The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Music - PhD

Division: Humanities
Degree Type: PhD (For the MA degree, see the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities)

Program Description

Positioned at the heart of a world-renowned academic institution, the Department of Music offers graduate degrees in Composition, Ethnomusicology, and Music History and Theory. The Department also offers an undergraduate bachelor of arts degree in music.

Beyond the classroom, the Department boasts a thriving performance program encompassing four choirs, two orchestras, two jazz ensembles, a Middle East music ensemble, a gamelan, an early music ensemble, a large wind ensemble, and programs in chamber music and piano. The Department also has in residence several professional groups, including the 47-year-old Contempo (formerly the Contemporary Chamber Players)--a world renowned new music collective whose repertory includes the new compositions of our graduate-level composers--plus three ensembles-in-residence, all of which contribute to the undergraduate and graduate studies: the Pacifica Quartet; the new music ensemble eighth blackbird; and the early music ensemble, the Newberry Consort. All these activities in ensemble deepen the talents of students, faculty, staff, and community, forming the cornerstone of cultural life at the University.


Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department of Music admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Department of Music admits applicants only for the PhD degree, and does not offer a stand-alone MA program. If you are interested in pursuing an MA focusing in Music, we encourage you to explore the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH)

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form and Supplemental Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Statement of Academic Purpose
  6. Writing Sample
  7. Transcripts
  8. Supplemental Data Form

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

Students typically take a total of 15 required courses during the first two years of scholastic residence before taking their Comprehensive Examinations at the beginning of the third year.

Seminars include all courses numbered above 400, not including the Graduate Curriculum. Students are encouraged to take seminars that offer a wide variety of approaches and subjects.

The Colloquium is a series of lectures given each quarter, at least half of which must be attended to fulfill the Colloquium Requirement. The lectures, followed by discussion, are normally given by speakers from other institutions who are invited by the Department to share their recent research or compositions with students and faculty.

Examinations in practical musicianship skills are administered by the Department. These include examinations in basic musicianship skills and advanced musicianship skills.

Comprehensive examinations are given annually in mid-September. Students must take the exams at the beginning of their third year of Scholastic Residence. Students entering with an MA may take the comprehensives at the beginning of the second year.

Candidacy is obtained when all requirements for the PhD have been met, except for the dissertation.

Costs & Financial Aid

For information on costs and financial aid, contact the departmental office directly.