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School of Fine ArtsMusic Department

Final Requirements

Continuous Registration

Once work toward any graduate degree program has begun, a student must register each semester thereafter (excluding summer sessions) until all requirements for the degree have been completed. There are four special numbers set up by the Graduate School for students who have completed their course work but have not yet fulfilled one or more of the final requirements for the degree as described below. Master’s students should register for GRAD 5998 (Special Readings) or, if writing a thesis, GRAD 5999 (Thesis Preparation). Doctoral students should register for GRAD 6998 (Special Readings) until they are admitted to candidacy, and GRAD 6999 (Dissertation Preparation) thereafter. Students registered for one of these courses pay a nominal fee each semester to maintain active status.

Failure to continuously register, either for courses, for research credits, or for one of the numbers listed above, will result in automatic termination by the Graduate School. Reinstatement is possible only after paying all fees accrued to date, plus an additional reinstatement fee. Each year a number of students incur needless expense by neglecting to continuously register. Do not overlook this requirement!

Master of Arts Degree Thesis

Students in the M.A. program in Music Theory or Music History are required to submit a thesis that represents an original contribution to research in the field. A proposal describing the topic and organization of the thesis must be approved by the entire Advisory Committee. The thesis is written under the direction of the Major Advisor with input from the Associate Advisors before the final oral examination, which serves as a defense of the thesis.

The thesis is to be dated as of the calendar year in which all requirements for the M.A. degree are completed. Two high quality copies of the thesis must be deposited in the Graduate Records Office by the deadline for the semester or summer session the degree is to be conferred. (See below, Dates and Deadlines for Degree Conferral.) Each copy must contain an approval page bearing original signatures of all members of the Advisory Committee. Additional specifications for the style and format of the thesis are available from the Graduate School.

Master’s Degree Final Examination

The final examination is the last requirement that must be met for all master’s degrees. Therefore all other requirements must have been fulfilled before the examination can take place. It is normally an oral examination, although in some cases a written examination may be given instead. The examination is administered by the Advisory Committee, who must all participate in the exam, and other faculty members may attend as well.

The final oral examination may not be scheduled until the completed recital or thesis has been accepted by the project advisor and all members of the Advisory Committee. It is the Major Advisor’s responsibility to schedule the final examination at a time when all committee members can attend. The Major Advisor should discuss the nature and content of the examination in advance with each member of the committee and counsel the student on strategies for preparing to take the examination. (These may include recommended readings, listening, and meeting with individual committee members; however, no committee member is obligated to divulge the specific content of any part of the examination, or to “teach” relevant material to the student.)

The final oral examination is comprehensive in nature. The candidate is expected to demonstrate knowledge about music history and literature, skill in music analysis, basic insight into the research process and procedures of scholarship, and familiarity with selected writings about music. For M.A. students, the examination typically centers around a defense of the thesis.

The Major Advisor is responsible for coordinating and conducting the oral examination and for reporting the results to the Music Office and the Graduate School. A student who does not pass the examination by the unanimous vote of the Advisory Committee, may take it again in whole or in part, at the discretion of the committee, at a later date to be determined by the Major Advisor. A student who does not pass the examination on the second attempt may not continue in the degree program.

Members of the Advisory Committee are under no obligation to evaluate projects or hold examinations according to any specific deadlines (e.g., by the end of a particular semester), nor are they required to make themselves available during vacation times (e.g., the summer months). Therefore students and Major Advisors are encouraged to plan carefully for the completion of the project and for the scheduling of the final examination.

Doctoral General Examination

The Doctoral General Examination is a comprehensive test of the student’s knowledge within the field of study. It incorporates elements of music history and literature, music theory, research, performance practice, pedagogy, and the practical application of these constituent components. It is taken near the end of the course program but may not be later than eight months prior to the conferral of the degree.

The foreign language requirement(s) must have been met and the Plan of Study approved by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School. Before arrangements for the examination may be made, the student should check with the Graduate Records Office to make certain that all pre-examination requirements have been met. If they have, a permit to take the examination will be given to the student and a copy sent to the major advisor. This permit is required of any student taking the general examination.

The examination is administered by the student’s Advisory Committee and contains both written and oral components. Not fewer than five faculty members, including all members of the Advisory Committee, must participate in the examination. The final decision as to whether the student has passed the examination is determined by the majority vote of the Examining Committee.

