University regulations require the completion of the Preliminary Examination by the end of the sixth semester. The Preliminary Examination 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 & Prospectus Workshop.
- Musicology: the Preliminary Examination consists of a defense of the Dissertation Prospectus. The specific format of the Preliminary Exam should be determined in consultation with the dissertation supervisor.