Degrees Offered


Summary of Area Philosophy

The Music Department at Rutgers offers MA and PhD degrees in musicology. These academic programs enable students to take advantage of both the professional conservatory setting within the Mason Gross School of the Arts and the broad, humanistic environment of a major research university. Classes in research methods and current issues in musicology are supplemented by seminars open to musicologists, music theorists, composers and performers. The program focuses on helping students refine their skills in critical thinking, research and writing, encouraging application of a broad range of approaches and methodologies. Musicology students are encouraged to take courses in theory, analysis and performance practice as well as courses in other departments throughout the university as appropriate to their research interests. Additionally, through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, students may take courses at Princeton, Columbia, CUNY, NYU, the New School, Stony Brook and Fordham. The musicology department prepares graduate students to become active participants in the professional field of musicology.

The program is designed to enable qualified students to proceed straight through to the doctoral degree. Students who already have a master’s degree are encouraged to apply. Current faculty in musicology and music theory have areas of expertise that cover the standard repertory period, early music, contemporary music, ethnomusicology and music technology. Student may also participate in performance organizations (admission by audition).

Coursework in the musicology program ensures that students are well-equipped in research methods, writing and critical thinking in dealing with a wide range of repertories and musical practices. Introduction to Research provides a firm foundation upon which to build a long-term research agenda. Courses such as History of Musical Styles and History of Theory ensure a solid footing in repertory and ideas of music throughout history, while courses in ethnomusicology and current issues in musicology equip students to think creatively about music in a variety of geographic, cultural and disciplinary contexts. Courses offered on a regular basis include the following:
  • Introduction to Research
  • Seminars in Musicology (subjects vary by instructor and by semester)
  • History of Musical Styles
  • History of Theory, History of Notation
  • Performance Practice (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary)
  • Principles of Ethnomusicology

Head of Musicology: Douglas Johnson (Beethoven, late 18th- and 19th-century music, orchestral music, opera, Wagner)
Rebecca Cypess (Baroque music, particularly 17th-century instrumental music; Baroque and Classical performance practice)
Eduardo Herrera (ethnomusicology, contemporary music, music in Latin America)
Professional Opportunities

Graduate students are encouraged to pursue professional opportunities during their tenure at Rutgers. They may present their work-in-progress at meetings of the Rutgers University Musicological Society (RUMS), which also provides opportunities for leadership. Teaching and assistant teaching positions offer valuable classroom experience under the guidance of experienced faculty. The faculty guides students through the process of submitting appropriate work to professional conferences and journals, and students may apply for funds for conference travel.  Rutgers students enjoy access to a number of consortium libraries and research facilities. The Performing Arts Library is an outstanding research facility and supports many online music and scholarly resources; its head librarian, Jonathan Sauceda is also a musicologist.

The Mason Gross School for the Arts presents a wide array of concerts, theater productions, dance recitals and art exhibits each semester. Musical performances include an annual mainstage opera production plus several opera workshop productions, numerous concerts by the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, major choral works by the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir, plus Wind Ensemble, Jazz and chamber music opportunities.   

Current Students and Recent Alumni

Many of recent alumni have established successful careers that combine teaching, scholarship, and other activities in music and the academy. Our current students are already participating actively in the field, presenting their work at regional and national conferences. We are pleased to feature some of them here.

The Role of Musicology in Undergraduate Education

At the undergraduate level the musicology faculty offers courses designed to develop students’ knowledge of musicology and the place of music in various cultural contexts. In the two-semester survey of Western music students track the development of the genres and styles that gave rise to the classical concert repertory while learning to meet each music-historical period on its own terms. The introductory course in ethnomusicology broadens this perspective, encouraging consideration of music through various cultural lenses. Simultaneously, students in these courses hone their skills in listening, reading and writing. With these skills in hand they select from a range of advanced elective seminars on more specialized topics, a format that allows for engagement with repertory through methods and ideas in musicology. 

Composition / Music Theory / Music Technology / Musicology Statement of Vision

The musicology, music theory, composition and music technology programs of the Mason Gross School of the Arts cultivate the study and creation of music through engagement with current methodologies in—and innovative approaches to—research and composition. We seek to foster a vibrant environment of intellectual curiosity, creativity and collaboration, in which faculty and students of varied backgrounds may explore together the theory and practice of music throughout history and within contemporary culture. Our classes, concerts, lectures, conferences and workshops build upon our position both within a professional conservatory setting and as part of the broad, humanistic environment of a major research university. We encourage the development of ideas about music through the application of traditional and non-traditional methods, interdisciplinary approaches, emerging technologies and especially critical thinking and writing. Serving a community of performers, composers and scholars, we promote inquiry into music of the past and the present, and the development of a vision for music in the future.

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