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Degrees Available

Bachelor of Music • Bachelor of Arts in Music • Bachelor of Science in Music • Master of Music • Doctor of Philosophy

  • For more information on degrees, ensembles, summer session, study abroad, and complete curricular handbooks, visit our Academics Page.
  • To apply to the Bienen School of Music, visit our Admission Page.

Musicology at the Bienen School of Music

Encompassing much more than music history, the Musicology Program at Northwestern approaches music as a social activity shaped by aesthetic movements and intellectual theories – in essence, the humanistic study of music in culture. Students are invited to view musics through an interdisciplinary lens to reveal cultural contexts and meanings not accessible through the study of music notation alone. By integrating the perspectives of historical musicology and ethnomusicology, the program trains open-minded yet critical scholars adaptable to varied repertoires and academic strategies, in an atmosphere of collegiality and peer support.

The internationally renowned musicology faculty is the program’s greatest asset. Their collective expertise covers all periods of traditional music history as well as neglected geographies that are gaining increasing prominence in the field, such as the former Soviet Republics, Spain, Britain, the Middle East, and Latin America. A particular program strength is eighteenth-century studies. All of these areas, coupled with Northwestern’s historic strength in African and African-American studies, create a group of specializations that is unique to Northwestern.

The PhD degree program is truly interdisciplinary in design, requiring coursework in a ‘cognate’ area in the humanities or social sciences. The musicology coursework reflects the wide interests of the faculty and its interdisciplinary approaches. Students are regular presenters of academic papers at regional, national, and international conferences, and have received prestigious fellowships and awards, as well as academic placements, after graduation. 

The mission of the Musicology Program is enhanced by its location at a major research university and within a prominent school of music. Because the University is dedicated to interdisciplinary study, the Musicology program gains support from a campus-wide network of scholars who are open to collaboration. A vibrant performance culture includes more than 400 concerts each year, including three professional series. Students also benefit from the multi-faceted scholarly community, research libraries, and thriving musical cultures of both Evanston and Chicago.

Faculty Specialties

A list of the musicology program faculty and their specialties.

  • Linda Austern: Early modern England; gender and sexuality; music iconography; music as related to history of medicine and science; cultural studies
  • Drew Edward Davies: 17th- and 18th-century Mexico and Iberia, 20th-century Britain
  • Ryan Dohoney: 20th- and 21st- century topics, experimentalism, philosophy/aesthetics, queer music studies, urban studies
  • Inna Naroditskaya: Ethnomusicology, Middle East, Russia, gender studies
  • Scott D. Paulin: 20th-21st century topics; music/sound in film and other media; popular genres; American music
  • Jesse Rosenberg: 19th- and 20th-century opera
  • Andrew Talle: J. S. Bach, 18th-century German music and musical cultures

Coursework Includes:

  • Russian Fairytale Opera
  • Music, Gender & Sexuality, 1550-1750
  • Ethnographic Field Methods
  • Bel Canto Opera
  • Nineteenth-Century Orchestral Music
  • Israeli and Jewish Music
  • Music, Race, and Nation
  • Music and Orientalism
  • 17th-century Music: Affect and Passion
  • Queer Theory
  • America in the 1920s: Modern Music, Urban Culture
  • Galant Music
  • The Schumanns
  • Middle Eastern Musics
  • Film Musicology
  • Authenticity
  • Opera and Aesthetic Controversy in 18th-century France
  • Women in Rock
  • Music and Gypsies
  • John Cage
  • Music Historiography
  • Sound, Affect, and Signification
  • Medieval Music
  • The Operas of Benjamin Britten
  • Music and Religion 1500-2000
  • Latin Baroque
  • Music Under the Totalitarian State
  • From Literature to Opera to Film

Degree Information

Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts in Music, and Bachelor of Science in Music

The Bachelor of Music degree with concentration in musicology combines broad training in the field of music history with limited performance study. The curriculum provides a balanced exposure to music of all periods and offers studies in the analysis of music, foreign language, ethnomusicology, and related areas. The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree permits a wider selection of liberal arts courses, but less time for musical performance. The Bachelor of Science in Music degree is a non-admitting degree and is identical to the BA degree with the exception of no foreign language requirement and no senior project requirement.

Master of Music

The MM in Musicology is a one-year intensive, comprehensive degree that immerses students in all periods of Western music history as well as select topics in popular and global music. The course of study also introduces them to current research methods in Musicology/Ethnomusicology. Students may take an additional one or two courses in Music Theory/Cognition or Music Education, and may undertake successive MM degrees in Musicology and an applied area (i.e. Voice and Opera, Saxophone) provided they are admitted separately to both degree programs. For more information, please contact the Office of Admission at

Master of Music Requirements

  • The Master of Music requires the completion of 12 courses (4 each quarter), normally during a residency of one year. The terminal requirement is the public professional presentation of original research completed in the course of study for the degree. While some of the course work is required or is stipulated as the result of diagnostic entrance tests, there is a great deal of flexibility so that students may contour a degree program suited to their needs.
  • For complete information including requirements, visit our Degrees page. Admission information can be found on the Music Graduate Application page.

PhD Program

The PhD in musicology exposes students to a variety of musical styles and research methods. Although the program offers advanced degrees only in Western studies, students are encouraged to take courses in ethnomusicology. Admission is selective and the department is small so that students have easy access to the faculty. All students receive full tuition and a living stipend so that they may fully devote themselves to research and study.

PhD Requirements

  • The degree requires 18 courses beyond the MM degree, 3 each quarter during the two years of residency. The terminal requirement involves language proficiency in two European languages, a comprehensive examination in music history and theory, and a dissertation. While some of the coursework is required or is stipulated as the result of diagnostic entrance tests, there is a great deal of flexibility so that students may contour a program suited to their needs.
  • For complete information including requirements, visit our Degrees page. Admission information can be found on the PhD Application page.

All entering doctoral students receive a full tuition scholarship and a work stipend.


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