Doctoral Studies - Music and Performing Arts

Topic Proposal Review


The purpose of the Topic Review is to approve the topic, the significance or need for the study, and to examine the doctoral candidate's preliminary grasp of pertinent issues articulated in the literature. A brief statement of method will be sufficient to enable the reviewers to assess the background and skills of the doctoral student in context of the proposed topic. The entire document is limited to ten pages, excluding bibliography and title page.

When and How to Apply for Topic Review

 To be eligible to submit your topic review, you must:

  • Have passed the doctoral candidacy examination. After passing Candidacy, students are eligible to secure the appointment of a Dissertation Chair.
  • Secure Approval from the Program Adviser and, if already appointed, from the Chair of your dissertation committee. These faculty members should notify the Director of Doctoral Research directly of their approval and support for your topic.
  • Have completed the required introductory research course required by your program.

Generally, student participation in Topic Review takes place in the semester after passing the candidacy examination (Typically Fall of the third year for full-time students), while the student is enrolled in the Dissertation Proposal Seminar (MPAIA-GE.3097).

Students planning to submit their topic proposals for review should notify Dr. Jonathan Jones ( at the start of the semester. Topic Proposals must be posted on the Collegium’s blackboard page at least two weeks before the meeting of the Collegium in which the proposal is to be presented. For more information on submission deadlines, please visit:

Students should also send approved proposals via email to Dr. Jones.


The topic proposal should be 6-10 pages long. The document is to be double-spaced. A title page and one-page curriculum vitae are to be included and not considered part of the 10 pages. There is no need for a Table of Contents in the document. Do not use any special covers or binders. Paper fasteners or staples are appropriate for hardcopies.

The topic proposal review takes place during the proceedings of the Research Collegium for the Performing Arts, where the student will have 15 minutes to present their topic to the class. All students are expected to attend and contribute to the review.

For a set of guidelines posted by Dr. John Gilbert on how to prepare your topic proposal, please visit:

Sample Topic Reviews

Educational Theatre:

Micaela Blei - "Narratives of Becoming: The Formation of Teacher Identity Through Personal Narrative Performance"

Teresa Fisher - "If Obesity Is so Bad, Why Are so Many People Fat? Interrogating, Exploring, and Understanding Obesity through Theatre"

Jonathan Jones - "Drama Integration: Training Teachers to Use Process Drama in English Language Arts and Social Studies"


Music Perfomance:

Katherine Lin - "The Unequal Tuning System of Well-Temperament and its Influence on Key Characteristics in J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier"

Marcus Ostermiller - "Musical Responses to HIV/AIDS: A Study of Musical Meaning and Signification in American Solo Piano Compositions Addressing a Modern-Day Epidemic"