Graduation with Distinction
For Music Majors
Procedure for selection of students
The student should apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by March 20 of their junior year and have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the major. The student is expected to identify a mentor and work with that person to formulate a proposal for the distinction project. An outline of the proposed project must be submitted by April 15 of their junior year.
You have several options for the Graduation with Distinction project:
- Substantial historical, analytical or theoretical paper, or
- Full-length recital with a shorter paper or composition, or
- Major composition with a shorter paper or half-length recital.
A committee of three Music faculty, including the student's mentor as chair.
The student's committee will evaluate the product and determine which of three levels of distinction is to be awarded. All components of the project must be completed by March 31 of the senior year for final evaluation by the committee.
Levels of distinction
There are three levels: Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction.
- Independent study course.
- Advanced study in performance or composition, or an appropriate graduate seminar each semester of the senior year.
For Other Majors
We offer students outside the Music major with the opportunity to earn Graduation with Distinction in Music Performance. We have made this offering an option because so many fine musicians attend Duke but do not choose to major in music, and yet performance remains a primary focus for them as they aim at a career in another field. For these highly motivated students, balancing a drive toward musical excellence with intellectual growth in other disciplines can be what defines their Duke experience. This aware is not intended to supplant Graduation with Distinction in the major, and therefore will not be considered for double honors, i.e., honors awarded in two units for a single thesis. Nor will students be considered eligible candidates for Graduation with Distinction if they are eligible candidates for Distinction in the Major based on the same thesis.
Levels of distinction
One level: Distinction. The award will be designated 'Graduation with Distinction' on your transcript.
How to Apply
You must apply through the Director of Undergraduate Studies by April 1 of your junior year. At least some of the required courses need to be completed before admission to candidacy for Graduation with Distinction. Your application includes a completed form and recent live recordings of musical performances.
- To be awarded Distinction a student must maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the core courses, and a 3.3 GPA overall.
- Admittance is based on recent live recordings evaluated by a faculty committee.
Your faculty committee, which must include at least one regular-rank music faculty member, will be determined in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. At least two members of the distinction committee must hold an appointment in an Arts & Sciences department or program. One member will be the student’s primary thesis advisor; this will normally be the applied music instructor. Once assembled it will approve, modify, or deny your proposal. The committee will evaluate the student's project to determine whether it merits Distinction.
A Distinction in Musical Performance project consists of:
- A full recital supported by a high-quality audio or video recording as documentation of the event.
- A written component, either in the form of an analytical paper or other organized commentary on the recital.
The performance and paper together should demonstrate artistic and intellectual maturity worthy of distinction at Duke.
In order for you to develop the resources to accomplish a distinction project, a course of study in the Music Department that includes applied music, music theory and music history is required. The list of core courses will consist of 5 courses relevant to the thesis topic, at least 3 of which must have been completed before admission to candidacy for Graduation with Distinction. The core list may include no more than one independent study course and may not include the thesis course work itself. These courses are listed below:
- MUSIC 261 Theory and Practice of Tonal Music I
- ONE course in music history from:
- ONE full course credit from:
- MUSIC 130 World Music: Aesthetic and Anthropological Approaches
- MUSIC 137 Music, Social Life and Sciences
- MUSIC 140 Introduction to Jazz
- MUSIC 171 Jazz Improvization to Jazz I
- MUSIC 172 Jazz Improvization to Jazz II
- MUSIC 234 Music in East Asia
- MUSIC 235 Music in South Asia
- MUSIC 290S-3 Special Topics in Ethnomusicology
- MUSIC 290S-4 Special Topics in Jazz
- MUSIC 361 Theory and Practice of Tonal Music II
- TWO semester courses in performance (two must be ensemble courses) selected from the following:
- TWO SEMESTERS of MUSIC 401 Advanced Study in Performance, taken in the senior year.