Graduate Study in Historical Musicology

The graduate program in historical musicology at Columbia is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the United States. It was founded in 1932 by Paul Henry Lang, who set the tone for a broadly interdisciplinary, humanistic approach to musical scholarship that continues today. Since its inception the program has embraced and fostered research in Western music and musical thought of all eras, from antiquity to the present. Music is studied through primary sources, the analysis and development of style, and in wider historical, cultural, and social contexts. The central component of the graduate composition program is the composition seminar, which includes individual lessons.

During the first two years, students are involved intensively with coursework. Students will take three proseminars in the musicological areas (Historical Musicology, Theory, Ethnomusicology), as well as lecture courses or research seminars in more specialized topics. Students are also encouraged to take courses outside the Music Department in areas of interest to them. General (Qualifying) Exams are taken in the spring of year 2 and during registration period of year 3.  In year 3, students will prepare a dissertation proposal in two Dissertation Proposal Seminars (I and II).  Then a dissertation proposal (or prospectus) is  orally examined by a faculty committee of at least three.

The PhD dissertation is a document representing original research and thought. The dissertation process is supervised by the Faculty Advisor. In addition to the Faculty Advisor, two faculty members from the Department serve as readers. When the dissertation is deemed ready for defense, two additional readers from outside the Department are appointed (for a total of five).

For detailed information on Degree Requirements & Timetable of Study, please refer to the Graduate Handbook: