Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

Qualifying Examinations

Advancement to candidacy is contingent upon passing both written and oral examinations. You must be registered in the quarter you take the qualifying examination, and you must have completed all coursework and the language requirement. The qualifying exam will normally be administered at the conclusion of your second year in residence if you entered the program with a master’s degree, or at the conclusion of your third year in residence if you entered the program with a bachelor’s degree. The exam will test knowledge absorbed through the two years of coursework, as well as your knowledge of a significant span of Western music history or of the music of a focused geographical area, depending on your dissertation area. It will include an analytical portion consisting of a comprehensive study of a single composition, a theoretical treatise, or a focused repertoire, as well as testing your knowledge of pertinent cultural studies and theories. The oral examination will focus on the previously completed written examinations as well as your development of expertise in your specialization.

All Graduate Studies forms listed below are accessible at the Graduate Division forms page. Music Department forms are available in the department office.

STAGE 1 (Year 2 if entering with an MA; Year 3 if entering with a BA)
Winter quarter: A Qualifying Exam committee is selected by the student in consultation with her/his adviser and other pertinent faculty, with the purpose of involving faculty in areas related to the candidate’s specialty, while also attempting to distribute the workload as evenly as possible. The committee must consist of at least four members:
1. The dissertation adviser, who acts as chair on most matters
2. A tenured faculty member from the Music Department
3. An additional Academic Senate faculty member from the Music Department
4. One of the following: (1) a tenured faculty member from a different discipline at UCSC; (2) a tenured faculty member from the same or a different discipline at another academic institute; (3) a qualified non-academic person (CV and publication list must be submitted to the Graduate Dean for approval)
A “Committee Nomination of Ph.D. Qualifying Exam” (Graduate Studies) form must be submitted to the Graduate Dean for approval at least one month prior to the exam

Beginning of Spring Quarter: The student and her/his adviser develop the areas to be tested on the Qualifying Exam, selected from the following two criteria:
a. A broad chronological, cultural, or geographic area
b. A conceptual, cross-cultural, theoretical, or interdisciplinary focus
20th-century music and post-colonialism
Baroque music and tuning systems
Music of the Middle East and feminist theory

During Spring Quarter of the same year: The student and her/his adviser develop a list of representative works (or styles) for which the student will be responsible. In addition, the student compiles a comprehensive bibliography on which he/she will be tested, which he/she submits to the adviser.

End of Spring Quarter: Student submits a “PhD Qualifying Examination–Music Department” form to the department office, signed by all members of the Qualifying Exam Committee, and including the following:
• tentative dissertation topic
• the committee members
• the areas to be tested (item 2 above)
• the list of works (styles)
Prior to submitting this form, the student should consult the other members of the Qualifying Exam committee to develop both the broad areas and the specific works/styles list.

STAGE 2 (Year 3 for those entering with an MA; Year 4 for those entering with a BA)
Beginning of Fall Quarter: Student takes the Qualifying Exam, which will consist of:
a. 4-6 hours (usually spread over two days) of written tests in two areas:
1. Listening and/or scores, as appropriate, mostly (but not entirely) selected from the compiled list
2. Essay questions, some of which will apply material from our PhD courses to the student’s special area. The bibliography will be incorporated in this test.

b. A take-home analysis, given on a Thursday and due back on Monday. The work to analyze might be a score or a recording (audio or video). The analysis might involve transcription, as appropriate to the student’s area of specialization. Failure to submit the take-home exam at the required time will result in automatic failure.

c. The oral exam, taken about one week after completion of the written exam. Successfull completion of the oral exam is a University requirement for advancement to candidacy.  The examination committee consists of the Qualifying Exam Committee plus an additional member, who is outside the department and selected by the chair of the Qualifying Exam Committee. The oral exam will be based on the questions and responses in the written test.

If the student fails the written or oral portions of the test, s/he has one more opportunity to take the exam early in the following Winter Quarter. In rare instances, the department may petition the Graduate Council to waive the student’s right to the re-examination. Only under extraordinary circumstances will the membership of the Qualifying Examination Committee be altered between a failed exam and the second attempt, and only with approval of the Graduate Dean. If the report on the Qualifying Examination is not unanimous, the graduate dean will investigate and present the case to the Graduate Council for a final decision.

Once the exams are graded (and the student informed of the result), the chair of the Qualifying Examination Committee will submit a “Report on Qualifying Examination” (Graduate Studies) form, and a “Nominations for Dissertation Reading Committee” (Graduate Studies) form, to the department chair for forwarding to the Graduate Dean no later than one month following the exam. Once these forms are received and approved by the Graduate Division, the student will be advanced to candidacy and be charged the advancement fee. For more information on the advancement process and the forms required, see "Advancement to Candidacy."

Once the student has successfully completed the qualifying exam, she or he will begin work on the dissertation prospectus, which is due, at the latest, six months after advancement to candidacy.