Graduate Program in Composition


Previous handbook for those entering in 2023 or earlier

The composition program at Cornell combines private lessons and group seminars, with an emphasis on the development of the student’s personal approach to composition. The DMA blends scholarship with artistic work. We require a foreign language and a thesis analyzing the dissertation piece and contextualizing the student’s work, and we expect that all composers will take some seminars in scholarly subjects. One strength of the program is that, like all Cornell doctorates in the humanities, the DMA program in composition offers the adventurous student the opportunity to study many subjects, including topics outside the field of music, and to meld these into a highly individual course of study.

All DMA students are admitted with four full years of funding in the form of two years of fellowships and two years of teaching assistantships. Students who do not already have a master’s degree in music earn the Master of Fine Arts in the course of their study; but the MFA is not normally viewed as a terminal degree at Cornell, and those wishing to earn only the master’s degree are not admitted.

In addition to seminar work and lessons, students will be required to present a public concert of their work comprising a substantial amount of music in various media composed during their study at Cornell. As part of the DMA dissertation, students are required to complete a significant work, the scope of which will be determined in consultation with the Special Committee.

Works by doctoral composers are performed by the student-managed Experimental Sound Series (ESS), typically once per year, and at other events in collaboration with DMA performance practice students. They are also presented by groups invited under the aegis of the Steven Stucky Memorial Residency for New Music. Finally, the Festival Chamber Orchestra (FCO)—a large ensemble modeled on a standard sinfonietta configuration (with or without electronic media)—presents an annual concert of doctoral students’ scores.

Composition Admissions

Academic Requirements:

Students wishing to enroll in the D.M.A. Composition program must have a B.A., B.Mus., M.A. or an equivalent academic background.

Application Deadline:

January 15th for Fall admissions.  (The Fall semester begins at the end of August)

Application Materials:

The following materials must be submitted online via the Cornell University Graduate School online application system:

  • Cornell Graduate School Online Application form

  • Application Fee

  • Academic Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcripts (and English translations if required)

  • TOEFL scores (see Graduate School TOEFL requirements for further details)

  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members acquainted with your work

  • An essay, term paper, or honors paper dealing with music composition
  • Scores of two or three recent compositions, with audio/video links (no Google drive, please) or MP3 recording


Every student accepted into the DMA program in composition at Cornell receives four years of guaranteed funding, including financial support for three summers. Every student is given a Sage fellowship for the first and fourth years; the latter Sage fellowship may be deferred if outside funding is procured by the student. The remaining two years of funding are in the form of teaching assistantships. Student Health Insurance is provided under fellowship and teaching assistantships. Partners, spouses, and dependents can be included for additional charges.

Ordinarily the DMA program may be completed within four years, though some students may require more time. When possible the department may offer additional semesters of teaching, but such support is not guaranteed. Many students seek outside fellowships beginning in their third year. There are also a few dissertation fellowships available through various Cornell programs. Entering students are encouraged to apply for Javits, Mellon, or other outside fellowships as another means of extending their graduate support. For a list of external and internal graduate fellowships (searchable by keyword, program name, or deadline) see the Graduate School Fellowship Database.

The Department of Music offers a wide variety of teaching experiences, and the faculty makes every effort to match interest and skill to course offerings. Click here to learn more about teaching assistantships.

Program History

The DMA program in composition is uniquely flexible and is developed in close consultation with the student’s Special Committee. Students may combine their study in the Field of Music (music and sound studies, performance) with work in other Fields at Cornell.

“Field of Music,” or “Field” for short, is the official Graduate School designation for the graduate programs and the Graduate Faculty in music. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), coordinates the activities of the Field, including such concerns as admissions, financial aid, advising, and job hunting, and represents the Field vis-à-vis the Graduate School. Even though it will not have much effect on your program, it is useful to know that the Department of Music and the Field of Music are not coterminous; some faculty members of the Department are not members of the Field, and most graduate Fields, like ours, include faculty members from several departments.

