The Graduate Group in Music offers flexible, five-year Ph.D. programs for music theory, musicology, and ethnomusicology and an intensive four-year Ph.D. program for composition. All programs offer broad coverage within music studies, with concentrations shaped by student interests. We have students focusing on historical periods, repertories, and genres; devising interdisciplinary programs; or concentrating in gender studies, critical theory, popular music studies, or Africana studies, to name just some of the current research projects. Students typically elect a wide range of courses during the first two years and then begin to specialize in the third year. In the fourth and fifth years they research, do field work, and write their dissertations. Composers complete their dissertation piece during their fourth year.
All Ph.D. students accepted to the program receive the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship, which covers tuition, general fees, and health insurance for either 4 (composition) or 5 years (ethnomusicology, musicology, music theory).
Elements of the Application
- A personal statement of approximately 1,000 words.
The statement should: 1) tell us about your reasons for applying and your relevant prior experience; 2) describe the area(s) of study and debate in which you are interested; and 3) address your particular interest in our program.
- A critical writing sample of approximately 20-30 double-spaced pages.
The writing sample must match your interest/concentration. Two papers adding up to 30+ pages or, if you prefer, a single, 25-30 page paper. Font size and style do not matter. Please make sure your name is on each page.
Composers should submit a shorter paper of approximately 15 pages as part of their application in addition to scores and (if possible) recordings of recent compositions.
- Three letters of recommendation.
Letters should be written by professors who know your work and can attest to your academic ability. Please do not submit more than four recommendation letters.
- The GRE General Test.
Applicants should take the GRE early enough so that the scores can be sent to Penn by December 15. We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement, nor do we publicize the average GRE scores of past admittees. The GRE School Code for the University of Pennsylvania is 2926. Although we do not have a department code, your GRE scores will be sent directly to us if you use the University code.
- Electronic versions of your academic transcripts.
You can scan an unofficial copy of your transcript to the application. If accepted, you will then need to provide a final, official paper copy of your transcript before you matriculate.
There is no foreign language requirement for admission. Once accepted to the program, students must pass two or three language translation exams (depending on program specialization), before graduating.
Application materials may be uploaded online via CollegeNet (link below). Supplemental materials (Music Scores and Writing samples) that cannot be uploaded should be sent by mail to: The University of Pennsylvania, Attn: Margie Deeney, Department of Music, 201 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
See the Graduate Division for more information about the application process.
Faculty interviews and a visit to the campus are not necessary for application. After all applications have been received and reviewed, a select group of applications are invited to visit the campus for an opportunity to meet the faculty and current students and sit in on seminars. Campus visits are usually arranged in late February or early March.
English language skills
All applicants whose native language is not English must submit acceptable proof of proficiency in English prior to consideration for admission. Normally, such substantiation of English proficiency is accomplished by taking both the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE), which are administered by the Educational Testing Service (Princeton, New Jersey). The results of these examinations must be sent to the department by December 15. If a student has completed a four year undergraduate degree in an institution where English is the spoken language, TOEFL testing can be waived.
No more than four course units of transfer credit for graduate-level work pursued at other institutions may be applied toward the A.M. degree. The University allows up to eight of the twenty course units required for the Ph.D. to be transferred for graduate work carried out elsewhere. Such transfer credit is awarded, however, only after the student has been enrolled in our doctoral program for a full academic year--that is, after the faculty has had a chance to evaluate the appropriateness of the earlier work as preparation for the doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Applying for Admission to the Graduate Program in Music
DEADLINES. Applicants who wish to be considered for funding must see to it that their application and all supporting materials have arrived at the Department of Music no later than December 15.
Supplementary application materials should be submitted on line as part of the application. If you are unable to upload your writing samples to the on-line system, you may send to the graduate assistant via email as word attachments. If neither of these options are available to the applicant please send to:
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Music
University of Pennsylvania
201 South 34th Street, Room 129
Philadelphia PA 19104-6313
Click here to begin application for Graduate Study in Music.