The mission of the Wead Mitter School of Music is:

  • to provide a rich, integrated program of undergraduate and graduate education that promotes the highest levels of professional, creative, and scholarly development while challenging students to achieve their greatest potential;
  • to cultivate an environment that inspires creativity, stimulates intellectual curiosity, and fosters critical thinking; and
  • to serve the university community, the public, and the profession through performance, composition, scholarship, music education, outreach, and engagement.

Degrees and Majors

The master of music is offered in music: performance with concentrations in brass; composition; percussion; piano performance; collaborative piano; piano performance and pedagogy; organ; strings; string development; guitar; voice; opera; woodwinds; multiple woodwinds; choral conducting; orchestral conducting; wind conducting.

The master of music is also offered in music: education. This degree is appropriate for those who wish to emphasize music content. Those who wish to explore music education within the context of education at large should consider the curriculum and instruction M.S. program in the School of Education.

The master of arts in music is offered with concentrations in ethnomusicology, music history, and music theory.

A double master's degree with the School of Library and Information Studies is also offered.

The DMA (doctor of musical arts) and the Ph.D. are the highest degrees conferred by the Mead Witter School of Music. The DMA is granted for evidence of general proficiency and distinctive attainment in a specialized field of performance. The student's ability in independent investigation is demonstrated through a series of recitals and in a final project presenting original research or creative scholarship.

The DMA in music: performance is offered with concentrations in: brass; composition; percussion; piano performance; collaborative piano; piano performance and pedagogy; organ; strings (includes guitar); string development; voice; opera; woodwinds; multiple woodwinds; choral conducting; orchestral conducting; wind conducting.

The Ph.D. in music, a research degree, is offered in the areas of ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music theory.

Master's degrees require a minimum of 30 credits; Ph.D. and DMA degrees require significant work beyond the master's degree, including the extensive independent work described above. Each degree track varies slightly and may impose additional requirements. Contact the Mead Witter School of Music graduate office for complete explanations of the degrees offered at the master's or doctoral levels:


The Mead Witter School of Music enriches students' educational experience by hosting guest artists and scholars for master classes, recitals, colloquia, seminars, and festivals. Mead Witter School of Music organizations and ensembles perform more than 350 recitals and concerts every year, making a significant contribution to the cultural life of the university and the wider Madison community.

The Mosse Humanities Building, built in 1969, houses most of the music classrooms, rehearsal rooms, faculty studios, and 111 practice rooms. Most recitals and concerts take place in one of three performance spaces: Mills Concert Hall, Morphy Recital Hall, and Eastman Organ Recital Hall. The school's extensive collection of instruments, both common and unusual, is available to both faculty and students. Music Hall with its clock tower, built in 1879, is a campus landmark. Renovated in 1985, it is the home of the opera program. The new Hamel Music Center is scheduled for opening in Fall, 2018 and will include a concert hall, a recital hall, and a large ensemble rehearsal space.

Memorial Library is the home of the Mills Music Library, which offers extensive research and circulating collections, attractive study space, and personal staff assistance with research. Music materials on campus number over half a million, ranging from scores and sheet music to archival collections and historic audio recordings. Through Mills Music Library and other UW–Madison libraries, students have access to a wide range of online research databases as well as millions of articles, books, and streaming media. All genres of music are represented, with notably strong collections in Americana and ethnic music. Nationally known special collections include the Tams–Witmark Collection, a treasury of early American musical theater materials, and the Wisconsin Music Archives.

The Mead Witter School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the national accreditation body for schools of music, and was reaccredited in 2014.

Through the generosity of Paul J. Collins, the Mead Witter School of Music is the recipient of a substantial fellowship fund which, in combination with the Graduate School and University Foundation, allows the school to offer multiple-year funding to the highest quality graduate students in performance. The Collins fellowships, along with The Lorna Wendt and Anonymous Fund Fellowships for Choral and Voice students are offered as Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowships and provide full tuition and fees, a generous stipend, additional funds, and comprehensive health care. Nomination by a performance faculty member—usually following an on-site audition—is required for consideration.

