Graduate Study


Our graduate program distinguishes itself through rigorous scholarly training in the integrative study of music. Graduate students may concentrate on:

Coursework in all musical sub-disciplines is often augmented by classes taken in departments across the university. Students are encouraged to develop their vocal and instrumental skills and participate in the performance program. Composers have numerous opportunities for performances of their music through Contempo, New Music Ensemble, and other Chicago-area ensembles.

Doctoral students also serve as course assistants and stand-alone lecturers in the college, teaching introductory classes in western music, world music, musical materials and design, music analysis and criticism, and music theory. Music students can also apply for teaching classes in the common core as well as for positions as writing tutors in the College. Student teachers are mentored by Department faculty and the Center for Teaching and Learning, and participate in the Department's Faculty-Student Teaching Forum.

Due to the nature of interdisciplinary study at the University of Chicago, many of the course requirements in the program overlap between the three Ph.D. tracks. Composers and historians will study Music Theory, theorists might take a seminar in Ethnomusicology, and so on.

NB: Like most North American universities, the Division of the Humanities makes admission decisions based on the recommendations of the entire Departmental faculty. You are most welcome to contact individual faculty with questions about the program or their research, but please be aware that there is no concept of individual faculty members having personal "places" for research students, as might be the system in other parts of the world. 

If you have questions about the application process or the graduate program, go to the Graduate FAQ.

An Introduction from Professor Robert Kendrick, Director of Admissions, 2017-18

Dear Prospective Grad Applicants,

Among the many fine academic music programs in North America, we at Chicago strive to realize our ideal of integrated and interdisciplinary study.  Not only do students and faculty among our subfields—composition, ethno, history/theory—dialogue about our approaches to music, but we also take quite seriously our placement in the Division of the Humanities, and in a University which studies issues ranging from cognition to world religions.  If you were to come here, you will find the range of these approaches in your classroom discussions, and—we hope—in the final product of your work, your Ph. D. dissertation or composition.  Above all, we value original thought and critique, always in collegial expressions, as the faculty is concerned to train the next generation of scholars and composers, not as replicas of ourselves, but as those who will push the discipline forward.

Thus we have no “brand”, but only a shared commitment to inquiry and learning.  The details of the program—normally one to two years of intensive coursework, plus languages and practical music tests, followed by a dissertation proposal and the writing of Ph. D. work—can be found elsewhere on this website.  Course assistantships and stand-alone teaching are part of this program.  Although we are open to the widest range of thought, we also recognize the historical weight of gender, race, and class prejudices on students’ previous formation, and we insist on the utmost equality of well-formulated expressions and approaches.

Please feel free to contact me or any other faculty members in your areas of interest. Should you come to one of the fall national meetings—AMS, SEM, SMT—please seek us out informally.


Robert L. Kendrick
Director of Admissions, 2017-18