Department of Music

Departmental Honors

The Department welcomes a variety of projects leading to Honors in Music.

Faculty Rules stipulate “Brown University shall, at graduation, grant honors to students whose work in a field of concentration has demonstrated superior quality and culminated in an honors thesis of distinction.”

In order to apply for Honors in Music, at least half of the student's coursework in Music must be As or Ss with Distinction. Please note that Brown's transcripts do not indicate whether a student receives distinction in a S/NC course. ("S*" indicates that a course is mandatory S/NC.) This information must be obtained from the course instructor or the Registrar's Office.

Departmental Procedures:

The Department welcomes a variety of projects leading to Honors in Music. Theses in Music may involve research in musicology, ethnomusicology, or theory; performance; composition, computer music, studio production, or instrument design; or combinations of the preceding categories. Creative and performance projects should be accompanied by pertinent research and/or documentation. Students are encouraged to meet with prospective honors committee members in the junior year to craft a thesis project that is appropriate in scope.

NOTE: the term HONORS COMMITTEE refers to a student’s honors thesis advisor and readers.

A student wishing to propose a project should proceed as follows:

  1. An honors candidate must secure a faculty advisor and a second reader to serve as an honors committee during the third to last (typically sixth) semester. A declaration of intent (Brown login required), consisting of a brief description of the proposed honors project and the names of the committee members, must be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the last day of reading period in the third to last semester. For projects that will be undertaken in 2022-23, this deadline is May 10, 2022
  2. At the beginning of the penultimate (typically seventh) semester the student will submit a formal proposal describing the project to the honors committee for approval. Examples of recent honors proposals are available here (Brown login required). The proposal must receive committee approval and be given to Amy Prisco for distribution to the full faculty by the first day of the first full week of classes of the semester. The department faculty will vote on the proposals at the next regularly scheduled meeting. Decisions will be based on the student’s overall performance in music courses and on the quality of the proposal. The advisor will notify the student of the faculty’s decision.
  3. It is expected that honors projects will normally take two semesters to complete. Students pursuing honors may choose to register for MUSC1970 in the Fall and/or in the Spring. In any case, they will establish a series of regular meetings with their advisor. If not enrolled in an independent study, the student should meet with the advisor at the beginning of the semester to make a plan for regular meetings. The student is advised to meet with the secondary reader at least twice each semester before the thesis is formally submitted. By finals week of the penultimate semester, honors candidates must demonstrate substantial progress by submitting to the honors committee a partial draft of a paper or composition or, for performance projects, by playing a significant portion of the programmed repertoire. Failure to make sufficient progress may result in the termination of the honors project.
  4. Last semester deadlines: Honors candidates must submit a complete draft to their honors committee by the first day of classes following the eighth week of the last semester. The committee will comment on the project and suggest revisions. Revisions must be completed, and the final project submitted to the honors committee by the first day of classes two weeks later. In the case of performance projects, this means that both the public performance and the scholarly component must have been completed by this date. In the case of research projects, all figures, notes, bibliography, and other critical apparatus must have been completed. Failure to make the deadline may result in the forfeiting of honors by the candidate, though the student may complete the project as a capstone project.
  5. The honors committee will confer to determine their views on their projects. If the second reader is outside Music, the advisor may solicit a written recommendation about the merits of the project.
  6. The advisor will deliver a copy of the completed thesis to Amy Prisco by the middle of the eleventh week of the last semester so that it may be made available for review by the full faculty.
  7. During the twelfth week of the last semester, the advisor will report on the project at a meeting of the Department faculty for a vote.  The advisor will notify the student of the faculty’s decision.
  8. Honors recipients will present their projects at a Department of Music Convocation held once annually during reading period in the Spring Semester.


  Projects Starting
Action Semester I Semester II
Submit declaration of intent
(last day of reading period in the sixth semester)
May 10, 2022 December 12, 2022
Submit honors proposal to honors committee
(beginning of the penultimate semester)
September 7, 2022 January 25, 2023
Submit proposal to Department staff
(first day of the first full week of classes)
September 12, 2022 January 30, 2023
Faculty Meeting to approve proposals
(possibly one week later)
September 27, 2022 February 14, 2023
Partial draft due to honors committee
(finals week of the penultimate semester)
December 13, 2022 May 10, 2023
Completed draft due to honors committee
(first day of classes following the eighth week)
March 20, 2023 October 30, 2023
Final revisions due to honors committee
(first day of classes two weeks later)
April 10, 2023 November 13, 2023
Thesis delivered to Department staff
(middle of the eleventh week)
April 12, 2023 November 15, 2023
Faculty meeting to vote
(during the twelfth week or one week later)
April 25, 2023 TBD
Honors Presentations and Awards Ceremony
May 8, 2023 TBD

Additional Information

Our revised concentration offers a single, flexible set of requirements that can be tailored to each individual student’s interests.
The Department of Music offers a diverse range of courses from music history to advanced Ghanaian drumming and dancing. Explore our Undergraduate courses in music.
The music concentration requires ten (10) course credits including Music Theory, Music Scholarship, Production and Advanced Theory and Electives.