* * * * *

The nature and history of Cornell’s D.M.A. degree.

The current composition faculty includes Kevin Ernste, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, who together offer instruction in an unusually wide range of contemporary musical practices: electroacoustic and computer music, sound art, installation, new media, improvisation, instrument building, and scored composition for traditional instruments, chamber groups, and large ensembles.

The first bona fide appointment in music at Cornell went to a composer, Arthur Farwell, who served from 1899 to 1901. The proper history of the composition program really begins in 1941, though, with the appointment of Roy Harris as Composer-in-Residence under a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. It was Harris who established the first graduate seminar in composition, and Harris who guided John Vincent to the first Cornell PhD in composition in 1942. He was succeeded in 1943 by his own student, Robert Palmer, under whose leadership for the next thirty-seven years the program came to national prominence. In 1954 Karel Husa left Paris for Cornell, replacing Hunter Johnson (1948-54), and Husa’s growing reputation in the 1970s and ’80s further secured Cornell’s prominent role in the training of American composers. Palmer retired in 1980, to be succeeded by his own student Steven Stucky, who was the Given Foundation Professor of Music until 2014; Husa retired in 1992, to be succeeded by Roberto Sierra, who was the Old Dominion Professor of Humanities, Music, until 2022. For many years, electronic music pioneer David Borden (an associate of Robert Moog and founder of the world’s first live synthesizer ensemble, Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company) taught electronic music, mostly to undergraduate non-majors, but in 2005 Kevin Ernste came to Cornell as Director of the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center, bringing computer and electronic music to graduate composition. In 2016, composer, performer, and sound artist Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri joined the composition faculty, and the program welcomed Elizabeth Ogonek in 2021.

Cornell instituted a separate doctorate in composition in 1957. At that time the faculty in music argued for the establishment of the professional degree Doctor of Musical Arts instead of the more scholarly Doctor of Philosophy. In technical terms, the DMA, being a professional degree like JD or DVM, is subject to certain requirements of the State of New York as well as to the jurisdiction of the Graduate School and the Field of Music. In practical terms, the DMA is widely looked upon as emphasizing professional and artistic skills more than scholarship or research, and during the latter part of the twentieth century it became the terminal degree for most composers in US graduate programs.

The situation at Cornell is somewhat different. Here the DMA, while still fundamentally a professional degree in composing, aims at a balanced combination of professional training and scholarly endeavor. This dual emphasis exists in part in response to Cornell’s distinguished tradition of musical scholarship, its eminent faculty in music and sound studies, and its outstanding library system, and in part to a realistic assessment of the state of the profession: composers who hope to enter college-level teaching must be competent not only at composing but also at a broad range of academic musical subjects. Thus it is in the nature of the Cornell DMA that, although each candidate will follow a different course, each will be expected to pursue excellence in both spheres, the professional and the scholarly.

The Master of Fine Arts degree.

Applicants who wish to earn only the master’s degree in composition are not admitted, but those who enter the doctoral program without having already earned a master’s do receive the MFA in the course of their study toward the DMA. The master’s degree requires a thesis consisting of a significant new work.1 The final exam for the MFA, at which the thesis is presented and defended, is combined with the doctoral Admission-to-Candidacy Examination, described below. The Cornell MFA cannot be granted to a student who has already earned any master’s degree in music at another institution.

1 In this respect, it differs from the MA awarded to PhD candidates in musicology upon the successful completion of their A exams. The latter is what the Graduate School calls a “Special Master’s” (i.e., one for which no thesis is required). The MFA awarded to composers, since it does require a thesis, is not “special.”

Program Requirements

The programs and activities in music at Cornell are rich and varied. Only certain aspects of the formal requirements are described here. For other details, and for information about anything else, you should ask your Special Committee Chair, the DGS, other professors, and fellow students. The flexible, decentralized Special Committee system means that, ultimately, the shape of your program and what you get out of it depend primarily on you. The more questions you ask of the greater number of people, the better will be your chances of formulating your own best answers.

