The mission of the Mead Witter 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.

The Mead Witter School of Music enriches students' educational experience by hosting guest artists and scholars for master classes, recitals, colloquia, seminars, and festivals. Its performing 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.

Degrees and Majors

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

Ph.D. degrees require significant work beyond the master's degree, including extensive independent work. Each degree pathway varies slightly. See the Course Lists available through the Requirements tab for details on each pathway. Contact the Mead Witter School of Music graduate office, gradadmissions@music.wisc.edu, for further information about the Ph.D. music degree.

The Ph.D.–music program is suited to students who have proven their scholarly discipline, motivation, and ability to write fluently and cogently in the historical musicology or music theory fields. The principal outcome of the program is a dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the relevant major field. A minor field of study, required of all Ph.D.–music students, assures breadth in a field of study outside the major specialty. Proficiency in foreign languages supports research in the major field.

Each Ph.D. student benefits from the mentorship of multiple faculty members, whether from the student’s own specialty or from other areas of scholarship or performance. An advisor is assigned upon the student’s entering the program, and the musicology or music theory area faculty, as appropriate, participate in the preliminary examinations. The dissertation committee is designated with the student’s particular research interests in mind. Through their guidance and support of the student through the degree program, faculty members offer multiple perspectives on the student's performance and research. 

A summary of important information on academic policies for the Ph.D. program is available through the Policies tab. Complete information is available in the Mead Witter School of Music Graduate Handbook. Since the School of Music offers the Ph.D. program under the aegis of the UW–Madison Graduate School, all Ph.D. students also need to be familiar with the UW–Madison Graduate School's Academic Policies and Procedures. In addition to the area faculty advisor, academic guidance is available through the director of graduate studies and the graduate office in the Mead Witter School of Music. 

Facilities

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 includes 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.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency). Every international student from a non-English speaking country must submit a TOEFL score of 85 or higher. The Mead Witter School of Music does NOT waive the TOEFL requirement for students who have completed a degree at an American university.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

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. The Ph.D. program in music involves substantial academic work and requires 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 must submit a scholarly paper as part of the application. Ph.D. applicants are also expected to submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. A visit to campus for a personal interview is recommended, especially if the applicant wishes to be considered for financial aid. For details on specific audition requirements and additional application materials, visit the Mead Witter School of Music graduate admissions website.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Mead Witter School of Music offers teaching and project assistant appointments in music history, music theory, piano, conducting, voice, and other areas. These positions offer tuition remission plus a stipend and health care benefits. In addition, Mead Witter School of Music selects qualified applicants for the Graduate School 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 Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students are able to complete a program with minimal disruptions to careers and other commitments.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Grades below B cannot count toward program credit.

Mead Witter School of Music financial awards are suspended if a student is on probation for more than one semester.

A student’s satisfactory progress is also in jeopardy should a major recital be judged incomplete or deficient. Failure of one or more parts of the comprehensive examinations is also considered a lapse in satisfactory progress.
Assessments and Examinations In addition to evaluations in individual classes, School of Music programs examine graduate students at defined points in their career.

For doctoral students, preliminary examinations are tools to evaluate the student’s currency and knowledge of the major field and the minor area of study, but also to determine the readiness to embark on the final stage of research. The first part of the Comprehensive Examination is written, and the second part is an oral exam attended by the student’s committee members.

Once doctoral candidates have completed all their work, the oral defense is an opportunity for the dissertation committee to address the contributions made through the dissertation. No grades are reported on the transcript for these program-level examinations.
Language Requirements The PhD requires proficiency at the intermediate level in two foreign languages. Foreign language proficiency assures that the student has the tools needed to pursue comprehensive research in the major field. Details can be found below.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a minor or Graduate/Professional certificate. Minors with coursework entirely within the School of Music total 12 credits and are taken as Option B–distributed minors. These distributed minors are narrowly defined to ensure the principle of breadth in relation to the major specialty.

Required COURSES

Historical Musicology Pathway1

Required Seminars
MUSIC 823 Schenkerian Analysis3
MUSIC 824 Post-tonal Analysis3
Additional Required Courses9
It is preferred that students take MUSIC 911 every semester it is offered. Other course options when 911 is not offered may be found below:
Seminar in Musicology (every semester offered)
Historical Music Theories 1
Historical Music Theories 2
Seminar in Ethnomusicology (one course required if offered)
Current Issues in Musical Thought 1
Topics in Music Analysis 1
Topics in Music Analysis 2
Seminar in Composition
Ethnomusicology Requirement3
Select one of the following:
Proseminar in Ethnomusicology
Ethnographic Methods for Music and Sound
Seminar in Ethnomusicology
Other Required Courses
MUSIC/​L I S  619 Music Research Methods and Materials3
MUSIC 923 Seminar in Notation (offered every two years)3
Breadth-Doctoral Minor or Graduate/Professional Certificate9-12
9–12 credits in a field other than the major specialty. See the Doctoral Minors page or the Mead Witter School of Music Graduate Handbook for details.
Language Proficiency
Intermediate-level proficiency is required in two foreign languages, one of which must be German. The second language may be French, Italian, or any other language which can be argued as essential to the proposed doctoral research. Each language requirement may be satisfied with:
Four semesters of undergraduate-level study (completed within five years prior to matriculation), earning a grade of B or better in the final semester OR
One semester of the following with a grade of B or better:
German for Graduate Reading Knowledge I
Italian for Reading Knowledge
French for Reading Knowledge
OR satisfactory completion of an approved language reading examination at the intermediate level.
Consult with the area faculty or with the Mead Witter School of Music graduate office for further details.
Electives
To meet the minimum credit requirement of 51 credits, students take electives 300 level and up in any department in consultation with their advisor.
Dissertation
After preliminary examinations, students enroll in 3 credits per term in:
PhD Diss/DMA Project
Total Credits51
1

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.

