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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 23, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Music, PhD

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Requirements for the PhD:

Credit Requirement: A minimum of 72 credit hours, including the master’s degree, earned from any suitable combination of formal course work, independent study, and dissertation work as detailed in the department’s Graduate Handbook which can be downloaded at

The University will accept up to 24 transfer credits for graduate courses comparable in scope and content to those required by the department, as judged by the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.

PhD candidates must also satisfy the following requirements (distinctions between the various program requirements are detailed):

Language Requirement: For Musicology, reading knowledge of German and one other research language besides English. For Ethnomusicology and Jazz Studies, reading knowledge of a language relevant to the field of specialization and chosen in consultation with the department’s Director of Graduate Studies. For Composition and Theory, reading knowledge of one language besides English, chosen in consultation with the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.

First Year Evaluation: At the end of the first year of graduate study all first-year students meet with the faculty at a regularly scheduled faculty meeting for an oral interview/evaluation of their progress in the program.

Preliminary Evaluation: The faculty formally evaluates each student in the first year in residence beyond the master’s degree, to identify those students who may be expected to complete the PhD degree and to reveal areas of weakness in their preparation that need to be remedied.

Comprehensive Examination: Students take a written comprehensive examination normally during the third year at the completion of their formal course work. The examination in Musicology covers the history of Western music and musical analysis; in Ethnomusicology it covers the intellectual history, theory, and methodologies used in the field, as well as topics in the students’ geocultural areas of interest; in Jazz Studies it covers jazz literature and history, performance, and jazz composition and analysis; in Composition and Theory it covers tonal and atonal analysis, 20th and 21st -century musical language, and orchestration.

Dissertation Overview: Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, students prepare a written prospectus of the dissertation project for review by their dissertation committee. Approval of the overview brings admission to candidacy for the PhD degree.

Dissertation: Candidates in Musicology and Ethnomusicology submit a major work of original scholarship. Candidates in Jazz Studies submit a major work of original scholarship and produce a one-hour recital of original compositions. Candidates in Composition and Theory submit a large-scale composition and work of original scholarship in music theory.

Dissertation Defense: The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the dissertation committee and is open to the University community.

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