The Special Committee.

The Special Committee of a doctoral candidate comprises three or four professors who are members of the Graduate Field. Each of the three regular members of your Committee must represent a particular “concentration,” as defined in the legislation of the Graduate School. In music, these are composition, performance practice, and music and sound studies.

Every Committee includes a chair and two or three “minor members.” The chair always represents the major subject — composition, for our purposes. Two minor members also represent official subjects or concentrations. The minors available to you include composition (again), music and sound studies, and performance practice within the Field of Music, and, of course, countless possibilities in other Fields. One minor fairly often lies outside the Field of Music; you may even elect two outside minors, but only with prior approval of the Field as a whole. (No more than three subjects are ever represented on a Special Committee. If you include a fourth professor, officially they “do not represent a minor subject.”) Retired professors with the status of Graduate School Professor may co-chair a committee if they remain in the Ithaca area.

Your Special Committee, then, will assume the following form:

Chair: composition

Minor member: composition, performance practice, or music and sound studies

Minor member: one of the above, or an outside minor

[Fourth member: Not representing a subject (optional); often used for an “extra” composer]

Other arrangements are possible. For example, you may petition the Field for permission to include as a minor member other members of the Music Department faculty who are not on the Graduate Field.

If you wish formal supervision in a discipline that is not adequately represented at Cornell, you can, with the approval of your Special Committee, petition the Graduate School to permit the appointment of an authority from outside Cornell. You must have three Cornell members on your Special Committee in any case; an outside member would thus become a fourth. All decisions regarding the composition of your Committee are subject to the approval of the entire Committee.

Note: There is understandable confusion about the difference between a “subject” and a “concentration.” As a DMA student, your major subject is “music,” your concentration “composition.” The Special Committee form that you will fill out asks for a faculty member’s “concentration.” This is a category that is recognized and tracked by New York State legislation and that represents our degree programs.

The formation of your Special Committee is an important step, not to be rushed into pro forma. During the transition period in your first year, the DGS, acting as your temporary chair, can sign the necessary forms and can offer advice about forming your Committee. You must have chosen at least a chair by the beginning of your second year; ideally, you will have formulated your entire Committee by then, since to delay this step much further would seriously jeopardize your progress toward the degree. It is important to work with all three faculty composers, if at all possible, during your first year, since before the beginning of classes in the fall of your second year you will have to invite one of them to chair your Committee. You will want to be sure that you are going to be comfortable doing the bulk of your composition study with that person for the remaining three years.

At first, almost nobody will have a clear idea about minor members and minor subjects. The most natural and effective way to get to know the professors in the Field is to take courses with them or work with them independently, and this is a powerful reason to take as heavy a load of courses and other work in your first year as you can manage. When setting up your Committee, do not take a professor’s participation for granted. Any professor may refuse to serve on any Committee. A request to serve should be preceded by extended acquaintance and prior consultation.

You may change your Committee on your own initiative. Although this is not something to be done lightly or frequently, it is a normal procedure and should be considered whenever a substantial benefit seems probable. Unless you have already passed the A exam, no special permission is required except that of the remaining and new members of the reformulated Committee. (The retiring members and the DGS must also sign the form — they may not decline to do so — so that each professor concerned and the Field as a whole understand the reasons for the change.)

From one Committee to another, the substance and style of a chair’s supervision, the relationships among the various subjects, and the extent to which the minor members take an active role, all vary widely. In these as in many aspects of your study at Cornell, it is up to you to formulate your own goals and to suggest ways of achieving them. Moreover, only you can take the initiative necessary to explore the potential connections among your subjects and to stimulate the active interest of your Committee members. You must ensure, among other things, that your Committee formally meet with you as a group at least once every semester. (This is a policy of the Field as a whole.)


