We offer Graduation with Distinction options for students majoring in Music, as well as for select non-Music majors.
Learn more about our selection procedure, expected product and application process by clicking on the appropriate link below.
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. A full, separate proposal of the project must be submitted by April 22 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.
We offer students outside the Music major 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 award 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.)
Candidates for distinction in music performance outside the Music major apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by April 1 of their junior year and are admitted to the program by a faculty committee (one member must be a regular rank Music Department faculty member) on the basis of recent live recordings. During the senior year the student will enroll in Music 401 (Advanced Study in Performance) both semesters. A distinction in musical performance project consists of (a) a full recital supported by a high-quality audio or video recording as documentation of the event; and (b) a written component, either in the form of an analytical paper or other organized commentary on the recital. To be awarded distinction a student must maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the core Music Department courses, and a 3.3 GPA overall.
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 (please ignore deadlines in the Trinity application form; April 1 is the deadline for Music). 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. (Download application form below)
- 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 the Director of Performance and Director of Undergraduate Studies. If no recent live recording is available the student may schedule an audition with the Director of Performance and Director of Undergraduate Studies, between April 1 and the last day of classes of the Spring semester (junior year).
Evaluating Committee and Deadline
Your faculty committee 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. All components of the project must be completed by March 31 of the senior year for final evaluation by the committee.
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.
One year (two semesters minimum) of individual full hour lessons must be completed before senior year. In addition, the student must complete one course from each category below, totaling a minimum of 3 courses. One of the courses must be completed before senior year. Two of the courses can be completed during senior year.
- One course in Music Theory, chosen from:
- MUSIC 261 Theory and Practice of Tonal Music I
- MUSIC 361 Theory and Practice of Tonal Music II
- MUSIC 461 Theory and Practice of Tonal Music III
- ONE course in Music History, chosen from:
- MUSIC 255S Music History I: Antiquity through Renaissance
- MUSIC 256S Music History II: 1600 through Mozart
- MUSIC 257 Music History III: Beethoven through WWI
- MUSIC 258 Music History IV: Post-WWI through the Present
- One course chosen from the following Electives:
- MUSIC 130 World Music: Aesthetic and Anthropological Approaches
- MUSIC 137 Music, Social Life and Scenes
- MUSIC 140 Introduction to Jazz
- MUSIC 143 History of Rock
- MUSIC 144: Meet the Beatles and the 1960s
- and courses numbered above MUSIC 213
- Departmental ensemble (excluding MUSIC 210-3)