M.A. Thesis and other Final Projects

A final project consisting of a thesis, a public recital (for Performance students), or another approved piece of work (such as a research project in music education, a lecture-recital, or an internship plus a written report) is required of each student. This project may receive 0-3 credits, depending on the nature and scope of the work involved. A written proposal must be approved by the Music Department before a student may begin work on the project. Approval of the completed project requires the agreement of two faculty members.


Thesis in Ethnomusicology, Music History, Music Theory, or Composition
All M.A. candidates except Performance and TEP students must submit an approved thesis to the Office of the Dean of Humanities and Arts. For Composition students, the thesis consists of a musical composition.

All students who are preparing to begin a thesis should download and print the thesis guidelines and approval form (PDF).


Policies Regarding the Thesis

  1. Proposals for M.A. theses must be approved by an appropriate subcommittee of the Graduate Faculty Committee before work on the thesis is begun. First and second readers are formally appointed during the proposal process. Students may not register for MUS 798 or 799 before their proposals have been approved.
  2. A thesis will not be accepted without the approval of the second reader. The second reader has the authority to recommend major revisions if he or she feels they are necessary.
  3. Students preparing a thesis in Composition, Ethnomusicology, Music History, or Music Theory must begin consulting with the second reader at least two months before the date of the thesis defense.

Thesis Lecture or Defense
Students who have written a thesis must present a public lecture or defense of their work. The lecture or defense will last approximately forty-five minutes and include a question-and-answer period. It may be scheduled after the thesis sponsor and second reader have given their approval to the thesis. Both the thesis sponsor and the second reader should be given the final draft of the thesis at least one month before the defense. Such approval must be obtained one month before the last day of the final examination period.

The Director of Graduate Studies will post announcements of lectures and defenses on the Graduate Bulletin Board. All members of the music faculty, M.A. music students, undergraduate majors, and other guests are invited to attend.

Performance of Composition Thesis
Composition students must present a public performance of their work. They may also discuss the work and answer questions about it if they wish. Performances of Composition theses must be scheduled no later than the second week of the semester in which the student graduates. The Music Department provides limited funding for performers of Composition theses. These funds must be requested at the time the performance is scheduled.


Deposit of Thesis
After a successful lecture, defense, or performance, the sponsor and the second reader sign both copies of the thesis title page. The Director of Graduate Studies then signs the thesis approval form.

The student must deposit two copies of the thesis, the thesis approval form, and a bursar’s receipt for the thesis binding fee in the Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences by the last day of the final examination period. Composition students who are submitting already bound theses do not have to pay a binding fee, and they may be permitted to submit only one copy of the thesis; they should check with the Dean’s office to secure such permission.


TEP Project
TEP students are required to complete a project involving research relating to their experiences, interests, and needs as secondary school teachers and as musicians. A written proposal describing this project must be submitted no later than the second week of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Students should consult Victor V. Bobetsky, the Director of Studies in Music Education, for guidance in preparing this proposal.


M.A. Recital
Performance students prepare a Graduation Recital in lieu of a written thesis.