The Mead Witter School of Music also offers teaching and project assistantships in music history, music theory, piano, conducting, voice, and other performance areas. These positions offer tuition remission plus a salary and health care benefits. In addition, the Mead Witter School of Music selects qualified applicants for the Chancellor’s Fellowship, University Fellowship, and Advanced Opportunity Fellowship. The UW–Madison Office of Student Financial Services assists students in obtaining general grants and loans. All Mead Witter School of Music students who receive funding are required to enroll full-time with 8–12 graduate credits.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees

Ph.D., with available tracks in ethnomusicology, historical musicology, and music theory

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

Ph.D.–ethnomusicology track: 72 credits

Ph.D–historical musicology track: 69 credits

Ph.D.–music theory track; 63 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework must must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to up to 30 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions in the form of a master’s degree or the equivalent. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Each track of study has different course requirements. Students must consult with their advisor in their first semester to determine expected course of study.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete a minor consisting of at least 9 credits (most are 12 credits).

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25.

Other Grade Requirements

Students must earn a B or above in all coursework.

Probation Policy

Ph.D students who fail to make satisfactory progress in any of the following four areas: grades, course load, time constraints, or exams, will be notified in writing by the DGS. At the end of the second semester of failing to make satisfactory progress the student is placed on probation effective the next semester. This action suspends financial aid (but does not affect loans or work-study). For details see Satisfactory Progress for Doctoral Students.

Advisor / Committee

Ph.D. students have one advisor and two committees. The advisor is their principal faculty mentor. The two committees are:

  1. preliminary exam committee
  2. dissertation committee.

For more details see the School of Music Graduate Handbook.

Assessments and Examinations

All Ph.D. students are required to take preliminary written and oral exams after all coursework (except for research or dissertation credit) has been completed.

Time Constraints

DMA and Ph.D. students in the School of Music are allowed a maximum of four calendar years from the date of enrollment in the program to complete all coursework requirements and successfully pass preliminary examinations. A student not completing the course requirements (apart from the dissertation or project requirements) by the end of the fourth year will be placed on probation for the following 12 months. During this period, the student will not be eligible for financial aid. A student who fails to complete the coursework requirements and pass preliminary examinations during the 12-month probation period may be withdrawn from the program. The Doctoral Research Project Committee (DPRC) or Ph.D. dissertation committee may grant up to a one-semester extension to the above guidelines. Exceptions beyond that can be made only upon recommendation of the graduate committee and approval of the DGS (director of graduate studies).

Language Requirements

Ph.D.–ethnomusicology track: Intermediate-level reading proficiency is required in two research-related languages, one of which must be French or German. The second language may be French or German, or may be a field language.

Ph.D.–historical musicology track: Intermediate-level reading proficiency is required in two languages, one of which must be German. The second language may be French, Italian, or any other language central to the proposed doctoral research.

Admission to the DMA and Ph.D. Programs

Minimum admission requirements of the Graduate School apply to all applicants for graduate study in music. The Mead Witter School of Music has additional requirements. Applicants should have a master’s degree in music or equivalent foundational course work as required by each area of study. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale, calculated on the last 60 credit hours) is necessary for full admission. Admission to the DMA program assumes a high level of performance ability determined by audition. Composition applicants must have completed a master’s degree or equivalent in composition. Both the DMA and the Ph.D. programs involve substantial academic work and require excellent reading, writing, and speaking skills. Therefore, all international students are required to submit a TOEFL score. See the Mead Witter School of Music graduate admissions website for information on minimum score requirements. The Mead Witter School of Music does not waive the TOEFL score requirement for students who have completed a degree at an American university. All Ph.D. applicants and DMA piano applicants must submit a scholarly paper as part of the application. Ph.D. students are expected to submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Typically, performance applicants are required to audition in person. For details on specific audition requirements and additional application materials, visit the Mead Witter School of Music graduate admissions website.

Knowledge and Skills

  • articulates research problems, potentials and limits with respect to theory and cultural understanding of music.
  • formulates ideas and concepts beyond the current boundaries of knowledge in the field of music study.
  • demonstrates breadth within the learning experiences in an area of study outside the principal field of inquiry.
  • accomplishes research that makes a substantive contribution to the field.
  • creates well-written monographs based upon original research that make substantive contributions to the field.
  • communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner, both verbally and in writing.

Professional Conduct

  • fosters ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Cook (director), Aley, Bartley, Blasius, Bowles, Calderon, Chisholm, Crook, Davis, Dembski, DiSanza, Dill, Doing, Earp, Fischer, Fulmer, Hyer, Jensen, Johnson, Jutt, Karp, Koza, Leckrone, Perry, Potter, Radano, Rowe, Schaffer, Schwendinger, Smith, Stowe, Swack, B. Taylor, C. Taylor, Thimmig, Vardi; Associate Professors Dobbs, Hetzler, Johnson, Teeple, Vallon; Assistant Professors Grabois, Park Altino, Wallmann