The PhD in Music emphasizes research in the principal areas of music education or musicology (either historical musicology or ethnomusicology). Each program plan is developed through collaboration between student and advisor, keeping the specific goals of each student in mind. The objective is to prepare the student for a career in research and college teaching. Minimum requirements for PhD degrees are: 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor degree for musicology and 75 for music education, including 30 hours of thesis credit. Graduate-level courses taken at the University of Colorado Boulder for a master of music degree are automatically applied; graduate courses taken at another university may be considered for transfer (up to 21 credits).

Areas of Emphasis

The two principal areas of study are music education and musicology. 

Music Education Emphasis

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in music, with music education as a field of specialization, is offered through the Graduate School for students who demonstrate both scholarly potential and a superior commitment to the music education profession.

This degree program requires that individuals think abstractly, generalize knowledge, apply research results to areas of specialization, and communicate effectively in both oral and written forms.

Coursework emphasizes the study of historical, philosophical, psychological and sociological foundations of music education; the theoretical and pedagogical principles of music teaching and learning; curriculum development; testing and assessment; and research techniques.

Graduates typically pursue careers in music education at the college level or supervisory positions in elementary and secondary schools.

Musicology Emphasis

For the musicology student, the Doctor of Philosophy in music degree is intended to emphasize research in music history, music theory, ethnomusicology or some other aspect of music in culture.

An advanced degree will not be conferred merely because a student completes a specified period of residence and passes a given number of courses. One should not expect to gain from formal courses all the training, knowledge, and understanding of ideas necessary to meet the requirements for an advanced degree. The culminating work on a PhD is the dissertation, a substantial document based upon original investigation and showing mature scholarship and critical judgment, as well as a command of the tools and methods of research in music. 



Students applying to the PhD program should have a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a music field related to their intended area of study. Applicants for the PhD with an emphasis in music education should hold an MME degree.

Letters of recommendation, representative research papers and satisfactory scores on the GRE (the general test) are required elements of the student's application for the degree in Music Education. The GRE is not required for Musicology.

Upon entrance to the degree program, students must pass the preliminary examinations and begin working toward basic requirements.

Degree Requirements

Music Education Emphasis

Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours of courses numbered 5000 or above, 15 of which may be transferred from the master's degree, and a minimum of 30 credit hours of doctoral dissertation credit.

Dissertation Requirements

Each candidate must complete a dissertation based on original investigation that demonstrates mature scholarship. Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student designates a dissertation committee, develops a dissertation prospectus and presents it to the committee for approval. After the dissertation has been accepted, a final oral examination on the dissertation and related topics is conducted by the student's dissertation committee.

For more details, consult the PhD in Music Education program description at the College of Music website.

Musicology Emphasis

Course Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of courses numbered 5000 or above, although the minimum number is almost always exceeded. At least six doctoral seminars (7000 level) in musicology are required and must be taken at CU Boulder as part of PhD course work. Additionally, certain seminars in related disciplines, such as Music Theory and Analysis, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, and so on, may count in lieu of the former requirement, with the consent of the student’s advisory committee. Students are expected to complete with distinction all work in the formal courses in which they enroll. 

Students must also complete at least 30 credit hours of dissertation credit, with not more than 10 of those credit hours in any one semester. 

Up to 21 credit hours of graduate work taken at another institution may be considered for transfer. All requests for credit transfer, however, must be approved by the chair of the musicology faculty and other college and university officers as specified on a form for that purpose. 

The College of Music requires proficiency in two foreign languages appropriate to the student's program of study. Normally, the language requirement is met by a translation examination scheduled through the graduate music office.

Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation should be an original and worthwhile contribution to knowledge in the field of musicology. It is expected that the student work closely with a major professor who will serve as the first reader and critic before the dissertation is submitted to the other dissertation committee members. 

For more details, consult the PhD Musicology program description at the College of Music website.