Skip to main content


This program offers a wide variety of advanced training in five music programs: musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, and the creative practice and critical inquiry, featuring a diverse faculty with courses and events that reflect all five of them.

You will have access to an incredible array of resources, including the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, the John Knowles Paine Concert Hall, the Isham Memorial Library, the Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition, and the Sound Lab, which offers media production suites and equipment.

With a large endowment fund, the program is able to offer you funding from sources outside Harvard Griffin GSAS. You will also have the opportunity to take advantage of many available fellowships and travel, research and writing, and conference funding throughout the year.

Examples of theses and dissertations that graduates have completed include “Activism and Music in Poland, 1978–1989,” “Art of Noise: Sound and Media in Milan, ca. 1900,” “Black Musics, African Lives, and the National Imagination in Modern Israel,” and “Technologies of Transgression and Musical Play in Video Game Cultures.”

Most graduates go on to positions in academia at institutions like the University of Southern California, Michigan State University, and University of Cambridge in England.

AM in Performance Practice*

* Applications are not currently being accepted

The AM in music with a specialty in performance practice is designed to provide intellectual and scholarly background to finished musicians who are preparing or engaged in careers as performers and teachers. The emphasis is on preparing students to work with sources, editions, theoretical writings, organology, and other matters of importance to performance styles as related to repertories. Additional areas such as differences in the meaning of terminology and notation from composer to composer or from era to era, ornamentatio, liberties of tempo and declamation, and improvisation will be addressed. It is a two-year program in which students take a selection of departmental courses focused on this specialty and write an AM thesis.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Department of Music and requirements for the degree are detailed in Policies.

Areas of Study

Composition (PhD only) | Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry (PhD only) | Ethnomusicology (PhD only) | Music Theory (PhD only) | Musicology (PhD only) | Performance Practice* (AM only)

* Applications for Performance Practice AM are not currently being accepted

Admissions Requirements

Please review admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of Music.

Samples of Previous Work

Applicants to all programs must submit samples of their previous scholarly work by uploading it in the Additional Materials section of the application.

Applicants to the Creative Practice and Critical Inquiry PhD program must also submit 20 to 30 minutes of original creative work, in the form of links to online audio or video streams (Soundcloud, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) or links to a file download (via Dropbox or similar) by using the Digital Portfolio section of the application.

Applicants to the composition PhD program must submit three compositions in the form of links to online audio or video streams (Soundcloud, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). Recordings can be submitted as links to SoundCloud or other online resources by using the Digital Portfolio section of the application. Students should include a one-page PDF containing links to online recordings and PDF scores where applicable. The year of composition must be marked on all scores and recordings.

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Optional

AM In Performance Practice*

* Applications are not currently being accepted

Ordinarily, the department expects to enroll one to two AM students a year or every two years. No auditions are required.

Financial aid for this program is very limited. Students may apply for Paine Traveling Fellowships and/or the Department Travel Fund to support some of their research. All fellowship funding is at the discretion of the Scholarship Committee. Other University funding may be available.

NOTE: AM students wishing to continue at Harvard for the PhD will submit a new application through the standard admission process. Students admitted to the PhD program will be granted credit for work done at Harvard or elsewhere according to departmental guidelines.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Music


See list of Music faculty


Degrees Offered


Questions about the Program?

Department of Music