Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exam is taken during PhD3 and should be completed by May of PhD3. It consists of two components, a written exam and an oral exam.

Written exam
The written exam consists of a research paper (ca. 5000-6000 words) plus a bibliography of 30-50 items, related to key issues pertinent to the research field chosen by the student for their thesis work in consultation with the Composition Area.
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 paper and the bibliography. Duration is maximum one hour.


  • Beginning of the first year of study: Outline schedule to prepare for exam; define composition research topic with supervisor.
  • 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]
  • Written document should be submitted by April 1 of PhD 3


Three full-time staff members from the student's area of specialization.
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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