Contact the Music Graduate Office

Office Location
East Studio Building 120 (JS 120)
205 S. Jordan Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405

Mailing Address
1201 E. 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN 47405

Hours: 8 am–12 pm, 1–5 pm
Phone: 812-855-1738Phone

E-mail: musgrad [at] indiana [dot] edu

musicdgs [at] indiana [dot] edu (Eric Isaacson), Director 
serbes [at] indiana [dot] edu (Sara Erbes), Advisor
anmiller [at] indiana [dot] edu (Angie Miller), Recorder
musgrad [at] indiana [dot] edu (Victoria Wheeler), Secretary
musdoc [at] indiana [dot] edu (Janis Cooper Parker), Doctoral Clerk

More Information

Doctor of Music in Composition—Dissertation

DM students in composition write an original composition as a dissertation. The topic proposal must be approved before the oral examination.

Students should submit an application for graduation no later than the beginning of the semester in which they plan to graduate. (Graduation information)

These guidelines pertain to the dissertation for Composition majors only. There are different procedures for the PhD and DME dissertation, the doctoral final project, or piano essay.

Step 1: Topic Proposal

Submit the completed topic proposal form to the Music Graduate Office (either one paper copy or email the proposal as a PDF attachment). The topic proposal requests a title and short description of the work you propose to write, and also proposes a Research Committee consisting of three members of the composition faculty.

The form will be distributed to the members of your Research Committee for their approval, which may take up to two weeks. You will be notified via email once all committee members have approved your proposal. You may not schedule a date for your oral qualifying examination until your dissertation topic is approved.

Step 2: Compose the Dissertation

Complete your dissertation and write program notes in coordination with the chair of your Research Committee and in accordance with these formatting guidelines.

Step 3: Approval for Distribution

When the chair of your committee feels that the dissertation and program notes are ready for review by the rest of the committee, your chair should notify the Music Graduate Office (by phone, in person, or by e-mail).

Step 4: Submit Review Copies

Submit either (1) two paper copies, or (2) one paper copy and an identical electronic copy in PDF format (sent via e-mail to the doctoral clerk at, of the dissertation to the Music Graduate Office. These reading copies should conform to departmental formatting requirements, but may be reproduced on paper of any reasonable quality, with spiral or comb binding. The Music Graduate Office will give one copy of the dissertation to your Research Committee for their approval and keep the electronic or second paper copy on file. 

Circulation copies of the dissertation (already approved by your Research Committee chair) must be submitted to the Music Graduate Office by November 1 for fall graduation or by March 1 for spring graduation. This process can be completed only during the fall and spring semesters; dissertations are not approved during the summer.

Step 5: Approval and Revisions

Once all three committee members have approved the dissertation, the Music Graduate Office will inform you via email that you can now incorporate any suggested changes to your dissertation. The Research Committee chair will return the marked copy to the Music Graduate Office and we will notify you that you may pick it up for your review. If you are living outside of Bloomington, please inform us of your postal address and we will mail you the annotated copy.

Incorporate any changes or corrections into the dissertation and program notes, consulting with the chair as needed. The Research Committee Chair indicates final approval by notifying the doctoral clerk by email.

Step 6: Final Submission

Prepare the final copy and submit it as outlined below:

This must be done by the last day of classes for the semester (or of the summer term) in order to graduate in a given semester.

IU Performance of Dissertations

Dissertations (or portions thereof) with a duration of 15 minutes or less will be considered for performance with an IU orchestra. To remain in the queue for performance consideration, you MUST:

  • turn in sample parts (one wind, one percussion, one string) to your Committee chair for approval BEFORE Final Submssion (Step 6 above).
  • format your dissertation so that it is usable (readable) by a conductor. It will not be acceptable for performance if the music is sized extremely small to avoid having to make page-by-page vertical adjustments in staves.
  • turn in a performance-ready full set of parts BEFORE July 1 ahead of the academic year the work is scheduled for.

Works involving chorus, concerto soloist, or with durations exeeding 15 minutes will NOT be programmed.