Dissertation: Proposal through Defense
The Dissertation Proposal Committee reviews and approves all dissertation proposals in the Music Program. Student are asked to make a brief appearance at a meeting of the committee to defend their proposals.
Proposals must be submitted by email to the chair of the dissertation proposal committee at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting. For meeting dates, instructions and proposal deadlines, see Important Deadlines on the Music Program website.
Proposals are prepared under the supervision of an advisor and reader. The advisor must be a member of the Graduate Center faculty. Readers do not have be a member of the doctoral faculty. Students must submit drafts of their proposals to their advisor and reader at least one month before the committee's deadline. Composers will also have a composition advisor who may also be an advisor or reader for the essay. The advisor and reader must send an email message sent to the committee chair at least 48 hours before the meeting. That message should address the following:
1) Their willingness to serve as Advisor or Reader ;
2) Their involvement thus far in the process;
3) Their thoughts about relative strengths of the proposal and its validity within the discourses of music-studies;
4) Any concerns they might have about the project (optional depending on applicability, of course);
5) Their thoughts (pro and con) regarding the methodology the student has chosen.
It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for the submission of these letters; without them, a proposal is not complete.
Proposals are normally around fifteen pages in length. Pages should be numbered.
All students whose proposals have been approved must submit a Dissertation Proposal Clearance: Human Participants Form to the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs. Students should also register their topics with the AMS’s Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology.
The proposal should include the following:
1. Title Page
a. Working title of the dissertation
b. Student’s name and degree program, specifying the area of specialization
c. Student’s email address and phone number
d. Names of the advisor and first reader
2. General Statement
a. A concise description of the subject, including a brief explanation of its biographical and/or historical context
b. An explanation of the purpose of the project and its value to scholarly research
3. State of research
a. An indication of the present state of research in the area of the subject
b. A bibliography of relevant literature, including primary and secondary sources
a. An explanation of the research plan and methodology for the project
b. A provisional table of contents, with a brief explanation of the substance and purpose of each chapter
5. Writing Sample
A brief sample (usually 2–5 pages) of the kind of work to be undertaken in the main body of the dissertation. Its exact contents will vary according to the chosen topic and methodology. Typical examples include (but are not limited to) musical analyses; examination of sketch materials; excerpts from a translation; and transcriptions from recordings, with interpretive commentary.
Composition students should include a description of their proposed composition, including instrumentation, duration, texts (if applicable) and other compositional features they can describe briefly.
The final examining committee has a minimum of four members: the advisor, the reader, and at least two additional members. At least three members of the committee must be members of the Graduate Center doctoral faculty
It is the student's responsibility—in consultation with the advisor and reader—to choose the final two committee members and a date and time for the defense convenient to the members of the committee. At least four weeks before the defense the student should send an e-mail to the Assistant Program Officer for their area with the date and time of the defense, a list of the members of the examining committee with their affiliations and, for outside members, their addresses. The student should also include complete title of the dissertation and indicate whether a piano is needed for the defense.
The committee may include faculty from outside the music program or even from outside the University, but The Graduate Center does not provide outside readers with honoraria or travel expenses.
The copy of the dissertation submitted to the final examining committee should include all elements that will be required in the deposited dissertation, including abstract, table of contents, footnotes, bibliography, etc. Members of the committee must receive their copies of the dissertation at least one month before the defense date.
Information about depositing and publishing options for the dissertation are here. The student must schedule a meeting with the Mina Reese Library’s Dissertation Assistant during a deposit period and (suggested minimum) five days after the defense to allow time for revisions. A preliminary review meeting prior to defense is optional but recommended. See Format for Deposit guidelines for specifications about electronic depositing in any file format, adding supplementary files, and pagination, paper stock, signatures required for the paper copy.