The normal minimum residence requirement for the DMA is eight “residence units.” A residence unit is defined as satisfactory full-time study for one semester, with appropriate progress toward the degree. (The Special Committee is required to certify to the Graduate School at the end of each term whether your progress has been satisfactory and your work “full-time,” and to recommend whether you should receive a full residence unit for that term.) The minimum requirement is thus equivalent to eight semesters of full-time study. It is possible to earn credit “in absentia,” while studying away from Ithaca, and to earn partial credit even if you must work more than 15 hours a week. A student who comes with a master’s from another institution may petition for reduction of the minimum requirement, usually to six units. (In practice, however, it is very rare for any DMA candidate to do fewer than eight units, with or without a prior master’s degree.) At least two of the minimum eight units must be spent in consecutive semesters of full-time study in Ithaca. At least two of the eight must follow the passing of the A exam (although this requirement, too, can be waived upon petition).


The minimum Field requirement for composers is reading knowledge of one foreign language. In consultation with your Special Committee, you should settle as early as possible the question of which language or languages you are expected to know. Native speakers of other languages are a special case. Sometimes their native language is appropriate for their dissertation research, and that’s fine; if not, though, the Field or the Special Committee might insist on yet a third language more closely connected to the work at hand. The Field considers computer coding languages to be equivalent to other languages. 

The requirement should be satisfied as soon as possible, preferably during the first year of residence. (In any case, the language requirement must have been completed before you will be permitted to attempt “A’s.”) Both the usual undergraduate language courses and special courses meant for graduate students preparing for exams are available to you. The Field administers its own exams in French, German, and Spanish at the beginning of each semester, and in other languages as needed. At the end of your first year, certification that you have made satisfactory progress toward the degree will hinge in part on your having passed the language requirement by then, or at least having demonstrated that you are close to doing so.

Courses and independent work.

You and your Committee decide on your courses and other activities each term. Ideally, each semester’s decisions fit into your long-range program, whose goals become increasingly clear from term to term. Although every composition student is encouraged to take all available composition seminars, you must take at least one seminar with each composition faculty member.

You will also be expected to take Composition (Music 7111) every semester, and to attend the composers forum and all rehearsals, workshops, and conferences related to the ESS, FCO, and Stucky Residency. Whatever your stated minors, most Special Committees will expect you to do some work in music and sound studies and computer and electroacoustic music. In the Composition program, Committees often expect students to take a minimum of six to eight 4000 (or higher)-level courses outside of 7111, ensembles, and performance lessons; these might also include courses in a minor subject outside the Field of Music.

In addition to formal work in composition and analysis, Committees expect at least two formal seminars in music and sound studies, for several reasons: to create opportunities to explore the interconnections among subjects and the relationships between scholarship and creative work; to strengthen academic credentials with a view to winning a college teaching position; and to provide practice in academic thinking and writing. One of these two seminars may be taken outside of Music, with the prior permission of the Special Committee.

PhD students in music and sound studies are generally considered to carry a full-time load if they take three seminars for credit and do a modest amount of independent work. For composers, the notion of full-time load is sometimes treated more flexibly, owing chiefly to the demands of composing. Indeed, the general expectation is that you will present new work on the concerts of the Experimental Sound Series and the Stucky Residency ensemble at least twice a year, and that you will write a work for the FCO at least once during your four-year residence, and taken together these expectations already represent a formidable commitment of time and energy even before formal courses are added to your load. In general, formal participation in courses will be greatest during the first two years, when students usually sample widely within the Field, satisfy the language requirement, and explore minor subjects within the Field or outside. In later years, less and less time is spent in seminars, as students prepare for exams and write theses. Moreover, the Field feels strongly that all candidates in music, DMA and PhD alike, should have teaching experience. Other things being equal, every graduate student in music will be offered teaching assistantships beginning in the second year. A good rule of thumb for composers is to take about three courses each term in year 1, two courses each term in years 2 and 3 (always including Composition as one course every term). This pace would produce a total of eight courses besides Music 7111, and the faculty considers that to be about right.

