Dissertation & Final Examination

Presenting your dissertation for review, and the oral examination of your work constitute the final examination in our doctoral programs.
 

  1. As soon as your prelim is complete, set up three meetings, one month apart, with your adviser.
  • For the first meeting, draw up a time - line for your dissertation work.
  • For the subsequent two meetings, report on your early progress and discuss any issues that might have arisen.
  1. As soon as your prelim is complete, check with committee members on their expectations.
  • Do they want a progress report each semester?
  • Do they want to see drafts of each chapter or of specific chapters along the way?
  • Do they want to wait until the manuscript is complete before reading any of it?
  • Do they want to see drafts or parts of your composition and at what stages?
  1. Set up meetings with individual committee members for intellectual discussion of your project periodically, even if you don't have anything to give them in writing.
  2. Six months into the project, assess your focus and progress with your adviser and make adjustments if necessary.
  3. Discuss plans with your adviser to present your work at professional meetings, or to get your work performed.
  4. Discuss job placement strategies with your adviser.
  5. Inform each committee member of your plans and schedule around the job market.
  6. Take advantage of peer review of your work.
  • Other dissertators may be good editors for you.
  • Set up a dissertation reading group.
  • if you are at a loss for other writers, ask the outside member of your committee if there are students in her or his department who might participate.
  1. Ask for feedback. If you feel that feedback from your committee members is not timely, speak to your adviser about it. If you feel that your adviser is holding up your progress, talk to the DGS. If the DGS is your adviser, speak to the chair.
  2. Draw on the campus resources for dissertators: reference librarians, the Dissertation Coaching Group at CAPS, the Division of Student Affairs services, the Franklin Humanities Institute Dissertation Working Group.

The dissertation for the Composition Ph.D. takes the form of a major composition and a publishable article.

Composition

The dissertation in composition will take the form of the score of a major composition to be initiated following your Preliminary Exam. Your dissertation should be a large-scale work demonstrating assured handling of musical materials and clarity of artistic vision. Written music will be the basis of your dissertation.

Publishable Article

In addition, you must submit an article intended for publication no later than six months after taking the Preliminary Examination. The article, normally 20 to 30 pages long, should demonstrate your ability write in English at a professional level. It is not intended that this constitute as major an undertaking as the dissertation composition, nor is it necessary that the article be related to the dissertation. The article should be written with specific scholarly journals in mind as a means to suggest a viable topic and scope. Your committee at the Preliminary Examination will approve the subject of the article.

The Final Examination for a Ph.D. in Composition takes the form of an oral presentation by the candidate on the Dissertation Composition followed by questions from the Doctoral Committee. The lecture may be enriched by recorded examples from the candidate’s work, however, the committee will base its evaluation on the written dissertation rather than a recording. In the case of works which have not yet been adequately performed by the time of the dissertation defense, for purposes of his/her lecture, the candidate should provide a reduced version of the piece, which may take the form of an electronic realization or a two-piano reduction of the full score.
 
You should check with the Assistant Director of the Music Library for specificguidelines regarding reproduction and submission of scores.
 
You are urged to schedule the Final Examination (through the Graduate Studies Coordinator) as early as possible, since it often is difficult to coordinate everyone’s
schedule. Ordinarily it should not be scheduled during the winter break or during the summer (i.e., not after the end of the Fall and Spring examination periods). The candidate should also discuss in advance with the committee members how much time they will require to review the complete draft score. In any case, copies of the complete draft must be in the hands of each committee member no later than 30 days before the date of the Final Examination, and an additional copy must be deposited with the Graduate Office.

Your dissertation should make an original contribution to knowledge among specialists in your discipline. Ideally it should be completed within two calendar years after passing the Preliminary Examination. The maximum permitted time is four years.

Dissertation Format & Resources

Consult the Guide for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations before commencing a written draft. In addition, we recommend the following resources:

  • David Sternberg, How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation, N.Y., St. Martin’s Press, 1981
  • Howard Becker, Writing for social scientists: how to start and finish your thesis, book, or article, University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Howard Becker, Tricks of the Trade: how to think about your research while you're doing it, University of Chicago Press, 1998

Working With Your Committee

It is your responsibility to keep in close contact with the members of your committee during the various stages of your work so that misunderstandings about the nature and scope of the work are avoided and the time schedule may be maintained. How the committee is to read your work-in-progress should be discussed in advance with the dissertation supervisor and with the entire committee.

We recommended that your committee meet at least once a year with you to assess progress towards degree. A common procedure is that the adviser first reads successive chapters and, after they meet the advisor’s approval, by two or three other members of the committee. The importance of keeping members of the committee informed on the progress of your work, whether by submission of chapter drafts or informal discussion, cannot be stressed sufficiently. Also you should keep in mind that the faculty can only write convincing letters of recommendation for the candidate if they are familiar with your work.

NOTE: musicology students their sixth year and above are expected to present their work in progress in the form of an oral presentation to the department on an annual basis.

Chapter Review

All Musicology Ph.D. students must present a completed chapter to the Music Department members of the dissertation committee within 12 months of passing a Preliminary Exam. (For this review, the chapter need not be shared with the non-Music member of the committee). A completed chapter, beyond its self-evident value to the dissertation, can serve as a valuable basis for compelling fellowship application narratives. What to prepare for submission is a topic you should discuss closely with the dissertation advisor.

In general, the committee will expect a continuous document of chapter length with the following characteristics:

  • At least 10,000 words of prose in scholarly format
  • Includes footnotes and source references
  • Supporting illustrative materials as applicable--score excerpts, music examples, analytic charts, etc.

