.

A recommended resource for style of a written thesis is The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (or higher).


Funding for MUS 99d (except for copying and binding costs) is available from the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences on a first-come, first-served basis. An application form is available on the dean's website. In certain cases, additional funding may be available from the music department and/or the Office of the Arts. 

Submitting a Copy of the Project to University Archives

The Robert D. Farber University Archives collects and houses senior honors theses produced by Brandeis undergraduate students. Senior honors theses and projects play an important role in documenting the history and evolution of undergraduate scholarship at Brandeis.

Written work is bound and catalogued in OneSearch and then exported to WorldCat (a national bibliographic database); as a result, archives receives many requests for them from members of the Brandeis and outside research communities. Students awarded honors for their project must comply with the following request:

A loose (that is, unstapled), unbound, clean copy of the thesis/project must be provided to the music department coordinator no later than May 10. It will be sent from the music department to the library to be bound in hard-cover. If the project includes a performance, a CD recording should also be submitted.

The following information (in no particular order) must be included on the title pages of the thesis/project, so that it may be catalogued correctly in OneSearch:

A completed and signed release form granting other researchers permission to reproduce senior theses and/or projects for research/educational purposes must also be included. A copy of the release form may be downloaded from the Archives & Special Collections website, then click on the link, "Download senior honors thesis release form [PDF]." This form should be signed and submitted to the music department coordinator along with the unbound copy of the thesis/project.