Music Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study


Program Description

The Field of Music offers graduate degrees in three areas of study: music (Ph.D.), composition (D.M.A.), and performance practice (D.M.A.). Music at Cornell flourishes through an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the fields of performance, historical musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, and music theory. As a result, the Department of Music's many activities mutually reinforce each other, and graduate students at Cornell enjoy a sense of community among themselves and with the faculty.

The curriculum is highly flexible. Bound only by the few rules imposed by the Graduate School and by the Field of Music, students develop their own course of study in a close relationship with a Special Committee of three or four faculty members chosen by the student. For students in musicology, a reading knowledge of at least two foreign languages is required, and study of the language spoken in the area of research is essential. A student's Special Committee may require additional languages, depending on the area of specialization. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of course offerings in other fields, and minor subjects can be drawn either from within the Field of Music or from disciplines across the campus, such as anthropology, art history, computer science, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, theatre arts, and Western and non-Western languages and literatures.

There are 25 to 30 students in residence at any given time, including the approximately six new students matriculating each year. This low number allows for small seminars and encourages a close working relationship between students and faculty. The Music Colloquium Series, Composers Forum, and department concerts bring Cornellians together with distinguished visiting performers, composers, and scholars, and provide students with ample opportunity to present their own work. In addition to such visitors, resources include the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance, which offers one of the largest and most distinguished collections in any American university.

Musical performance is an essential part of life at Cornell. Graduate students are welcome to participate in the many performing ensembles sponsored by the Music Department, which include choirs, orchestras, wind ensembles, jazz ensembles, a Javanese gamelan, percussion ensemble

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-8999

101 Lincoln Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • music and sound studies


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Jan. 15 for music (Ph.D.) no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

Applicants for admission should follow the standard procedures as established by the Graduate School; the application, along with the statement of purpose, and TOEFL or IELTS scores (if applicable) should be submitted directly to the Graduate School by January 15. Additional requirements for applicants in music are listed under the respective degree programs described on the field of music's website or may be obtained by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies.

Learning Outcomes

  • Make an original and substantial contribution to the field (publishable scholarship)
  • Demonstrate deep knowledge in one area of specialization
  • Have a broad knowledge of theory and research across four topic areas in the field
  • Employ advanced research skills
  • Demonstrate proficiency in languages
  • Communicate research findings effectively in written and spoken presentations
  • Demonstrate effective skills in undergraduate teaching