Graduate Handbook: General


The Division of Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology is a diverse and distinguished community of musician-scholars united by a love of music, dedicated to the highest standards of academic integrity, and committed to meeting your educational needs and those of the larger community with exceptional teaching, scholarship, and musical activity.

The Graduate Handbook is an official College of Music publication that articulates policies and procedures associated with the MA and PhD in Music with concentrations in musicology, music theory, and ethnomusicology. It supplements the degree requirements codified in the UNT Graduate Catalog.

Graduate Placement Exams (GPE) and Review Courses

With few exceptions, incoming graduate students must take the Graduate Placement Exams (GPE) during orientation of their first semester. Review courses assigned due to the results of the GPE do not count towards your degree and must be taken in the first semester in which they are available. The assignment of review courses students will not exceed six hours of music history and two hours of music theory. A grade of B or better must be earned in each course assigned as a review course. The Graduate Studies Website provides more information.

Transcript Evaluations and Leveling Courses

Transcript evaluations are conducted by the area coordinator, who evaluates an applicant’s prior transcript(s). The assignment of leveling courses based on the transcript evaluation will be communicated to the applicant through email before they matriculate. Students must enroll in leveling courses in the first semester in which these courses are available.

Introduction to Research in Music

All master’s students are required to take MUMH 5010 (Introduction to Research in Music) as part of their degree. All doctoral students are required to take MUMH 5010 if they have not taken the course (or its equivalent) at the master’s level. Doctoral students who are required to take MUMH must do so no later than the second semester of study. Hours earned do not count towards the PhD.

Faculty Mentor

The area coordinator will assign a faculty mentor to each student upon matriculation. This mentor will assist the student in choosing courses and in planning a concrete way to fulfill degree requirements. The role of faculty mentor is distinct from that of major professor, who chairs the student's advisory committee and advises the MA thesis or PhD dissertation.

Planning the First Semester

During orientation and the week before classes, incoming students will plan their course schedule for the fall semester in consultation with their faculty mentor and the Senior Graduate Academic Counselor, Dr. Colleen Conlon. Incoming students should meet with both of them before finalizing your course schedule for the first semester. Before meeting with them, however, they should familiarize themselves with this Graduate Handbook, the Graduate Catalog, and the UNT Schedule of Classes. Graduate-level courses begin with 5xxx or 6xxx. Remember to register with the 4- or 5-digit class number, not the course prefix and catalog number.

The Degree Plan

Students should consult with their faculty mentor as they prepare a tentative plan to meet the requirements associated with their degree. Students must submit the degree plan, approved by the faculty mentor and (if applicable) the related-field professor to the College of Music Graduate Studies Office by the completion of twelve hours of study (usually at the end of the student’s first year). All changes to the degree plan must be submitted in writing on the Graduate Degree Plan Change Form and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Degree requirements are determined by the Graduate Catalog in force at the time the degree plan is approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. Degree plans may not be filed in the term/semester a student plans to graduate. See Degree Plans and Forms for a complete list of degree plans.

Degree Progress and Academic Dismissal Policy

Students must maintain satisfactory progress towards their degree and are subject to university policies regarding academic probation and suspension. In addition, they will be subject to dismissal from the program if one or more of the following conditions apply:

  1. If the student receives one grade of a C or lower in two consecutive semesters.
  2. If the student receives two grades of a C or lower in a single semester.
  3. If the student receives a grade of NPR for thesis or dissertation hours in two consecutive semesters.

In cases where one or more of these conditions apply, students will typically be removed from their program upon the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the division chair and major professor. Students may appeal this decision by contacting the College of Music Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Professional Expectation Policy

The UNT College of Music expects graduate students in music to be committed to their degree and to follow the UNT Code of Student Conduct (University Policy Manual, section 07. 012). Success in a graduate program requires students not only to meet minimum academic standards but also to be active contributors to the artistic and scholarly community of the College of Music. Hence, students must exhibit professional behavior, which includes (but is not limited to): 1) attending classes and meetings (including seminars, masterclasses, and departmentals); 2) meeting area, division, college, and university deadlines; and 3) maintaining respectful interactions with all members of the UNT community. Students are also expected to adhere to professional standards as outlined in division/area handbooks. In cases where there is substantial evidence of unprofessional behavior, students will be removed from their program upon the recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the division chair and major professor. Students may appeal this decision by contacting the College of Music Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 

Lecture Series

Students are expected to attend all lectures presented in the Music History, Theory, and Ethnomusicology Lecture Series during their enrollment in their graduate program.

