PhD Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for the PhD program?

All application guidelines are found here. Additional information may be found on the website for The Graduate School:

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How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect the Bienen School of Music admissions process?

The coronavirus outbreak has clearly affected how applicants navigate the graduate school admission process. We understand that many communities have experienced school closures or restricted activities, and that many people around the world are enduring financial strain and loss of loved ones. We are committed to working with applicants to ensure all candidates receive full consideration for admission to the Bienen School of Music.

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Am I required to submit a GRE score?

Given the test cancellations and anticipated registration challenges caused by the pandemic, the Bienen School of Music has adopted a GRE-optional test policy for fall 2022 PhD applicants. Applicants may submit a score if they wish, but scores are not required.

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Are TOEFL or IELTS scores required for international applicants?

If your native language is not English, you must certify your proficiency in the English language in one of the following three ways:

  1. Provide official scores electronically for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. For the TOEFL, you must receive a score of 577 or higher on the paper-based test, or 90 or higher on the internet-based test. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.

  2. Provide official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.

  3. Provide official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

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What are the funding opportunities for PhD students?

All students who enroll in one of the PhD degree programs in music will receive a full tuition waiver for five years, a monthly living stipend, and a subsidy for Northwestern student health insurance. The living stipend is paid as a fellowship during the first year of study for twelve months. Graduate students must remain in good academic standing and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress to be eligible for all forms of financial aid. After the first year, years two, three and four are paid as a graduate assistantship for the nine-month academic year. PhD students on graduate assistantships have the opportunity to teach coursework in their field, assist with faculty research, or pursue clinical and field studies. During the summers of years two, three and four, students are paid as a graduate assistantship based on their performance evaluation at the end of each academic year. During year five, students return to a fellowship stipend for twelve months without a work requirement.

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Are there fellowship and grant opportunities for PhD students?

Yes. For more detailed information, see The Graduate School.

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Please refer to The Graduate School’s COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.