Preliminary Exam

The Preliminary Examination requirements is a milestone towards advancement in the doctoral programs. University regulations require the completion of the preliminary examination by the end of the sixth semester. The exam cannot be taken before all departmental requirements (including unresolved Incompletes, and course requirements) are fulfilled.

  • Composition: the preliminary examination consists of a written examination, an oral examination, a discussion of the Doctoral Portfolio, and a Defense of the Dissertation Composition proposal. The Doctoral Portfolio consists of full scores and recordings (if possible) of works composed during the candidate's studies at Duke. The portfolio should include enough music for an entire concert.
  • Ethnomusicology: the preliminary examination consists of a portfolio and the dissertation prospectus workshop.
  • Musicology: the preliminary examination consists of a defense of the dissertation prospectus.
The Doctoral Committee administers the Preliminary Exam. After consultation with the student, the DGS nominates for the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School a Doctoral Committee. Ordinarily, the committee has four members drawn from the Duke University Graduate Faculty. Three of them must be members of the Department of Music (one of these, the committee chair, also serves as a dissertation supervisor), and the fourth comes from outside the Department. Occasionally the Dean approves requests to appoint other persons. Recommendations of a person not on the Duke Graduate Faculty should be accompanied by an academic curriculum vitae and a statement explaining why this person would be an appropriate and desirable appointment to the committee.
 
Generally, faculty members who are not present on campus (e.g., because they are on leave) cannot serve on the Committee during examinations. In exceptional cases, telephone participation may be permitted, with prior authorization.

Timetable for the Preliminary Examination in Composition

After being admitted to the Ph.D. program and at least two months before the Preliminary Examination, the membership of Doctoral Committee must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.

At least two months before the Preliminary Examination, the student, with the Doctoral Committee and the consent of the DGS, determines the topics in which to be examined and prepares a reading and score study list.

The topics for examination shall include the following:

  • Proposal for the dissertation composition ii. Proposal for an article intended for publication
  • Proposal for an undergraduate course

At least one month before the Preliminary Examination, the student must submit:

  1. Portfolio of compositions. This includes copies of scores and recording(s) of works composed while at Duke (together with the works presented for the A.M. Portfolio and composed at Duke, the portfolio should include a varied program of more or less an hour's music). These materials must be prepared in accordance with professional standards (see section XII. A above). A separate copy of the portfolio must be submitted to each member of the Doctoral Committee.
  2. Dissertation proposal. This specifies instrumentation, texts (if appropriate), approximate duration, equipment needs (e.g., for digital audio playback), a score study list, a statement on the significance of this composition in the student’s artistic development, and a proposed schedule for completing the composition.
  3. Article proposal. This includes an abstract and bibliography.
  4. Undergraduate course proposal. This includes a course title and description, syllabus, reading and score study list, and a description of the objectives for each section of the course. The course topic may be related to the dissertation composition or the publishable article.
  5. Library reserves. The most relevant items from the reading and score study list should be placed on reserve in the Music Library or Media Center.

Before the Preliminary Examination, the Doctoral Committee will prepare one essay question related to the article proposal and an assignment for a short composition. The student may pick up the essay question and composition assignment from the Graduate Assistant on Monday at 9 a.m. and must submit the completed essay and short composition by 5 p.m. the following Friday. The student may use all available library or studio resources. The essay should be double-spaced and printed on only one side of the page to facilitate copying.

The oral examination will follow approximately one week after the completion of the written examination. This examination consists of a discussion of (1) the composition component, including the dissertation proposal, short composition, and the portfolio, (2) the essay and article proposal, and (3) the course proposal.

h. The article intended for publication must be submitted within six months after the Preliminary Examination

Portfolio

Portfolio submissions are meant to demonstrate your developing ideas in prior years, and are intended to prompt discussion in the Portfolio Workshop about how your thinking has changed over time.

Portfolio Requirements:

  1. Three annotated reading lists (two theoretical in focus, and one geographic) displaying the contours of each of the student's fields. Each field list should include 35 items . Annotations may vary in length (from a short paragraph to a page) - a balance to be determined by the faculty examiner for that particular reading list in consultation with the student. The list for each field should be introduced by a synthetic overview that charts the genealogy of the readings and/or that critically reviews its key themes (2 - 3 double spaced pages per list).
  2. Five exemplary papers written during Duke seminars (10 - 25 double spaced pages). This should include at least 2 research papers based on original research or analysis (20 - 25 double pages). The remainder may be shorter theoretical essays (10 - 15 double spaced pages in length). An essay comparing two theorists discussed in a Theories course would be a typical submission in this category, as would a critical essay developed around an issue or a set of recordings.) One of the research papers should be substantially revised. The rest m ay be submitted in their original form. Each submission should be identified by the class and instructor for whom it was written and the year it was produced.
  3. One example of audio or audiovisual work, such as a field recording. This should be accompanied by an explanation of the objective of the recording and of the recording methods selected (2 - 3 double - spaced pages). Approximately ten minutes of the recording should be excerpted for methodological discussion in the accompanying 2 - 3 pages.
  4. One book and one recording or documentary film review (along the lines of those published in scholarly journals). Each review should be 3 - 5 pages in length. An example of such a review could be a revised seminar response paper.
  5. One sample grant proposal.
  6. One self-designed undergraduate - level course syllabus.
  7. Dissertation prospectus.

