All Doctoral students (DMA and PhD) must take qualifying exams. These substantive exams represent a significant milestone within the doctoral degree and help to determine a student’s readiness for moving forward with the final project. Consequently, students should be well-prepared for these exams. After successfully completing these exams, students can defend the dissertation proposal or doctoral essay proposal and apply for Doctoral Candidacy.

All PhD students must complete a qualifying examination that includes two components.  The first component consists of writing three scholarly papers that are independent of or significant extensions of documents written as part of other coursework. The second component consists of a one-hour, oral examination focusing on the written papers.  Students in the PhD degree program should contact their graduate advisor to obtain detailed guidelines on the entire qualifying examination process.

Students pursuing the DMA in Jazz Composition or Jazz Performance (Instrumental or Vocal) are required to take qualifying examinations in Musicology, as well as Jazz Studies (i.e., jazz harmony/theory, aural and rhythm proficiency, keyboard harmony proficiency, and jazz arranging).

Students pursuing the DMA in Composition are required to complete qualifying examinations in Musicology and Composition.

Students pursuing the DMA in the following degree programs are required to take qualifying examinations in Musicology and Music Theory:

Collaborative Piano
Choral Conducting
Instrumental Conducting
Instrumental Performance, including Multiple Woodwinds
Keyboard Performance and Pedagogy
Piano Performance
Vocal Pedagogy and Performance
Vocal Performance

All required qualifying examinations must be successfully completed by the end of the third semester of full-time doctoral study, or the completion of 30 credit hours of doctoral study, unless otherwise specified by the major department.  Students must pass the qualifying examinations before defending the dissertation proposal or the doctoral essay proposal.  Proposal defenses may be scheduled in the same semester as exam completion.

If a student fails a qualifying exam (or a portion of the exam), s/he can re-take the exam in the subsequent semester, with departmental approval.  A student who fails a qualifying examination (or portion of the exam) for a second time will be dismissed from his/her respective degree program.

For any doctoral student needing to take the doctoral qualifying exams in Musicology or Music Theory, please read below for instructions on exam dates, times, and registration procedures as well as study guides.

When Can I Take the Exam?

Fall Semester Year Spring Semester Year
October 23 2015 March 25 2016

Exam Schedule:

Friday, October 23         8:00am –  12:00pm   Music Theory Exam
Friday, October 23           1:00pm – 5:00pm    Musicology Exam

How do I register for the exam?

Students must register for exams two weeks (e.g., 14 days) prior to the exam date by sending an email to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  The email should include the student’s full name and should identify the examinations the student intends to take.  Information on exam location will be given at the time of registration. 

How do I prepare for the exam?
Please refer to the following study guides that will get you started.

Study Guide for the Doctoral Qualifying Exam in Musicology:

The Musicology Qualifying Exam is a three and a half hour examination that assesses students’ broad knowledge of the field. It includes questions in four specific content areas: 1) music history and literature, 2) score identification, and 3) bibliography.  You will be asked to answer all sections of this exam in a bluebook.  Recommended study materials include:

Bonds, Mark Evan.  A History of Music in Western Culture, 3rd ed.  Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall:  Prentice Hall, 2010.  This book includes companion score anthologies and CDs.  More information appears on the publisher’s website: www.pearsonhighered.com

Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca.  A History of Western Music, 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, New York:  W.W. Norton, 2009. This book includes companion score anthologies and listening materials). Online study resources are also available, as well as a paper study guide that students have found valuable.  More information appears on the publisher’s website: www.wwnorton.com.

Hanning, Barbara Russano.  Concise History of Western Music, 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2009. This book also includes companion score anthologies and listening materials. Online study resources are also available, as well as a paper study guide that students have found valuable. More information appears on the publisher’s website: www.wwnorton.com.

The Qualifying Exam will include the following content areas:

1.  MUSIC HISTORY AND LITERATURE (90 minutes)
Students will be asked to give a clear and logical description of each of the six major periods of music history (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th - 21st Centuries). Students should be prepared to discuss the musical style of each period, as well as include significant reference to the major composers, genres, and compositions of each. Students should plan to devote a minimum of two sides of a large bluebook to each period.

Although it is not necessary to use complete sentences for this part of the exam, you must express your thoughts clearly.

2. SCORE IDENTIFICATION (60 minutes)
Students will be asked to identify the most important musical features of 6 to 10 unknown score excerpts. Based on the information provided, identify the likely genre, composer, period, and approximate date of the composition. 

Students preparing for this part of the exam are encouraged to study with their classmates, so they can take turns asking each other unknown score identifications.

3. BIBLIOGRAPHY (30 minutes)
Students will be asked 15 short-answer questions related to the major online and print reference sources in music. Helpful study guides include class notes from a music bibliography course at UM or from a previous university. Students should also consult with the new Weeks Music Subject Guide webpage, the URL for which is: http://libguides.miami.edu/music.

At minimum, a working knowledge of the major sources listed on this page is expected.

Study Guide for the Doctoral Qualifying Exam in Music Theory:

The Doctoral Qualifying Exam in Music Theory exam is divided into two parts, as follows:

Part I
1. Traditional, harmonic analysis with emphasis on chromaticism.
2. Formal structure with emphasis on large formal structures, such as the rondo and sonata forms.

Part II
Analysis of 3-4 short pieces with emphasis on 20th century literature.

Next Steps

How do I apply for Doctoral Candidacy?

After successfully completing these exams, doctoral students should follow these steps:

1.    Obtain Doctoral Committee approval from the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Frost School.  The form is available in the Graduate Studies office and needs to be signed by the student’s committee chair before being submitted.  Approval is needed before students can proceed with the proposal defense. The form is located in the following website: Doctoral Committee Approval form

2.    Defend the proposal for the doctoral dissertation or doctoral essay.  Detailed instructions for proposal defenses are found in the Frost School of Music Graduate Student Handbook.

3.    Apply for Doctoral Candidacy.  The Application for Candidacy is found on the Graduate School website at: https://umshare.miami.edu/web/wda/grad/forms_/web/admission_to_candidacy.pdf 
Submit the completed form to the Graduate Studies Office in the Frost School of Music, located in Gusman Hall.  The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies will review the application and then forward it on to the Graduate School for final approval.