Graduate Student Excellence Award

Each year, one enrolled MHTE graduate student is selected for the graduate student excellence award, which is given for an outstanding paper they wrote in a seminar during the previous calendar year. The award is decided by the Graduate Academic Degree Committee, and when funds are available, the award comes with a monetary prize.

Graduate Student Organizations

Students in all three concentrations are encouraged to join and to attend the regularly scheduled meetings of the division's graduate student associations: GAMuT (The Graduate Association of Musicologists and Theorists) and SSENT (The Student Society for Ethnomusicology in North Texas).

Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships

Teaching assistantships and fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and according to the policies and procedures outlined in the UNT College of Music Faculty Handbook, section 5.6. A TA or TF must be enrolled in nine graduate hours unless they have achieved candidacy, in which case they must be enrolled in three graduate hours. Assuming they perform satisfactorily as a TA and/or TF and make progress toward their degrees, master's students can expect two years of funding and doctoral students may expect three years. Appointments may exceed these time limits if there is a demonstrated instructional need or there are extenuating circumstances in a particular student's academic status.

Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships in Music History

Teaching assistantships in music history are normally offered at the time of admission. Prospective or current students interested in applying for an assistantship should contact the area coordinator. Teaching fellowships in music history are offered only to doctoral students who have completed coursework and passed their qualifying exams (major and related-field). 

Teaching Fellowships in Music Theory

Teaching Fellows (TFs) in Music Theory are a select group of graduate students who must pass an audition and who teach courses from within the undergraduate curriculum. This includes primarily aural skills courses (covering sight singing and rhythm reading, dictation, and keyboard applications) and sometimes theory courses (covering fundamentals, form analysis, and counterpoint). 

All music theory TFs work with theory faculty members in charge of core courses. TFs typically teach two classes that meet three times a week or three classes that meet two times a week, as well as participate in weekly staff meetings for their course. TFs also assist in proctoring and grading entrance exams during the week before classes begin. A general training session is provided for all TFs before each semester. Teaching Fellow positions are offered either as 50% (20 hours per week) or 25% (10 hours per week). Positions that are 50% FTE are considered full-time and include benefits and in-state tuition. Stipends for TF/TAs are based on FTE and progress toward the degree.

All UNT graduate students who are currently enrolled may audition for a music theory TF position. These auditions are scheduled through the area, through the process described below. Applicants for graduate study may also be invited to apply. The audition includes an evaluation of the candidate's own skills in the areas mentioned in the first paragraph above, a discussion of any prior teaching experience, and an evaluation of the candidate's ability to explain musical materials clearly and correctly.

The audition is in three parts: sightsinging, aural skills, and keyboard sightreading/analysis as enumerated below. Once you have carefully reviewed all this information, if you feel that you are qualified to apply for a Teaching Fellow position in Music Theory and wish to do so, email to the area coordinator of music theory.

1. Sightsinging

You will be asked to sing a tonal melody of moderate difficulty. Two melodies comparable to those used are shown below. You may sing using any system, including solfége or numbers, or you may use a neutral syllable. The melodies should be sung at steady tempo, with few errors, and without losing the tonic key. Applicants should also be able to explain how to help students through difficult passages.

Example 1:

Example 2:

2. Aural Skills

A. Intervals and chords. Applicants will be asked to identify a series of intervals and chords played on the piano. Intervals are identified by quality and size (e.g., m10, P5), while chords are identified by quality and inversion (e.g., “major, root position”; “major-minor six-five” or “dominant six-five”). Applicants should be able to correctly identify most of the items played.

B. Harmonic progression. Applicants will be played a tonal chord progression and asked to provide a harmonic analysis of the chords. The progression will include some chromaticism. Two or three hearings are permitted. Successful applicants should be able to quickly and accurately identify most or all of the chords.

Sample progression:

3. Keyboard Sight-reading and Score Analysis

Keyboard. Good functional keyboard skills are important for effective classroom work. Applicants should therefore be prepared to sight-read at the keyboard an easy to moderately difficult musical example, such as a sonatina by Haydn or Beethoven, a waltz by Schubert, or a mazurka by Chopin. Below is a representative score. Those auditioning should be able to play the piece accurately, with a steady pulse. For excerpts with fast tempo markings, a performance at a slower tempo generally is permitted.
Sample score​

Score analysis. The candidate will be asked to discuss the same musical score. The applicant should be able to discuss the musical materials with a fair degree of sophistication. Questions may be asked about such things as key and changes of key, chord progressions, non-chord tones, rhythmic/melodic motives, phrase structure, possible large-scale form, and so on. The applicant will also be asked to make a few comments about possible composer, the type of piece, and a possible year of composition.

Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines

Scope and Purpose of the Thesis and Dissertation

The master's thesis should be regarded as a project of research and writing that will demonstrate the student's synthesis of material and application of concepts covered in coursework to a document of no more than eighty pages.

The doctoral dissertation, in contrast, is a lengthier document that results from a more extended period of research and writing and that often entails application of knowledge to a new or previously uncharted area of scholarship or the use of innovative methodology.

Academic Integrity

Students must submit their own work. Students are not authorized to use outside editorial services in the writing of the thesis or dissertation proposal as well as the thesis or dissertation itself.

Master's Thesis Hours Enrollment

Students may enroll in thesis hours once they are in their final semester of coursework and have identified a faculty member who agrees to serve as major professor. The proposal must be completed within the semester in which the student first enrolls in thesis hours; the thesis itself must be defended within two semesters after the semester in which the proposal is accepted. Extensions will be considered only through petition to GADCom and with the support of the major professor.

Dissertation Hours Enrollment

Students may enroll for dissertation hours after the qualifying exams have been completed. The proposal must be completed within two semesters after the student first enrolls in dissertation hours; the dissertation document itself must be defended within three years after the proposal is accepted. Extensions will be considered only through petition to GADCom and with the support of the major professor.

Requirements of Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Students usually find that crafting the thesis or dissertation proposal is a lengthy process that requires repeated consultation with the major professor and other committee members. Be sure to plan ahead.

The thesis and dissertation proposals must:

  1. Present a clear thesis statement that (a) formulates a main idea; (b) specifies the subordinate elements of this idea; (c) indicates how these subordinate elements relate to one another and to your main idea; (d) indicates the methodologies that you plan to use.

  2. Present a review of the literature that identifies all significant publications relevant to the topic and explains how the argument of the thesis or dissertation relates to the arguments of the publications. Students should consult with the faculty advisor for the meaning of "all" and "significant" as appropriate to the proposal.

  3. Describe the research tasks to be accomplished, demonstrate their feasibility (including access to sources, which may include documents, archives, field research sites, interview subjects, or copyright clearances), and present a timeline for their completion.

  4. Present a provisional outline of the complete thesis or dissertation as an appendix. The outline should show the estimated length of each chapter.

  5. Show competent use of a citation format in current use in musical scholarship. Suggested formats are the humanities style (footnotes and bibliography) for proposals in musicology and theory, and the author-date system for proposals in ethnomusicology. Consult The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.) and its online guide Chicago Manual of Style for models.

  6. Include a list of references and sources with full citations. The list of references should distinguish between types of sources (primary, secondary, etc.) as appropriate to the topic.

  7. Conform to a maximum length: The main body of text, not counting references, appendices, or musical examples, must be no more than ten double-spaced pages (master's theses) or twenty double-spaced pages (for doctoral dissertations). Proposals must adhere to a standard format: twelve-point type, one-inch margins, black ink, and double spacing.

Submission of Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

MA thesis proposals must be submitted to the area coordinator along with the signed MA Thesis Approval Form, which certifies that all members of the advisory committee have reviewed and approved the proposal.

PhD dissertation proposals must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office via Canvas and will be forwarded to the Graduate Academic Degree Committee (GADCom) by the end of the eleventh week of each long semester. The deadline for Fall 2022 is Friday, November 4. Proposals must be accompanied by the signed PhD Dissertation Approval Form, which certifies that all members of the advisory committee have reviewed and approved the proposal. GADCom membership for 2020-2021 is: David Bard-Schwarz (fall), Justin Lavacek (spring), Hendrik Schulze, Stephen Slottow, Vivek Virani, and Brian Wright (chair)

Suggested Resources

The Research Process
Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. 2008. The Craft of Research. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Writing About Music
Wingell, Richard J. Writing about Music: An Introductory Guide. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2008.
Wingell, Richard J., and Silvia Herzog. 2000. Introduction to Research in Music. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Clear writing
Williams, Joseph M. Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Bailey, Stephen. 2011. Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. New York: Routledge. Paltridge, Brian, and Sue Starfield.
Thesis and Dissertation Writing in a Second Language: A Handbook for Supervisors. New York: Routledge, 2007

The Chicago Manual of Style. 2003. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.