If necessary and agreed upon by both advisor and student to better serve the student's needs, some modifications may be made to the exact content of the portfolio, but any such changes must be approved by the ethnomusicology faculty.

Timing Logistics

One member of the student's Ph.D. committee will be responsible for the evaluation of each field, and will provide the student with guidelines identifying the kind of materials that should be included within the field reading list, and the nature of the synthetic writing about each field. The chair of the student's committee may be responsible for one of the student's fields. The student should meet regularly with each examiner to discuss progress on the respective field reading lists. Each student will assemble their material for the portfolio on their own website, provided by the department, although committee members may also request hard copy of parts or all of the contents.

Planning Schedule

Year One: You begin collecting materials for your portfolios during your first year using work produced in your classes, even though you have yet to finalize your choice of fields or faculty examiners/committee members. A mini-portfolio covering course materials is submitted at the end of the first year and constitutes your qualifying examination.

Year Two: Near the end of the second year, you will participate in a Field Specializations Workshop, led by your Ph.D. committee, in which you will discuss your preliminary field lists, your summer research proposal, the courses you are planning to take during your third year and what you expect to produce for the Portfolio therein. You must provide the field lists and research proposal to your committee at least one week prior to the workshop. After the meeting, each committee member will inform you of any revisions or additional material they require in their field's section of the portfolio. This communication between your faculty and you will take the form of a contract, which each committee member must sign and submit for DGS approval, with a deadline of September 30 for submitted revisions.

Year Three: You will finish assembling the portfolio, with a focus on writing the dissertation prospectus and the synthetic essays. You must complete at least one field section of your portfolio by December 15 of that year. The remaining field sections of the portfolio must be submitted to all committee members no later than March 15 of the third year. A final version of a dissertation prospectus must be distributed to all committee members at least two weeks before the Portfolio Workshop, typically held in April of the third year. Upon receipt of faculty assessments of all sections of the portfolio, your committee chair will review the portfolio in its entirety, including the dissertation prospectus, at which point he or she will notify you, other committee members and the DGS as to whether you may proceed to the oral Portfolio and Prospectus Workshop.

Year Four: You conduct dissertation research in your fourth year.

Year Five: You return to campus for dissertation write-up in your fifth year.

The Field Specialization Workshop is a ninety minute meeting held with your doctoral committee near the end of the second year of study. You will present and discuss your  preliminary field specialization lists and a summer research proposal. At this stage, you will have determined your three field specializations and the rationale for them in relation to your research projects. You will also have reading lists for each, though you will not necessarily have begun to annotate them yet. You will have made decisions about the content of your portfolio, such as the specific reviews to be written, research papers to be submitted, and so forth.

At least three committee members must be physically present for the Field Specializations Workshop; only one may be on speaker phone. After the meeting, each committee member will inform you of any revisions or additional material they require in their field's section of the portfolio. This communication will take the form of a contract, which each committee member must sign and submit for DGS approval, with a deadline of September 30 for submitted revisions.

Failure to fulfill the terms of the contract in the specified time frame may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

Occasionally, a student may substantially shift the focus of the dissertation project after September of their third year. If such a change becomes necessary, you should discuss a possible change in the fields with their advisor.

 

The Dissertation prospectus (20-25 double spaced pages). This document should be comprised largely of the student's grant proposal for dissertation fieldwork, to which you will append a discussion of changes that have occurred in the thinking, design, and framing of the project since the grant was written (particularly considered in relation to the field lists). This document should also include a provisional outline of the dissertation; any questions about implementation of the project that the student would like to raise with your committee during the Portfolio Workshop; and discussion of Human Subjects issues that pertain to the project, and formal approval by Duke's Human Subjects Committee if the project includes human subjects.

Optional Appendix

Students may also include in their portfolio an appendix of additional material, such as conference papers, op-eds or other journalistic interventions relating to their ethnomusicological expertise, audio or audio-visual material, documentation of performances; i.e., anything that they believe reflects favorably on their scholarly or teaching potential.

For the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, the preliminary exam takes the form of a Portfolio & Prospectus Workshop.

