Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exam is taken during DMus 3 and should be completed by May in DMus 3. It consists of two components, a written exam and an oral exam.

Written exam
The written exam consists of an essay (ca. 3000 words) plus a bibliography of 10-20 items, related to the student’s individual research and compositional strategies (language, style, aesthetic) developed during the two first years of the DMus program.
This document could serve as the foundation of the thesis proposal.

Oral exam
The oral exam is scheduled in May and is an opportunity for the student elaborate on their essay and research, and for the committee to ask questions based on the essay and the bibliography. Its duration is maximum one hour ​and consists of two parts:

Part 1: A 15-minute presentation (with or without PowerPoint slides)
Part 2: A question and answer session following the presentation (circa 45 minutes)


  • Beginning of the first year of study: Outline schedule to prepare for exam; define composition research topic with supervisor.
  • Beginning of the second year of study: Register for the comprehensive exam course number, MUGS 701, in the Winter term.
  • Semester before comprehensive exam, by November 1: Notify the Composition Area and [at] of intent to take the exam.
  • By November 15: Supervisor submits committee membership list to [at]
  • By April 1 of PhD 3: Written document should be submitted to the Music Graduate Studies Office who will distribute it to the committee


Three full-time staff members from the student's area of specialization and one member from a different area within the Department. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music, or an appointed representative, serves as Chair.

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