After the examination, the Major Advisor shall communicate the results (pass, high pass, or fail) to the candidate as soon as a final decision can be made and immediately send the official report on the examination to the Graduate Records Office. The Examining Committee may decide to re-test a student on one or more portions of the examination, in which case the final results will be reported after the re-testing. Students who re-take any or all portions of the examination must do so within one year of the original examination. A student who does not pass upon re-testing may not continue in the degree program.

The general contents of the Doctoral General Examination for each degree program are as follows:

1. Doctor of Musical Arts (Performance or Conducting)

a. The Examining Committee shall consist of all members of the student’s Advisory Committee, plus two additional faculty. The Committee must include at least one member of the theory faculty and one member of the history faculty.

b. The written examination consists of three subject areas: theory and analysis, history and literature, and topics specific to the student’s discipline and/or dissertation topic.

The theory portion requires the ability to apply analytic concepts and techniques at a level corresponding to material covered in Music 5354 (Advanced Analysis).

The history portion covers the entire range of music history, and may demand knowledge regarding composers, periods and genres beyond what the student has covered in courses taken in this department. The portion specific to the student’s discipline may include any and all relevant topics, such as repertoire, technique, performance practice, and pedagogy. The essay written for this portion of the exam may either provide necessary research background for the student’s dissertation (see below, DMA Dissertation Plan A) or may be revised to become the student’s dissertation (see below, DMA Dissertation Plan B).

c. Approximately one-half day of sequestered testing is devoted to each of the theory and history areas, and one full day to the other topics. In addition, the Examining Committee may assign up to two take-home questions, which will normally be completed immediately before or after the sequestered testing.

d. All written parts of the exam (including take-home questions) shall normally be taken within a two-week period, but in any case must be completed within one month. Scheduling shall be the responsibility of the Examining Committee.

e. The oral part of the General Examination normally takes place within 2-4 weeks after the written part has been completed. The results of the examination are determined at the conclusion of the oral part.

f. All portions of the examination will be graded by the full Examining Committee. Each member of the committee will have one vote, pass or fail, for each portion of the examination. If a student fails any or all portions of the examination, one additional opportunity may be scheduled. This second attempt must be accomplished within one year of the first.

2. Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory and History

a. The Examining Committee shall consist of all members of the student’s Advisory Committee and two additional faculty members.

b. The written examination consists of two subject areas: theory and history, including literature and pedagogy.

c. The theory portion will be drawn up by theory faculty members of the Examining Committee and graded by the entire Examining Committee. The theory portion of the examination will cover advanced concepts in music theory similar to topics presented in several of the graduate theory courses offered in this department.

d. The history written exam will be drawn up by history faculty members of the Examining Committee and graded as noted in c. above. These questions will cover the entire scope of music history, and may demand knowledge regarding composers, periods and genres beyond what the student has covered in graduate history courses offered in this department.

e. Approximately one day of sequestered testing is devoted to theory and one to history. In addition, the Examining Committee may assign up to two sets of take-home questions, which will normally be completed immediately before or after the sequestered testing. All written portions of the exam shall normally be taken within a time period not to exceed one month.

f. The oral part of the General Examination normally takes place within 2-4 weeks after the written part has been completed. The results of the examination are determined at the conclusion of the oral part.

g. All portions of the examination will be graded by the full Examining Committee. Each member of the committee will have one vote, pass or fail, for each portion of the examination. If a student fails any or all portions of the examination, one additional opportunity may be scheduled. This second attempt must be accomplished within one year of the first.

The following guidelines for scheduling Doctoral General Examinations must be followed carefully, to ensure fairness and to avoid confusion or delays in the examination process:

