Students interested in music history can pursue master's and/or doctoral degree programs in the field, often while further developing their skills in an instrument if they would like. Learn more about the different types of music history programs and some of their common graduation requirements.
Types of Graduate Programs in Music History
Master of Arts in Music History
Master of Arts (MA) degree programs are available specifically in music history or in music with a concentration in history and literature. These degree programs may range from around 32 to 48 credits, can usually be completed in 2 years and typically require students to have reading abilities in a foreign language, such as German, Italian or French. Most of the MA programs require students to complete a thesis that demonstrates a student's research abilities and includes an oral defense, but some programs may offer a non-thesis option where students are required to take more coursework in place of a thesis. Coursework for these programs usually varies to allow students to explore areas of interest, but some courses may discuss topics in musicology, bibliography, music theory, notation, musical research and specific topics in music history.
Master of Music in Music History
Similar to MA programs, Master of Music (MM) in Music History degree programs may range from about 30 to 36 credits and can usually be completed in 2 years. Some of these programs may be available in full- or part-time formats and typically require reading abilities in a foreign language. Usually, these programs require students to complete a thesis with an oral defense or choose from a final written project or comprehensive exam and some programs may also require diagnostic exams. In addition to music history courses, students in these programs may take courses in pedagogy, research methods, music literature, musicology and stylistic analysis.
Doctor of Philosophy in Music History/Historical Musicology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs are available in music history or historical musicology and may range from 54 to 90 credits. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as 3 to 5 years and typically require students to have reading knowledge in 2 foreign languages, such as German, Italian, French or Latin. Students are also usually required to take diagnostic and/or qualifying exams and complete a dissertation with a final defense. Music history coursework for these courses vary greatly to allow students to focus on research areas of interest, but doctoral students are likely to take courses in research methods, music theory, music analysis and dissertation writing.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to graduate programs in music history must have at least a bachelor's degree, which some programs may require to be in music, and may need to meet a minimum GPA requirement around a 2.75 to 3.0. Most of these programs require students to take the GRE and have their scores sent to the institution. Typically, students will need to include their official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a resume or CV and writing samples with their application. For some programs, these writing samples may need to be compiled into a portfolio of prior work in the field of music history.
Graduate programs in music history typically require students to have reading knowledge of at least 1 foreign language and complete a final written project. Credit and coursework requirements vary greatly for specific programs, but usually include topics in music history and theory.