PhD Degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology

Degree Requirements

General Admission Requirements

  1. 3.0 minimum grade point average in undergraduate and graduate work to date.
  2. Three letters of recommendation.
  3. A sample of written research, such as a term paper or thesis that demonstrates how you both explain, and respond to, research questions. 
  4. A personal statement describing the student's musical and academic backgrounds, research interests, and how they envision their work at Iowa will support their professional goals. We use the personal statement to assess the ability of our program to support the student and the student's research golas, so prior experience with music research and interests in our particular program should be emphasized. 

For further admission information, see Graduate Admission.

Admission to Candidacy

Qualification for candidacy for the Ph.D. will not be considered before the end of the second year of study. To advance to candidacy the student must have fulfilled the following requirements:


  1. Satisfactory demonstration of the ability to write clear, concise English, organize ideas into coherent and extended discourse, and express original thoughts on a level of competence appropriate to the Ph.D. This requirement will be satisfied by submission of research papers written at the University of Iowa.
  2. Satisfactory performance in course work and other appropriate activities (such as service as a T.A. or R.A.).
  3. Removal of all course deficiencies in music theory, as determined by advisory exam at the time of initial enrollment.
  4. Satisfactory performance on a written qualifying examination to be taken no sooner than the second year of full-time study at the University of Iowa, or completion of an M.A. in musicology at the University of Iowa within the last five years. The exam will test a general knowledge of music history, music theory, musicological methodology, bibliography, and pedagogy. After the exam, the students will meet with the musicology faculty to discuss the results and to plan the remainder of their program.  Students who fail to demonstrate the appropriate knowledge, skills, and aptitude on this qualifying examination may retake the exam in one of the following two semesters. Failure to pass the exam may result in dismissal from the program.
  5. Upon successful completion of all of the above requirements, the student will be admitted to full candidacy for the Ph.D. in Musicology and should plan a course of study for the approval of the advisor.

Language Requirement

Proficiency in the ability to read musicological literature in two languages chosen in consultation with the advisor and approved by the musicology faculty. The requirements for one language must be satisfied by the end of the second year of residency, and the requirements for both languages must be satisfied before taking the comprehensive examination.

The requirement for each language can be met in one of the following ways:

  1. Successful completion of one semester of a graduate-level reading course approved by the musicology faculty.
  2. Two years of course work in each language with passing grades in the last ten years.
  3. Successful completion of a standardized exam administered by a language department or program, as approved by the musicology faculty.
  4. Written examination administered by the musicology faculty. The exam will consist of a short article in the designated language, which the student will summarize and from which he/she will translate a short excerpt.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination will be written and will cover the student’s area of specialization and a secondary area. The examination committee will consist of at least four faculty members chosen in consultation with the advisor and approved by the musicology faculty.

Ph.D. Dissertation

As soon as possible after advancing to candidacy the student must present a dissertation topic to the musicology faculty, along with the name of the advisor. When the faculty have approved the topic and the advisor, the student and advisor together will choose a committee, which will consist of at least three faculty members from the musicology area (including the advisor), and at least one from another area in or outside the School of Music. The candidate then will submit to the committee a formal proposal, which will include a review of previous research in the topic, a justification for further work, an outline or table of contents, and a selected bibliography. The student will defend the proposal to the committee in compliance with School of Music guidelines. The student will be required to defend the completed dissertation.