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Our graduate program in musicology aims to produce well-rounded scholars who will have the knowledge and skills to teach at the highest professional level and produce original research of quality and significance. The Music Department offers two graduate degrees, the Master of Arts (M.A.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Musicology. Students normally progress from the former to the latter, and we structure our financial aid packages on the assumption that students will proceed directly to the Ph.D. upon completing the M.A. Distinctive elements of our M.A.-Ph.D. program include:

An internationally recognized faculty.

Our collective and individual expertise ranges from plainchant to hip hop, and from the West Coast to South Africa, with various points—European, Middle Eastern, and Latin American—beyond and in between. The faculty includes current or past editors of many of the discipline’s leading journals, including Beethoven Forum (Bonds),  the Journal of the American Musicological Society (Fauser), the Journal of the Society for American Music (GarciaKatz), Musicology Now (Bohlman), and Southern Cultures (Neal), and we occupy significant positions on a wide range of editorial boards.

Outstanding resources for research.

The Music Library houses one of the leading academic music collections in the nation, with holdings of more than 180,000 books and scores, 70,000 audio and video recordings, and 10,000 rare items, including 4,600 Italian opera librettos from 1600 through the 19th century. The library also provides access to major music research databases and thousands of streaming audio and video recordings, and over 12,000 microfilms (housed in Davis Library). The Southern Historical Collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, and the North Carolina Collection also include numerous music-related materials. Cooperative agreements with the nearby libraries of Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University through TRLN provide yet another level of access to research resources.

The James W. Pruett Summer Fellowships offer graduate students the opportunity to spend up to three summer months in the Music Division of the Library of Congress processing archival collections in the Division and conducting independent research. The Program is named after James W. Pruett, former chair of the UNC Music Department (1976–86) and Chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress (1987–94).

Awards from the Marcia J. Citron Graduate Research in Musicology Fund are granted annually to support doctoral research in musicology. The Fund was established in 2020 thanks to the generosity of Marcia J. Citron (MA 1968, PhD 1971) to provide support for outstanding research conducted by doctoral students in Musicology in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An intra- and interdisciplinary approach.

Unlike many other graduate programs in the field, we define “musicology” broadly to encompass multiple sub-disciplines within the study of music—including aesthetics, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, history, and theory—and we engage the discipline across the full range of periods, repertories, and methodologies. We also encourage students to explore course offerings and resources beyond the Music Department. While specialization forms an inevitable (and desirable) part of professional development, we believe in the cross-fertilization made possible by confronting different methods and materials, thereby breaking down common disciplinary and intra-disciplinary boundaries.

Immediate exposure to a range of faculty and methodologies.

Our first-year graduate course “Resources and Methods of Musicology” illustrates some of the ways in which we practice an integrated approach to the field. The course unfolds in a series of weekly units, each led by a different member of the faculty, each focusing on a particular methodological issue or sub-discipline, such as historical method, field research, source studies, analysis, or critical theory. This early and intensive exposure to a full range of faculty and methodologies helps students develop a conceptual framework for their subsequent work in the field.

A systemic approach to professional development.

Professional careers begin in graduate school, and we encourage students to participate actively in regional, national, and international conferences and workshops. The Kenan Student Activities Fund provides graduate students with the financial resources to pursue many different kinds of professional activities. Faculty also work closely with students to develop research and presentation skills. Beginning with the first-semester “Resources and Methods of Musicology” course, we videotape selected student presentations and provide a space in which students can critique themselves and their colleagues. The “Dissertation Colloquium” gives advanced graduate students a forum in which to present and discuss work-in-progress on their dissertations, conference papers, articles, and other writing projects. This course also reviews strategies for preparing fellowship applications and for applying and interviewing for academic jobs while also exploring opportunities for professional development beyond traditional academic fields.


A strong program of financial aid, combined with an extremely reasonable local cost of living allows students to pursue their studies full-time over an extended period and earn their degrees with little or no long-term student debt.

A wide range of teaching opportunities.

Most financial aid packages are based on a Teaching Assistantship, which generally commits students to a manageable number of hours per week devoted to grading, leading small-group discussions, or serving as the instructor of record for different kinds of undergraduate classes. We make an effort to circulate graduate Teaching Assistants through a range of courses (including ethnomusicology, history, music appreciation, musicianship, and popular music) in different formats, from large lecture courses to recitations. By the end of their studies, graduate students are prepared to successfully handle a variety of different teaching situations.

A strong job placement record.

Our graduates have consistently secured full-time teaching positions at institutions throughout the nation and abroad. Our most recent Ph.D. alumni (from 2013 to the present) are currently teaching music at Arizona State University, Bowling Green State University, Delaware Valley University, Georgia State University, Howard University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, St. Joseph’s University, the University of Georgia, the University of Maryland, West Virginia University, and Wichita State University.

Older alumni occupy leading academic positions both in the United States and abroad. Some of these alumni teach music at American University, Brandeis University, East Carolina University, Hanyang University (Seoul, South Korea), Michigan State University, Texas Christian University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Guelph (Canada), University of Kansas, University of Maryland, University of West Virginia, and Vanderbilt University.

A rich tradition.

The Ph.D. program in Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the second-oldest in the nation, having granted its first degree in 1939. Past faculty include multiple Presidents of the American Musicological Society (Glen Haydon, William S. Newman, Howard Smither, James Haar) and such distinguished scholars as Calvin Bower, Tim Carter, Jon Finson, James MacKinnon, John Nádas, Severine Neff, and James Pruett. Our current faculty and graduate students are the beneficiaries of this legacy in a discipline that continues to grow in exciting and challenging ways.