The Field as a whole offers about three to five graduate seminars each term. Composition is offered every term. In general, Music 6201 (Introduction to Bibliography and Research) is offered every fall for first-year students. An attempt is made to offer every other “active” course at least once every second or third year. But there is no guarantee that any particular course will be offered within any given period of time, or that any particular pattern of courses will be maintained without change. At the beginning of each year, the graduate courses to be offered that year and, where possible, in succeeding years are described in a general meeting of graduate students and Graduate Faculty.

Many important topics, and even whole areas of study, are not covered by formal courses. The faculty believe that this price is worth paying for the benefits of a small, intimate program, including high-level research seminars and a great deal of individual attention. The chief responsibility for filling in the gaps lies with you. The techniques you learn in formal courses should carry over to your independent work. Your professors will expect you, on your own, to keep up with recent acquisitions in the Music Library, to read articles and reviews in current journals, to study and listen to music, to attend meetings, conferences, and festivals when feasible, and so on.

As for composing, it is impossible to generalize about what constitutes an acceptable level of productivity; this is a matter for you and your Special Committee, and it depends on many variables. But it is important that, at a minimum, you be represented (preferably by new work) on the concerts of the Experimental Sound Series and the Stucky Residency ensemble at least twice a year. Much depends on these concerts, since they provide the only opportunity for the Field as a whole to assess your progress. In your first or second year (determined by your Special Committee), you will be expected to present a new work for the Festival Chamber Orchestra (instrumentation: 1111 - 1110 - 1 percussionist - keyboard - string quintet, with the option of electronics and mixed media).

The Admission-to-Candidacy Examination

Every DMA candidate must pass a general examination in composition, analysis, and twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, called the Admission-to-Candidacy Examination, or “A exam” for short. (The term candidacy refers to acceptance into doctoral status.) The A exam may not be attempted earlier than the beginning of the third semester, nor later than the beginning of the seventh semester of full-time study. Most students take them during the fifth and sixth semesters. The date is jointly agreed between you and your Committee. For composers, the A exam comes in two stages. Stage I comprises analysis of an assigned work and the composition of a new piece, followed by an oral exam in which the student presents their analysis to the committee and the committee discusses the composition. Stage II comprises written questions in recent music history and analysis, followed by an oral exam on these questions, as well as on the student’s dissertation proposal.

Stage I of the A Exam is typically taken over 72 hours (Friday to Sunday) during the 5th semester and Stage II over 72 hours (Friday to Sunday) in the 6th semester, but there is no reason they cannot be taken closer together. You will find the dates that make the most sense with your Special Committee.

Before you can prepare for Stage II, you and your Committee must first agree in advance on a subject list, typically by the end of the 4th semester. The subject list usually consists of ten twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers distributed into three tiers:

Tier I. One composer, about whom you will become as thorough an expert as possible.

Tier II. Three composers, whose works you know in considerable detail and about whom you know the scholarly and analytical literature well.

Tier III. An additional six composers, for each of whom you know a handful of important works well and about whose work you have a good working knowledge, both of the works and the analytical and historical issues associated with them.

In consultation with your Special Committee, composer slots may be substituted by up to five general topics within the overall list.

The oral exam for Stage I will typically take 90 minutes. You will present your analysis of the assigned work for 30 minutes, then answer questions from the Committee. The second half of the oral exam will be devoted to discussion of the composition assignment.

The oral exam for Stage II will typically take two hours, and will cover your responses to the essay questions about your composer list, as well as a dissertation plan for a significant work, which is due along with the essays for Stage II. 

