Graduate Studies


The graduate studies program in the Department distinguishes itself through rigorous scholarly training in the integrative study of music. Offering degrees in Composition, Ethnomusicology, and Music History and Theory, and also offering a joint PhD program in Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), the Department embraces the interdisciplinary nature of scholarship at the University of Chicago.

Each of the three PhD programs requires successful completion of courses, language examinations, musicianship examinations, comprehensive examinations, a dissertation, and a final examination on (“defense of”) the dissertation. In addition, the program in Composition requires approval of the Minor Field Plan, defense of the Minor Field Paper, and approval of the Composition Prospectus; the program in Ethnomusicology requires a Special Field Examination; and the program in History & Theory requires a Defense of the Dissertation Proposal. For detailed information about requirements for all of the PhD programs, please visit the Graduate Curriculum webpage.

Beyond the classroom

In addition to coursework across the the sub-disciplines of music, students may (and are often encouraged) to supplement their studies with courses in other departments throughout the University. Outside of the classroom, conferences, workshops, and seminars, both at the University and at other institutions, offer an invaluable setting for critical inquiry and a scholarly exchange of ideas. Workshops currently convening in music and the humanities at UChicago include EthNoise!, the 20th and 21st Century Workshop, the Sound and Society Workshop, and the Composition Seminar.

The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition also offers numerous opportunities for graduate students in composition to supplement their coursework. The Center’s concert series provides a space for student composers to develop and showcase new work, performed by the resident Grossman Ensemble and various guest artists specializing in new music, and it features a number of graduate student-led projects each season. A cadre of distinguished guest composers present new works on the series each year as well, offering composition students further opportunities to engage with and learn from the greatest creators of contemporary music. For composers of electronic music and sound, the Center’s CHIME studio offers an exploratory space for the many realms of electronic music and its integration with other media.


In addition to their studies, doctoral students also serve as course assistants and stand-alone lecturers, teaching courses in Core Curriculum (introductory classes in western music, world music, musical materials and design, and music analysis and criticism) and in the Department of Music (introductory and advanced undergraduate courses in each of the sub-disciplines). They also may work as writing tutors in the College, and advanced students may apply for additional opportunities such as Humanities Core Lectureships, Stuart Tave Fellowships, or Humanities Teaching Fellowships.

All student instructors receive guidance from Department faculty and the Chicago Center for Teaching and participate in the Department's Faculty-Student Teaching Forum.


Students in the Department’s graduate programs are encouraged to develop their vocal and instrumental skills alongside their academic studies through participation in the Department’s extensive performance program. Opportunities include two orchestras, a wind ensemble, four choirs, jazz ensembles, and programs for chamber music, piano, and vocal performance. Early music, Middle East, and South Asian music ensembles also provide valuable supplements to many students’ scholarly interests.