Graduate Exams

Diagnostic Exams

All incoming graduate students in the School of Music take a Diagnostic Exam assessing their general knowledge of Western music history. This exam is typically offered three times a year in the week immediately preceding the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The exam is intended to determine whether students are equipped to undertake graduate-level courses in music history. Students who do not pass the exam must pass MUS 3710 (Overview of Music History) before they can enroll in 7000-level music history courses.

Language Exam

In the course of their studies, graduate students in Musicology demonstrate foreign language reading competence (typically in German, French, Italian, and/or Spanish) by translating short passages of text into idiomatic English using only a hard copy of a translating dictionary. Students pursuing the MM must demonstrate such competence in one language, chosen in consultation with their major professors; students pursuing the PhD must demonstrate competence in two languages. The musicology area offers language exams once per semester; students may retake an exam in subsequent semesters as many times as is needed to pass. 

Styles Exam

Students pursuing the MM in Musicology must pass a Styles Exam in which they describe the styles of four to six diverse pieces of music presented to them through score excerpts or audio recordings. The exam is given twice a year (once in the fall semester and once in the spring semester) and can be retaken as many times as is necessary to pass. It is recommended that the exam be taken early in a student’s course of study. 

Comprehensive Exam

Students pursuing the MM in Musicology must, in the final semester of the degree, pass a written Comprehensive Exam that tests general knowledge of music history and make a successful oral defense of the exam before the student’s advisory committee. 

Qualifying Exam

Students pursuing the PhD in Musicology take a Qualifying Exam during the first or second semester of enrollment in the degree. The exam consists of two parts: a timed, essay-based test on music history and historiography and a take-home research paper written over three days in consultation with secondary sources. The Qualifying Exam fulfills the Graduate School’s requirement for a “Milestone Exam.” Until the exam is passed, the student’s status is considered probationary. 

General Exam

Students pursuing the PhD in Musicology take the General Exam upon the completion of their coursework and prior to embarking on their dissertation research. The written portion of the exam takes place over three consecutive days and covers general music history, the discipline of musicology, and the student’s minor area; the written exam is followed by an oral exam before the student’s advisory committee. 

Final Exam / Dissertation Defense

At the end their studies, students pursuing the PhD in Musicology take a Final Exam that consists of an oral defense of their dissertation.