Duke Music Graduate Programs

Duke University offers the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in composition, musicology, and ethnomusicology; it also offers an A.M. in performance practice studies. Students in the A.M. programs are expected to continue toward the Ph.D. (those obtaining the A.M. in performance practice ordinarily continue toward the Ph.D. in musicology).

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    • Wet Ink with Duke graduate student composers Dan Ruccia (third from left) and David Kirkland Garner (far right).

    • Photo Credit: Sarah Griffin
    • Harpsichord project
    •  Graduate harpsichord building project

    • Graduate student graduation 2013 photo 1
    • Dan Ruccia, Angela Mace, Tim Hambourger, Karen Cook

    • Photo Credit: Angela Mace
    • Ben Daniels
    • dnme 2012
    • Photo Credit: D.L. Anderson
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Although there is no separate degree track in music theory, students may pursue doctoral research in this areas within the context of the musicology program. No graduate degrees are offered in performance, music education, or music therapy.

For a student with no prior graduate study in music, the A.M. may be obtained in three semesters of full-time study. However, the Music Department admits students to the Master's program only if it is their intention to continue toward a doctorate. The Ph.D. requires an additional year of course work (hence, a total of five semesters) and the completion of a dissertation, which takes another two to four years. Students entering with a Master's degree from another institution can expect their program to be shortened by approximately a year, provided that the M.A. degree is not more than six years old.

Students have much opportunity for contact with members of the faculty and for individualized instruction. Currently the department has thirty-some graduate students in residence (with a few more abroad for dissertation research) and a full-time graduate faculty of fourteen, hence a very favorable student-faculty ratio. Degree programs are comparatively flexible and to a large extent can be tailored to a student's special interests. Individual objectives can be met through a wide choice of courses in music history, ethnomusicology, composition, theory, analysis, and performance practice (including projects with performing artists on the departmental faculty), as well as courses in other disciplines.

For additional information, answers to your questions, and/or application forms, please contact , Director of Graduate Studies.

Ben Folds and yMusic collaborate with graduate composers

    • Ben Folds and graduate composers
In April 2015, Visiting Artist ensemble yMusic rehearsed arrangements of pop musician Ben Folds' original songs written by graduate students in the music department at Duke University for their upcoming tour. Over the last two years, yMusic has performed, recorded and collaborated with both undergraduate and graduate composition students…
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Thomas Brothers' "Louis Armstrong Master of Modernism" a 2015 Pulitzer Finalist

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Thomas Brothers' Louis Armstrong Master of Modernism (W.W. Norton) was selected as a “Finalist” for 2015, category Biography or Autobiography, for the Pulitzer Prize. "the masterfully researched second volume of a life of the musical pioneer, effectively showing him in the many milieus where he lived and worked in…
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Graduate Awards and News

    • Scott Lee with orchestra
Scott Lee has won the 2015 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer award for his piece Bottom Heavy. Scott will be recognized at the annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards at Merkin Concert Hall in New York on May 21, 2015. Bottom Heavy was created for and recorded during the Da…
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