  1. About one semester before the general exams are to take place, the student and the Major Advisor will meet to discuss the approximate date of the exam and the membership of the Examining Committee. (The Examining Committee includes the three members of the Advisory Committee plus two other faculty; for D.M.A. students, the five-member committee must include at least one theorist and one musicologist.) As soon as possible after the meeting, the Major Advisor will confirm each faculty member’s willingness to serve on the committee and will set a date for the exam that is acceptable to all members.
  2. The Major Advisor will then schedule a preliminary meeting of the entire Examining Committee. This meeting may not take place until the student has completed all requirements listed on the approved Plan of Study (including the foreign language requirement and resolution of “I” grades received in any courses). One exception is the final recital for D.M.A. students which may, with the approval of the Advisory Committee, be postponed until after the comprehensive examination. Such postponement must be motivated by considerations of the student’s program of study and research topic.
  3. At the preliminary meeting the Examining Committee will discuss the overall content of the exam, including the types of questions to be provided by each member, the format of each question (sequestered or take-home), the amount of time the student is to be allotted for answering each question, and the date(s) on which each portion of the exam will be taken. The student may be invited to appear at the beginning of this meeting to discuss his or her plan of study, interests and objectives.
  4. The Major Advisor will reserve (through the Music Office) a room for the sequestered portions of the exam, and will send a letter to the student detailing the format of the exam, the dates when questions are to be answered, the general categories of the questions, and which member of the committee will provide the questions in each category.
  5. After receiving the letter described in #4 above, the student may contact each member of the committee to discuss the individual categories of the exam. A committee member may choose to provide the student with additional information about any question he or she personally will write (i.e., not about questions to be written by other members of the committee). Individual committee members may also provide the student with a list of recommended readings and other suggestions for preparation, although no committee member is obligated to “teach” the material to the student or to conduct extensive review sessions. It remains the responsibility of the student to assimilate the knowledge and skills necessary for the successful completion of the exam.
  6. Each committee member will submit his or her question(s) to the Major Advisor at least one week before the written exam is to begin.
  7. The Major Advisor will assemble the various portions of the exam according to the schedule described in #4 above, and will make any necessary arrangements for the student to pick up the questions and return the answers according to the specified schedule.
  8. The student will be expected to adhere to the schedule. Any changes or exceptions must be approved in advance by the Major Advisor, and by members of the committee, as appropriate.
  9. The Major Advisor will be responsible for collecting the student’s responses and will make copies of the entire exam available to each member of the committee well before the oral portion of the exam is to take place.
  10. The Major Advisor will schedule the oral portion of the exam, which should take place no less than two weeks, and normally no more than four weeks, following the completion of the written portion. All members of the Examining Committee are expected to attend the oral exam. The Major Advisor will notify the Graduate School and the Director of Graduate Studies of the results.
Admission to Candidacy

Candidacy is a term that applies to doctoral students who are in the final stages of their degree program (Ph.D. or D.M.A.). Because it denotes special status in the academic community, the requirements for candidacy are specifically defined. A doctoral student is promoted to candidacy, and a letter of candidacy issued by the Graduate School, when the following requirements have been met:

  1. Fulfillment of the residency requirement
  2. Completion of all course work listed on the Plan of Study
  3. Fulfillment of the foreign language requirement
  4. Passing the General Examination
  5. Submission and approval of a dissertation proposal (see under “Doctoral Dissertation” below)

Once admitted to candidacy, the only remaining requirements are the dissertation and its oral defense (the “Final Examination”).

Doctoral Dissertation

A doctoral dissertation represents a significant, original contribution to ongoing research in the candidate’s field. D.M.A. dissertations will typically be less than 100 pages in length. Thus they are substantially shorter than their Ph.D. counterparts, and will often address issues of repertoire, performance or pedagogy rather than more traditional musicological or theoretical topics, but they are nevertheless expected to meet the same standards of scholarship and literary style.

Before preparation of the dissertation is well underway, the student must file a dissertation proposal, together with the official form obtainable from the Graduate School or Music Office. The proposal must be approved first by the Advisory Committee, then by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Music Department, and finally by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School.

Ph.D. Proposal

Ph.D. proposals are normally 8-10 pages in length with an appended bibliography, and are reviewed with the following questions in mind:

  1. Is the proposal well written, well organized, and well argued?
  2. Does the proposal describe a project of appropriate scope?
  3. Does the student demonstrate knowledge of the subject and an understanding of the proposed method of investigation?
  4. Does the student show an awareness of relevant research conducted by others?
  5. Will the proposed research, if successful, contribute to knowledge in the field?