The text will be in completed prose; reading notes or summaries are not acceptable.

All Music Department members of the dissertation committee will read the chapter and comment. The advisor will write a brief report on the work submitted, incorporating comments received from committee members. The report will be shared with the DGS and discussed with the Graduate Faculty. If you fail the chapter review, after consultation with the dissertation advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School, you may be placed on academic probation.

You urged to schedule the Final Examination (through the DGS Assistant) as early as possible, since it often is difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedule. Ordinarily it should not be scheduled during the winter break or during the summer, (i.e., not after the end of the Fall and Spring examination periods). You should also discuss in advance with the committee members how much time they will require to read the complete draft. In any case, copies of the complete draft must be in the hands of each committee member no later than 30 days before the date of the Final Examination, and an additional copy must be deposited with the Graduate Office.

Members of the Duke University Graduate Faculty will be invited to attend the Final Examination. They will not be permitted to ask questions during the examination, and have no vote, but they may submit questions and comments to the Committee Chair beforehand, who may decide to distribute them to the other members, present them during the examination, or pass them on to you.

The original dissertation (see the Guide for specific format) must be submitted to the Graduate School at least seven days before the date of the oral Final Examination. Alternatively, a complete draft with legible corrections may be submitted.

The questions at the Final Examination will mainly concern the dissertation and related matters. For procedures in the case of revisions and corrections recommended by the Committee, see the

Guide. If the examination is failed, a second examination may be granted by the Dean upon recommendation of the Committee no sooner than six months after the first examination; you will be granted a third examination.

After the dissertation has been approved, you should file an updated form for Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. These may be obtained from the Graduate Office.

Your dissertation should make an original contribution to knowledge among specialists in your discipline. Ideally it should be completed within two calendar years after passing the Preliminary Examination. The maximum permitted time is four years.

Dissertation Format & Resources

Consult the Guide for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations before commencing a written draft. In addition, we recommend the following resources:

  • David Sternberg, How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation, N.Y., St. Martin’s Press, 1981
  • Howard Becker, Writing for social scientists: how to start and finish your thesis, book, or article, University of Chicago Press, 1986
  • Howard Becker, Tricks of the Trade: how to think about your research while you're doing it, University of Chicago Press, 1998

Working With Your Committee

It is your responsibility to keep in close contact with the members of your committee during the various stages of your work so that misunderstandings about the nature and scope of the work are avoided and the time schedule may be maintained. How the committee is to read your work-in-progress should be discussed in advance with the dissertation supervisor and with the entire committee.

We recommended that your committee meet at least once a year with you to assess progress towards degree. A common procedure is that the adviser first reads successive chapters and, after they meet the advisor’s approval, by two or three other members of the committee. The importance of keeping members of the committee informed on the progress of your work, whether by submission of chapter drafts or informal discussion, cannot be stressed sufficiently. Also you should keep in mind that the faculty can only write convincing letters of recommendation for the candidate if they are familiar with your work.

NOTE: Ethnomusicology students their sixth year and above are expected to present their work in progress in the form of an oral presentation to the department on an annual basis.

Chapter Review

All Ethnomusicology Ph.D. students must present a completed chapter to the Music Department members of the dissertation committee within 12 months of passing a Preliminary Exam. (For this review, the chapter need not be shared with the non-Music member of the committee). A completed chapter, beyond its self-evident value to the dissertation, can serve as a valuable basis for compelling fellowship application narratives. What to prepare for submission is a topic you should discuss closely with the dissertation advisor.

In general, the committee will expect a continuous document of chapter length with the following characteristics:

  • At least 10,000 words of prose in scholarly format
  • Includes footnotes and source references
  • Supporting illustrative materials as applicable--score excerpts, music examples, analytic charts, etc.

The text will be in completed prose; reading notes or summaries are not acceptable.

All Music Department members of the dissertation committee will read the chapter and comment. The advisor will write a brief report on the work submitted, incorporating comments received from committee members. The report will be shared with the DGS and discussed with the Graduate Faculty. If you fail the chapter review, after consultation with the dissertation advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School, you may be placed on academic probation.

You urged to schedule the Final Examination (through the DGS Assistant) as early as possible, since it often is difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedule. Ordinarily it should not be scheduled during the winter break or during the summer, (i.e., not after the end of the Fall and Spring examination periods). You should also discuss in advance with the committee members how much time they will require to read the complete draft. In any case, copies of the complete draft must be in the hands of each committee member no later than 30 days before the date of the Final Examination, and an additional copy must be deposited with the Graduate Office.

Members of the Duke University Graduate Faculty will be invited to attend the Final Examination. They will not be permitted to ask questions during the examination, and have no vote, but they may submit questions and comments to the Committee Chair beforehand, who may decide to distribute them to the other members, present them during the examination, or pass them on to you.

The original dissertation (see the Guide for specific format) must be submitted to the Graduate School at least seven days before the date of the oral Final Examination. Alternatively, a complete draft with legible corrections may be submitted.

The questions at the Final Examination will mainly concern the dissertation and related matters. For procedures in the case of revisions and corrections recommended by the Committee, see the

Guide. If the examination is failed, a second examination may be granted by the Dean upon recommendation of the Committee no sooner than six months after the first examination; you will be granted a third examination.

After the dissertation has been approved, you should file an updated form for Doctoral Dissertations in Ethnomusicology. These may be obtained from the Graduate Office.