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.
Your Doctoral Committee will administer 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 the members must be members of the Department of Music (one of these, the committee chair, also serves as a dissertation supervisor). The fourth member serves as a Minor Area Representative, that is, a scholar whose specialization plays a subsidiary role in the candidate’s dissertation. The Minor Area Representative may also come from the Department of Music, but may also come from another department or even from outside the University. 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, Skype participation may be permitted, with prior authorization. In this case, only one member of the Committee can participate remotely.
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 the 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 include the following:
- Proposal for the Dissertation Composition
- Proposal for a scholarly article of publishable quality
- Proposal for an undergraduate course
At least one month before the Preliminary Examination, the student must submit the following:
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 Portfolio tab under Ethnomusicology). A separate copy of the portfolio must be submitted to each member of the Doctoral Committee.
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.
Article proposal: This includes an abstract and bibliography.
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.
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
- an assignment for a short composition
The student may pick up the essay question and composition assignment from the Graduate Assistant on the Monday of the exam week 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:
- the composition component, including the dissertation proposal, short composition, and the portfolio
- the essay and article proposal
- the course proposal
The Doctoral Committee may ask the candidate to revise the portfolio, the dissertation composition proposal, or the proposal for the article of publishable quality, or to repeat the exam. The Committee chair will write a letter to the student providing an assessment of the exam and listing any required revisions or remedial actions. The passing of the Preliminary Examination as a whole is contingent upon committee approval of these revisions.
The article of publishable quality must be submitted within six months after the Preliminary Examination.
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.
- 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).
- Five exemplary papers written during Duke seminars (10-25 double-spaced pages). These should include at least 2 research papers based on original research or analysis (20-25 double-spaced 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 may 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- One sample grant proposal
- One self-designed undergraduate-level course syllabus
- Dissertation prospectus
If necessary and agreed upon by both adviser 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.
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 copies of parts or all of the contents.
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 Specialization 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.
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-writing in your fifth year.
Field Specialization Workshop
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 Specialization Workshop; only one may participate via conference or video call. 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 your adviser.
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) should be comprised largely of your 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; 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.
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 oral discussion (2.5 hours) of the portfolio, which is typically held in April of the third year. In the first half of the workshop, the discussion will focus on 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 you have 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 or video call.
You may apply to receive a Master of Arts (A.M.) en route to the Ph.D. Students who wish to receive the en route A.M. must notify the DGSA of their intention at least 60 days in advance of their exam. Additionally, students must meet the Graduate School’s deadline to apply to graduate in that semester. The A.M. will be awarded after successful completion of the Portfolio Workshop, after which the faculty will vote on the admission of the student to Ph.D. candidacy. (A successful Portfolio Workshop does not automatically confer Ph.D. candidacy.) The committee may recommend that a student receive a terminal A.M. if the student is not admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.
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 online at the Duke Graduate School website.
Timetable for Preliminary Exam in Musicology
At least two months before the Preliminary Examination
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. In collaboration with the Doctoral Committee and the consent of the DGS, you need to determine the general area for examination, based on the Prospectus.
One month before the Preliminary Examination
You must present a written Prospectus and a reading list to the Doctoral Committee.
After completing the Preliminary Exam
The committee may ask the candidate to revise the Prospectus after the Preliminary Exam, by the end of the semester, and may require that the exam be repeated. The passing of the Preliminary Examination as a whole is contingent upon the approval by the committee of this final version.
If you fail the Preliminary Exam, you may request to take a second exam no sooner than three months after the first exam. In this case, you must obtain consent to take a second exam from your Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. Failure to pass the second exam renders you ineligible to continue work on the Ph.D. at Duke.
Candidates select a dissertation topic in consultation with their supervisors and other committee members, and prepare for submission to their committee a formal Dissertation Prospectus (see timetable in Pages 45-46).
The Dissertation Prospectus is an important document and, once approved, serves as an agreement between the candidate and the committee. In addition, it is often submitted to support an application for a dissertation fellowship. It should include a clear statement of the problem to be investigated and of its significance (1-2 pages), the current state of knowledge about this problem, the methodology to be followed, the nature and accessibility (insofar as it is known) of the primary and secondary sources, a brief account of the candidate’s preliminary studies related to the topic, an outline of proposed chapters within the planned dissertation, 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), and a tentative time schedule outlining the successive steps the candidate expects to follow in the course of his/her work.
Candidates should keep in mind, however, that a prospectus is not a dissertation but rather a research proposal; that at this stage they are expected to present questions rather than answers, and that their work may move in unforeseen directions. A bibliography, using a consistent standard format, should be included and should be confined to items of direct relevance (avoid “padding”); the prospectus should make clear to the reader which titles have already been consulted. Ordinarily, the main narrative of the dissertation proposal will run 15-20 pages, followed by the bibliography. A writing sample – showing the kind of work to be accomplished – may also be included as an Appendix, following the bibliography. Students are encouraged to consult previously approved Dissertation Prospectus documents as models.
As soon as the proposal has been approved, candidates in Musicology should complete and submit a form for Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology to register the topic. This is done on the American Musicological Society (AMS) website.