The College of Arts and Architecture

Additional Guidelines: Oral Exam in Major Area for the M.A. in Music Theory and History



1. The oral exam committee will consist of three or four faculty, including at least one theorist and one musicologist (typically those most involved with the thesis) and one faculty member outside the student’s major area.  The thesis adviser will chair the examination.  The School of Music Graduate Committee assigns the members of this committee, with advisement from the theory/history area.


2. A fourth committee member may be recommended by the student to the Theory/History Chair from faculty outside this academic area, including non-School of Music disciplines related to the student’s thesis.


3. The graduate committee will announce the committee during the first semester of the student’s second year.


4. At least two weeks before the exam, the student will provide the committee with a written outline of all graduate course work (completed and in progress) and a brief (1-2 page) description of the thesis and its progress towards completion.





Although the student may be given a good idea of the range and domain of questions by individual faculty (at their discretion), the student is expected to demonstrate an ability to synthesize information and draw creative conclusions.


1. A 24-hour take-home question will involve two parts to be presented orally to the committee in the first twenty minutes of the exam: (a) a theoretical analysis of a short piece, such as a Brahms intermezzo involving chromatic harmony or a twentieth-century atonal/serial work, and (b) the framing and discussion of appropriate questions of a musicological or stylistic nature with respect to the piece, including description of appropriate sources and strategies for further researching those questions.


2. From both areas, questions may be drawn from any of the subject areas represented by the students course work in music theory and musicology, to include pedagogy, bibliography and research methods, and significant readings or analytical approaches from courses and seminars.


3. Questions relevant to the thesis-in-progress may be entertained, especially in the case of an outside faculty member.





1. The student is responsible for scheduling the exam at a time and place convenient to all parties before the sixth week of the semester in which the student expects to graduate.


2. The exam may last up to two hours.






This page last revised 2006-2007

Protocol continued


3. The student will begin with oral presentations of prepared materials (no more than twenty minutes), with the chair directing follow-up questions from the committee.  The chair will direct further rounds of questioning from the committee, allowing at least fifteen minutes for each committee member.


4. The chair will then excuse the student and lead the committee in discussion of the exam results.  After all faculty have signed the appropriate form, the chair will inform the student of the result.


5. If the student passes only part(s) of the exam, the remaining part(s) may be re-taken (at the faculty’s discretion) after one month’s intensive preparation, in consultation with the appropriate faculty.  If the complete exam is failed, the student must re-take it in a subsequent semester after intensive preparation, in consultation with the appropriate faculty.







This page last revised 2007-2008