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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 (Prof. Eric Isaacson), Director
serbes [at] indiana [dot] edu (Sara Erbes), Academic Advisor
anmiller [at] indiana [dot] edu (Angie Miller), Recorder
musgrad [at] indiana [dot] edu (Victoria Wheeler), Secretary
musdoc [at] indiana [dot] edu (John Porter), Doctoral Clerk

More Information

PhD and DME—Topic Proposal

Topic Proposal Procedure

Approval of the dissertation topic is the first step in the process of writing a dissertation. 

There are different guidelines for the Dissertation in Composition, Doctoral Final Project, and Doctoral Piano Essay topic proposals.

The topic proposal outlines the subject of the dissertation. Here is the procedure:

  • Line up prospective members of your Research Committee, which is made up of three members of your major department and one member from outside the department. Committee members for PhD dissertations must be members of the University Graduate Faculty. These are generally full-time tenured or tenure-track members of the faculty or (in some cases) librarians. 
  • Write a topic proposal according to the guidelines provided by your department.
  • The next step varies slightly depending on your major field.

Musicology majors: Have the topic proposal endorsed by a prospective Research Director. Circulate copies of the topic proposal to prospective members of a research committee, in consultation with the prospective Research Director. When each member of the prospective research committee has endorsed the topic proposal, the proposal must be reviewed by the Musicology department (contact the department chair for more information). Once that is complete, a copy of the endorsed proposal should be forwarded to the Music Graduate Office with a recommendation of an appropriate research committee by the department.

Music Theory majors: Have the topic proposal endorsed by a prospective Research Director. Circulate copies of the topic proposal to prospective members of a research committee, in consultation with the prospective Research Director. After each member of the prospective research committee has endorsed the topic proposal, students should contact the Music Theory department chair to schedule a presentation of the topic proposal before the departmental faculty. Once the topic proposal defense is passed, a copy of the endorsed proposal should be forwarded by the department to the Music Graduate Office with a recommendation of an appropriate research committee by the department.

Music Education majors: Have the topic proposal endorsed by a prospective Research Director. Circulate copies of the topic proposal to prospective members of a research committee, in consultation with the prospective Research Director. When each member of the prospective research committee has endorsed the topic proposal, a copy of the endorsed proposal should be forwarded to the Music Graduate Office with a recommendation of an appropriate research committee by the prospective Research Director.

All students: If your research involves work with human subjects (including surveys or interviews) you must get permission from the University's Institutional Review Board before your topic proposal will be formally approved and updated to your records by the Music Graduate Office. Information on the IRB approval process can be found here.

For PhD students only: once the topic proposal is formally endorsed by the department, you must submit a one-to-two page summary of your topic and IRB approval (if applicable) to the Music Graduate Office. Meanwhile, the graduate office will circulate the "Nomination of Research Committee for the PhD" form to the proposed Research Committee members. The summary and signed form are sent to the University Graduate School for the official appointment of the research committee.

Please note the following restrictions on taking and scheduling written and oral exams:

Degree Program Topic proposal is approved... Topic proposal is approved by...
PhD Musicology Before or after exams Department & University Graduate School
PhD Music Theory Before oral exam Department & University Graduate School
PhD Music Education Before major written exam Research Committee & University Graduate School
DME (Music Education) Before major written exam Research Committee

Institution Review Board (IRB) approval (for any research involving human subjects)

As mentioned above, if your research involves work with human subjects (including surveys or interviews) you must get permission from the University's Institutional Review Board. Information on the IRB approval process can be found here.

You must submit a copy of the written approval of your research by this committee before your proposal can be approved by the Jacobs School of Music or the University Graduate School.

Topic proposal changes

If your proposal has already been approved and you wish to make substantial changes (for example, you decide to switch to a different topic), then please repeat the entire topic proposal procedure.