Musicology Department

Doctor of Philosophy

General information

Doctoral degree students become candidates for their degrees when they have passed the qualifying examinations and have been recommended by their advisory committee to the dean of the University Graduate School or the dean of the School of Music.

It is to a student's advantage to take qualifying exams as soon as possible after course work is finished. Written exams may be taken during the last semester of doctoral course work, as long as all course work for that field has been completed.

 Note that all portions of the doctoral qualifying exams (written and oral) must be completed within one calendar year. Any requests for exceptions must be made in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, who is also available for general advising on the qualifying exam process.

The process in outline:

  • Complete all courses and proficiencies and (if applicable) the required recitals
  • Apply to begin exams
  • Schedule and take written exams
  • Meet with the Director of Graduate Studies
  • Reserve an oral exam date; check the date with committee members; confirm the date
  • Take the oral exam within one year of starting written exams
  • Stay registered every fall and spring semester from the semester after the oral exam is passed until degree is complete

How to start exams

To start the qualifying examination process, a student needs to fill out a "Doctoral Written Qualifying Examination Request Form". The Director of Graduate Studies will check over the student's file and inform the student which exams he or she is eligible to schedule. Students will be notified by e-mail; this can take up to a week. Once approved, students may schedule exams in the Graduate Office.

Before you ask to begin exams, you should take care of these things:

Proficiencies and tool subjects. Complete each of these (including, as applicable, language, performance, keyboard, music theory, music history, styles, and bibliography) before you begin exams. They must be completed before you may take any exams.

Course work. Complete course work, or be in its last semester. You may view your Degree Audit at OneStart, or may request a report (degree check) by scheduling an appointment with a Music Graduate Office advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies. Please note that you have to complete all proficiencies and all courses in the field related to the particular exam before you will be eligible to schedule an exam during your last semester of coursework.

Major field. Make sure any elective courses or approved substitutions have been documented by the chair of your department and appear correctly on your Degree Audit. Ask the chair to send the Director of Graduate Studies a note with the information if necessary.

Minor field(s). Formally declare your minors by having the appropriate department approve your proposed courses. If your minor is outside the School of Music, please ask the department to indicate in writing whether written and oral qualifying exams will be required.

Advisory Committee. Ask to have your committee appointed. This committee consists of three major-field representatives and one representative from each minor field, and is responsible for the written and oral qualifying exams. Note that Guided Electives do not have a representative.

Written examinations

Students must take written examinations in their major and minor fields. The examinations are prepared by the student's advisory committee member(s) representing the major or minor field and may be based on the content of courses taken in each field or on the background and concepts pertinent to the area.

The School of Music ordinarily requires a written exam or its equivalent in every minor. At the discretion of the minor-field representative (as guided by appropriate department policy), students having music performance as a minor may substitute a 30-minute performance examination by a faculty jury or a recital for the written examination. Students in this situation must ask their minor field representative to inform the Music Graduate Office that he or she approves the use of a recital in place of a written examination and to inform the office once the recital performance is complete. Minors outside the School of Music may or may not require a written exam.

Written exams may be taken in any order.

Most written exams are given individually in the exam room in the Graduate Music Office.

Major Field Written Exams are given Monday through Friday in two parts over a single day. The first part begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 11:50 a.m.; the second part begins at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 4:50 p.m.

Minor Field Written Exams other than Music Theory are given Monday through Friday either from 8:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. or from 1 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.

Written exams are given during the fall and spring semesters, and during Summer Session II (not Summer Session I). Because of the press of other office work, no exams are given during the first two weeks of classes during the fall and spring. No exams are given during the last week of classes during the fall and spring. No exams are given during exam week during fall, spring, or summer. No exams are given during the first or last week of classes during the summer. Exams are not given when classes are not in session (spring break, July 4, etc.)

Students planning to take written exams during Summer Session II must schedule them by March 15th. The only exception to this deadline is for students taking the Music Theory minor exam (the deadline to sign up for the summer Music Theory exam is in April). All other Summer Session II exams must be scheduled by March 15.

The student has the option to write the exam by hand or to use one of the exam room computers (Macintosh or Windows). Blue books (for exams in writing), scratch paper, staff paper, and computer disks (if using a computer) are provided. Backpacks, purses, books, notes, electronic aids, etc. are not allowed in the exam room; these items may be left with the Graduate Secretary. The student may bring food, drinks, candy, glasses, pens, pencils, a clock, tissues, etc. Because the weather and heating/cooling vary, it is recommended that students bring a sweater.

Completed exams are sent to the committee or representative for grading. Students will be given a copy of their written exam answers. Grading often takes several weeks; summer exams are usually not read until the fall. Exam results will be reported to the student by e-mail.

Students are encouraged to consult often with committee members about the exam process, but please note that it is generally not appropriate for students to bother committee members about exams while they are being graded. Students wondering about the status of their exams should inquire in the Music Graduate Office. Exam results are also posted on the student's Degree Audit on OneStart.

If any area of the written exam is failed, the student will need to repeat that portion successfully before proceeding to the orals.

Check here for availability of written exam dates and scheduling information.


Oral Examination

The major-field oral qualifying examination focuses on the field of musicology and the student's major areas within the field. A majority vote of the committee determines the outcome of the major-field examination. Minor-field oral examinations, if required, take place at the same time but are evaluated separately.

Oral exams are given during the fall and spring semesters on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday beginning at 3:30 p.m. and usually ending between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday oral exam times might become available during particularly busy weeks. No orals are given during the first two weeks or the last week of classes or during exam week. Oral examinations take place in the conference room in the Music Graduate Office. Oral examinations in the summer require special permission.

Steps for Scheduling an Oral Exam:

1. Take and pass all required written qualifying examinations. The Music Graduate Office will notify students by e-mail when they have successfully completed the last written exam and are eligible to schedule an oral exam.

2. Schedule a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss the oral examination and preparation for it.

3. Tentatively reserve a date with the doctoral clerk.

Check here for availability of oral exam dates and scheduling information.

Tentative reservations are good for one week. Dates not confirmed within a week may need to be offered to other students because of the high demand.

Please consult with the doctoral clerk or Director of Graduate Studies if you are having trouble lining up a date. Keep in mind that the peak times for exams are at the end of semesters (just as with recitals). The oral exam calendar is opened roughly month by month; the Graduate Office sends announcements when portions of the calendar are opened.

4. Confirm the availability of each member of the Advisory Committee who needs to be present on the tentatively reserved date. This includes your minor field representative (if required).

If you find that a member of your committee absolutely cannot attend your oral exam, you and that committee member should consult about a possible eligible substitute from the same department. Please propose this substitute as soon as possible in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies

A failed examination my be retaken once. The committee may prescribe the scope of questioning of the reexamination.


Candidacy/In absentia registration

After successful completion of all doctoral qualifying exams, the student is admitted to candidacy. After admission to candidacy, the student must be enrolled each semester until graduation. In absentia registration is available for candidates not living in Bloomington.

Detailed information is available here.