Department of Music


The Department of Music currently offers the Ph.D. in Music in two areas of study: Musicology & Ethnomusicology and Music & Multimedia Composition.

The long-standing doctoral program in Ethnomusicology, established in 1968, is one of the first in the country. It was combined with the study of Musicology in 2018. The Composition doctoral program had previously been known as Computer Music & Multimedia (or MEME) since it became a fully-fledged Ph.D. in 2004. Usually each program admits two or three students per year. The small size of both programs allows for significant cross-talk between the students.

Your Program Is What You Make It

Such dialogues tend to reach beyond the department as well. Brown graduate students regularly explore offerings in many other disciplines as part of their courses of study. Students in Musicology & Ethnomusicology are to be found just as often in the music building as they are in anthropology, psychology, American Studies, Africana studies and Portuguese and Brazilian studies, among others. In the same way, students in Music & Multimedia Composition make connections with faculty in Modern Culture and Media, Visual Art, Literary Arts and Engineering. At Brown, your degree is what you make it: the more adventurous you are, the more exciting your program is likely to be.

Students are encouraged to take courses throughout the University and many take advantage of courses in other departments. Students occasionally take courses at other institutions such as RISD and Harvard for credit and at no additional charge.

Explore our Graduate Programs


We encourage applicants from a wide range of diverse influences and methods to apply. All Ph.D. students receive full funding for 5 years, including costs for tuition and health insurance, plus stipends for fellowships and teaching assistantships.

Apply through the Brown University Graduate School.

Deadline: December 15


Decisions regarding admission and financial aid are made by mid-March. Applicants must make enrollment decisions by mid-April.

If you are offered admission to the program, you must either accept or decline the offer and its specific starting date. If you decide that you want to enroll in a later year then you must submit a new application. Acceptance to the program in one year does not guarantee acceptance in any subsequent rounds of applications.

View the Application Requirements

Course Transfer

You can transfer credits equivalent to up to eight courses, but only after completing your first year of coursework at Brown. You'll need to get the current DGS's signature on the transfer form.

Musicology and Ethnomusicology

See the Musicology and Ethnomusicology Graduate Handbook for details.

Music and Multimedia Composition

See the MMC Graduate Handbook, section 6: "Students with Prior Graduate Degrees."

Exams, Dissertations and Scholarly Work

Both programs require students to complete substantial amounts of scholarly work and long-form writing as part of their studies here. The kinds of research and writing required vary both by program and by the individual courses in which students enroll, but the total workload can be considerable. See Musicology and Ethnomusicology and Music and Multimedia Composition programs for details.

Teaching Experience

Graduate students serve as a Teaching Assistant for a variety of undergraduate courses relevant to your professional development -- mostly courses taught by graduate faculty in their program. (You can browse our current undergraduate course offerings.) Faculty make an effort to give graduate students meaningful teaching experience (i.e., running discussion or giving an occasional lecture rather than just grading student assignments). You should also take advantage of the resources at the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Advanced students sometimes have the opportunity to teach a survey course or propose a course in their area of specialization.

Music and Multimedia Composition

In addition to TA assignments in undergraduate and graduate level music courses, MMC graduate students have the opportunity to direct the MEME electroacoustic improvisation ensemble. Advanced students may have the opportunity to propose a course of their own design. Graduate students may also work as Proctors in the MEME studios, assisting with concert production, studio management, promotion, and documentation.

Undergraduate Students

We do admit students directly from undergraduate programs. Speaking generally, any undergraduate major is acceptable if the applicant has a way of showing good potential in fields that are included in either graduate program. That said, most of our graduate students have spent some time outside of school following their undergraduate studies before enrolling here.

Additional information

Applicants to the program should submit the online application, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, writing sample and/or documentation of creative work, and transcripts from previous university studies.
Brown offers five years of guaranteed support in the form of a full tuition scholarship, health benefits, and a cash stipend that is competitive with that offered by other top-tier programs.