Newly Admitted Graduate Students

Congratulations and Welcome to Stanford Music!

As you work through the Important Dates and Deadlines for new graduate student admits, please be sure to reference the copious and detailed information provided at the Gateway for New Graduate Students.

The Department's Graduate Student Services Officer will be sending out various informative emails to you during the spring and summer preceding your Autumn quarter matriculation and enrollment at Stanford. In addition, each year a couple of current, first-year graduate students serve as liaisons to our new admits.  They can be very helpful to you as they have recently gone through the process of signing up for the housing lottery (or finding affordable off-campus housing), taking care of medical entrance requirements, obtaining visas, moving to California, getting through diagnostic examinations, and making a new home and becoming familiar with the myriad resources available at Stanford and in the surrounding communities. They will also facilitate getting to know other graduate students in and outside the Department and can assist with finding information and/or resources for your transition to life as a graduate student.


There are numerous activities put on for new graduates in the weeks running up to the start of fall quarter. The New Graduate Student Orientation (NGSO) includes events all over campus designed specifically to assist new graduate students in their quest to settle in and orient!

There will be a brief orientation for new doctoral graduates in Music: look for an email from the Graduate Student Services Officer (GSSO) regarding this important meeting!  We meet in Braun 102 so the GSSO can introduce you to each other (if you haven't already met) and provide you with an overview of some of the most important points to remember and resources to guide you as you wend your way through your graduate career.

Preparing for the Diagnostic Examination

The Diagnostics are given in the week immediately preceding the first week of classes each September. Teaching Assistant assignments and the funding associated with this portion of a graduate student’s financial aid package are determined based upon successful completion of these exams.

Entering doctoral graduate students are required to take and pass the following:

  1. a proficiency examination in dictation; a diagnostic examination in theory (counterpoint, harmony, and analysis); AND,
  2. for musicologists and composers only, a proficiency examination in piano; for ethnomusicologists, a proficiency examination in piano or another instrument; OR
  3. for ethnomusicologists only, a test on musical traditions outside of Western art music; OR
  4. for musicologists only, a test on history and repertoire of Western art music.
  • Examination in dictation: given on Thursday of the week prior to the start of classes in the fall quarter from 2–4:00pm with giancarlo [at] (subject: Diagnostic%20Exam) (Dr. Giancarlo Aquilanti), or online via Canvas. If given in-person, the ear training exam is a group session—one opportunity only. If provided online, the exam will be timed and may be taken at any time during the week prior to the start of classes and will be due no later than Friday afternoon at 4:00pm.
  • Examination in theory (counterpoint, harmony, and analysis): a 24-hour, take-home exam provided by Dr. Giancarlo Aquilanti immediately after the ear-training exam, if given in-person. If given online, it will be a timed exam and due no later than Friday afternoon at 4:00pm.
  • Examination in piano proficiency: both in-person and/or virtual exams will be arranged with Erika Arul
  • Examination on history and repertoire of Western art music: two-hour short-answer IDs (composers, genres, terms, and concepts in basic periods of music history); and three-hour style IDs (six short score and/or audio excerpts from representative periods and genres).  This exam is delivered online.  Please contact the GSSO for details.

Diagnostic Examination Details (PDF)