Admissions and Aid

Applicants to the Ph.D. and D.M.A. programs in music must meet all standard requirements for the Graduate Center, as well as program and concentration-specific requirements as outlined below. Applicants should have a strong commitment to academic performance and to contributing to the advancement of knowledge through research, and should be excited and eager to explore opportunities and benefits of living, working and learning in New York City.

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Please feel free to contact any of the following department heads:

Admissions Overview

Application deadlines:

December 1 for the D.M.A. in Composition and all Ph.D. concentrations
December 15 for the D.M.A. in Music Performance
(fall enrollment only/no spring enrollment)

Candidates complete the Graduate Center’s Application for Admission and provide appropriate supplemental materials including transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Applicants to all degree programs should also submit one to two samples of prior written work, such as a substantial term paper or a chapter from an undergraduate or master’s thesis.

Note that the GRE and TOEFL requirements are currently suspended.

Applications are first collected and processed by the Office of Admissions and then reviewed by the Theatre and Performance Program's Admissions and Awards Committee.

Applicants for both the Ph.D. and the D.M.A. in music composition should submit three or four recently completed compositions (scores and recordings when possible) directly to:

Professor Jeff Nichols
Ph.D./D.M.A. Programs in Music
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016-4309

Applicants for the composition concentration must demonstrate exceptional achievement in composition as well as a strong background in the areas of music history, theory, and analysis.

Prospective students may be asked to come for an interview with the composition faculty.

Applicants for the ethnomusicology concentration must demonstrate promise of superior achievement in advanced study and research.

Prospective students may be asked to come for an interview with the ethnomusicology faculty.

Applicants for the musicology concentration must present a strong background in the areas of music history, theory, and analysis. They must demonstrate promise of superior achievement in advanced study and research.

Prospective students may be asked to come for an interview with the musicology faculty.

A Master's degree in Music Performance is a pre-requisite for the D.M.A. in Music Performance.

Applicants for the D.M.A. must present an adequate background, as judged by the Admissions Committee, in the areas of performance, music history, theory, and analysis. In addition to excellence in performance, the department attaches equal importance to achievement in study, research, and scholarly writing.

Please submit two writing samples, at least one on a musical subject, and in addition, a personal statement outlining your reasons for pursuing doctoral studies at this time and how the DMA will serve to further your career goals.

AUDITIONS

The first round of auditions consists of pre-screening videos containing a total of 40-60 minutes of music. Titles, movements, and composers of all works should be clearly identified. Your program should include solo repertoire from (at least) three different musical periods plus a 21st Century work of any length. Singers should include selections in four languages including English. The video does not need to be of a concert performance.

Applicants whose materials have been approved will be notified by early January regarding arrangements for an audition at the CUNY Graduate Center. Requirements for the live audition are the same as the pre-screening materials. You may use some or all of the same program.

The second round of auditions - by appointment only - are usually scheduled during a weekend in February, and include a live audition, a meeting with the director of the program, and a two-hour qualifying exam in music theory, analysis, and history.

Applicants for the theory and analysis concentraiton should submit one to two samples of tonal composition in an authentic late-18th- or early-19th-century style (these will be pastiche or model compositions). Submissions should demonstrate that the applicant is musically comfortable and competent in this traditional environment, demonstrating the skills you will be teaching in the music theory classroom. Successful past applications have included, for example, chorale melody harmonization, a sonata exposition, a  fugue exposition, a song, or the like. No more than two samples are requested.

In addition, especially those applicants who have scholarly interests in areas outside the Western repertoire have the option of sending audio or video recordings (or links to recordings) that demonstrate musical skills in these other areas. These may include a recording of jazz improvisation; a pop composition; a performance on a non-Western instrument; or the like. 

Applicants for the theory concentration must present a strong background in the areas of music history, theory, and analysis. They must demonstrate promise of a high level of achievement in advanced study and research.

Prospective students may be asked to come for an interview with the theory faculty.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition rates for doctoral programs at the Graduate Center are based on a student's “level,” which is determined by a combination of the number of graduate credits completed (including, in the case of transfer students, credits accepted by the student's degree program and the Registrar) and specific academic accomplishments. 

The fee structure is also affected by a student’s resident status.

See current doctoral tuition rates »

Each student will be billed for a Graduate School student activities fee, a University student senate fee, a University consolidated services fee and a technology fee. These fees are not refundable.

Fellowships and Financial Aid

Every applicant to The Graduate Center’s doctoral programs will automatically be considered for five-year institutional funding packages. The aid we offer — including fellowships, tuition awards, and assistantships — is based on merit. 

Learn more about institutional aid for doctoral students »

Federal aid for doctoral students includes:

New York State also provides the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible graduate students who are New York State residents.

Additional funding may be available to incoming students from underrepresented populations through offerings from the Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity, including several fellowships and the CUNY Pipeline Program for undergraduate CUNY students.

Learn more about funding opportunities from OEOD »

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Learn more about us through a visit or an interview

Although we do not require an interview for admission, it may be helpful for you to speak with faculty and other students as you make your decisions about graduate study. The program hosts an annual prospective student open house during the fall semester, and if you would like to speak with someone at the program as you consider your application, we invite you to reach out to us.

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