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Doctor of Philosophy
Music Performance and Composition: Performers

Prepare for a career in music performance and music research by working closely with our faculty of internationally recognized performing artists. With a flexible curriculum, you can personalize your program of study for your specific interests and goals. You'll also develop and complete a dissertation and perform two recitals.

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Degree Details

Official Degree Title

PhD in Music Performance and Composition: Performers

Full-time or Part-time
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Application Deadline

PhD Students in Composition and Performance will personalize their course of study around individual research interests, taking courses that support their areas of specialization. They will be able to

  • Perform artistic research by developing quantitative and qualitative research methods appropriate to their field of inquiry.
  • Engage in a variety of collaborative environments with artists and professionals in related fields
  • Broaden their perspectives and relate their own music-making activities to diverse cultural contexts and intellectual traditions
  •  Develop foundational knowledge in disciplines applicable to yet outside their field of specialization, including psychology, performance studies, historical musicology, ethnomusicology, media, arts education and technology, and the social sciences.
  • Communicate the results of their original research orally and in writing, in conference presentations and academic publications.

You’ll take a range of courses in the foundations, cognate areas, and specialized research methodology, as well as private lessons and a departmental seminar in chamber music. You’ll also take course work in neighboring fields like psychology, performance studies, historical musicology, ethnomusicology, media, arts education and technology, and the social sciences, allowing you to broaden your perspective and understand your own music-making activities in relation to a variety of cultural contexts and intellectual traditions. You’ll gain expertise not only as a top-caliber performer, but as a scholar, educator, and entrepreneur.

You must have a master's degree in order to be considered for admission to this program.

As a student in this program, you'll be an active performer, both as a soloist and in concerts with NYU performing ensembles and more. You will also have opportunities to collaborate with performers, dancers, actors, and multimedia applications. Within our department, there are very active collaborations with the Music Technology, Jazz Studies, and Music Composition programs. In addition, we have a very active collaboration with musicians and other artists throughout New York City.

Steinhardt’s research-based PhD in Music Performance and Composition: Performers is one of the few degree programs of its kind in the field.

“The PhD is heavily focused on research,” says Beroukhim. “Students take a range of academic courses exploring their areas of research as well as a host of research methodologies, which can be taken at Steinhardt or at other NYU schools.”

Students also take private lessons and a Departmental seminar in chamber music. They enjoy performance opportunities as soloists and ensemble players around the University, as well as access to NYU's world-class performance venues, practice facilities, and recording studios. Successful performer-scholars will write and defend a dissertation in addition to performing two degree recitals.

Steinhardt's highly selective PhD in Music Performance provides generous support, including tuition remission and a living stipend, for full-time study. Students may also choose to pursue the part-time track, which can be taken at each student’s own pace. Due to visa regulations, students must be US citizens to pursue part-time study.

Students can choose from the following focus areas:

  • Brass Studies 
  • Jazz Studies 
  • Percussion Studies 
  • Piano Studies 
  • Strings Studies 
  • Vocal Performance 
  • Woodwind Studies 

"After graduation, Steinhardt PhD students are highly competitive on the job market," says Marilyn Nonken, professor of music and music education and chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. "They are extraordinarily qualified as performers and scholars, fluent in the practices of academia as well as the concert hall."

Violinist, educator, and recording artist Patti Kilroy (PhD ’19) continued her studies in the doctoral program at Steinhardt after completing her undergraduate and graduate degrees in performance. She wrote her dissertation on developing terminology and frameworks to describe new performance practices in music with live processing electronics.

“I loved working with my performance instructor, Naoko Tanaka, but I also really enjoyed the level of advisement and writing training I received from Marilyn Nonken for my dissertation,” says Kilroy, who is now an assistant professor of music at California State University, Los Angeles. “NYU really shines in that way with a large number of faculty from different disciplines. Also, the PhD in Music Performance at Steinhardt is a rare degree, which helped me stand out when I was applying for tenure-track positions.”

Compare All Post-MM Degrees

Funding for Full-Time PhD Students

NYU Steinhardt offers a competitive funding package for PhD students who study full time. Learn more about our funding opportunities.


If you have any additional questions about our degree, please feel free to contact the Program Director for your area of study: 

Brass Studies - Wayne duMaine
Jazz Studies - Dr. Dave Schroeder
Percussion Studies - Jonathan Haas
Piano Studies - Dr. Marilyn Nonken
Strings Studies - Dr. Cyrus Beroukhim
Vocal Performance - Dr. Ana Flavia Zuim
Woodwind Studies - Dr. Meghan Bennett

Concert Composition - Dr. Julia Wolfe
Screen Scoring - Dr. Ron Sadoff