Music Theory


Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory: Degree Requirements

Music theory at Indiana University emphasizes musicianship and scholarly study with particular emphasis on the history of musical thought, analysis of musical structure, and pedagogy.

More detailed information is available here.


Applicants for the PhD in music theory must ordinarily have received a master's degree in music theory or musicology or the demonstrated equivalent. Students with outstanding credentials may apply directly from a bachelor's degree. Students are required to demonstrate competency in all areas required of the MM in music theory at Indiana University, and may be exempted from certain courses on the recommendation of the department. Applicants must apply both to the Graduate Division of the Jacobs School of Music and to the University Graduate School.

In addition to three letters of recommendation, applicants should also submit two extensive, formal research papers or a master's thesis in music theory or musicology. An individual interview and audition for an Associate Instructorship are also required; applicants are expected to be proficient in sight-singing, aural skills, and keyboard harmony. The applicant's scores on the GRE General Test must be received by the application deadline.

Proficiency Examinations

Examinations in music theory, music history, keyboard skills, music performance, and musical styles.

Major-Field Requirements

36–66 credit hours.

Foundation Courses

Demonstrated proficiency in the content of the following courses:

  • T551 Analytical Techniques for Tonal Music (3 cr.)

  • T555 Schenkerian Analysis (3 cr.)

  • T556 Analysis of Music Since 1900 (3 cr.)

  • T565 Stylistic Counterpoint: Variable Topics (3 cr.)

  • T591 Music Theory Pedagogy (3 cr.)

Students may demonstrate proficiency through methods determined by the department such as examination or submission of a portfolio based on previous coursework, or by completion of the above courses. Proficiency demonstrated through means other than taking the courses listed requires approval of the department chairperson and the director of graduate studies.

Advanced Courses
  • T623–624 History of Music Theory I–II (3-3 cr.)

  • T658 Seminar in Music Theory: Variable Topics (3-3-3-3 cr.)

  • T550 Readings in Music Theory* (3 cr.)

  • 3 credits chosen from T658 Seminar in Music Theory: Variable Topics (3 cr.), T561 Music Theory: Variable Topics (3 cr.), T619 Projects and Problems in Music Theory (3 cr.), or another graduate course approved by the department chairperson and the director of graduate studies

  • T650 Dissertation Topic Workshop (1 cr.)
  • T700 Dissertation in Music Theory (3–27 cr.). The student must enroll in enough credit hours of dissertation to reach a minimum of 36 credit hours in the major field.

*Students who have already satisfied the T550 requirement must substitute 3 credits of T658, T561, T619, or another graduate course approved by the department chairperson and the director of graduate studies.

Public Lecture

T659 Public Lecture (0 cr.). The public lecture must be completed before taking the oral qualifying examinations.

Minor Field

12 credit hours. PhD students in music theory must complete a 12-credit minor either in music history and literature or in musicology. See more information here.

Other Required Credits

12 credit hours. These 12 credits may be taken inside or outside the Jacobs School of Music, subject to approval by the director of graduate studies. A second formal minor may be completed by taking all 12 credits in a single field outside music theory. A maximum of 9 credits may be taken in a single department unless a minor is declared. See more information here.

Tool Subjects
  • M539 Introduction to Music Bibliography (2 cr.) with a grade of B or higher or evidence of proficiency demonstrated by examination.

  • Reading knowledge of one non-English language as demonstrated by examination or by grades of B or higher in two semesters of reading courses at the graduate level in each; or demonstration of proficiency in one research skill, approved by the department and the director of graduate studies of the Jacobs School of Music. More information about the language requirement is available here.

Qualifying Examination

Written and oral examination.