Critical & Comparative Studies in Music

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

UVA invites applicants for its Ph.D. in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music.

For requirements/coursework, see CCS Ph.D. Chronology.

For forms, visit the Graduate Forms page.

The CCS program is a pioneer in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of music and sound. The program exposes students to numerous disciplinary approaches without centering any one in particular. We invite students to think with us about reimagining the music PhD in the context of the changing landscape of higher education, continuing to think about the role of creative practice in—and multi-modal approaches to— graduate training at a public university.

Our program makes space for students with a wide variety of previous educational experiences. This reflects our faculty who research and teach across multiple disciplines including anthropology, musicology and ethnomusicology, sound studies, performance studies, history, philosophy, rhetoric, composition, politics, and legal studies. Recent graduate seminars have been organized around topics such as music and memory; curating sound; gender, sexuality, and disability; ethnographic writing and positionality; the “Black” voice; sound and the law; opera; the critical history of American folk music; music and pleasure; and Afrofuturism. We encourage students to take PhD-level courses beyond the Music Department, participate in performance, and engage with local communities.

The Ph.D. requires 54 credits of course work, up to 18 credits of dissertation research, and successful completion of a dissertation project. Students who successfully complete two years (36 credits) of course work and the projects appropriate to their concentration may apply for an en route M.A. at the end of their second year. Those entering with an M.A. degree will generally be required to fulfill all coursework requirements. Students may petition the department’s graduate committee for advanced standing at the end of their first year.

During the first two years, students ordinarily take three seminars per semester, including MUSI 7000 Introduction to Music Research. During the third year, students may take an additional seminar each semester while preparing for their qualifying examinations. Students in years two and three are encouraged to broaden their horizons by taking one or more of their seminars outside the department. At every moment from matriculation to graduation, students collaborate closely with a faculty mentor in their program, who advises them on seminar work, teaching, writing, research skills and other aspects of professional development.

By the end of the third year, students must pass a written qualifying examination showing their capacity for research. The examination covers three fields chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and examination committee. Following passage of the qualifying examination and all other degree requirements, students begin work on the dissertation, which consists of a book-length study demonstrating original research and critical insight. Students defend their projects in a public examination before a committee of four faculty, at least one of whom will be from another department.

How to apply!


UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176