Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Music at Yale

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between the Department of Music and the School of Music?
The Yale Department of Music offers curricular instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and offer study towards the B.A. and Ph.D. in music. On the graduate level, we offer Ph.D. programs in musicology, music theory, and ethnomusicology. 

The Yale School of Music is a professional school with its own faculty and facilities, offering only graduate degrees in composition, conducting, and music performance.

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in performance, conducting, or composition, you should contact the School of Music at (, ).

Where can I find requirements for the music program?
The Graduate Student Handbook can be found as a PDF file on the introduction page of our website.

What application materials are required to apply to the Music Department and is funding available?
The Graduate School Admissions Office ( can answer any questions regarding the application process and financial aid.

How many writing samples should be submitted with an application?
We don’t have a specified length for writing samples, but usually suggest 2-3 writing examples that best represent the quality of your work and your current interests (in diverse areas if possible). They can be a selection of shorter papers (10-20 pages) or larger chapters.

If you extract chapters from a longer thesis (e.g. a master’s thesis) it is helpful to summarize the excised parts. Vice versa, if you decide to submit an entire thesis, please indicate which sections are the most important ones to focus on.

What is the level of proficiency required to pass the language examinations in the first three years of the graduate program?
Purpose:  The purpose of the language examinations is to ensure that students have basic linguistic capability in important languages of their discipline and/or those languages in which they plan to conduct their research. 

Students must pass a reading examination in two languages other than English before they are admitted to candidacy (i.e., before the end of the third year in the program).  History and Theory students must pass examinations in German and either French or Italian; Ethnomusicology students must pass examinations in two languages relevant to their research, one of which must be a European language.  History and Theory students can petition to substitute one language in place of either French or Italian if a convincing case can be made that that language is more relevant to the petitioner’s research.  All students are strongly encouraged to take language courses at Yale during the academic year, and to enroll in intensive summer courses at Yale or abroad.

Do you accept credits from other DMA or Master’s degree programs?
No.  Yale does not allow course credit from previous graduate degree programs.

I am interested in the Music Department’s graduate program, which program should I apply for - M.A. or Ph.D.?
As a unit of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Music offers Ph.D. degrees in Music History, Music Theory, and Ethnomusicology.  Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program qualify for the M.A. degree “en route” upon the successful completion of seven courses, at least six of which are seminars given in the Department, along with passing an examination in one foreign language. An M. Phil degree is obtained upon the passing of all of the departmental requirements short of the dissertation itself.