Graduate Division

General Requirements for Doctoral Degrees

Structure of Doctoral Curricula

Information regarding the structure of the Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Music Education degrees is available under the relevant departmental sections of this bulletin. All Doctor of Music degrees, however, have a common structure, as discussed in this section. Specific requirements relating to each category may be found under departmental listings. Further details of general requirements for the degree may be found in the "Regulations and Procedures" section of this bulletin.

A. Major Field

36-38 credit hours.

B. Minor Field

12 credit hours. The Doctor of Music degree requires a minor in music history and literature, music theory, or music education. Certain departments may further restrict the choice of options for the minor field for their majors. For DM students who have completed master’s degrees in one of these three fields, the appropriate department may, with the approval of the director of graduate studies, waive part or all of the doctoral minor coursework and determine an appropriate department involvement in the written and oral qualifying examinations. Students will take additional courses in the major field or in other areas to make up the required 12 credit hours of the first minor.

C. Other Required Credits

12 credit hours. Credit hours may be used toward a second formal minor inside or outside the Jacobs School of Music; toward an individualized minor; or toward general electives taken inside or outside the Jacobs School of Music, including within the major field. The following conditions apply:

  • Courses must be at the 500 level or higher, except that up to 6 credit hours outside the Jacobs School of Music may be at the 300 or 400 levels, with the approval of the director of graduate studies.
  • Performance and composition lessons must be at the 800 (minor) or 900 (major) level.
  • Credit hours may not be used for MUS-X courses, recitals, or proficiency courses.
  • Credit hours may be used for courses meeting Tool Subject requirements if the courses are at the 500 level or higher. V580 Practicum in German for Musicians and its co-requisite GER-V 605 German Grammar and Syntax for Musicians may be used toward Other Required Credits only if this course is not being used to fulfill a language proficiency. 
  • Credit hours may be used for capstone courses (e.g., dissertation, document) for all majors except composition.

If all credit hours are taken in a single field outside the student’s department or on an instrument other than the student's major instrument, a formal minor must be declared. A maximum of 9 credit hours may be taken in a single department unless a minor is declared.

D. Language Proficiences and Tool Subjects

Candidates for doctoral degrees who expect to do research in specialized fields or who must have specialized techniques beyond those normally required of master’s degree students must possess or acquire such techniques in addition to the regular course requirements. Candidates for certain doctoral degrees have language or tool subject requirements according to the nature of their degree plans.

E. Qualifying Examinations

Applicants for a doctoral degree are not considered candidates for the degree until they have passed the qualifying examinations and have been recommended by their advisory committee to the dean of the University Graduate School or the dean of the Jacobs School of Music.

Preliminary Requirements

Before the qualifying examinations are scheduled, doctoral students must have been admitted to the curriculum and have met the following preliminary requirements:

  1. The student must have satisfied all prerequisites, proficiencies, and tool subject requirements.
  2. To take the major field examination, the student must have completed all coursework for the major field (except certain recitals and dissertation-related courses, final project, or essay).
  3. For minors within the Jacobs School of Music, the student must have completed all coursework in the minor field before taking the examination for that minor.
  4. Students pursuing the DM in composition must have their dissertation topic proposal approved before taking the oral qualifying examination. Students pursuing all other DM degrees, the DME, or the PhD in music education must have their final project or dissertation topic proposal approved before the major field written examination may be scheduled. Students pursuing the PhD in musicology or music theory may have their dissertation topic proposal approved before or after the qualifying examinations.

Research topic proposals must be approved by the student’s research committee and, if the research involves human subjects, by the Bloomington Institutional Review Board. Information on procedures for securing approval of research topics may be obtained from the Music Graduate Office. When preliminary requirements have been met, students may schedule qualifying examinations in the Music Graduate Office. Upon application, written qualifying examinations may be written during the summer term.

Written Examinations

Except as listed below, students must take written examinations in the major and minor fields. These examinations are prepared by the advisory committee member(s) representing the major or minor field and may be based on the content of courses taken in each field or on the background and concepts pertinent to the area. A failed examination may be retaken once.

  • Minors outside the Jacobs School of Music typically do not require a written examination.
  • At the discretion of the minor field representative (as guided by appropriate department policy), students having music performance as a minor may substitute a 30-minute performance examination by a faculty jury or a graded recital for the written examination.
  • The major field written qualifying examination requirement in composition is satisfied with the successful completion of K702 and K703 during the first two semesters of enrollment.
  • Instead of a written exam, the minor in composition requires the composition of a vocal work to an assigned text within a 24-hour period, and the composition of a short movement for chamber ensemble within a seven-day period.
  • For the minor in Music Scoring for Visual Media, K611 Capstone Project in Scoring for Visual Media replaces the written qualifying exam.

Oral Examination

The oral qualifying examination is administered by the student’s advisory committee. The major field oral qualifying examination has as its aim the assessment of the student’s knowledge of the major area. For DM students (performance, conducting, or composition), the examination is especially focused on the literature included in a repertoire list approved by the chair of the student’s advisory committee and the director of graduate studies, a list which must include composers that reflect diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, or other historically excluded groups. The responsibility for assessing this requirement for diversity rests with the advisory committee chair. This examination may include assessment of the student’s ability to articulate an understanding of the formal/analytical characteristics of the music, its historical development and social context, and features related to its teaching and learning. Minor field oral examinations, if required, take place at the same time as the major field oral examination, but are evaluated separately. The result of each portion of the examination is determined by a majority vote of the advisory committee members from that field. A failed examination may be retaken once. The committee will prescribe the scope of questioning of the reexamination. Oral examinations may be scheduled during the summer term only if the entire advisory committee is available.

F. Dissertation and Final Project

Instructions for the development of a topic proposal may be obtained from the Music Graduate Office ( The same office manages the scheduling of the dissertation or final project public presentation. Students desiring to undertake the public presentation during the summer term should consult the Music Graduate Office before March 15.

In order to make the final project public presentation (where required), a DM student must be a candidate for the degree and have completed all other degree requirements, including recitals. The public presentation may take one of a number of formats as outlined on the Music Graduate Office website:

A PhD or DME student must be a candidate for the degree in order to defend a dissertation. The defense of the dissertation is oral and is normally based upon the dissertation, although it may also address the major field literature or any field of general music interest that the research committee deems pertinent.

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Students are ordinarily subject to the curricular requirements outlined in the Bulletin in effect at the start of their current degree. See below for links to previous Bulletins.