Music Theory Pathway1

Seminars and Independent Work
The following courses are required:12
Historical Music Theories 1
Historical Music Theories 2
Schenkerian Analysis
Post-tonal Analysis
Additional courses—2 seminars may be in Musicology9
Students must take 9 credits total, up to 6 credits (2 courses) of which can be from MUSIC 911 and MUSIC 923.
Seminar in Musicology
Current Issues in Musical Thought 1
Seminar in Notation (musicology)
Topics in Music Analysis 1
Topics in Music Analysis 2
Seminar in Composition
Other required courses3
Music Research Methods and Materials
Breadth-Doctoral Minor or Graduate/Professional Certificate9-12
9-12 credits in a field other than the major specialty. See the Doctoral Minors page or the Mead Witter School of Music Graduate Handbook for details.
Language Proficiency
Intermediate-level reading knowledge is required in two languages. Languages must be approved by the music theory area. The most common ways of meeting the language proficiency requirements are:
Four semesters of undergraduate-level study (completed within five years prior to matriculation), earning a grade of B or better in the final semester OR
1 semester of the following:
German for Graduate Reading Knowledge I
French for Reading Knowledge
Italian for Reading Knowledge
OR satisfactory completion of an approved language reading examination at the intermediate level.
Consult with the area faculty or with the Mead Witter School of Music graduate office for further details.
Electives
To meet the minimum credit requirement of 51 credits, students take electives 300 level and up in any department in consultation with their advisor.
Dissertation
After preliminary examinations, students enroll in 3 credits per term in:
PhD Diss/DMA Project
Total Credits51
1

These pathways are internal to the program and represent different curricular paths a student can follow to earn this degree. Pathway names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

No more than 6 credits may be approved for graduate coursework taken at other institutions.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

The program follows the Graduate School's policy for Satisfying Requirements with Coursework from Undergraduate Career at UW–Madison, but the Mead Witter School of Music faculty rarely approve these exceptions.

UW–Madison University Special

The program allows up to 6 credits of UW-Madison University Special Student credit to count. Details can be found at the Graduate School's policy for Transfer from UW–Madison University Special Student Career at UW–Madison.

ProbatioN

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

All programs provide for faculty from several disciplines to follow the student’s progress through the degree, provide mentorship along the way, and assess the student’s success in reaching expected learning outcomes. Committee structures differ among degrees and majors. The principal advisor for most graduate students in Mead Witter School of Music is generally referred to as the major professor.

In Ph.D. programs the advisor may not be the eventual thesis or dissertation advisor. In all programs the major professor is determined with the student's particular interests in mind. The director of graduate studies is also an advisor for all graduate students in Mead Witter School of Music programs. Students are expected to consult with the director of graduate studies at least once per semester to determine appropriate course plans. Consultation is mandatory in the semester before intended graduation.

Ph.D. students have two committees: a four-member preliminary examination committee composed of the major professor, minor professor, and two others determined by the area; and a dissertation committee with four faculty including the major professor and a faculty member from a program other than the major. Three of these four members must be graduate faculty.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time limits

Graduate students in the Ph.D. program are allowed a maximum of four calendar years from the date entering the program to complete all course work requirements and successfully pass the preliminary examinations. The candidate must complete the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examinations.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

College of Letters and Science REsources

The College of Letters and Science's SuccessWorks program can assist with professional development and with identifying opportunities.

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials and limits with respect to theory and cultural understanding of music.
  2. Formulates ideas and concepts beyond the current boundaries of knowledge in the field of music study.
  3. Demonstrates breadth within the learning experiences in an area of study outside the principal field of inquiry.
  4. Accomplishes research that makes a substantive contribution to the field.
  5. Creates well-written monographs based upon original research that make substantive contributions to the field.
  6. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner, both verbally and in writing.
  7. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Cook (director), Calderón, Chisholm, Di Sanza, Dobbs, Doing, Dominguez, Fischer, Fulmer, Hetzler, Hyer, Johnson, Karp, Perry, Rowe, Schwendinger, Taylor, Teeple, Thimmig, Vallon, Wallmann; Associate Professors Butler, Farah, Grabois, Ronis; Assistant Professors Chana, Laurenz, Lee, Nelson, Sans; Marching Band Director Pompey; Teaching Faculty Curry, Gladstone, Gonzalez, Koester, Rottmayer, Wohn; Lecturers Patenaude, Wienholts.

The faculty of the Mead Witter School of Music is a distinguished group of educators, performing musicians, and active scholars. The backgrounds of performance faculty include rich experiences as professional musicians, researchers, recording artists, and entrepreneurs. Faculty in music education have particular insight into their field as a result of their backgrounds as school educators, performers, and scholars. In areas such as music theory and musicology, the musical community has high regard for the past and current contributions to the study of musical theory, historical perspectives on music, the role of music in societies around the world, and the unique contributions of American musicians. Teaching is a priority for the faculty, who are readily accessible to students for advice and support. Faculty, staff, and students cooperate in extraordinary ways with joint ventures that reach across disciplines both in research or instruction. 

Accreditation

National Association of Schools of Music

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2022–2023