D.M.A. Proposal

Depending on the nature and scope of the topic, the D.M.A. dissertation proposal may be similar to that for the Ph.D. In many cases, however, in recognition of the less ambitious scale and more flexible range of topics that characterize the D.M.A. dissertation, the proposal will be shorter, typically about 3 pages in length with an appended 1-page preliminary bibliography of the major sources the candidate expects to consult in the course of the research. Although it is intended primarily as a broad statement of intent rather than a detailed prospectus, the proposal should briefly identify:

  1. The significance of the topic, especially in relation to previous research in this area (e.g., does it fill a gap in the literature, or make an otherwise useful contribution to the field?)
  2. The main sources to be used in the research, e.g. modern English-language periodical literature, eighteenth-century German performance treatises, autograph manuscripts; if they are not available at the University of Connecticut, where or how will they be consulted?
  3. The main elements of the dissertation, especially any significant non-prose components, e.g. musical editions, transcriptions, archival inventories, etc.; a chapter-by-chapter summary of narrative prose sections is not necessary, however.
  4. The candidate’s plans for addressing any special challenges posed by the research in terms of foreign-language competence, travel away from the Storrs area, or other issues of this kind.

There are two plans for the completion of the DMA dissertation. While both require the completion of a proposal and a dissertation, Plan A will produce a document of more depth and scholarly ambition that Plan B. The timing of the final degree components (General Examinations, Dissertation Proposal, and Dissertation Defense) is also different in each case. The following summarizes the two plans:

DMA General Examination/Dissertation Plan A

  1. Student verbally proposes dissertation topic during meeting to arrange the timing and content of the comprehensive exams, which must be scheduled at least eight months prior to the planned conferral of the degree.
  2. Student takes comprehensive exams, including a substantial essay question involving the student’s topic.
  3. After successful completion of the exams, student submits dissertation proposal for Grad. Studies committee review. This proposal must be approved by boththe Grad. Studies Committee and the Executive 3. Committee of the Graduate Faculty Council.
  4. After approval of dissertation proposal, student writes dissertation.
  5. Once approved by the Advisory Committee, the student defends the dissertation; the degree is conferred.

DMA General Examination/Dissertation Plan B

  1. Student proposes dissertation topic formally, submitting the first draft of a dissertation proposal at the exam committee meeting. This proposal must be approved by both the Grad. Studies Committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate Faculty Council.
  2. Student takes comprehensive exams, including a substantial essay that will become the dissertation.
  3. After successful completion of exams, student revises both the dissertation proposal and the take-home essay, which are submitted to the Graduate School in succession; the former must be submitted at least four months prior to the planned conferral of the degree.
  4. Once approved by the Advisory Committee, the student defends the dissertation; the degree is conferred.

The timing of the Ph.D. or D.M.A. proposal is important. These questions make it clear that the student must already have done substantial research and have drawn some conclusions about the significance of the investigation. On the other hand, waiting too long to file a proposal could result in wasted effort if changes are required by any of the committees that review it.

Doctoral Dissertation Defense (Final Examination)

The dissertation defense, or Final Examination, is oral and under the supervision of the Advisory Committee. Notification of the time and place of the defense must be submitted by the student to the online UConn Events Calendar, www. events.uconn.edu (Lectures, Meetings and Conferences section) at least two weeks prior to the defense. In addition, the student must deliver to the Graduate School a provisional copy of the dissertation, with tentative approval form signed by all members of the Advisory Committee, at least one week prior to the defense.

At least five members of the faculty must participate in the defense–the three members of the Advisory Committee and two additional faculty who have had the opportunity to read the dissertation beforehand. The defense begins with a personal presentation of the candidate’s research, which is open to the public and usually placed on the schedule of the Music History and Theory Colloquium. The presentation is followed by a period when any person in attendance may ask questions and participate in discussion of the research. Finally, the five members of the committee meet with the candidate in private to discuss any remaining issues that may need to be addressed before granting final approval. The decision regarding whether the candidate has passed, conditionally passed or failed the Final Examination rests solely with the Advisory Committee, which will take into account the opinions of other participating faculty, especially the two additional readers of the dissertation. The vote of the Advisory Committee must be unanimous.

Immediately following the Final Examination, the Major Advisor must communicate the results to the Graduate Records Office on an official form obtainable from the Music Office.

Dates and Deadlines for Degree Conferral

The University confers degrees three times each year: August 31, December 31, and on commencement day in May. The student must file an application for conferral of the degree according to instructions available at the website grad.uconn.edu/current-students/apply-for-graduation/. Failure to complete all requirements and file for the degree in a timely fashion will delay conferral to the next conferral date. Diplomas are normally mailed to the graduates within three months following conferral. Graduates who receive degrees in August or December are eligible to participate in Commencement ceremonies during the following May.