Prospective Graduate Students

Thank you for your interest in our department!  We invite all Stanford students to pursue their musical explorations in an environment rich in talent and knowledge through programs that focus on students’ interests in composition, musicology, computer music, and performance.

As you weigh your options for graduate study, take a look at the resources below to learn more about our offerings, our faculty, and the application process.

The department seeks students who demonstrate substantial scholarship, high promise of attainment, and the ability to do independent investigation and, in the case of doctoral students, to present the results of such research in a dissertation or a substantial final composition. Graduate composers, computer-music theorists, musicologists, and performing artists in the Department of Music combine highly specialized programs of study with constant interaction of various musical disciplines.

Description of Available Graduate Programs in Music at Stanford

Learn About Applying to the Graduate Programs

Office of Graduate Admissions

Masters Programs

Master of Arts (MA) in Music, Science, and Technology

The MA in Music, Science, and Technology (MA/MST) degree is a two-year degree granted at the successful completion of specific coursework.  The MA/MST program is designed for candidates having an undergraduate engineering, science, music, or arts degree, or a degree that includes course work in engineering mathematics. Courses and research topics include music perception, music-related signal processing, human-computer interaction, synthesis, and inter-media among others.

[N.B. The MA/MST program is the only terminal Master's degree offered by the Department; it is two years in duration. It is is available to current Stanford undergraduates as a Coterminal Master's, current Stanford graduate students, and external applicants.]

Master of Arts (MA) in Composition
Master of Arts (MA) in Computer-Based Music Theory and Acoustics
Master of Arts (MA) in Musicology

[N.B. The three MAs listed above are available only to current doctoral students in Music who wish to add a Master’s degree to their existing doctoral program.]

Learn more about the master's programs in the Stanford Bulletin

Doctoral Programs

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition

The DMA in composition is offered to a limited number of students who demonstrate substantial training in the field and high promise of attainment as composers. Students may work in traditional and/or electronic forms. Breadth is achieved through studies in other branches of music and in relevant fields outside of music, as desirable. In addition to formal coursework and independent study, candidates are required to write a number of works in various forms and to present a public lecture-demonstration based on their final project, a large-scale composition.

Learn more about the DMA program in the Stanford Bulletin

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Computer-Based Music Theory and Acoustics

The PhD program in computer-based music theory and acoustics is offered by the Department of Music through the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA, pronounced "karma"). CCRMA is a multidisciplinary facility attracting PhD students from several departments and schools across campus including Computer Science (CS), Electrical Engineering (EE), Mechanical Engineering (ME), and Psychology (PSYCH). While all CCRMA faculty hold positions within the Department of Music, Julius Smith also holds a courtesy appointment in EE which enables him to serve as primary thesis advisor for PhD students in EE. Ge Wang holds a courtesy appointment in CS and, likewise, may serve as a primary thesis advisor for PhDs in CS. [N.B. Application for graduate study is handled by the corresponding home department.]

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Musicology

The first three years of graduate study for graduates in musicology are devoted to completion of required coursework and passage of the qualifying and special area examinations. After the successful defense of the dissertation proposal (incorporated within the special area exam), the student concentrates on research and writing of the dissertation. The dissertation demonstrates the student’s ability to work systematically and independently to produce a substantial work of competent scholarship.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Ethnomusicology

Ethnomusicology at Stanford prepares students to study sound, listening, and musical practices in diverse social and cultural contexts. Intensive training in fieldwork and ethnographic methods as well as critical theory, performance studies, anthropology, and area studies are central to the program. A vital aspect of students’ experience is collaboration with historical musicology, composition, EuroAmerican music theory, and creative music-making. 

Applications to the above programs may be made directly from a Bachelor’s program.

Learn more about the PhD programs in the Stanford Bulletin

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program awards full funding to Stanford graduate students from all disciplines, with additional opportunities for leadership training and collaboration across fields.

Apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program by Wednesday, October 12, 2022 at 1:00pm Pacific Time, and to the Department of Music by Tuesday, December 13, 2022 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Note that your application must be received by the Department of Music and be deemed complete – including receipt of your electronic application and all required supplementary materials – by December 13, 2022.

Knight-hennessy scholars application 

Resource for Applicants

The new Guide on Getting Into Grad School provides helpful information to students who are considering graduate school.