Sheet music handwritten by a monk in Italy
Doctor of Philosophy

About the Program

A PhD in Musicology from Case Western Reserve University will introduce you to an unusually wide range of historical periods—from medieval repertoires to Hollywood musicals, the blues to contemporary opera. You’ll dive deep into our rich musicology curriculum, overseen by a highly lettered faculty, and you’ll leave our program an intellectual and ethical leader in the fields of music criticism, pedagogy, and advocacy. Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared for any career path you choose in arts advocacy, outreach or administration; academia; performance or music journalism; or community-based music organizations.

What to Expect

Over the course of five years, you’ll have opportunities to study the languages and structures of music, as well as its political, scientific, economic, social and philosophical impacts. You’ll be able to explore the cultural histories of music and sound and sociologies of listening, as well as participate in interdisciplinary seminars, studying the intersections between Renaissance humanism and music; 17th century theology and music; and music and histories of magic. 

And, you’ll learn from faculty who have won some of the most prominent awards and honors available to musicologists—and to humanists more widely. Our faculty members have earned a MacArthur “Genius” Award; major fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), German Academic Exchange Service, and Fulbright Foundation; two Einstein Awards from American Musicological Society; and visiting fellowships/professorships at institutions worldwide. 

Past students have won some of the most coveted dissertation-completion fellowships in the field—including the Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Award—and the Pisk Prize, the most coveted student paper prize awarded by American Musicological Society. Additionally, past students have secured fellowships from the Chateaubriand Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, ACLS and NEH, just to name a few. We can’t wait to see what you will accomplish.

You can receive full funding, at competitive levels, throughout this five-year program.

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Beyond the Classroom

Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is known as a music destination. Here, you’ll have access to a wealth of local arts organizations such as the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Institute of Music and Playhouse Square—the second-largest performing arts district in the U.S.

And, you’ll have opportunities for sponsored internship and fellowship opportunities at not only the aforementioned institutions, but at organizations such as Piano Cleveland and the Library of Congress, perhaps even landing a full-time position.

By the Numbers


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Admission Requirements

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

We have admitted students with a variety of academic backgrounds, including music performance, musicology, media studies, literary studies, media and communications, modern languages, and theology.

Our PhD is geared toward well-prepared and highly focused undergraduate and master’s-level applicants. Many applicants enter the program after completing a master’s degree in musicology or music history, but highly qualified applicants may enter directly upon completion of a bachelor’s degree. Application requirements include:

  • Online application
  • Writing samples 
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose/objectives
  • CV or resume
  • Transcripts

Contact Us

Francesca Brittan
Associate Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Musicology
Department of Music

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