Before you can move on to candidacy for the Ph.D., you must receive Preliminary Certification from the department. Your Ph.D. committee will participate in this two and half hour oral discussion of the portfolio (typically held in April of the third year).

In the first half of the workshop, the discussion will focus on the your three fields, and you will be expected to demonstrate fluency in the key themes in these fields. The second half of the workshop will focus on your dissertation prospectus and plans for research.

Students who fail to defend their portfolio by the end of their third year risk not being allowed to continue in the program.

If your Ph.D. committee feels that the student has not performed adequately, you will be allowed to reschedule the workshop only if the entire committee supports this recommendation (pending approval of the Graduate Dean). All Ph.D. committee members must participate in the workshop, with no more than one member participating via conference call.

You may apply to receive a Master of Arts (MA) on the way to the Ph.D. The MA will be awarded after successful completion of the Portfolio Workshop, which will serve as the MA exam. The committee may recommend that a student receive a terminal MA.

Your Doctoral Committee will administers your Preliminary Exam. You will first need to establish your doctoral committee in collaboration with the Director of Graduate Studies, who will then request approval from the Dean of the Graduate School. Ordinarily, the committee has four members drawn from the Duke University Graduate Faculty. Three of them must be members of the Department of Music (one of these, the committee chair, also serves as a dissertation supervisor), and the fourth comes from outside the Department.

Occasionally the Dean approves requests to appoint other persons. Recommendations of a person not on the Duke Graduate Faculty should be accompanied by an academic curriculum vitae and a statement explaining why this person would be an appropriate and desirable appointment to the committee.

Generally, faculty members who are not present on campus (e.g., because they are on leave) cannot serve on the Committee during examinations. In exceptional cases, telephone participation may be permitted, with prior authorization.

Scheduling

The DGS Assistant, in consultation with the dissertation supervisor and the student, will schedule the Preliminary Examination. Allow two months for the DGS Assistant to finalize the schedule. Under no circumstances should the student schedule the exam independently.

Graduate School deadlines are available on-line at the Duke Graduate School: http://gradschool.duke.edu/academics/academic-policies-and-forms/phd-degree-requirements#preliminaryexamination.

Timetable for Preliminary Exam in Musicology

  1. At least two months before the Preliminary Examination:
    1. You must get membership of your Doctoral Committee must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. A committee will not be approved if the two-month deadline has passed.
    2. You, in collaboration with the Doctoral Committee and the consent of the DGS, need to determine the general area for examination, based on the prospectus.
  2. One month before the Preliminary Examination:
    1. You must present a written Prospectus and a reading list to the Doctoral Committee. Note: the Preliminary Exam must be completed at least one month before the the end of the spring semester.
  3. Within 30 days after completing the Preliminary Exam:
    1. The committee may ask the candidate to revise the Prospectus after the Preliminary Exam and may require that the exam be repeated.
    2. The final version of the Prospectus must be submitted by the final day of graduate classes for the semester. The passing of the Preliminary Examination as a whole is contingent upon the approval by the committee of this final version.
  4. If you fail the Preliminary Exam, you may request to take a second exam no sooner than three months after the first exam:
    1. You must obtain consent to take a second exam from your Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School.
    2. Failure to pass the second exam renders you ineligible to continue work for the Ph.D. at Duke.

You will select a dissertation topic in consultation with your supervisors and other committee members, and prepare a formal Dissertation Prospectus for submission to your committee. The Dissertation Prospectus is an important document and, once approved, serves as an agreement between you and the committee. In addition, it is often submitted to support an application for a dissertation fellowship.

Content of a Dissertation Prospectus

A dissertation proposal should run to no more than 10-15 pages including bibliography. It should include the following:

  1. Table of contents
  2. Clear statement of the problem to be investigated and of its significance (one-two pages)
  3. Current state of knowledge about this problem
  4. Brief account of your preliminary studies related to the topic
  5. Methodology to be followed and special skills (if any) necessary for investigating the topic, e.g. foreign languages, instrumental or vocal performance, paleography (indicate whether you already have acquired these skills)
  6. Tentative time schedule outlining the successive steps you expect to follow in the course of your work.
  7. Nature and accessibility (insofar as known) of the primary and secondary sources
  8. Bibliography, using a consistent standard format and confined to items of direct relevance (avoid “padding”). Make it clear to the reader which titles have already been consulted.

You should keep in mind that a prospectus is not a dissertation but rather a research proposal. At this stage you are expected to present questions rather than answers, and your work may move into unforeseen directions. As soon as the proposal has been approved, candidates in Performance Practice and Musicology should file a form for Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology to register the topic. Forms are available in the DSG Assistant Office (109).