Requirements and Courses

The Ph.D. requires a minimum of three years of full-time resident study (six full-time terms) beyond a bachelor's degree. A candidate who holds a master's degree in the area of specialization may, on the recommendation of the Department, be permitted to count the work done for the master's degree as the first year of resident study.

Students admitted to the PhD; Music program who have a master’s degree other than a master’s degree in music from McGill University may be required to successfully complete one or more undergraduate courses before completion of the doctoral degree.


A thesis for the doctoral degree must constitute original scholarship and must be a distinct contribution to knowledge. It must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate ability to plan and carry out research, organize results, and defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner. The research presented must meet current standards of the discipline; as well, the thesis must clearly demonstrate how the research advances knowledge in the field. Finally, the thesis must be written in compliance with norms for academic and scholarly expression and for publication in the public domain.

Language Reading Requirements

  • One foreign-language reading examination required. Students whose mother tongue is French are exempt from the French Reading Exam.

Students may fulfill the language requirement by taking language course(s) at McGill. Proficiency will be measured by either 12 credits of beginner’s undergraduate or 6 credits of intermediate study or by passing the Language Reading Examination.  The examination consists of two passages from the scholarly literature.  The student is asked to translate both passages into her/his mother tongue in good literate style within three hours.  One of the passages will usually have a theoretical/analytical emphasis in order to test the student’s knowledge of technical vocabulary.  Dictionaries may be used.  The exam can be taken in December, May and August of each year.

The exam may be taken no more than twice. Students are encouraged to register for a course if the first effort is not successful.

Required Courses

MUGS 701 Comprehensive Examinations
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MUGS 705 Colloquium
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Attendance for four terms of the Doctoral Colloquium, and at least one presentation of the student's thesis research is required.

Complementary Courses (6-30 credits)

Students entering in Ph.D. 1

15 credits of seminars at the 600 level or higher, approved by the Department.

6-15 credits of additional seminars at the 600 or higher, will be assigned by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music in consultation with the area coordinator at the time of the admissions.

Students entering in Ph.D. 2

6-15 credits of seminars at the 600 level or higher will be assigned by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in Music in consultation with the area coordinator at the time of the admissions. The selection must be approved by the Schulich School of Music.

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