Doctoral Studies - Music and Performing Arts

Doctoral Requirements and Sequence


Placement Examination

Placement exams are administered for all incoming graduate students. These placement examinations, assessing achievement in music theory and music history, are mandatory and must be completed by the end of the first semester of study. They are available in late August and every effort should be made to complete them before classes start in September. English Competency is assessed through the admissions portfolio and, in the case of international students, one of the following English proficiency exams: TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic. Additional course requirements over and above the minimal degree requirements may be required as a result of this assessment of individual performance.

See dates for upcoming placement exams.

Please note that absolutely no transfer credits from other institutions are allowed for doctoral students.


All doctoral students are expected to successfully complete at least 45 credits of coursework as part of their degree requirements, and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B). The specific number of credits and their distribution varies from program to program. Please visit the curriculum page for more details.

Doctoral Collegium and Maintaining Matriculation

While taking coursework, students must register for the Performing Arts Research Collegium (MPAIA-GE 3401 - 0 credits). Once coursework has been completed (typically on year 3 for full-time students) and until graduation, students must register for the 1-credit section of the Collegium (MPAIA-GE 3400) in order to maintain matriculation.

The Performing Arts Research Collegium meets on the first Friday of the month during term time. It is a forum where students present their work in progress, notably their topic proposals, and discuss research problems and procedural issues with their peers. They also attend invited talks of interest to the department’s doctoral community. All students are expected to attend and actively participate in Collegium, either in person or online through the course’s Blackboard page.

Satisfactory Progress

The department requires all its doctoral students to complete and submit (in the context of Collegium) an academic plan in the fall, and a progress report in the spring of every year of their studies. These reports, which should be pre-approved by your advisor or the chair of your dissertation committee, are reviewed by the director of doctoral studies, who then sends a notification to the school about satisfactory or unsatisfactory progress per student. This is part of a school-wide strategy for more closely monitoring the students' progress towards the completion of their degree.

The academic plan should focus upon your goals and expectations for doctoral study over the academic year. On your plan, please identify the program and year, your advisor and mentor, part time or full time status.  The plan might further include:

  • Coursework expectations
  • Research papers (conferences, articles, peer reviewed journals) and creative work
  • Teaching and research assistance
  • Service to the program, department and school
  • Timelines for completion (candidacy, topic, proposal, and dissertation deadlines)
  • Other pertinent information concerning your academic progress

The academic progress report, simply discusses your progress against the submitted plan over the academic year that is about to end. Both reports should be no longer than a page and should be posted on the Collegium’s Blackboard page (at the Academic Plan or Progress Report links) no later than the pre-specified deadline (set every year as part of Collegium). You are expected to meet/discuss with your advisor/mentor in the preparation of these reports.


See specific information about the candidacy exam process.

Topic Proposal

See information about the topic proposal review process.

Dissertation Proposal

See specific information about the dissertation proposal review process.


The department follows the school-wide guidelines and regulations for the formatting, submission and defense of your dissertation. See dissertation guidelines and policies.