Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need experience in performance to be a better candidate for admission into the Musicology department?
While performance experience can add a valuable perspective to musicological scholarship, there is no requirement that musicology graduate students be proficient performers, and applicants with performance experience do not have an advantage over those with none. Do be aware, however, that incoming students must pass placement exams in harmony and aural skills; those who do not pass the exams are required to take review courses. If you are a proficient performer (especially on an orchestral instrument), you may want to consider playing an audition, which may qualify you for a scholarship.
How successful are the graduates of the musicology program at Catholic University?
We pride ourselves in the fact that our graduates have gone on to pursue a variety of successful careers in which they are able to apply their musicological education. In addition to traditional careers in academia (including full- and part-time faculty positions), Catholic University musicologists have thrived in careers in research libraries and archives (including the Library of Congress), in musical journalism, and as internationally recognized independent scholars. Recipients of the M.A. in musicology, moreover, have gone on to pursue doctoral work at prestigious Ivy League institutions.
What kind of financial support does the department provide its graduate students?
A variety of teaching and research assistantships are available through the School of Music, and the University also offers a number of teaching assistantships and fellowships. For more information, please visit our assistantship website. Scholarships may also be available to proficient musicians, especially orchestral musicians. To be considered for a performance-based scholarship, please schedule an audition on one of our official audition days.
Is an audition required?
An audition is not required of any applicant to a Catholic University graduate musicology program. Proficient musicians are invited to audition; the results will be used for scholarship purposes only and will in no way affect the application. Ph.D. students interested in pursuing a minor in performance must audition for the appropriate applied faculty to be accepted into the minor; that audition need not occur at the time of application and can be scheduled at the student’s convenience after matriculating at CUA.
What materials are needed for consideration in the musicology division?
In addition to the standard university application and official college transcripts, an application to both the M.A. and the Ph.D. consists of a personal statement (which should stress why the student is pursuing graduate education in musicology and also provide evidence of the student’s preparation for the degree), letters of recommendation (at least one of which should be from a musicology professor), and at least one writing sample. For M.A. applications, the writing sample should be a research paper on any musical topic that demonstrates facility with scholarly sources, the ability to formulate an original argument, and solid writing skills. For Ph.D. applications, the writing sample should be a substantial original research paper on any musical topic that demonstrates solid bibliographical skills, critical use of sources, good writing and organizational skills, and proficiency in identifying a problem and formulating an original argument. The master’s thesis (or a portion thereof) is often appropriate for the Ph.D. writing sample. Many students also include a recent curriculum vitae with the application, but that is not required.
Do I need to have a specific research specialization or know what my thesis/dissertation topic will be at the time of my application?
While some students already have a research specialization at the time of their application, we do not require this, and those with an already established research plan do not have an advantage over those without one. It is very natural for students to find their scholarly niche only as a result of the courses they take after entering the program. In many cases, in fact, a student who enters the program with a clear idea for the thesis or dissertation ends up selecting an entirely different topic.
Are the GREs required for admission into the musicology division?
We do not require GRE scores for admission to either the M.A. or Ph.D. in musicology. High GRE scores, however, may qualify a student for a university-wide fellowship.
Is there anything else about Catholic University’s musicology program that you would highlight over similar programs?
One important benefit of the Catholic University musicology program is our small size; we are a tight-knit, vibrant community of scholars who support and encourage each other, without the competitive and often cutthroat atmosphere found at many of the larger schools. Our colloquium series is also more extensive than that found at many schools, providing weekly access to visiting scholars and the most recent developments in musicological research. While the musicology division is a distinct community within the School of Music, we are also fully integrated into the school and University at large, which offers a wide variety of performance options, as well as options to take courses and/or pursue minors in other departments of the University, as well as at other schools in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Our location in Washington, D.C., is also a tremendous benefit, providing access to such important research institutions as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives. For more information on the musicology division, please visit our website.