In principle, your subject list merely gives a framework around which you organize your study; your Committee can ask you anything it considers necessary for your professional credentials. Only the oral exam of Stage II is scheduled formally through the Graduate School, and this must be done at least one week in advance, on a form signed by your Committee and by the DGS. Any member of the Graduate Faculty is entitled to attend the orals and to ask questions, but only your Special Committee votes on your performance. A unanimous vote is required to pass; you will be informed of the result immediately. Should you fail, your Committee may choose to give you a second chance after another semester or two. Most students who prepare conscientiously pass the first time.

For students earning an MFA (i.e., any DMA candidate who does not already hold a master’s degree in music from another institution), the final exam for that degree is held concurrently with the A exam, and the student presents a master’s thesis consisting of a substantial new work.

The D.M.A. recital

At some time during your study, usually after the A exam but always before the B exam, you must present a public concert comprising a substantial amount of music (in consultation with your Special Committee) in various media composed during your study at Cornell. Selecting the program, procuring performers, and rehearsing are your responsibility.

The Department of Music provides financial support toward the cost of hiring performers. This amount must include performance fees, housing, transportation, meals, instrument rentals, and any other cost associated with the concert.

The performers must be contracted in advance of the performance using Cornell’s official artist contract. Housing is often available on campus. Receipts must be submitted for all expenses, and certain requirements must be followed for items like truck rental and travel reimbursement. The Events Manager can assist in administering these details.

The date and time of the recital and any rehearsal time should be scheduled with the Events Manager as early as possible to avoid departmental conflicts. The candidate is responsible for moving any needed instruments and equipment to and from the performance space and should coordinate those moves with the Events Manager. The Events Manager will set deadlines for the candidate to provide their program content, including any program notes, etc.

The D.M.A. presentation

In your final semester, you will deliver a public presentation on your compositional work and its intellectual and artistic context. The presentation should last between 75 and 90 minutes, and should include recordings, score excerpts, and/or other documentation as supporting material. Your talk will be followed by questions from the Committee and the audience, and should be scheduled within a week before the DMA defense (colloquially known as the “B Exam”), which is only attended by you and your Special Committee. You should coordinate the scheduling of your DMA presentation with your Committee and the Events Manager of the Department.

The D.M.A. thesis and defense

Part I of the thesis is a significant work, the scope of which will be determined in consultation with the Special Committee. Like all aspects of your thesis, the DMA composition should be discussed with your Committee well in advance.

Part II consists of a written analysis and explication of the Part I dissertation work, with historical and cultural contextualization as necessary; this document should be no longer than 10,000 words, and must be submitted to your Committee and accepted as finished before you will be allowed to schedule the final oral defense (often referred to as the “B Exam”).

On matters of general style, follow the latest edition of the University of Chicago Press Manual of Style (also available online) for Part II. Follow, too, the published instructions distributed online by the Graduate School, and consult the Thesis Secretary frequently. 4 It would be reasonable to spend a whole year doing little else but writing the thesis essay, completing and polishing the composition portfolio, presenting the DMA recital, and preparing the B Exam presentation. Thus a student who succeeds in finishing within four years will usually have followed approximately the following timetable:

Year 1

  • Take about four seminars (in addition to 7111 Composers Forum, for a total of about six)
  • Pass the language requirement
  • Compose works for the ESS, Stucky Residency ensemble, and/or FCO 5

Year 2

  • Take about two seminars (in addition to 7111 Composers Forum, for a total of about four)
  • Propose the A exam composer list
  • Compose works for the ESS, Stucky Residency ensemble, and/or FCO

Year 3

  • Take about two seminars (in addition to 7111 Composers Forum, for a total of about four).
  • Compose works for the ESS, Stucky Residency ensemble, and/or FCO
  • Complete the A exams
  • If eligible, submit the MFA thesis composition

Year 4

  • Complete Parts I and II of the thesis
  • Deliver the DMA presentation
  • Present the DMA recital
  • Compose works for the ESS, Stucky Residency ensemble, and/or FCO
  • Complete the B exam

It is important to finish on time, because the days when an ABD (“all but dissertation”) could get a teaching job seem to be over, as do the days when additional financial aid was sometimes available for extra years of residence beyond the four-year guarantee.

