2014-15 Tuition


Application deadlines

Fall, Dec 1 for Performance Practice and Jan. 15 for Musicology and Composition; no spring admission

Requirements summary

  • All Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • Three recommendations
  • TOEFL minimum score of 250 computer-based or 600 paper-based
  • Term papers and/or musical compositions
  • Performance practice applicants contact field by Dec. 1 for audition


  • D.M.A.
  • Ph.D.


  • Music Performance (D.M.A.)
  • Musical Composition (D.M.A.)
  • Musicology (Ph.D.)
  • Theory of Music ()

Major concentrations

  • composition
  • musicology
  • performance practice

Minor concentrations

  • music performance
  • musical composition
  • theory of music

The Field of Music offers graduate degrees in three areas of study: musicology (Ph.D.), composition (D.M.A.), and performance practice (D.M.A.). Music at Cornell flourishes through an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the fields of performance, historical musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, and music theory. As a result, the Department of Music's many activities mutually reinforce each other, and graduate students at Cornell enjoy a sense of community among themselves and with the faculty.

The curriculum is highly flexible. Bound only by the few rules imposed by the Graduate School and by the Field of Music, students develop their own course of study in a close relationship with a Special Committee of three or four faculty members chosen by the student. For students in musicology, a reading knowledge of at least two foreign languages is required, and study of the language spoken in the area of research is essential. A student's Special Committee may require additional languages, depending on the area of specialization. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of course offerings in other fields, and minor subjects can be drawn either from within the Field of Music or from disciplines across the campus, such as anthropology, art history, computer science, history, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, theatre arts, and Western and non-Western languages and literatures.

There are 25 to 30 students in residence at any given time, including the approximately six new students matriculating each year. This low number allows for small seminars and encourages a close working relationship between students and faculty. The Music Colloquium Series, Composers Forum, and department concerts bring Cornellians together with distinguished visiting performers, composers, and scholars, and provide students with ample opportunity to present their own work. In addition to such visitors, resources include the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance, which offers one of the largest and most distinguished collections in any American university.

Musical performance is an essential part of life at Cornell. Graduate students are welcome to participate in the many performing ensembles sponsored by the Music Department, which include choirs, orchestras, wind ensembles, jazz ensembles, a Javanese gamelan, percussion ensembles, and many types of chamber music. In addition to students pursuing the D.M.A. in performance practice, many candidates in musicology and composition also perform, and some make performance a formal part of their programs by declaring a minor in this area.

The Music Department sponsors more than a hundred concerts each year, covering many historical periods and many cultural traditions. In addition, the Cornell Concert Series brings internationally renowned performers to the Cornell campus. Ensemble X, a professional new-music group based at Cornell, gives an annual series of concerts, as does the Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players, a group specializing in performing the works of the doctoral composition students. The Cornell Council for the Arts also serves as a potential source of funds for students wishing to organize their own concerts or other artistic activities.

Classroom teaching under the supervision of a faculty member constitutes a vital part of the training offered by the doctoral programs. As part of their studies graduate students serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate theory and history courses; they may also direct ensembles or give individual lessons. Every year one or two advanced students have the opportunity to design their own courses in the context of Cornell's acclaimed First-Year Writing Seminars, which pioneered the concept of "writing across the curriculum."

Only students intending to acquire a doctoral degree are admitted. Those who have not yet earned a master's degree in music at another institution are eligible to earn the M.F.A. (in composition or performance practice) or the M.A. (in musicology) in the course of their doctoral studies, but the field does not offer those degrees as terminal degrees. Further information about the Field of Music, its programs, faculty, and application procedures can be found on the Web.

Applicants for admission should follow the standard procedures as established by the Graduate School; the application, along with the statement of purpose, and TOEFL scores (if applicable) should be submitted directly to the Graduate School by January 15. Additional requirements for applicants in music are listed under the respective degree programs described on the Field of Music's Web site ( or may be obtained by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies. Three letters of recommendation, transcripts, and the appropriate additional materials (essays, scores, recordings) should be sent to the Graduate Field Assistant in Music (101 Lincoln Hall) by January 15.

Students whose native language is not English are not required to take the GRE, but must provide a TOEFL score or other evidence showing that their English is sufficient to enable them to participate fully in graduate seminars. The minimum TOEFL score ordinarily required by the Cornell Graduate School is 550 (paper-based test) or 213 (computer-based test); the Field of Music prefers scores of 600 (=250) or above. Applicants who are fluent in English or have completed a degree program at an English-language institution may apply for a waiver from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Catherine Appert -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: Research of Senegalese popular music centers on questions of globalization and diaspora, the ethnographic study of musical genre, and the intersections of music and memory. Other research interests include feminist and urban ethnography; global hip hop cultures; African, Atlantic, and postcolonial studies; and issues of gender and global representation in African traditional and popular musics.
Malcolm Bilson -- Concentrations: music performance; performance practice; Research interests: fortepiano; performance practice; chamber music
Xak Bjerken -- Concentrations: performance practice; Research interests: piano performance
Bonna Boettcher -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: fictional representations of music and musicians; copyright and music
Kevin Ernste -- Concentrations: composition; Research interests: composition; electronic music
Arthur Groos -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: opera
Rebecca Harris-Warrick -- Concentrations: musicology; performance practice; Research interests: opera; Baroque music; performance practice; early dance
Andrew Hicks -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: musicology; medieval music theory
Gail Holst-Warhaft (Minor Member) -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: Greek urban music; Mediterranean music; comparative lament studies;
Carol Krumhansl -- Concentrations: theory of music; Research interests: music perception and cognition
Alejandro Madrid -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: Research focuses on the intersection of modernity, tradition, globalization, and identity in popular and art music, dance, and expressive culture from Mexico, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the circum-Caribbean. His interests include the performance of democratic values through music, media, and technology; questions of continuity, change, cosmopolitanism, and race in Latin American late 19th-century and early 20th-century music; and transnationalism, gender, and embodied culture in contemporary popular music.
Roger Moseley -- Concentrations: musicology; theory of music; performance practice; Research interests: 19th Century music; Ludomusicology
Judith Peraino -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: medieval music; rock music; music and queer theory
Benjamin Piekut -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: musicology
Steven Pond -- Concentrations: musicology; Research interests: African-American musics; popular musics; jazz historiography; fusion jazz
Annette Richards -- Concentrations: music performance; musicology; performance practice; Research interests: seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music; aesthetics and criticism; performance; organ and early keyboards (University Organist)
Roberto Sierra -- Concentrations: composition; theory of music; Research interests: composition; theory; twentieth-century music
Steven Stucky -- Concentrations: composition; musicology; theory of music; Research interests: composition; theory and analysis; 20th-century music
James Webster -- Concentrations: musicology; theory of music; Research interests: 18th- and 19th-century music; theory and analysis of tonal music
David Yearsley -- Concentrations: music performance; musicology; performance practice; Research interests: 17th- and 18th-century music; early keyboards
Neal Zaslaw -- Concentrations: musicology; performance practice; Research interests: 17th- and 18th-century music; performance practice; history of the orchestra

Graduate School Professors (emeritus)

Martin Hatch -- Concentrations: music performance; musicology; theory of music; Research interests: Asian music; gamelan; popular music; jazz
David Rosen -- Concentrations: musicology; theory of music; Research interests: opera; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music