Ph.D. in Composition

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements: Composition

The five-year doctoral program in Composition at Duke includes a Master of Arts degree (A.M.) en route to the Ph.D. Admission to the Ph.D. program is not automatically granted upon the student’s completion of the requirements of the A.M. degree, but is restricted to those students who have demonstrated the ability to do substantial and original work in composition. After passing the Qualifying Examination, the student will be notified regarding acceptance into the doctoral program. Upon successful completion of the en route A.M., a diploma can be requested.

Course Requirements

  • Seventeen Courses (51 units) of graduate instruction. The required courses include:
    • One course in Musical Analysis
      • MUSIC 560 Tonal Analysis OR MUSIC 562 Analysis of Music after 1900
    • Seven Composition Courses
      • Two semesters of MUSIC 690S-1 (Seminar)
      • MUSIC 697
      • MUSIC 698
      • MUSIC 699
      • MUSIC 797
      • MUSIC 798
    • Two courses in either Ethnomusicology or Musicology:
      • MUSIC 790S-1
      • One course selected from:
        • MUSIC 551 Music in the Middle Ages
        • MUSIC 552 Topics in Renaissance Music
        • MUSIC 553 Music in the Baroque Era
        • MUSIC 554 Music in the Classic Era
        • MUSIC 555 Music in the Nineteenth Century
        • MUSIC 556 Music in the Twentieth Century
        • MUSIC 790S-2 Studies in Ethnomusicology
    • Seven elective graduate courses (500 level or above)

No more than four courses (12 units) of a completed Master’s degree may be accepted for transfer from another institution. 

After the first year, graduate electives can be taken outside the Department of Music as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The DGS will consider the student’s academic record within the Department and his/her reasons for enrolling in extra-departmental courses.

Registration Requirements

The Graduate School requires six semesters of “full-time” registration regardless of the number of courses taken or residence.

No more than one semester may be waived for a completed Master’s degree.

Teaching Requirement

Classroom teaching is an integral part of the doctoral program. All graduate students will be required to complete eight semesters of teaching as a Teaching Assistant or Instructor of Record.

Examinations and Dissertation

Example Program of Study in Composition

The following represents a typical program for students entering the doctoral program in Composition, which begins with en route A.M. requirements and then proceeds to Ph.D. requirements:

Semester Typical Course of Study
Year 1, Semester 1  (12 units)
  • MUSIC 690S-1 Composition Seminar: Selected Topics
  • MUSIC 697, Composition
  • Two seminars in Musicology, Ethnomusicology or Theory
  • Diagnostic Examination
  • Foreign Language Examination
Year 1, Semester 2  (12 units)
  • MUSIC 560 Tonal Analysis
  • MUSIC 690S-1 Composition Seminar: Selected Topics
  • MUSIC 698 Composition
  • One seminar in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, or Theory
  • Composition Portfolio submitted by the end of this semester
Year 2, Semester 1  (9 units)
  • MUSIC 699 Composition
  • Two elective graduate courses in music
Year 2, Semester 2  (9 units)
  • One seminar in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, or Theory
  • One music elective (500 level or above)
  • MUSIC 797 Composition
  • Qualifying Examination

       (A.M. Degree)

Year 3, Semester 1  (9 units)
  • Two music electives (500 level or above)
  • MUSIC 798 Composition
Year 3, Semester 2
  • Preliminary Examination
  • Ph.D. Composition Portfolio
  • Article of publishable quality
Following Year
  • Pay fees only (until completion of degree)
  • Final Examination (dissertation defense)

       (Ph.D. Degree)