4 Rules and standards change; do not simply model your format on old theses in the library.

5 Students typically compose for the FCO in their second and fourth years, but with other expectations, such as writing for the Experimental Sound Series and the Stucky Residency ensemble, available opportunities will surely continue to evolve. The basic principle is this: you are expected to write a substantial amount of music in each of your four years, covering a wide range of performing forces and formal types. The Department of Music and Field will endeavor to provide performance opportunities for many but probably not all of these projects.

The final examination (dissertation defense)

This examination is oral, based on complete and polished versions of your DMA composition (Part I) and written analysis and explication (Part II), in their final form save for minor corrections arising during the exam itself. It focuses primarily on the thesis itself, but broader issues may arise out of the thesis topic or the DMA composition(s). The examination must be passed and the thesis accepted by unanimous vote of your Committee. (The provisions for visitors are the same as for A’s: any member of the Graduate Faculty may attend and ask questions, but only your Special Committee will vote.)

The final examination must be passed within seven calendar years of the date of your matriculation. (You need not be in residence at the time, however.) If your thesis is submitted after this deadline, the B’s may not be scheduled until a petition, endorsed by your Committee and by the DGS, is approved by the Graduate School.

Composers' Forum

The Composers’ Forum is part of the 7111 composition seminar and is curated by the composition faculty. It is also often combined with masterclasses and studio critique sessions led by the guest composer. Students are expected to attend all sessions and actively participate in the forum conversations.

Forum meetings take place on select Fridays at 1:25 PM in the Alfred E. Kahn Seminar Room, room 316, within the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance (main entrance at 220 Lincoln Hall), except where noted. All meetings are open to the public.

General Program Calendar

First year

Week before classes

  • Orientation
  • Language exams
  • Diagnostic conversation with DGS and Department Chair
  • Choose courses for the fall

Fall semester

  • Seminars/composing/performances
  • Language study, as necessary
  • Choose courses for the spring
  • Meet with the DGS at least once

Spring semester

  • Seminars/composing/performances
  • Language study, as necessary
  • Meet with the DGS at least once
  • Begin thinking about Special Committee Chair
  • Participate in prospective student visits
  • Choose courses for the fall

Second year

Fall semester

  • Special Committee Chair must be selected by the beginning of the semester, and the rest of the committee by the end
  • Seminars/composing/performances
  • Complete language exams
  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • Teaching
  • Choose courses for the spring

Spring semester

  • Seminars/composing/performances (double check seminar distribution requirements: one with each composer, two with other Music Field faculty)
  • Teaching
  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • A Exam planning
  • Participate in prospective student visits
  • Choose course(s) for the fall

Third year

Fall semester

  • A Exam preparation
  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • Seminar(s)/composing/performances (double check seminar distribution requirements: one with each composer, two with other Dept faculty)
  • Teaching
  • Thesis research and preparation of proposal
  • Choose course(s) for spring

Spring semester

  • A Exam; Phase II oral exam must be scheduled at least seven days in advance, and the final report must be filed within three days of completion – check with the grad field assistant for help (see for required schedule and reporting forms)
  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • Seminar(s)/composing/performances
  • Teaching
  • Participate in prospective student visits

Fourth year

Fall semester

  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • Teaching
  • Possible seminar/composing/performances
  • DMA recital (or Spring)
  • Thesis research and writing
  • Possible Randel fellowship

Spring semester

  • Meet with Special Committee at least once
  • Thesis research and writing
  • DMA recital (or previous Fall)
  • Possible seminar/composing/performances 
  • Participate in prospective student visits
  • Thesis defense; defense (B Exam) must be scheduled at least seven days in advance and the final report must be filed within three days following the defense– consult the grad field assistant for help (see for required scheduling and reporting forms)
  • Possible Randel fellowship