Music, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Chris Washburne
Director of Graduate Studies: Walter M. Frisch
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD; MA, DMA

The Department of Music offers programs in Musicology (MA leading to MPhil and PhD) and in Composition (MA leading to DMA).

The Musicology program incorporates three areas: historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory. Within these areas, research and teaching focus on a wide range of topics, including music history in the West, non-Western musics and cultures, popular and urban musics, jazz, analytical methods, music cognition, music aesthetics, and the philosophy of music. Application is made to one of these areas, each of which has its own degree requirements. The Musicology program is supported by a first-class library, the Gabe Wiener Music & Arts Library, located in Dodge Hall, as well as the extensive sound archives of the Center for Ethnomusicology. The department is home to the oldest and most prestigious journal edited by graduate students, Current Musicology.

The program in Composition offers instruction to a small number of highly qualified candidates working in a variety of contemporary styles and media. The Composition program is enhanced by its association with the renowned Columbia Computer Music Center, which includes state-of-the-art facilities for working in electroacoustic music. Columbia Composers, a student-directed organization, offers opportunities for public performances of compositions in various concert facilities in New York City. Other opportunities for students to hear their work are available through the professional ensembles.

The department does not offer degrees in musical performance, but through its Music Performance Program makes lessons in orchestral instruments, early instruments, organ, jazz instruments, or piano available to qualified graduate students.

Fellowships are awarded in the Musicology and Composition programs in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of doctoral students. Thus, fellowships for students in our doctoral programs include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

The department's programs are greatly enriched by their location in New York City, which has perhaps the most diverse and vital musical life of any city in the world. Museums and libraries, as well as innumerable performing venues and ensembles, allow for the study, both textual and aural, of music from virtually all traditions and ages.

Outside the classroom, students have a wide variety of opportunities to explore and support their interests in music, as the following list demonstrates.

Columbia's own Miller Theatre presents a full season of events such as chamber music, electronic music, and jazz performed in concert, plus panel discussions and presentations on musicians and composers.

Current Musicology is a periodical published by the graduate students of the Music department. Students in the Musicology program are expected to participate as contributors and members of the editorial staff.

Collegium Musicum aims to study music through performance and to acquaint students with neglected and unfamiliar compositions. Students in the Musicology and Composition programs are encouraged to participate actively in the performance of vocal and instrumental music. Activities are supervised by the graduate student director.

Columbia Composers, an organization of students enrolled in composition courses, each year presents a series of concerts of new music written by its members. Some of the concerts are given on campus and some off campus; they are broadcast occasionally on radio stations WKCR and WNYC.

The Center for Ethnomusicology, in 701C Dodge, provides materials and facilities including an archive of music recordings and a laboratory. These are available to students enrolled in ethnomusicology courses. The Center also sponsors lectures and performance sessions.

The Computer Music Center offers instructional and studio facilities in electronic and computer music to students in composition and in other fields and to visiting composers from this country and abroad. It also conducts research and develops electronic music equipment and software. Staff and visiting composers realize compositions, including scores for television, theatre, film and dance productions. Performances of electronic and computer music are given in the Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre of Columbia University, which has facilities for twelve-channel reproduction on nineteen loudspeakers. Students' works are periodically presented using these facilities.

The Center also provides opportunity for faculty and graduate students to conduct research in music perception and cognition and other areas, using the facilities of the computer music studio.

The department's fall and spring Colloquium Series bring guest composers, scholars, performers, and others to speak on a broad range of topics.

Descriptions of the University Orchestra, Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program, and Barnard-Columbia Chorus and the times of auditions and rehearsals are available through the Music Performance Program.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Application Requirements

Special Application Requirement: For the DMA program in Composition, two or three musical scores, accompanied by recordings, must be submitted via the Supplementary Media section of the online application.